Wednesday, February 6, 2013

TerryLynn Melody

art work by Cel Jaden

Before Christmas the SL New England venue was all covered in snow, and wrapped up with a large silver arch bow, and Sassy Nitely -- sounding like a brassy Sweetlilly Pinelli -- was warming
up the crowd for TerryLynn Melody. As the event manager, Christine Haiku told me, Sassy was a
regular there, along with TerryLynn, Zak Claxton, Max Kleene, and Marky Helstein.

But I was there for TerryLynn Melody. Several years ago she was a biweekly regular at my own venue, and I had the chance to observe her growth over a period of time, as she proved herself a real trooper, always on time and acting professionally, and bringing in the avatars in addition to her loyal fan group "Terry's Trouble Makers." As any fan and follower of SL musicians knows, the good ones keep adding not only to their musicianship, but to their repertoire; and in TerryLynn's progression, to their instruments as well, as she began to dabble on the piano as well as her standard acoustic guitar.

On this afternoon she was in fine form, fielding requests for her manager, and Dreams Riler
(in the audience to take pics for this article: TerryLynn did a playful cover of Brandi Carlisle's
"Dreams" for her), and even me (Prine's "Angel from Montgomery"). For a dead friend she gave
a heartfelt performance of Tom Petty's "Free Falling," but also broke away to do some of
her own original compositions, including "Watch That Turn," the title track of her upcoming CD.

In evidence was TerryLynn's greatest strength, a strong alto voice with clarity and the ability to
suddenly soar with piercing soprano precision, then slide quickly down to a gutteral note that
grumbles intensely, as if possessed by a male teen who is feeling his hormones. Add a
perfectly plucked acoustic guitar, and you have the iconic SL musician.

When you are listening to TerryLynn perform, there is a warmth that is not solely connected to
the music: you feel you are in an intimate place with a small group of friends -- even if the
sim is close to crashing from the number of avatars! -- and that TerryLynn is singing directly
to you. Part of this can be attibuted to her background, as Ms. Melody explained:

"I think being raised in rural southern towns, people didn't pass you on the street without saying 'hello.' If you stood in line at the grocery store, people caught up on current events or simply made small talk. We connect with one another and even though its simple conversation, it's an attempt to reach out. That grounds me . . . of course so do collard greens, corn bread and sweet tea! Of course too much of those and I'm WELL grounded . . . LOL . . . notice I left out the fried chicken and waffles . . . I'm working on being a little less grounded these days!"
Yet, as much as she reaches out to her listeners, she is constantly reflecting internally --
"You know on this journey my primary goal has been to know myself better. I think I'm almost through the intermediate phase . . . maybe in the next 10 years I'll reach PRO!"
But that reflection comes after the performance:
"As far as a turning point where performing is concerned, I still get nervous if I let myself start thinking too much. So I try not to think! I've realized it's better for me to leave the thinking for the writing. Difficult for me sometimes to do that, but I'm learning. I think my whole life i'm always looking for connections, and meaning in everything. I think thats what made me turn to art. I think it's healthy to express those connections. The music helps me with letting the thinking go, it gives me a place to squeeze out all the emotion all that thinking has caused."

As for the connection to her audience:

"In regards to being an extrovert, I'm an auditory learner, I learn best talking to people, and I think my need for understanding is what pushed me forward even when I feel awkward or uncomfortable. I think we are all like that to some measure. I consider the discomfort a reason to practice, music is no different, it's simply another form of communication. I falter in music sometimes, just like in conversation. I'm learning there are no mistakes, and sometimes we simply need to say it again differently to make sure we are understood."
Not only Second Life shapes her musical progress -- in "real life" TerryLynn channels outside influences too:
"We moved back to Fort Myers, Florida, after 18 years in Los Angeles, when my husband's mom had a stroke. There is a growing music scene down here, and a few great venues that support original singer/songwriters like myself. A fabulous restaurant built around the stage that features a lot of great acts, YABO, and a few great art spaces like Space39. Plenty of work for cover acts in the winter months, which is the season down here if you wanna do the weekend warrior thing, doing popular cover tunes, plus some great festivals across the state. I'm hoping to jump into the scene more once the CD is finished."
There is a palpable electricity to TerryLynn's performances these days, where you can feel the development of the CD in her own between-song patter and the song selections, and so I just had to ask about the upcoming release:
"The whole CD kind of came together organically, kind of like my life. Its seems like when you plan things, they never turn out how we expected anyway. So I didn't plan out the whole album, we started with a good foundation. My husband grew up in this area so with the help of one of his old buddies, Tedd Scott on drums, and a bassist friend of ours, August Zona, we laid down drums and bass on a bunch of the tracks. That got me rolling. I knew there was at least one track that I wanted simple and acoustic early on, a blues ballad called 'Rust and Blues.'"
To flesh out the sound,
"I asked around for a harp player, and someone mentioned that Charlie McCoy had a winter home in the area, and said I should send it to him. When I looked at Charlies' website, I'll admit I was a bit intimidated! He's a country music legend. I figured what did I have to lose, so I emailed him the track. I guess a part of me never expected him to call, because when he did, I was so shocked, I dropped the phone! He was such a nice man, and actually played on two of the tracks: he also appears on a fast moving train tune that I love called 'The End is Near.' [A tune that TLM played that day at SL New England] It's been great watching the songs evolve. The CD is incredibly eclectic. From really adult contemporary mellow tunes to funky pop-tinged songs. Somehow it all has managed to work together nicely. As fas as an overarching theme, the CD is called 'Watch That Turn,' which is the title track of the CD. I guess I'd have to say if there was a theme at all, it would be to never miss a moment of YOUR journey, be IN it, enjoy the ride, the wrong turns, the right turns, and even the dead ends, they still take you somewhere, in the long run. The experiences are YOUR life, in all its freaky, geeky, awkward, sad, lost, happy, silly, glory."
CD projects are never easy: professional studio time is expensive, and that is just to get everything on tape, and then come the other expenses:
"I expect to launch the kickstarter campaign in the next few months, as we get closer to completion. Mastering, printing, and publication cost a pretty penny! I've managed to complete the recording process over the past 2 years, using fan support which amazes me. It would take me another year or two to raise the money necessary to cover the final expenses, so I'm hoping to sell enough in the campaign to complete the project -- crossing my fingers and my toes on this one!"
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For downloads of TerryLynn Melody's music, go to:
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SL New England venue:


Article written by Shaun Macpherson
TerryLynn Melody is managed by Cyberstar Management Services

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