In the Moments Between Dreaming
'...one of the most creative songwriters and storytellers in the Grand Valley'--Peter Frankland, Channel 11 News. Notes on this CD: Susan Cypher (Me), The Nightbird presents a magical CD. Each song tells a captivating story inspired by real life or fantastic myths and legends. First with visions from days of olde, 'David's Song,' written for my husband. Brings to life a maiden who in our fairy tale daydreams wait in the darkness, chained, looking for her knight to rescue her. I was daydreaming myself when I wrote this, thinking about my knight arriving out of a sunbeam and carrying me off to ride 'through the surf and sand, flirting with the sun.,' as I take the place of the maiden in the dream and surrendering to the knight of my dreams. Surrender yourself into my fantasy world, where lives the 'Knight in Dented Green Armor.' Again, this knight is based on my real present-day knight with his silver-streaked dark hair and sea-blue eyes. His 'dented green armor' is a dented Green 1964 Chevrolet pickup, in which he has ridden to my rescue on many occasions-usually when my poor little 'steed' (at that time a 1971 Datsun) had it's own problems. Other songs on this CD bring some personal sadness mixes with healing, like in the music of 'Missing,' (which I wrote and sung for my brother Teddy's funeral). It was meant to remind those of use who remain that those lost to us still are alive inside our memories, though our hearts may be a long-time healing. As it says at one point, 'yet when we think of them, they are so real. We see them smiling and know how they feel where they live deep inside. Even gone, they reside in our minds...in my mind.' This song, also makes me remember a young man I met while singing who was dying of brain cancer. He listened to me and seemed to enjoy it, but had no money with paying for expensive treatments. I gave him my CD and his sister shared with me later the joy he received, and I shared with her this CD (we are still friends now and I still see her from time to time). If this song gives you joy or you are suffering, please feel free to write me. Sometimes all we need to know is that we are not alone. I included on this album 'For my Children,' as it sounds like it was written for my kids. I actually wrote it when my son graduated from high school and went into the military, actually going in before he had even turned 18. It was quite a wrench. It took me a year to sing the song afterwards. He is now out of the military but is still working and traveling, 'flying' so to speak, and I couldn't be prouder. My daughter then flew off the nest and it was not any less hard. That is why it was for both of them. They are strong and powerful beautiful people, as are all our children, and when they leave home (if we do it right they grow feathers and fledge), we worry and wish, as in the song, ' I'll help you if and when I can. But time is drawing now, you'll leave my hand. I want to wrap my arms around and hold you very near, and in this way remove my every fear.' For we do fear for them and are proud of them, from the time they first try to walk or move forward into this tough world, so this is for all of our children-our futures, our pride, our hearts, our legacy to the world. Now with the song 'Children of the Dawn,' I also wanted to share with you joy. I sought in this song to capture a moment in time that I saw one morning on they way to work-a moment that lifted my heart to the heavens. As I was driving along, the sun was just beginning to rise and these birds who had been sitting all over the ground in this field suddenly sprang into the sky and began making pictures in the sky, turning here and there. There seemed to be no meaning to this. It looked for all intents and purposes like a dance of joy, a celebration of the sunrise. This went on for awhile. Since then, I have seen this dance several times and it never fails to lift my heart and makes me wonder why we can't just free ourselves and 'dance with dawn's first light. Mount on breath of dew and take full flight. Let the praises of our mouth shape all we csay and are. Let our minds be filled with light and the burning of the stars. Let's let go of inner strife and just look at all alive as children of the dawn...We're Children of The Dawn.' Oddly enough, this beautiful dance is done by a not-so-beautiful bird, the starling-an irony is it not? Next come, listen, and taste the 'Siren Song' (my friend Rochelle's favorite song at the time of the making of this CD, in fact I went back and remastered this CD to put it on for her because it was not on it originally and she was disappointed). I hope when you listen, you will experience a time when ancient people believed there were women with voices so beautiful that to hear