Paula's Musical Journey: Gratitude

As I sit in my studio on the day before Thanksgiving, I can't help but think of all the things I'm grateful for. One of the biggest things I'm grateful for lately, is music. I have always wanted to be a singer. Music has always been one of my favorite things.

My musical journey started, as do many others, as a singer in my church choir. I was in the youth choir as a young child and always loved to sing. It is the earliest dream I had, to be a singer. I almost hate to admit it, but my brother and I swore we would be the next "Donnie and Marie"! In fact, The Osmonds was my very first concert at the age of nine. It was a birthday present from my parents. It is one of the happiest memories of my childhood. My brother and I would perform "shows" for our parents and charge a nickel admission. We had dance routines and everything! I'm pretty sure I forced my brother to do the dance routines, but I was the "big" sister, so what can I say!? My brother is a full time musician to this day!

Our dad was a DJ on a local station where he had a golden oldies radio show. We begged him to let us play on the radio, but he said we would have to play our own song. We wrote a silly little ditty about songs from the 50s and he played it! I think I was 9 and my brother was 7 at the time. We were so excited at the time, but looking back makes me cringe just a little as the song was just so silly! I played around with learning to play the guitar as a kid (my mom, brother and I bought our first guitar with green stamps, remember those?!). I played the clarinet in elementary and middle school band. Nothing really stuck with me. I always sang along with the radio though.

Time went on, and as dreams have a tendency to do, my dream of being a singer faded. I moved on to wanting to be an actress and then a lawyer (I know, right? lol!), and I eventually settled on being a visual artist when I was about 13 years old. I still loved music and loved to sing, but somewhere along the way I lost my confidence in myself and decided I was better off hiding behind my art. I could still be creative, but didn't have to get on a literal stage to promote my creativity. I am still a visual artist and will probably always be an artist. You can see more about my artist life on my website.

In my mid-twenties, when Aaron and I were first together, he tried to convince me that I should try singing again. We practiced and put together a set of songs and booked our first gig. When I got up on stage i was SO scared! My knees were shaking, my voice was shaking and I was VERY grateful there weren't very many people in the bar. We played a few songs and when I got off stage I told Aaron, I don't think so! It felt like I had made a complete fool of myself. I had no problem singing in front of friends or family, but my stage fright was so bad I didn't think I could ever get on another stage. And I didn't! At least not for another 12 years!

In 2008, my dad passed away. It was then that I realized I still really wanted to sing and that life was way too short to not follow my dreams. Aaron, my brother and I sang our dad's favorite song at his memorial service. The song was "Urge for Going" by Tom Rush and it was the beginning of my folk singing career. My dad was a huge influence on me and the music I listened to. He was a record collector, and I mean, obsessive record collector! When I inherited his collection there were over 40,000 records! He was a big fan of the folk revival music of the 1960s and I grew up listening to The Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and the list goes on and on.

It was still a few years after my dad's passing before I got back into singing full time. I played here and there with Aaron, but it was in 2012 that I finally had the self confidence to tell Aaron I was really ready this time! Aaron had been saving songs for just this moment! Our first "real" gig as New Mexico Sunshine was November 18th, 2012 at Tractor Brewery in Albuquerque, NM for a local variety show, "I'll Drink to That". I had finally overcome my stage fright! We eventually changed our name to Sunlight, because NM Sunshine was too long and Sunshine was already taken.

After a couple of years of singing only, I decided I wanted to play an instrument too. I started learning to play the ukulele in 2015 and I am really enjoying it! It's so exciting to be living a life long dream! I still have a ways to go before I can claim to be a proficient uke player, but I'm getting there with daily practice.

We have played over 60 shows since then and released one CD with another in the works. I am very happy to say we will have many more to come in the future! The music bug has bit me and I don't think I will ever stop again. I am so very grateful for the music in my life! May you and yours have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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