DIARY OF A LATE BLOOMER

Still Blooming After All These Years!!! 

I want to stop today and encourage everyone who is thinking about following a dream.  
Perhaps you are thinking it is too late.  
I am living proof that it is never too late to start.  

I taught pre-school, raised a family and worked at my songwriting and performing when I could.  I am now officially retired and filling my life with family and  friends and music!!  All my years of slow but steady learning and improving are now finally bearing fruit!

I have just had an incredible two weeks and there is only one reason that I was able to be successful with the different projects that showed up in my life.  It is because I did my due diligence each and every day toward my goal of  being an independent and professional songwriter and performer.

My magical week started with a Sunday afternoon songwriting workshop that I taught to a wonderful group of young women.  They were intent and focused and I had the opportunity to share many ideas about songwriting that I have picked up over the years through attending a myriad of songwriting workshops myself.  A joyful and satisfying afternoon!

I organized a final band rehearsal for Carolyn Harley & the Davidsons on Tuesday for our show on Wednesday evening at a venue downtown Calgary.  This was a new venue for me and we filled the place!   We had a wonderful time with lots of laughter and an opportunity to forget the bitter economic times that many people are going through right now in Alberta.
An awesome evening and such a rush for us as a band of almost five years.   We locked in and made wonderful music.  My songs never sounded better!!

I got up on Thursday morning to  catch a plane to The Master Songwriting Workshop in Saskatoon!  I was so fortunate to learn from Jason Blume, a renowned teacher and hit songwriter who loves songwriting and teaching techniques for songwriting.  Michael Phillip Wojewoda from Toronto was also there to give insights into the power of  production and arrangement of our songs once we get into the studio.  I loved his ideas and insights.  

I was also fortunate to encounter songwriters in Saskatoon who loved my work!!   They loved my writing, my voice and my chord structures!  I came away with a powerful sense that all my years had paid off and that I have reached a place where my work has definite power.

I got home from Saskatoon on Monday afternoon and got ready to go into the studio on Thursday morning!!  I had decided before I went away that I wanted to do a CD of my wonderful band.  We were all practiced up from the concert the week before.  We headed into the studio and we just blazed our way through a bunch of tunes that we know and love!  It was a stellar experience in the studio.  I am so excited to share the finished CD with our friends and fans!

I believed in a future where I was an entertainer using my own repertoire of songs.  This week I believe I stepped into the world of the professional performer.  I am going to continue to work hard to improve and expand my horizons.  

This year is just starting and I am pumped!!!  

Whatever you are working on I encourage you to take a look at the big picture.   Know, in your heart, that whatever you are doing today has value for the future.  Keep working on your dream.    I love the saying "Somethings have to be  believed to be seen!".   Keep believing!!
 

THE POWER OF SMALL STEPS!! 

I can't believe how fast times flies!!  It has been almost two years since I last posted as an official late bloomer!!!  

I have been steadily working on my craft as songwriter and performer/entertainer!!  I have had wonderful opportunities to perform with my band  Carolyn Harley & the Davidsons and most recently with my band Copper Junction.  

My most recent project is going  back to my roots as a solo artist and I'm performing complete shows with just me and my guitar.  I am loving this return to the basics of the song and the story.  As a solo artist I am also speaking at conventions about "the power of small steps"  and I'm using my songs as part of my presentation.  This new adventures just materialized in the past year!  

I have continued to work on my Famous 5 project and most recently recorded the second song that I have written about these 5 feisty women of great importance to Alberta's history.  An interpretive centre is being built at Heritage Park to honour The Famous 5 and I am working with The Famous 5 Foundation to further the knowledge of The Famous 5 through my songs!!

I continue to enjoy the loving company of my family and my two darling granddaughters and am continually grateful for the opportunity to sing, write and travel. I love this wonderful country that we live in and the freedom that  we experience to do and accomplish whatever we set our minds to.  

I belive I am benefitting from "the power of small steps".                 It is never too late to bloom!!!

 

Carolyn Harley: Singing with the Symphony!! 

Another exciting adventure in music and being a 'late bloomer'!!
This weekend I did three concerts with the Red Deer Chamber Orchestra as part of a compilation concept CD project .  The
 concert  was  the premiere of  Everybody's World and book release of Akai and Mamoo's Ocean Adventure.
We performed in beautiful theatres with high valted celings and huge stages.  
We had back -up singers, a rhythm section, a grand piano.  A huge video screen behind us with beautiful images of the ocean.  Lights, camera, action and then the beautiful sounds of the Red Deer Chamber Orchestra!!
How could I possibly dream any bigger??

I was amazed to have my song Salt Water Rhapsody, which I co-wrote withRenay-Eng -Fisher, included with a stellar cast of musicians, songwriters, producers, and dreamers. Renay Eng-Fisher had a vision of a taking her education in marine biology and creating an exciting and informative children's book about two little orca whales. She then imagined  a CD of original songs about the ocean being created to accompany the children's book.  Finally she saw the songs being surrounded by the beautiful sounds of symphonic music.  
Renay approached Claude Lapalme of The Red Deer Symphohy Orchestra and he saw the potential of the project and composed a beautiful overture and then symphonic transitions from song to song.  He recorded with the orchestra for the CD and conducted the concerts.