them was to forget who and where you were and just listen to the song. They sang with 'voices of the sea,' which was not healthy I am afraid for the sailors who forgot to steer the ship and until that moment thought they were merely stories-myth. But this song, says that perhaps the Sirens still sing (as perhaps do other ancients-like the elves) and if you listen in the still small hours of morning you may hear them, singing 'In the cold velvet morning, calling out to' you. May my song 'Wishes,' bring you to allow yourself to dream as freely as a child does (and was written for the children here in our Grand Valley at Mt. Garfield Middle School), to let your dreams, so often forgotten or placed aside, to help you soar 'over the mountains, under the moon.' Then, as in the song, as your 'dreams shall rise,' you 'will take the skies.' And then your dreams will bring you life. Sometimes I think it is way too easy to forget that once we believed we could be absolutely anything, anything, our heart could think of, and that idea of ourselves was real. There is other songs on this CD, but I invite you with love and light to invite you to sit in the grass and surrender to the music of 'Wind's Song,' which was written for a band of friends at the end of their run in a band called 'Windfield.' (Great musician's and kind people all). Their name conjured the vision of sitting on a hill as the musician's began to play, first tuning their instruments then beginning the magic of what we call music. As the music picks up, it lifts you and whirls you into the living notes, as you dance, smile, cry, eventually releasing you to lie you back on the grass to await the calling of the music again. These songs are only a taste of where you will find yourself when transported into my mystical realm, as you sit back and absorb these musical tales. Also, if you like these, please check out this one's sister album 'Songs of the Dark,' also available on CDBaby and filled (as you will read there with the flavor of moonlight and passion. Cypher (ME!) plays almost all the instruments on this CD including: guitar, keyboard, and backing vocals. (Rick Cosby played bass on Siren song and David's Song, thank you Rick! He also is the magician who recorded these pieces). From here on in--this is me, my background, bio, whatever!! I consider myself a modern-day renaissance musician. Growing up, I loved the way the fairy tales wove themselves into my very heart and being, and as The Nightbird I seek to do the same for others. As I went along I became aware of a type of musician called a bard-meaning a person who writes their own stories and music. I was not this, not for many years. Instead, when I first became a solo artist (I had been in bands before) and started singing at Renaissance Faires and so forth, I called myself 'The Traveling Troubador' singing and telling stories to children and adults, but none of it was my own voice, my own stories. Also, someone asked me once while I didn't write any sooner than this, and I told them I didn't have anything to say. This was not entirely so. What I had to say at a much tenderer age was just not very good. I wrote some songs back then but felt they lacked something and for a long time, shelved my attempts. But somewhere during this journey I found my own voice and started writing all my own stuff. I also moved from performing specifically for children (although I never did aim completely at children and still take on storytelling gigs, because there is such a joy when you help people suspend reality and step into that which exists in the cracks of reality :) But mentally, I aimed at a little bit older crowd. As I researched what a bard was, I realized that this type of storyteller was someone who was trying to bring to life stories told to the adults and young teens. At a time when there was no newspaper, they carried forth the stories of their time. Often wrapped in a story, was a deeper meaning. This was the person I saw myself becoming. I felt that we lost our way as a people. I heard the music we listened to and thought 'where is the mysticism, where is the poetry,' of music. For me, I could taste the words, their power and beauty. I wanted to give that to my audience, to sing the silvery light, to carry my listeners away from this, the mundane, and hope I have succeeded. I have been highly influenced by my favorite writer, 'J.R.R. Tolkein' and also 'Mercedes Lackey.' True poets, true shapers of the word. That is what I seek to do. I shape the words. I want you to breathe the wind and storm I sing into the songs. I have to admit that most of my best reviews will never be seen in a magazine. It is the person who hears me, turns around, and with awe on their face (this happened last weekend) says 'Oh, my God she's