It’s so beautiful in Hollywood today. The world is glittering with gold, and yellow streamers of sunlight wind through the tree boughs like God was throwing a party! And what makes today even more beautiful? It’s my birthday! And what else? I’m finally legal!!! Yay!!! But there’s more: I met a music manager who is going to help me produce a demo of my original songs. It will probably be a while before the record is complete, but I’d like to invite you into my world as everything comes together.

For those of you who don’t know me, let me paint you a little picture. For starters, I was home schooled as a kid, and I spent as much time reading Tolstoy and writing short stories as most kids did watching TV and going to regular school. I didn’t have a TV in the house, so I wrote lots of plays and forced my sister and brother to act in them. I collected insects. I held High Tea parties. And I tried to get rich — usually by kidnapping neighborhood cats and waiting for their owners to put up reward posters.

Oh yeah, I played the piano too. Man, did I love that piano! From the first time I sat down to one, I was hooked. I played every day, for hours on end, and it was my love of music, and my humility in the light of its power, that got me where I am today. Well, that, and the fact that I had a crush on Beethoven. Yeah, I know that’s kind of weird, having a crush on a dead German guy and all, but I thought maybe he could see me from heaven whenever I was sitting at the piano. I wasn’t sure, of course, but at 12, it was good motivation to practice.

Fortunately for me, my Beethoven strategy worked. I was soloing with my first US symphony at the age of 11, barely a year after sitting down to a piano for the first time ever and miraculously knowing how to play it. No one had to tell me I was good; I knew it. And knowing it gave me the kind of confidence very few kids, or adults, ever get to feel. I knew as early as my eleventh birthday that I was going to succeed as a musician. I just had to stay focused.

Although I was confident as a child in my ability to play the piano, it took a while for me to get comfortable as a singer. I could tell my voice was different than everybody else’s, and as a kid, I didn’t like that. Luckily for me, I found out that it’s considered to be a pretty big deal for a singer to have a distinctive voice; it’s what makes certain artists truly one of a kind. Once I realized just how lucky I was, I came to embrace my uniqueness. But I realized it didn’t matter how unique my voice was if I didn’t learn how to sing right, and I knew I had to put in the time if I wanted to sound my best. So I practiced.

Practice isn’t always a pleasant process, though, especially if people who don’t support you are within earshot. I had the hardest time when I was younger. I would play and sing in the high school auditorium during lunch hour, and afterwards a group of three or four girls would follow me out of the building and punch me in the face and pull my hair while telling me how terrible I sounded. I cried so many times because of how mean they were, but I didn’t let anyone know. And I kept on singing, and I kept on playing, and I kept on writing songs, even when I was harassed because of it, and assaulted.

I believed in myself, because I had to. The mean girls would hit me, call me names, emotionally abuse me, whatever. I didn’t like it; in fact, it made me really angry. But the music only burned hotter in my soul because of it, and I could not turn my back. Of course, I eventually learned how to hit back, and later, how to hire a lawyer, but for years, I would throw myself into my music every time incidents like these occurred. I would practice my ass off until I got ridiculously good. The meaner people were, the harder I worked. The harder I worked, the better I got.

I’m not in high school anymore, so I don’t have to deal with that kind of juvenile adversity. But I did go through it, and I used it to my advantage. It was hard, but it made me stronger. Aspiring artists, take note! Don’t view criticism or cruelty as hurtful weapons that can weaken you; view them as obstacles you have to overcome on your journey towards your destiny. Mean people are like exercise equipment. If you know how to use them properly, they will sculpt you into the ultimate version of yourself. So every day, I try to believe a little more in myself and in the power of music.

Now I have a huge challenge ahead of me as far as this demo is concerned. I’ve got to take a lifetime of piano playing, and an special but untrained voice, and make something out of it.

So wish me luck, folks, and thank you for taking a step into my world. I am honored to share my music and my life with you.