About my song, The Heart of a Woman

My song, The Heart of a Woman, was written in 2012 while in Chile doing workshops with teachers of English (I teach ESL!).  People were talking about the amazing rescue of the 33 miners from a mine collapse in 2010, and some of the English teachers were teaching very near that area.  After reading about it, I realized the women connected with the miners had had everything to do with their rescue!  I wrote the song and performed it with another teacher just before I left Chile, for the ESL teachers. Soon after its first performance there, I returned to the U.S., and my dear, now deceased musician friend Marcia Deihl notated the song for me, and I submitted the song to The Folknik magazine, which published it in 2014.  Here is the link – it’s on p. 5 (p. 7 if you make it a PDF).

The great Chilean musician Victor Jara wrote a beautiful song about the Chilean miners called “Cancion del minero,” and I thought about weaving it into my recording, but time and skills did not permit it.

Since then, I have changed the song title from “Deeper than a Mountain” to “The Heart of a Woman” because that is the phrase people remember from the song.  Can’t wait to have you hear it on my new album, stay tuned.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

atop the hill

Kristin Lems

photo by Mark Swanson/Swanson Media

Although this isn’t the cover picture, this is the site where we took the cover pictures for You, Me and All of the Above, my upcoming album.  The funny thing is that this is at the top of the same hill where my neighbor Joshua found Karl the Guinea Fowl, that famous fellow who is featured on the album and has earned us not one, but two stories in the Chicago Tribune (see previous posts)!  Karl and some other guineas were “dumped” here by unknown agents, and some of them were rescued.

The album is coming along just great and a couple of the tunes have already had their final mixes.   Release date is July 2, 2015 at the 40th National Women’s Music Festival in Middleton, Wisconsin, where I’ll open the first concert as founder of the festival.  We seem to be on schedule to release, and that is a great relief.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CD Release – and Release Concert Aug. 16 in Chicago!

My new CD, You, Me, and All of the Above (or “YMAATA”) is now released!  You can buy a physical CD, download the whole album, or download individual tracks from my website, kristinlems.com.   

Much better, though, is to come to the release party and concert on Sunday, August 16, at 7 pm, at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago!! Tickets are $12 ($11 for members) – I promise a GREAT show in addition to fancy refreshments. I’ll also be signing the CDs and posters to your loved ones….have sharpie, will inscribe!

YMAATA got its first review on July 3, from Midwest Record, and it’s pretty wonderful:

Not every blast from the past has to be a chilling wind. Sounding every bit as fresh and vibrant as when she was a fresh faced lass recording for Flying Fish, Lems has not only matured into the folkie’s folkie, she knows how to bring pop flourishes and worldwide accents into a program that careens from serious to funny to inspiring. A first class set from stem to stern, Lems is raising the bar for all comers in her wake, it’s well done throughout. 

If you can’t possibly make the CD release, I’m also playing in Chicago on Friday, July 10 at The Second Friday coffeehouse at People’s Church and at Starbucks on Dempster and Karlov in Skokie on Saturday, Aug. 1, 7 – 9 pm.  But – if you want to help and support my music – the CD release concert is the best way.  Don’t just come, BRING YOUR FRIENDS!   

I appreciate your support in these times, and all the time!!  Kristin/*

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Some Backstory about “YMAATA”

How did YMAATA (You, Me, and All of the Above) come to be, you ask?  

Well, it started shortly after I received an invitation from the National Women’s Music Festival, a wonderful invitation, to emcee both the opening and closing concerts of the 40th annual Festival, to be held July 2-5 in Middleton Wisconsin (by Madison), returning as the Founder. I answered, “I wouldn’t miss it!” and quickly cleared my calendar!  

Then my sweet daughter pointed out that it was time I released a new CD – it had been 9 years! and I immediately thought of Lynn Keller, magnificent friend and talented musical resource for 4 of my past 6 albums…playing flute, bass, singing, and more!  Lynn and I met at the U of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where she was a flute major. Lynn and I, and our friend Cherry Wolfarth, started an all-women’s rock band so there would be some rock ‘n’ roll at the 3rd National Women’s Music Festival (1976).  Ms. Conception was a “power trio” and Lynn tried out her first bass guitar on indefinite loan.  It didn’t take long for Lynn to go from the upper registers of flute down to the lower depths of a bass, and that’s what she’s mastered to the present day. Lynn said to me, “The bass is still where my heart is – of all the music I do, that’s where I feel the most truly myself.”  And once you hear her bass parts, you will see exactly why. Soulful, funky, lyrical – she’s got it all.