beautiful' and stares enraptured as I weave my song around them (not truly referring to me, I am fairly sure :) but to my music). Or it is like one of my favorite fans who says 'Your music has magic and healing, Susan, let it spin.' Of course, when this friend talks about magic, he is not talking metaphorically. He believes in the possibilities that are within this universe, just like all my true fans. We tend to be those who think 'Here they be Dragons' means there is one in the backyard for those who look closely--mine's blue and brings the storm on it's wings :) Some of my reviews are like these from my friend and another fab artist Petrella, who I had the privilege to perform with and is reknowned as the 'First Lady of Country Soul' (I like that Country Soul--now this is definitely a lady to check out as well). Who wrote 'No bird has a voice like yours, ' and then told me that I was in a rare group of artists in her personal collection, right there with Marc Anthony (I felt very, very flattered). Then there is the one I cherish from Mike Nardone, Director of A & R, Universal Music Group, who wrote to me saying in a review of my music 'I enjoyed listening to your songs'...with 'Siren Song' being another 'well-written song and my favorite of your three songs' submitted for evaluation. I loved it because he complimented me on my songcraft and said 'the vocalist' (that's me HA!) had 'passion and confidence throughout.' He was also surprised that his favorite was one that was only guitar and vocals (just a little bass, obviously). He says he does not recommend people to send in demos like this, but that in this song it worked. I also was interviewed in the 'Grand Junction Free Press,' a local newspaper, and the writer (Gary who took me to lunch and a ride in his cool car) wrote of my 'high flying spirit' as well as my 'love of the moonlight...the enchantment of fairy tales, and the magic of old lore like that found in 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' by J.R.R. Tolkein. (Told you I liked Tolkein :) Below here is just background stuff--I'll try not to bore you too much :) I had the privelege of playing at The Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction at The Big Break in the summer of 2001 and was selected from a field of thousands as one of the top 20 acts. Fun places I've played include The Unity Walk in 1999. (I wrote a story called 'Janus' for that one about prejudice, which the character has to learn to overcome). This is turning into a series of stories I hope to look at publishing in the future. I also got to be at the 1999 and 2000 Earth Day Celebrations in Grand Junction., along with various coffee shops, public events, private parties, and many fairs and festivals. I was also the featured performer at The Planet Earth Gallery for the Dark Show in 1999, since then have played at that every year since and have been the musical host for other musicians at this event, as well as playing for and hosting--with Caole Lowry, an amazing artist in her own right--The Goddess Show every spring. In fact, this was the first year (2005) I missed it. However, this year I was asked to choreograph with a good friend of mine that same night with the kids from Central High School and it happened on the same night. This gave me the privilege of working with these young dancers and seeing them bring 2 of my songs (Imaging, and To Dance) fully to life. I want to take a moment to give my thanks for this opportunity to Gretchen Orcutt, whose brainchild of giving these kids the opportunity of working with artists and choreographers and generally expressing themselves in dance. Another time, I got to be the only singer from Grand Junction at a benefit concert in Loveland, Colorado that raised money for the construction of ears for a small boy who was born without them (when we did it, the operation was only available in England). Seeing the musicians come together for this was amazing, and as I was standing backstage, the child in question came and placed his head on my guitar so he could hear what I was playing. This moment and the movie 'Immortal Beloved' inspired a song called 'Loss.' In this song I seek to try and capture what it might feel to lose what I am so privileged to enjoy, but also with a realization that we yearn for this, even when we have never experienced it. It is a song that I hope to get to record on my next CD. In 2002 I had a great journey when I went with my sweetheart and a good friend, Tom Averna, to Park City, Utah to perform for the New Artist Radio Awards. I was so thrilled to be elected for 2 awards (Arisen Female Artist 2002 and Best Female Folk Artist 2002) winning the former. This last year, I got to return to NAR and perform again, and had the privilege of winning the New