As I sit down to write this on a sunny SoCal Autumn afternoon, after a morning walk on the beach, a strong sense of change and flow still feels fresh.
Perhaps, months ago, like many in the FAR-West community, I had hoped by now we could be coming out of the pandemic. I had imagined myself planning next year’s concerts, scheduling a return to in-person workshops and teaching, a new record release… Instead, I am home, observing a curfew, making a grocery list to last 10 days or more, hand washing masks.
In this forced stillness, unable to plow forward, the chance to allow myself to surrender to insight and hindsight is an unexpected gift. Brakes on suddenly, I rebound back into place, my heart returns to a steadier beat, and I can see the ruts and potholes in the road that I used to speed over on my way to…somewhere.
A dear friend once told me when I pity-partied to her about a writing dry spell: “Maybe it’s not a dry spell. Maybe you’re in a cocoon.” I return to this idea often during lockdown: my biggest mistake in my creative life has been mis-categorizing a pause as an end. A belief that taking a break will cause my muse to wither and die or never come back has been one of my pet irrational fears. After my initial period of grief and loss this year (all five stages on repeat for a few months!) I feel self-care and renewal are luxuries I can now regularly indulge in.
Writing has taken a break from me, not an easy thing to admit during a time like this, as I watch other artists being amazingly prolific and public with their ongoing creativity. Yet — another friend also shared this observation sometime this summer: “The ones having the worst time are the people who refuse to accept that this time is just different.” Just different. Somehow, deciding to approach the absence of gigs and gatherings as simply “different” gives me permission to approach music during this time with some equanimity and calm, and release some of my fear for the future.
“Different” opens my perspective to what I do have, which is an abundance of time. I have groundedness and a predictable day-to-day life at home with my partner — something missing in nearly seven recent years of touring. I have time to reorganize my home studio, acquire new tools for self-production and livestreaming, become an engineer, learn new practice techniques, rest and strengthen my voice. Reconnect with people. And like I used to: listen, really listen to and enjoy oodles of music.
In this, my creative Autumn, there’s been a harvest of sorts. Buried deep in the files of several hard drives (found while reorganizing!) are song demos, multitrack recordings of live shows, text files of lyric starts and poetry. All buried like digital seeds, waiting to get watered and fed. Perhaps that is what this time is for me — to uncover parts of my voice that I’d forgotten about.
Change and flow bring strange gifts, but gifts nonetheless. Beneath a changing canopy of red and gold, I hope that one slow step at a time over shifting earth will bring me to a post-pandemic musical life that is as open, as I hope to be, to something “different.”
Celia Chavez would normally be a professional singer out on tour, either as part of the Enrique Iglesias Band or as half of acoustic duo Petty Chavez (with partner Simon Petty of Minibar). Celia did a pandemic pivot and dove deeper into her roles as a remote recording vocalist and songwriter for TV shows, while also performing regular, successful livestream concerts. She is co-founder of Empowered Singer Workshops, where she teaches singers vocal harmony and percussion, and coordinates their Vocal Production for Singers courses.
In an attempt to keep us connected as we continue to find our way through these often stressful times, some in our extended community have been sharing their experiences, lessons learned and hope as they’ve dealt with Covid, lockdown, boredom, lack of inspiration, etc. We are all looking for ways to make lemonade out of the many lemons! This column will continue on a weekly basis and postings will be released at 10 AM Pacific every Monday, so watch for them! For guidelines and submission details, please contact Julie Zipperer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marlynn Block at email@example.com. Submissions will be posted based on approval from the Lockdown Lemonade Committee.