I asked if Lynn would produce a new album for me – between her gigs in musical theatre and being on tour with big artists (Diana Ross, Rita Coolidge, and countless others). First she said no, and then she reconsidered – lucky me!  So, planning her Chicago stay carefully, she and I sorted through my material and themes, came up with a “baker’s dozen” of strong song choices, and she got to work writing charts and assembling her team.  All of this was with the clear deadline of having the CD in hand before July 2!

And, by god-and-by-goddess, we did it!  Lynn’s professional level of commitment to the project involved interviewing a number of studios before settling on the fantastic Lakeside Media (captained by Victor Sanders, resident genius), carefully choosing the finest musicians and vocalists from her vast rolodex files (top flight musicians with hundreds of studio and live accolades, including the pedal steel player for Springsteen and the guitarist for Gloria Estefan), and working out rehearsal dates and recording, mixing and mastering dates from a baffling array of schedules.  Lynn brought in her dear friend Susan Draus, who arranges songs and conducts singers for Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and Susan created vocal arrangements for several of my songs that make you say, “I’ve got to see the rest of this musical!”  That’s especially true for the Amelia Earhart song, “Because There’s a Sky,” and my two “Chicago” songs – you’ll hear soon enough!  

My songs have always ranged over a very wide landscape of styles, and this album only takes them further. Besides the creative and tight arrangements, using many acoustic instruments, Lynn’s bass parts were picture perfect.  Victor said at one point, “I’ve never seen a bass player that you don’t need to ask to do anything over – you just get it all right on the first take.” 

I feel like “the luckiest girl in the world” (as it were!) that Lynn produced You, Me, and All of the Above. and the result is something really special!  I miss having her here, but she’ll be coming to town for the Chicago CD release concert and party at Old Town School of Folk Music on Sunday, Aug. 16, 7 pm.  I can’t wait to introduce both the CD, the songs, and Lynn, to all of you!

The picture here shows me holding the poster,  which has now arrived!

Leave a comment

Filed under new album

Music Video for The Heart of a Woman

heart screenshot 1

Singing The Heart of a Woman in the studio.  Click on the photo to go to the YouTube video of my performance of the song – with supplementary photos from the event.  Thanks to Mark Swanson for producing such a beautiful video, and with such quick turnover, too!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mastering happening!

IMG_8412[1]

Here is Victor Sanders, truly the “master” of all trades, as we master the new CD, You, Me, and All of the Above.  Soon it will be off to the pressing plant – 13 original songs which are sure to delight, promise!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

About my song, The Heart of a Woman

hope you enjoy this post about my song, The Heart of a Woman

Kristin Lems, Musician

My song, The Heart of a Woman, was written in 2012 while in Chile doing workshops with teachers of English (I teach ESL!).  People were talking about the amazing rescue of the 33 miners from a mine collapse in 2010, and some of the English teachers were teaching very near that area.  After reading about it, I realized the women connected with the miners had had everything to do with their rescue!  I wrote the song and performed it with another teacher just before I left Chile, for the ESL teachers.  Most of the spontaneous performance, on a borrowed guitar, was captured on a cellphone by a teacher from the British Council – here is the YouTube video of it!  Soon after, my dear, now deceased musician friend Marcia Deihl notated the song for me, and I submitted the song to The Folknik magazine, which published it in 2014.  Here…

View original post 100 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

working out the arrangement with Wanees Zarour

IMG_8105[1]

Here Lynn Keller, the producer of my upcoming album, You, Me, and All of the Above, discusses the arrangement of my song, “Across a Village,” with master musician Wanees Zarour.  Anyone who knows his work, as conductor of three different Middle Eastern-themed orchestras at University of Chicago and his own ensemble, knows that this multi-talented man can do it all.  And on this magical cut, that’s exactly what he does…Can’t wait for you to hear it!

IMG_8096[1]IMG_8091[1]

IMG_8102[1]

Leave a comment

Filed under album, composer, musician, songwriter