In the studio: Charles Mokotoff

25 11 2018

More shots from my studio session with classical guitarist Charles Mokotoff

Visit http://www.charlesmokotoff.com to hear his music!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Charles 4up





Katy Kinard’s God of Fireflies project

8 03 2016

My friend Katy Kinard​ is requesting help on launching her fourth album, God of Fireflies. If you like the styles of Sarah McLachlan, Nicole Nordeman, and David Wilcox, then you’ll love Katy’s music.

I met Katy online a few years ago when she asked for permission to use a photo of my friend Tom’s Virginia farm for the interior of her Lullaby Hymns CD. She sent me several CDs of her music. She plays the piano and guitar and has a really beautiful voice, too!

One of my personal favorites is Spring, from her Headed Back CD. Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l0dgvyYseo

I’m lending a hand by contributing signed and matted prints for patrons who donate $150 or more to her project!

Check out her Kickstarter page to learn more: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/katykinard/new-god-of-fireflies-cd-release-the-light

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Music to My Ears: Nancy Williams

27 08 2014

In the September/October 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America—HLAA), Barbara Chertok interviews pianist/author/publisher Nancy Williams. I photographed Nancy at HLAA’s Convention 2014 in June in Austin, TX.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

NancyWilliamsCoverMusic to My Ears by Barbara Chertok



HLAA Member Barbara Chertok interviewed Nancy Williams, an HLAA member who despite a hearing loss, is an accomplished pianist and much more. Discover what inspired Nancy to reclaim her passions.

What caused your hearing loss and when did it begin?
Although I wasn’t diagnosed by an audiologist until age six, my parents suspect that I was essentially born with a hearing loss. My loss is genetic, as a result of a mutation in the Connexin 26 gene. For much of my childhood, my hearing loss was confined to the high frequencies, and my hearing in the low-to-mid frequencies was normal. In seventh grade, I was fitted with my first hearing aid, a behind-the-ear model, bulky by today’s standards.

In an article you wrote, you revealed you not only denied your hearing loss to others but even to yourself. Now, you tell people about your hearing loss. What brought on the change?
I have to credit reclaiming the piano for helping me to be open about my hearing loss. Returning to the piano shortly after my 40th birthday spurred my desire to write about the intimate relationship between music and hearing, sound and silence. I wrote an article for my online magazine, Grand Piano Passion, about how wearing hearing aids figured into my piano recital.

After reading that piece, a friend asked me to attend, as a member of the press, a reception by the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a New York-based nonprofit funding research for a cure for hearing loss. At the reception, I was elated by the prospect of a cure. For the first time in my life, I was in the company of a large group of people with hearing loss.

Shortly thereafter, I joined the HLAA Board. Becoming an active member of the hearing loss community solidified my commitment to write openly about my hearing loss, yet the catalyst was my love for playing the piano.

If people question how you can perform on the piano or interpret what the composer has written when you have a significant hearing loss, how do you respond?
I am fortunate in that no one has directly questioned my ability to play, although occasionally I have worried that people might be voicing those objections to themselves. I think the best way for me to respond to the potential objections is to simply play, demonstrating to people my love of the piano.

The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss, founded by Wendy Cheng, a violist with cochlear implants in both ears, has a similar strategy. Their recent CD, Hear This!, is an inspiring example of musicians with hearing loss putting forth their music.

You claim to have a ‘listening profit’ when it comes to your piano playing. Would you explain that for us?
I coined the term ‘listening profit’ as a counterpoint to the much more familiar term ‘hearing loss.’ The act of listening is quite different from the act of hearing. Lindsey Dryden, a gifted filmmaker who is deaf in one ear and created the movie Lost and Sound, remarked in a Grand Piano Passion interview that she often wondered whether she was good on the piano as a child precisely because she was partially deaf. I believe that people with hearing loss listen more keenly and more consciously than musicians without hearing loss. I have found that striving to overcome the disability of not hearing is part of what aids my musicality.

