Home of the Brave

The Home Of The Brave
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what
it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge
that there can never really be any peace and joy for me
until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.”
Frederick Buechner
Can I make a confession? I am not really into politics. Sure I watch the news and know what is going on in the world, but other than that I never had much interest. I have been one of those people who stays on the sidelines and silently might complain, but waited for someone else to do something about it.
Until now…
No matter what side of the issues you are on I think we can all agree that there is turmoil in these United States. Rights are being taken away from people, others are fighting to keep their families together, and some are living in fear for their safety.  I didn’t realize how much I was being affected by all the news and personal stories until I was in a songwriting session at the Positive Music Festival in Tampa Florida this past February. I got together with two of my favorite songwriting partners, JD Martin and David Roth, for what I thought would be a fun afternoon of writing. Little did I know when we started discussing what to write about that so much emotion would come up for all of us regarding the recent ban of immigrants and the stories of families being torn apart by deportation.
We started to share stories that we had heard about a mother being taken away from her children and deported, pictures of people fleeing their homes to escape the horrors of war, and the marches and riots that are occurring in
protest to what is happening to our freedom. So we started writing, taking a complicated subject and trying to craft a song that would speak to these present day issues and honor the immigrants and refugees who have shaped our country. The song was done in two days with the three of us bringing our hearts, humanity, and compassion to hopefully write a song that would speak for so many people.
With the ink barely dry on the page we decided to try out “our new baby” that night at a conference showcase. In front of a group of songwriters we debuted our song, not knowing if we had hit the mark or not. We must have known we were onto something when people started applauding after we sang the very first verse. We finished the song, got a standing ovation, walked off the stage, and the three of us hugged and spontaneously burst into tears. We had no idea that the words we sang could touch and heal our hearts so much. 
My story would normally end there, but we had a wonderful woman come up and say she wanted to make a video of this song, and below is the manifestation of that dream – the completed video of “Home of the Brave.”
Maybe I am not political…but I am compassionate. I am willing. I am ready to lend my voice to people who are not being treated fairly. I am an American and today I take a stand.
Click here to watch the video:
(Immigrants and Pilgrims and Refugees)


This video was put together as a labor of love from Sherry Hursey and Rick Cowling of TOtl Entertainment. We all are hoping that you watch this video, share with your friends, and help get this message into the world. 
We made an audio recording of the song that you can buy as a digital download on CD Baby (purchase here) and iTunes. Proceeds from this song will benefit organizations that work on behalf of immigrants and refugees.
We also set up a PayPal account to be able to contribute to these organizations. Click here to donate. 

Creativity Through Music

“Some people show up when they need something.
Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later, when they need something. And some people merely show up.
Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.” 
Seth Godin
In February I was at the POSI Awards in Florida when I had a chance to hear a new-to-me speaker, Julie Gold. If you haven’t heard of her, she wrote “From A Distance” which was a big hit for Bette Midler and several others. Listening to her share her love of music with no agenda (didn’t try to sell us CDs or “How To Be Just Like Me” classes) was a revelation and an inspiration to me – a reminder of why I originally started playing the piano, and what it did for my life.
Her talk took me back to a time when I discovered the piano at the age of 16. I had always wanted to be creative, but my four-hour training workouts as a swimmer left me little time for anything else. Some of you know that I was the babysitter for Carole King’s children when I was a teenager growing up in Hollywood.  The fact that Carole entered my life at that vulnerable age still is a mystical experience to me. What is even more amazing is that she was remodeling her house and needed to store her piano for a few months. Imagine my shock when I found out that Carole and my mom had decided to surprise me and let me “borrow” Carole’s piano during the remodel. I will never forget walking into my bedroom and here was this beautiful wood upright piano just waiting for me to discover its mysteries. I had no idea how to play it but just touching the keys and hearing the sounds transformed my life forever. How could my Mom or Carole ever know that this amazing gift would help a geeky girl find her voice and set me on the path that I am on today? I wound up having that beloved piano for a year and taught myself how to play it, wrote a ton of teenage angst songs, and never felt lonely or geeky again.
All of this came back to me when I listened to Julie Gold. An on-going joke in her talk was her funny put-downs of electric pianos and her deep reverence for a real live piano. As musicians we are all very used to playing electronic keyboards. But as she talked I remembered that upright piano of long ago, and the joy of playing on a real live acoustic piano came back to me.
So thank you Julie Gold for re-awakening the joy of music and my love of playing the piano (yes a real one!), and the amazing gift of creativity through music.

See Me


Look at the way you’re looking at me.
You add up the parts, think you know what you see…
From “See Me” by Karen Drucker
Robert Anderson & Karen Taylor-Good
Marlena heard his voice for the first time behind a curtain in the hospital. She was there giving a massage to a patient and she heard this man speak to his client in the most loving, supportive, compassionate way. As she massaged her own client she began fantasizing about this sweet talking, loving, soothing voice of the man behind the curtain and wondered who he could be and what he looked like. Was he hunky? Single? Did his voice match his looks? Finally at the end of her session she couldn’t contain herself and peeked through the curtain to see him. She gasped in horror and quickly shut the curtain and ran away.
Little did she know that day that the man behind the curtain, whose face actually frightened her, would eventually become her husband and change her life.
Meet my friend and hero, David Roche.
David is an amazing inspirational humorist, keynote speaker, and performer who has transformed the challenges and gifts of living with a facial disfigurement into a compelling message that uplifts and inspires anyone who meets him.

I have been inspired by David from the first time I saw him perform. But what is truly amazing is when David and his wife Marlena come into an elementary school to perform his show – you can see the shock and fear in the faces of the children. But what David does at the beginning of his talk is have the kids yell

out: “What happened to your face?” He explains that he was born with a severe facial disfigurement, and goes into great detail telling them all about it. He says to them: “I see my face as a gift, because my shadow side – my difficulty and challenge – is on the outside, where I have been forced to deal with it, and in doing so, have found my beauty inside myself.” You can feel the children listen and soften, and he tells them stories and makes them laugh. They start to see the man and not the face. He gently asks them how they might be judging other kids that might be different from them, and they start to get it. They feel his heart, and by the end of the talk everyone in the room has been transformed.


Transformation is what we need more of in our world right now. No matter what you look like, the color of your skin, where you came from, your age, what your religious beliefs are, I truly believe we can use what David is offering: seeing everyone you meet through loving compassionate eyes, feeling their heart, and seeing the face of God in everyone we meet.