Tanya Leah and Me
Sometimes it’s the thing said with candor that changes the course of our lives. And sometimes, a friend is just the person to say it.
To be honest with you, I had a burning desire to make this record, but I had no idea how I could – financially, logistically, and in every other which way. But life has a funny way of presenting us with pivotal moments. And those pivotal moments, from which all accomplishment emanates, are the moments when we decide.
I know, you’re wondering what this has to do with introducing you to the multi-hat-wearing Tanya Leah. So I’m going to reveal the private, candid conversation that clinched the creation of this album.
It went something like this:
Tanya to Ilene: Do you really want to be on your deathbed looking back at your life saying, “I should have made that fucking record?”
Ilene to Tanya: No.
And there it is in a nutshell. The decision was made. And once a decision is made, there’s no turning back or stopping until it’s completed…no matter what…even if.
So now it is my pleasure to introduce you to the ridiculously multi-talented, Tanya Leah – my producer, arranger, co-writer, guitar player, harmonica (yes, harmonica player, though that one was largely born out of necessity), and also, the “please can you shoot my crowd funding video and help me get it up there” person, as well as my “hey, I’m having a semi good hair day, can you stand on a chair and take a picture of me for these updates” person!!! There’s really nothing she hasn’t done to help make this dream of mine a reality. So it’s nice to have the opportunity to acknowledge that publicly here. (I also make it a practice to tell her she’s a genius at least once a day, though the way I text, it often comes out fenius. But it’s the thought that counts.)
I think it was halfway through the making of her own CD, Roses for Panjo - Somewhere Beautiful, that I first approached her about producing my record. I was listening to what she was doing with her own, and all I could describe it as was achingly beautiful. The production was sparse enough to let her voice shine and the songs’ emotional impact be the prevailing thing about the record. I wanted those same qualities for my own project, and so I asked.
It’s a weird thing asking your friend to produce you, I have to admit. Things could go sideways a million different times and ways, which is why Tanya and I sat down from the get-go and talked about the vision for the record, the songs, the players, and what was most important. I set an intention about what I wanted the experience to be like. Loving, joy-filled, celebratory, and heart-centered. Can you really decide that stuff ahead of time? Well, it turns out you can, but you have to be willing to trust and let go.
So here we are, inching close to the finish line, and I couldn’t be happier to share the experience with Tanya.
Tanya’s songs have been heard on the TV shows How I Met Your Mother, The Hills, and Dawson’s Creek. Her voice has been heard as a jingle singer for Coca-Cola, M&M’s, and Downy. And her songs (including four #1’s) have been recorded by Wynonna, Melinda Doolittle, Leslie Gore, Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker and many more.
We’ve collaborated on two songs for this project, though we’ve written many, many more together.
I cannot wait for you to hear the fruits of our labor. And as always, I thank you for supporting it and me from the bottom of my heart.
Peace & Blessings (and hugs and kisses),