Do you have tinnitus [ringing in the ears] and does it interfere with your piano playing?
My tinnitus is very mild. I am not sure whether that is because I have worn hearing aids for most of my life and using amplification can help mitigate the symptoms of tinnitus (the Hearing Heath Foundation, where I serve on the board, has a great treatment of this topic), or whether I have just been lucky. Occasionally I hear a rapping sound in my left ear, but my mild tinnitus does not interfere with my playing.

You have written about the stigma against hearing loss being real. What do you feel it will take to eradicate this stigma?
I think the most important ingredient in eradicating the stigma against hearing loss is for people who are functional in society but nonetheless suffer from hearing loss to be more candid about their condition. That is easier said than done, because our society stereotypes people with hearing loss as slow, out of touch, thickheaded, and unlikely to accomplish much.

I know people who work in worlds ranging from music to finance who are unwilling to be candid about their hearing loss for this exact reason. So it’s up to each person to decide how much candor they can risk. Every time someone with hearing loss unveils their condition and asks for what they need, we as a community take another step toward loosening the stigma. I believe we will be greatly helped by our current generation of children, who sport cochlear implant bling and other hearing aid fashions.

Do you feel a special kinship with Beethoven because of your mutual hearing loss? Do you hear the music within as he did?
I hesitate to answer this question in which Beethoven and I appear in the same sentence. However, he is one of my favorite composers, and the second movement of his Fifth Piano Concerto is about as close to heaven as I am able to get. I have always felt a tremendous empathy for the anguish he must have experienced as he lost both his hearing and the society of those close to him.

It fascinates me that we can in a sense hear music in our brain, and that is in essence how Beethoven managed to compose while he was deaf. I am able to hear within my mind the piano music that I study closely. In the years since my hearing loss was first diagnosed, my audiogram has been slowly worsening, such that my hearing loss is now moderate in both ears, sloping to severe in the high frequencies. I’ve tried to consciously develop the skill of hearing within, with the thought that if someday I am unable to hear at all, I still will be able to hear my music.

You founded Grand Piano Passion, an online magazine. What is its mission and purpose?
Grand Piano Passion celebrates all who make music despite a hearing loss, no matter their instrument, level, or age. We profile both amateur and professional musicians who have a hearing loss, and we also cover the best books and articles in this field. One of my favorite series is Hearing Health Affirmations, articles that showcase the positive affirmations of musicians with hearing loss. Also not to be missed is a series called Practice Listening by Jay Alan Zimmerman, a deaf composer who has been called ‘Broadway’s Beethoven.’

Do you use any assistive listening devices when you listen to music?
I purchased the Phonak ComPilot, which I use while using my iPhone—the ComPilot pipes sound directly from my iPhone into my hearing aid—as well as for listening to classical piano music on my computer. Listening to music is a big part of my job as the founding editor of Grand Piano Passion, so the ComPilot has been very useful for me when I review albums for my online magazine.

You refer to yourself as an ‘amateur’ pianist, yet you have performed at Carnegie Hall. Why is that?
In 2012, I took a master class on performance and our final recital was held at Carnegie Hall. Short of my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the best day of my life. I got a wonderful taste of the life of a concert pianist.

Although I am not a concert pianist in the strict sense of the term, performing [on] the piano is increasingly occupying a larger part of my professional life. I speak on finding your passion, and often my speaking engagements include performing a select repertoire on the piano. By sharing my music, I am able to demonstrate both via sound and emotion just how powerful a passion can be. I presented my workshop “Finding Your Calling… Despite a Hearing Loss” at the HLAA Convention 2014 in Austin this summer.

Do you ever choose to learn a piece of music because it falls within the range of the hearing you have in the lower frequencies and not in the higher frequencies where your hearing loss is more significant?
The frequency range of a piece of classical piano music is most definitely a consideration for me. For example, the wonderful fioritura, or series of grace notes, which concludes Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major begins on the second highest C on the piano keyboard, a region where even with my hearing aids I hear mostly the little plunk of the key hitting the key bed. I play these notes mostly by touch. When I studied Debussy’s Clair de Lune, a shimmering meditation on nighttime that is beloved by many pianists, I chose not to perfect the music, one reason being the concentration of notes in the upper end of the keyboard.

