Welcome to my blog! We may delve into many areas during our dialog, but it all begins with music. This is a place where you can find out about our current projects, share gig stories, respond to articles I’ve written, and post your own experiences with music and healing, music and the environment, and other topics that might interest you. The goal is to provide a forum where stories, ideas and feelings can be freely exchanged.
I grew up with music in my family–my brother a concert pianist and my Dad a jazz pianist/trumpet player. From church choirs to coffeehouses, from rhythm and blues in noisy bars to intimate jazz concerts, and from teaching music in school to playing at the hospital bedside, it’s been an interesting journey. As an eclectic professional musician since the 1970’s, I’ve been lucky to share the stage and the airwaves with Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Garrison Keillor, Florida folk legend Will McLean, jazz pianist Rob Bargad, and others, as well as opening for New Thought authors/speakers like Deepak Chopra, Dr. Bernie Siegle and Marianne Williamson. You can hear my music and find out more about my bands by visiting CathyDeWittMusic.com
In 1995 I found myself in a most unexpected setting, the hospital, where it turned out my eclecticism proved very useful. As Musician in Residence/Music Program Coordinator for Shands Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida, I get to play and sing at the bedside for patients, train and mentor other hospital musicians, and travel all over presenting workshops and seminars on music and healing. From piano playing in the hospital lobby to elevator singalongs, from hallway concerts to bedside harp in the ICUs, I’ve seen music transform the hospital environment and the patient experience.
As the journey continues, I’ve recently joined PMA, the Positive Music Association, something which might interest those of you who feel that your music has a positive message to purvey. I’ve also found that the relationship between music/the arts and the environment is really popping into public awareness–once again, music brings the community together around the current topic of debate.
The Greening of Music
As long as I’ve been in North Central Florida, artists of all media have used their art to show their affection and concern for the state of our State. The Florida Folk Festival in White Springs, the Will Mclean Festival in Dade City and countless others throughout Florida focus on original music about our flora and fauna and environmental issues. Along with these and other performances, I’ve gotten to “go green” with music in some exciting special projects. Steve Robitaille’s “Natural Florida”, an educational CD-rom funded by the Humanities Council and the Florida Defenders of the Environment, took six years of preparation, gathering and compiling art from all over the state! The product, which features 500 examples of artists using their art (music, photography, literature, etc.) to exemplify and help preserve and protect Florida’s natural environment, was sent to schools, museums, and libraries throughout Florida. As Music Editor for this project, I compiled original music from 30 Florida musicians to be featured on the CD.
In addition to that, we held several live “jubilees” featuring artists from the CD throughout the various bioregions categorized in the project: Tallahassee, Daytona Beach, the Florida Keys, the Suwanee region, and more. Patchwork performed at “preview” events in our area, and Janet Rucker’s song “More Water”, was sung and played as a companion to Cynthia Barnett’s popular new book “Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Waters of the U.S. East Coast.” At the same time, visual artists like Eleanor Blair and Sue Johnson demonstrated their landscape painting, and photographer John Moran showed presentations of his work in the wilds and woods of Florida.
Another really cool project which I was very proud to be a part of is Florida’s Eden’s Heart of Florida Scenic Trail guidebook with accompanying CD. This beautiful book, created by watercolor artist Annie Pais and graphics genius Stewart Thomas, entices people–through the use of pictures, stories and songs–to get off of the major highways and travel at a much slower pace, along the back roads of North Central Florida. Here they can visit places like Micanopy, Melrose, Evinston, Paynes Prairie, and even go back in time to meet people like Marjorie and Archie Carr, Zora Neale Hurston and the legendary Indian Chief Vitachuko. Natural sounds, radio interviews from the archives of Classic 89, and original Florida music provide the soundtrack to this journey under the live oak canopies.