Friendship, love, and collaboration


Amy Dixon-Kolar wrote a beautiful song for the July 16, 2020 Haiku Milieu show.  You can find it here.  

As a singer songwriter, Amy has traveled the country, playing coffeehouses, clubs, schools, college campuses, festivals and house concerts.  Her inspiration for songwriting comes from her work as a performer, teacher, social activist, ASL interpreter and mother.  The songs she writes and performs as a solo artist, or as part of the SongSisters with Sue Fink and Patti Shaffner, reflect her rich and varied experiences.

I met Amy for the first time several years ago at a Folk Alliance Midwest Region conference, as she mesmerized the audience at her Official Showcase.  From that day forward, I became a fan of Amy as a person and an artist, and all that, it seems to me, her life and her music stand for: Artistic integrity.  Access. Inclusion.  Social justice.

She was one of the artists in the very first Haiku Milieu concert.  I was thrilled that she accepted the invitation to bring another song inspired by haiku to life for the most recent concert, which you can see here.  Please enjoy her thoughts on the process, below.

"Trust and Collaboration 

A little history – when I was in my early twenties I worked a few seasons at a camp/outdoor wilderness program for people with disabilities.  Those few years profoundly changed my life and inform choices I make to this day.  That experience and what it taught me could fill a book, but what relates to Jenny’s wonderful haiku, and became the basis of my song, was their ‘Teams Course’, and specifically, the Trust Fall.  As you stand on a sawn-off, upright pole, the goal is to trust your team enough to fall back in their arms without fear of being dropped or injured, depending on those below to make a solid catch.  A frightening fall - trust and collaboration. 

Forward to last year when a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. Those of us who are close to her were devastated and wanted nothing more than to be there, hold her close, and give support.  Our plans were ruined when hurricane Dorian hit Florida.  We were left having to support and give our love from a distance.  In my journaling about the frustration and sadness among our community of friends, I came up with a chorus to an unfinished song - the idea of letting her, with all her worries, inhibitions and fears, be cradled in our arms of love, trusting us to catch her.  Friendship, love, and collaboration. 

Covid-19 brought about another round of fear and worries, not just for our friend, but for the whole country, the whole world.  Sadness and depression hit those close to me and it was difficult to watch people I love suffer.  Jenny’s haiku came at the right time – “off, not for always, down but not for forever, just for this moment.”  These are hopeful words in the midst of sadness – we can feel the heaviness of this time, but we’ll emerge from the darkness.  The chorus I’d written previously, Jenny’s words – a perfect combination.  Timing, profound words, and collaboration. 

I started sketching out words, verses, ideas, and brought them to my husband, Bob - an English teacher, writer, and deeply thoughtful human being.  Long conversations about the meaning of words, the impact of a line, reducing the song to its essence, rewriting, revisions.  With his help, encouragement and active participation, the lyrics and melody came together.  Love, intelligence, and collaboration. 

Jenny asked for a video, not my forte.  For that I turned to my daughter, Marta – recent high school graduate, fabulous photographer and budding videographer.  Who better to ask than this talented young woman, living at home, whose life had been drastically changed by the pandemic?  I hired her to produce her first music video, knowing what she could do.  Talent, family, and collaboration. 

We decided to take our newly developed social distancing skills and went to John Abbey’s Kingsized Sound Lab to record the song live, with Marta filming the process.  John did an excellent job of producing the song.  But I’ve always trusted him with my music and he’s always been right there with me.  Marta and I talked about what type of images might work together with the live footage, and she ran with it.  Expertise, process, and collaboration. 

Thank you Jenny for inviting me to write this song and for sharing our video on “7.16: Haiku Milieu: Begin with the End in Mind.  I’m honored that you trusted me to reimagine your haiku in my own way.  The resulting song is about love, hope, trust and community.  Always a winning collaboration."  - Amy Dixon-Kolar

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