You returned to the piano after a 25-year hiatus. How much of your former repertoire were you able to retain?
When I first returned to the piano, the only note I could remember was middle C, that note on its own line, between the two staffs. I had to count all other notes from middle C. I had forgotten the notes, along with all the repertoire I had studied and performed as a teenager, as a defensive mechanism of sorts against reclaiming the piano. I think many adults carry a passion deep within, and excavating it can take a lot of commitment. I’m happy to say that now I have relearned Debussy’s Reverie, a piece I first performed in recital when I was 13, and now is one of my favorite pieces in my repertoire.

When you play the piano, whether for your teacher or in a concert, does it worry you that you might miss hearing a wrong note because of your hearing loss?
This is an interesting question because it gets at the distinction between hearing and listening. As a pianist, even if I physically hear myself play a wrong note, unless I am listening attentively to the music, the wrong note could escape my notice. So I think the bigger challenge is to truly listen to the music, both its melody and accompanying harmony.

What would you tell a budding pianist with hearing loss embarking on a career in music?
There are inspiring examples of pianists with hearing loss, such as Kori Linae Carothers, Jennifer Castellano, and Ricker Choi (whom we have featured in Grand Piano Passion).

For people with hearing loss who have a passion for the piano, or any instrument for that matter, I wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue their callings. Passions help all of us to develop the whole person. Many adults find that when they activate long dormant callings, they realign other parts of their life, strengthening their professions, forming new friendships, and even growing closer to their families and the people they love most deeply.

Barbara Liss Chertok lost her hearing suddenly in 1957 at age 21 from what was diagnosed 35 years later as Cogan’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. She hears with bilateral cochlear implants. She joined SHHH/HLAA in 1979 and is an active member of the HLAA Sarasota Chapter. A former lipreading/speechreading teacher, she is a freelance writer/interviewer for Hearing Loss Magazine. She serves on the National Advisory Board of the American Hearing Research Foundation. Barbara can be reached at barbchert@gmail.com.

Nancy Williams on the Web
www.grandpianopassion.com
http://www.Facebook.com/NancyWilliamsPiano
http://www.Twitter.com/NWilliamsPiano
www.youtube.com/nancywilliamspiano

Relevant Links
Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss: aamhl.org

Hearing Health Foundation: hearinghealthfoundation.org

Interview with Amateur Pianist Ricker Choi
http://bit.ly/GrandPianoPassion-Choi

Hearing Aids at My Piano Recital by Nancy Williams
http://bit.ly/PianoRecital-Williams

A Different Way of Listening—Lindsey Dryden on Hearing Loss, Her Music and Her Documentary
http://bit.ly/LindseyDryden-HearingLoss

 





Revisited: Richard Reed, musician

1 08 2014

Originally posted 9.01.2010

Back in the summer of 2010, I traveled to Maine for vacation and stopped in Providence, RI en route on assignment to photograph musician Richard Reed for Cochlear Americas. I was really happy with the way the portraits turned out and got some nice shots using my ring light.

A full-time musician who wears a cochlear implant, Reed is the developer of HOPE Notes, a cochlear implant music appreciation program. You can read all about my photography assignment and meet Richard Reed in the blog re-post below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/photo-assignment-richard-reed-musician/

Richard Reed 3





Published on www.relix.com!

25 11 2013

My friend and freelance writer/editor, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap about the ZZ Ward concert we saw at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on September 28. One of my photographs accompanied her article, which you can read on the Relix website here

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ZZ Ward at the 9:30 Club

29 09 2013

I photographed ZZ Ward at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. last night with my freelance writer friend/neighbor, Nancy Dunham. She was on assignment for Relix magazine and I’m providing the photos to accompany her concert recap. I was shooting with my Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 and was only about 10-12 feet away from her, so I’m happy with the shots. The color was all over the place due to the gels on the lights. Sometimes she was neutral colored (top photo), the rest of the time she was pink, purple or Oompa Loompa orange—but that’s concert photography for you!