Writers from all across Canada and the United States contributed songs with styles ranging  from calypso to celtic and from classical to comedic!! 
The concerts were greeeted with standing ovations and high praise.
 
The plan is to mount the concert again in February, 2013!!         Watch for your chance to attend!!     Once again I say "It is never too late to bloom!!!"
                                     
Check out all the photos.   Click on The Ocean at carolynharley.com

Carolyn Harley: The Purple Aster 

I think if you have a good idea it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get around to doing something with the idea.  
I had written on a piece of paper the idea of an evening dedicated to 'Late Bloomers'.   It would be called The Purple Aster and would be in celebration of 'Late Bloomers'. E
veryone would wear purple!    
The aster is a purple flower that blooms in the fall and it blooms later than most other flowers. 
Because I am a songwriter I would invite wonderful performers to sing their own songs  and make it an evening of original music. 
I had that piece of paper tucked away for a good many years!   
I left that paper tucked away until I lost a dear friend, Alison Laird,  to a rare cancer called chordoma.  I was heading for a landmark birthday so I decided to finally put my Purple Aster idea into action.  With the help of a wonderful friend Val; Alison's family; my family and the bookgroup that  Alison and I both belonged to we organized the 1st Purple Aster Concert & Silent Auction at Irene Besse's beautiful little theatre called Steinway Hall.
It was so much fun that we decided to hold it again in a larger venue and we moved to The Loose Moose Theatre.   We have been at The Loose Moose for the past three years and each year we grow a little and raise a little more than the year before.  
We just held our 4th Annual Purple ASter Concert & Silent Auction on May 27 and we raised $14,000.00!!  
We are excited to be able to support a Canadian research scientist at The University of Western Ontario.   Dr. Cheryle Seguin's work has been approved for further study by The Chordoma Foundation and we are pleased to be able to assist her in getting the start up funds that she requires for her study.
I am glad that I did not leave that piece of paper with The Purple Aster  idea stuck away in a file folder.  It took a long time to bring it out into the world but I am so glad that I did follow through.  
I have met amazing people; heard amazing music; am working with great people and we are working toward a possible scientific breakthrough!!  
It is
Never Too Late to Bloom!!

Carolyn Harley: The Famous Five 

 I had an opportunity to visit my mother in Chilliwack, BC.  My Mom is 85 years young and is still a going concern.  She is losing her eyesight to macular degeneration and also has hearing loss as well as the aches and pains of an aging body.  
In spite of these discouraging medical realities she is active and always looking for solutions to each set back.  A wonderful role model to me for aging gracefully and constantly seeking out life's remaining pleasures instead of greiving over lost pleasures.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to talk with a friend of my mother.  Jean Scott will be 100 years old April 20, 2012.  She won The Governor General Persons Award in 1990 for her life time of work for equality for women in Canada.   Last fall she was flown to Ottawa on October 18 as the oldest living recipient of the Persons Award.  October 18 is the anniversary of the winning of The Persons Case in 1929 by Alberta's Famous Five.   These five women took on the legal system and eventually won the right to be 'persons' in the eyes of the law.   Jean was alive when this event took place!
As part of a set of my songs for my mother and her friends in the coffee room I dedicated The Ballad of the Famous Five to my Mom and Jean Scott.  When I was finished Jean wanted me to sing a song from her activist days.  I didn't know the song so she sang it in a loud clear voice pumping her arm and encouraging us all to join her.
I was able to get a video of Jean singing this song after most everyone had left the room.  I also got a video interview with her.   It is amazing to see.  Her clarity and determination shine through.  It is difficult to believe that she is 100 years old.  
She expressed that her only regret is that it seemed she was unable to get women to stand up and be heard in the way that she hoped we would.  She is disappointed that so many issues concerning women seem unchanged.  She believes that we, as modern women, are responsible for achieving our own independance and credibilty.
I hope that I can continue to maintain the enthusiasm for life that my Mom and Jean express.  Our bodies may age around us but our dreams and beliefs can still shine through!! 

Carolyn Harley: St. Paddy's Day Blooming at the Calgary Drop In Centre 

 I never cease to be amazed at the opportunities that come my way that allow me to experience the power of music.  
In the process I strengthen my belief in performing shows that are all my own songs.  I have the opportunity to talk about where in my own life experience I got the ideas for the songs.  I can talk about the struggles and triumphs that have lead me to write my songs.  I can celebrate laughter and humour, interact with the audience and receive genuine, hearfelt thanks.  
I was able to experience all this and more when we went to the Drop In Centre  for St. Paddy's Day.  We had funny hats, played some lively jigs, did a hour's set of my uptempo tunes that included country rock, bluegrass, swing, oldies rock and roll and the blues.
The residents of The Drop In Centre were singing and clapping along; shouting out answers to my questions and laughing.  After we were done various residents came up to us and thanked us for taking their minds off  their difficult way of life.
It did my heart good.  
I don't care if I am a late bloomer.   I don't care if I had to wait to create a career as a performer.  I only care that my work is allowing me to bring  laughter and hope to audiences where ever I find them.
I repeat my adage.  It is never too late to bloom!!

