Musical inspiration comes from the people, events, and experiences that make you who you are
You know that question people ask musicians “who influences you most”? Well, I’ve never been able to answer it. For a while I thought I’d just list what music I grew up listening to, as that must have made an impact on my writing style and served as musical inspiration. Later, I started listing musicians whose music I currently am into because I must be trying to be more like them if I am a fan, right?
Then I changed my answer again, and started saying my dad. My dad was a jazz musician who played upright bass since high school, who could tinkle an Errol Garner or Dave Brubeck tune on the piano without even knowing where middle C is. Completely the opposite of me, a classically trained pianist with not an ounce of jazz in my blood. But I knew my love for music and any talents one could claim I have came from him. He loved my songs and my performances, and always gave just the perfect amount of constructive feedback to both. I even had the closing line my Grammy acceptance speech (oh don’t pretend you haven’t written yours already) read “every note I write is for you, Dad.”
This was it! I found my musical inspiration and my answer to that nagging interview question! For the moment….
After a rapid decline in health, my dad passed away a few weeks ago. While I was lucky to be very complete with him, nothing was left unsaid and we were expressing our love until the end, I am left with a gaping hole in my heart and the question, silly as it may seem, “now who do I do it all for?”
A few days ago, I listened to a lot of my old songs that he loved, and watched the last video that he watched of my music to try to get some answers. When watching “Steaming Hearts,” the underlying message of “I will get over this” was screaming out loud. I remembered writing the lyrics and music when I was in a dark place in a relationship, and I wrote the song to encourage strength in myself. Funny how it would become the source of hope during a time of unprecedented grief.
And, after years of struggling with an answer, I found it. When someone next asks me who influences my music the most, my answer will be “Me. I listened to a lot of jazz, thanks to my dad, and studied classical music growing up, and am currently really into the band XYZ (or whatever I’m listening to at the time).” I am the source of my own musical inspiration. It comes from my life experiences, observations, trials, hopes, and dreams.
Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a singer/songwriter and composer and can tell you everything about herself in 30 seconds in the jingle she made. Her website is CBEmusic.com and you can follow her on Twitter @CBE. She authored the e-Course “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump Start Strategy” which will get your music career moving in the direction you want (go get it now and use the Disc Makers Special code IHEARTDM for 70% off!). Her new epic video, complete with rock climbing and helicopter shots, is on YouTube – watch it now!