Learn more about ZZ Ward and her music here: http://zzward.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ZZ Ward lorez





Same time, last year: Kathy Mattea at The Birchmere

27 09 2013

Originally posted September 27, 2012

Just got back from a really great Kathy Mattea concert at The Birchmere tonight! Thanks again to my friend, Nancy Dunham, we sat in a great spot for me to get shots. Thanks to the lighting crew for spilling a bit more light on stage than they did for the John Hiatt concert last Friday—I was able to shoot at 1600-2000 ISO instead of pushing it to 3200 (plus adding exposure compensation!). I shot with my Nikon D300 and my Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens. Mattea sang many familiar old songs as well as several songs from her newly-released CD, Calling Me Home, about her native Appalachia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Published on www.relix.com again!

8 03 2013

My friend and freelance writer/editor, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap about the Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale concert we saw at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Feb. 21. One of my photographs accompanies her article, which you can read in its entirety on the Relix website here.

BuddyJimRelixPost





WOW

25 11 2012

After you watch this TED video, read the article by composer Eric Whitacre here.





Published on www.relix.com!

19 10 2012

My friend and freelance writer, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap for http://www.relix.com about the Kathy Mattea concert we saw at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on September 26. One of my photographs accompanies her recap! I photographed Kathy Mattea with Nancy after the concert (at right).

Check out Nancy’s recap of the concert here and see more of her work on her website here. Thanks for the exposure, Nancy!





Revisited: Shine on, shine on, harvest moon…

30 09 2012

Originally posted September 23, 2008

En route to visit Barb and Dean in Spokane on Saturday, September 13, we drove past miles and miles of wheat fields and as the land became more golden in the late afternoon light, we noticed the makings of a harvest moon.

Whenever I hear the words, “harvest moon,” I always remember a very old Ruth Etting album (heaven only knows where I found it) that I eventually gave to a friend’s husband to add to his large music collection. I just did a search and I actually found the recording! The only words I could remember were “shine on, shine on harvest moon…for me and my guy.” (I sing it true to her old-fashioned vibrato, of course).

Etting revived the song in Ziegfield Follies in 1931. Click here to find it on youtube.com. And if you’re a Liza Minnelli fan, click here for her rendition of the song.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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ADDENDUM: Thanks to fellow blogger, Deborah Rose Reeves, for her recent posting of this poem by Ted Hughes.

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

by Ted Hughes.





Friday night at The Birchmere

22 09 2012

I had the opportunity to do some photography during the John Hiatt concert tonight at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. He has such energy (he just turned 60 last month) and is the epitome of cool. It was a great concert!

Shooting photos in low-level light is quite challenging, but I have really come to enjoy it. Most of these images were shot on at least 3200 ISO, Nikon D300 with my Nikkor 80-400 VR lens handheld, wide open aperture in most cases. The gel lights were especially tricky and auto white balance wasn’t always the way to go, so I kept switching my white balance options to compensate for various color hues. Thanks to my friend and freelance music and entertainment writer, Nancy Dunham, for offering me this great opportunity to shoot concert photos again! Below are some of my favorite images from the evening.

In the photos below are: legendary singer/songwriter John Hiatt (top two photos), guitarist and Nashville producer Doug Lancio, bassist and singer Nathan Gehri (two members of The Combo) and the last photo is of Joe Pug (the opening act)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap

16 08 2012

Last night I went to Wolf Trap to see Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group perform. Nancy Dunham, my neighbor/friend/freelance writer, interviewed him last week for a music publication and he invited her to the concert and she in turn invited me. We picked up our guest passes and my photo pass, which allowed me to photograph from a designated spot on the sidelines for the first three songs.