Carolyn Harley: Blooming in Florida 

I am so fortunate that I am able to travel from time to time to places of exotic beauty.  
I just returned from 10 days in Florida with my dear husband Joe.  We went to two Barrage concerts to witness our son Tim and the amazing young musicians that he works with.  Barage travels the entire world astounding people everywhere with their talent.  It did my heart good as a mother and as a musician to see such excellence. 
We did a circle from Miami north to Stuart and then a cross the penninsula to Ft. Myers.   Then southward to Everglade City and finally down to the southern tip at Flamingo!
We saw palms and beaches, alligators and croocodiles, Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills, extreme poverty and extreme luxury.   We heard an alligator roar its mating call and the blue sky fill with enormous pink Spoonbills.   We watched an Osprey catch a fish and peeked at two baby Barred Owls peeking at us.  
When I was young with a young family we didn't have the money for far away exotic trips and now that I am almost retired I am determined to get out and see as much of this amazing world as I can on a shoestring!!    I think the birds and beaches look just as beautiful after staying at a basic inexpensive motel.  That suits me...
The memories and photos that I am accumulating will tide me over nicely when I am finally religated to a rocking chair!!

I am trying to be as pro-active as I can about creating performance opportunities and travel opportunities.   I am visualizing combining the two.  I can see me travelling to exotic places doing my music.  The bonus in my career is that the bass player in my band and my travel companion is my husband Joe.
If I keep putting one foot in front of the other I will eventually get somewhere.  I don't know exactly where that will be but I do believe that it will be somewhere wonderful!!!

L8BLUMR @ THE SHAMROCK HOTEL 

I survived another wild ride that went from an idea to reality.  
I am always looking for opportunities to perform in front of an audience and also for opportunities to use my songs for  good purposes.  Last fall I received an email through Songsmiths (a Calgary based songwriting group) about performing at The Shamrock Hotel which, if you live in Calgary, has a rather rough history.  It was suggested I create a fundraiser to increase the size of the audience so I contacted The Calgary Drop In Centre (a downtown homeless shelter).   We worked together to raise funds for the music and art programmes that are offered as recovery tools for the residents. 
The event went without a hitch.  Great atmosphere, great sound and a great turnout.   Everyone felt it was an adventure to visit the Shamrock and loved the music and the art.  I met people in person that I had only connected with by email or facebook!  
I feel like part of the event planning that I am doing, including House Concerts, is helping to create community in the 'real' world.  There is a magical feeling when people come together for a shared purpose.  
As a L8BLUMR I am looking forward to continuing to create events that allow me to grow and allow others to come together to laugh and enjoy.

An Old Bloom Between Two Buds 

I had a wonderful experience as a performer in a concert series at The Hub in Red Deer, Alberta.  
BUD # 1    A beautiful young girl named Olivia, aged 12, opened the show singing opera in a mature and lovely voice that amazed everyone in the audience including me.  She was wearing a pink ball gown with her dark hair pulled back and falling over her bare shoulders.  Beautiful to see and hear.
A FADED ROSE   Then it was my turn with my band The Davidsons and we had a great time and got a great response from the crowd.  Exactly what I have been working toward over the past year.  Lots of laughs and hoots of approval.  Toes tapping, hands clapping,  people singing along.
BUD # 2   Then the amazing young talent of Calum Graham took the stage and he blew everyone away with his fresh faced innocence and amazing talent.  Standing ovation!  
After the event people told me they loved my voice, my energy, and my songs.   At this time I take away the sincere appreciation that I received from the people that spoke to me. One woman looked me square in the eyes and said "I am so glad you are a late bloomer!"  
I will take the positive from the nights adventure in music and move on.   I will use the good advice that I received from my youngest son Tim.  He told me that I will only get better in front of an audience.  So I will continue to seek out opportunities to get in front of an audience and get better!  I still have years ahead of me to 'improve with age'!! 

Blooming Don't Come Easy 

I am at the point in my life, when many people are thinking about retiring and taking it easy.  
Instead I am rushing full steam ahead to a new and exciting adventure as a professional performer!!
I have an amazing band with talented musicians who bring a beauty and energy to my songs that sometimes moves me to tears.
i believe that I wrote the 'bones' of these songs.  I write the skeleton and it is all the different instruments, harmonies, tempos, subtle creative nuances that 'flesh out' the songs and give them form and beauty and grace.
I will aways be grateful for the support that I have received over the years from people who encouraged me to stay the course.
I have had to struggle through the years with set backs and disappointments but there have always been enough successes and words of encouragement to keep me going.
For whatever reason, now is the time in my life that I am suppose to be heading out on this amazing adventure!  
Who knows why ...   but it is my reality.
As I am always saying I am a 'Late Bloomer' and I truly believe that it is never too late to bloom!