Artist Radio's 'Best Folk Artist 2004.' Best of all, I didn't even know I had been nominated. I know people say that, but it was true and therefore even more exciting-besides the fact that Darksins and TMC (the DJs) are fabulous people. In 2002, I was also privileged to accompany my friend and fellow artist, Theresa Joseph, on hand percussion at a Songwriter's Invitational in South Dakota while also previewing one of my newest songs 'Walking Between Worlds,' that I wrote for Joseph and another dear friend Ambra Scarlett (both Native American flute players). This is another song planned for production on my next CD. It explores the pain suffered by many of mixed heritage who stride between various cultures, often suffering abuse from both sides, who could be seen as the bridge that might be a healing force in this broken world. (Both of these women are my sisters in every sense of the word but birth). In 2003, I played in Nashville (wow what cool people) in a showcase for Affinity Music, as well as recently traveling to Denver to play in a Just Plain Folks showcase (what talent amongst these Indie artists, I was overwhelmed). Both performances went very well and I met some fabulous people, not only industry people to help me further my dreams but people who I think will be friends as well. Whew, so much stuff and so little time. Just a couple of new notes. The last 3 years I have been playing at Larkspur Renaissance Faire in Denver, as well as a local Ren Faire here in Grand Junction in the month of my birth, August (in fact over the weekend of August 20). You can celebrate my birthday with me if you come. I will be there at least for the Romance Weekend in Larkspur (I live a bit far from Denver but it is a fabulous gig and I would love to see you there) and some others. I haven't decided which ones yet, but have an open invitation. Look for me strolling with my guitar in my powder-blue outfit :) From here down my musical past (Read at your own peril!) As a musician, my influences have been many. As mentioned above, I played folk music for years, singing Peter, Paul, and Mary (still do from time to time), Janis Ian, Gershwin (oddly enough), Steeleye Span, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter Gabriel, Robert Palmer, Don Hensley, Mercedes Lackey (writer of music and stories) and lots and lots of others, some known, some unknown. I loved it's focus on lyrics and stories. I have also played a wide variety of music including classical music, rock and roll (in several bands--some very good, some we won't talk about:), country (again some good and one truly bad--an interesting claim to fame), jazz, and some really strange music based on Israeli music that I wrote for some a gorgeous dancer/choreographer, Jill McKnight (one of my first pieces). I even arranged Gregorian chant for brass when I was in college (it was actually pretty cool). Some of the groups I have performed with are The Centennial Band, The Western Colorado Chorale, Patchwork (a group of very fine musicians, all of us were friends AND women but one-the drummer), the Mesa State Jazz Band, and was the choir and music director for several years for the local Religious Science Center, quitting for personal reasons last summer. I also did a lot of sacred dance while I was there. It was a great experience with kind people and the people I met there were fantastic. Years ago, I got to play keyboards in a backup band for Darlene Austin (along with a couple of good friends and fine local musicians, Theresa DeRush, Smith, Doug Lenard, and Jeannette Altes) one year when she was traveling through here for a benefit concert. If anyone had been there, I was the unseen keyboard player behind the huge keyboard stack--I'm rather short but very feisty!! I am also able to say I was the last official member of Windfield (out of Denver). I ran lights for their last tour here in Grand Junction and sang onstage with them as well. (Note here--good people--very, very good people)!! As I read my official bio I find I hold B.A. degrees in Vocal Performance, Music Ed, as well as General Education--way too many B.A.s--and play a variety of instruments including: piano, guitar, French horn (way fun to play on the National Monument at Cold Shivers Point here in Grand Junction. It rings in the canyon beautifully. You can find me there sometimes when I just need a moment, just a moment, for myself) and trumpet. But my favorite instrument, the one I most enjoy using, and have enjoyed teaching is Voice. For these reasons I sing--I sing because I love it. I sing because I must. I sing because without song, life is a dingy place. More than anything I love to write and perform. Music is the magic that makes my life complete. I hope you will join me sometime. I would like that very much.