Obviously, flash was out due to the distance from the stage. This didn’t stop some people in the audience using their iPhones with flash from 100 feet or more away! I definitely knew I had to bring my longest zoom—my Nikon 80-400 VR lens f/4.5-5.6. Next time I’m able to do something like this, I’ll be bringing a monopod, too (another photographer was there and used a monopod, but he didn’t have a powerful zoom, so I imagine his shots weren’t nearly as close as mine were). I braced myself against a wall and held my breath for all of these shots. I was also shooting at my highest ISO—3200—and wide open at 4.5. Some images were shot with exposure compensation, too. All in all, not too bad for handheld—in low light and variable light and with distance restrictions.

After the concert we went backstage to meet him, and Nancy introduced me as “a fellow Texan,” so that definitely helped to break the ice. Mr. Lovett (may I call you Lyle?) is as gracious, humble and down-to-earth as he is talented! The last shot in series of photos below is Lyle with Nancy. I highly recommend that if you have a chance to see him in concert, do so. While his upbeat songs had me bobbing my head and tapping my feet, I loved the ballads—heartfelt and passionately delivered.

I’ve told Nancy that I’m available “anytime, anywhere” to accompany her as a guest to a music venue; she’ll have her own personal photographer! Nancy, thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity. I’m a new Lyle Lovett fan and had a blast photographing and meeting him.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





No Compromise: Richard Einhorn, Composer

14 05 2012

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, wrote the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. In his article, Einhorn writes about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

Learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here and the fascinating details about how Voices of Light came to fruition here. To learn more about Joan of Arc, view his program notes here.

I found it especially moving that Einhorn recorded the church bells ringing in Joan’s birthplace and included them in the production. In his program notes, he writes: Just prior to writing Voices of Light, I traveled to France to visit some of the important Joan of Arc historical sites. I went to Orleans where she won her first battle and also to Rouen, where I was deeply moved by the ruins of the castles where Joan was held and the cross erected at the site of her martyrdom. I also traveled to the little village of Domremy, Joan’s birthplace in the southeast, where her house and church, much restored, still stand. I took along a portable DAT recorder and recorded the sound of the Domremy church bell and later incorporated it into my score. I felt that Joan, who so loved church bells, whose voices seemed to speak to her whenever they were ringing, would appreciate the effort.

Excerpted from his website: 

Einhorn has written opera, orchestral and chamber music, song cycles, film music, and dance scores. Among his many projects is the wildly popular Red Angels for New York City Ballet, set to Einhorn’s music with choreography by Ulysses Dove, which had its television premiere on Live From Lincoln Center (PBS) in May of 2002. His film credits include the Academy Award-winning documentary short, Educating Peter (HBO) and Arthur Penn’s thriller Dead of Winter (MGM), starring Mary Steenbugen; and Fire-Eater directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, for which Einhorn won the Jussi (Finnish Academy Award) for Best Musical Score.

Born in 1952, Richard Einhorn graduated summa cum laude in music from Columbia University. Before turning his attention exclusively to composition, Einhorn worked as a record producer for such artists as Meredith Monk and The New York Philharmonic. His production of the Bach Cello Suites with Yo-Yo Ma won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

Recent works include The Spires, The City, The Field, a 9/11 memorial premiered by the Albany Symphony. A Carnival of Miracles, a piece written for Anonymous 4, premiered to a sold-out crowd at New Sounds Live and broadcasted live over WNYC-FM. My Many Colored Days is an orchestral commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. He lives in New York City with his wife Amy Singer and their daughter Miranda.

________________________________________________________________________________

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard for Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM) in March. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film. The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. To get a feel for the combination of this powerful film and Einhorn’s remarkable composition, view the 10-minute video segment below. The film is captioned in both French and English.

Barbara interviewed Richard for a companion piece to his article. This interview is included in its entirety below.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Composer Richard Einhorn and Voices of Light

by Barbara Kelley

Richard Einhorn’s acclaimed Voices of Light has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” Voices of Light is an oratorio set to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world, including two recent performances with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting.

Einhorn, who has composed many film scores and concert works, had been interested in writing a large work on a religious subject. In 1988, he finally discovered what he would do. As he wrote in the liner notes for the Sony Classical recording of Voices of Light, “Imagine walking down an ordinary street in an ordinary city on an ordinary day. You turn the corner and suddenly without warning, you find yourself staring at the Taj Mahal. It was with that same sense of utter amazement and wonder that I watched Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time.

“That was back in January 1988. I was idly poking around the film archives of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, looking at short avant-garde films, when I happened across a still from Joan in the silent film catalog. …some 81 minutes later, I walked out of the screening room shattered, having unexpectedly seen one of the most extraordinary works of art that I know.”

The film is lauded as one of the top ten films of all time. Richard’s original score took six years to put together. He says about Voices, “[It] explores the patchwork of emotions and thoughts that get stitched together into the notion of a female hero.”

Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, said, “I don’t think anyone will be able to leave this performance unaffected.” Right: Richard Einhorn rehearses with soloists at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore; from left: Stephen Campbell, Phoenix, AZ; Rachel Grider, Modesto, CA; and Nola Richardson, Sydney, Australia

Another oratorio by Einhorn, The Origin, recently received audience and critical acclaim for its European premiere in Bremen, Germany. Richard also devotes his time to advocacy for people with hearing loss and has been featured in The New York Times and elsewhere. Read The New York Times article about Richard, “A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All the Clatter,” by John Tierney at http://bit.ly/EinhornNYTimes

A Hearing Loop Installed for Voices of Light Performance
On March 2 this year, Einhorn’s Voices of Light was performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This was a special event because Richard was able to hear his own composition. Thanks to Ampetronic and their U.S. distributor, Fred Palm of AssistiveAudio, Inc., as well as the Meyerhoff, a hearing loop was installed in the concert hall for the weekend performances.

Audience members with hearing loss using cochlear implants or telecoil-equipped hearing aids were able to enjoy the performance by accessing sound transmitted electromagnetically by a hearing loop—a wire that circles the room and is connected to the sound system.

After the performance, Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Richard to learn more about his career.

You were 15 when you began composing. Did you play a musical instrument? I first learned to compose entirely on my own, by experimenting with tape recorders and improvising. I played drums in a rock band when I was a kid, but quickly became interested in writing my own music. I was involved with an avant-garde multimedia ensemble in high school and, as an experiment, wrote a piece for some friends of mine who were modern dancers. The moment I saw my friends dance to my music I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life except compose.

Above: Barbara Kelley, Richard Einhorn and Brenda Battat (Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America) after the performance of Voices of Light at the Meyerhoff 

After a year or so, I realized I needed to study formally and I went to Columbia University where I majored in music, studying ultimately with electronic music pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky and opera composer Jack Beeson. I graduated in 1975 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, then worked as a record producer for Columbia Masterworks for five years, before pursuing composition full time.

Do you come from a musical family? Nobody in my immediate family is musical. However, my great-aunt Hattie was a concert pianist in the early 20th century. My grandfather was an inventor and worked in East Orange, New Jersey when Thomas Edison was in West Orange. Somewhere in the family, there is correspondence between them! Probably, I got my interest in technology from my grandfather and my musicality from my great-great grandparents.

How did you know you had this aptitude at a young age? I don’t know if I have any aptitude. I have a lot of interest in composing music and I have a lot of ideas. I am also extremely persistent and won’t let go. I work very hard at composing but it’s enjoyable work and I love it. I am thrilled that other people often seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy composing it.

What inspires you? Sound inspires me the most of all. I live for sound and my primary experience of the world, especially the world of emotions, is through sound, not sight or another sense. I am also inspired by great stories, such as Joan of Arc’s and Charles Darwin’s. I find them both amazing human beings in many different ways.

What projects are you working on now? I have a new piece for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, a collaboration with the great filmmaker Bill Morrison. It will be an interactive piece called Shooting Gallery, with laser beams, six projectors and an hour of interactive music. I haven’t done anything like it since high school and I’m very excited!

I’m also writing a new piece for dance for two great musicians I’ve worked with quite a bit, violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Judith Gordon. The work will premiere in fall 2013. Further off is a large piece for orchestra and film, again with Bill Morrison. All I can say at the moment about it is that Bill, the conductor, the orchestra, and I are extremely excited about it.

Are there any projects you would like to work on? What is your dream project? I am a dramatic and lyrical composer. I’ve lived many of my dreams. I always wanted to work with Bill Morrison, and already have on the Darwin piece, The Origin. I have always wanted to work on an opera, and it looks like I will. I’ve composed scores for some truly wonderful movies and I’ve worked with some of my favorite musicians—and some of my favorite people.

I feel very lucky to have been able to do so and doubly lucky that my family has fully understood that this is an unusual life, but in many ways a rewarding one for all of us. I want to continue to compose the best music I can for the best musicians I can, for the most exciting projects I can find, and collaborate with artists from other disciplines whom I admire. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and that has made the hard work and long hours it takes to compose all the more worthwhile!

Special thanks to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for permitting us to take photographs of Richard Einhorn in the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





I’m published on the radio! (?)

29 07 2011

My friend and classical guitarist, Charles Mokotoff, shared this with me this morning. He is being interviewed, along with violaist Wendy Cheng, on WAMU 88.5 FM’s website, Metro Connection. Both are members of the Association of Adult Musicians With Hearing Loss (AAMHL). There will be a podcast of the interview and performances at 1:00 p.m. EST today. The podcast will available on the Metro Connection website at 2:00 p.m. EST.

From the small world department: I designed and produced a book a few months ago for AAMHL, working with Wendy Cheng and the book’s editor, pianist Cherisse Miller. (My Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley, referred Wendy to me). The book, Making Music with a Hearing Loss: Strategies and Stories, is available on Amazon here.

You can see more of my photos of Charles, as well as listen to some of his other pieces and order his CD, Autumn Elegy, on his website here. Charles was the cover feature story for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Read more about his cover debut here. Charles played for us at our first-ever Tapas Party in November 2009, recapped here.

I shot the photograph below during a recital in November 2009 and blogged about that session here. Charles was interviewed last December by Japan’s Gendai Guitar magazine and a photo I shot of him was included here (so I can say I’m published internationally now!).





Lunch at Threadgill’s (Old #1) in Austin

29 03 2011

After Brian (my former boss/lifelong photography mentor) finished teaching a wildflower photography workshop on Saturday morning, we went to lunch at Threadgill’s, a local eatery in Austin. That’s Brian holding the menu in the collage below. He founded the Austin Shutterbug Club over a decade ago and teaches digital photography at the University of Texas a few times a week. He and his wife, Shirley, have published two books, Texas Cacti and Grasses of the Texas Hill Country. They are currently working on a coffee table book about Texas wildflowers. Check out his work here.

Excerpted from Threadgill’s website (http://threadgills.com/)

Perhaps country music lover and bootlegger Kenneth Threadgill had more in mind when he opened his Gulf filling station just north of the Austin city limits in 1933, for the day that Travis County decided to “go wet ” in December of the same year, Kenneth stood in line all night to be the first person to own a liquor license in the county. Soon, the filling station became a favorite spot for traveling musicians since it was open 24 hours for drinking, gambling and jamming. Kenneth would sing songs by his beloved Jimmie Rodgers nightly. Musicians who came to play were paid in beer. Such was the atmosphere at Threadgill’s, it was only when a curfew was enacted in 1942 that its owner had to get a key for the front door, before that it had yet to have been locked. The quintessential Austin beer joint continued to flourish into the sixties, and changed with the social climate of the era by inviting the folkies, hippies and beatniks to his Wednesday night singing sessions with open arms. Threadgill’s love for people and music smoothed out the conflicts that usually occurred when longhairs met with rednecks at the time, and because of this, a new culture tolerance emanated from the club, which had a profound effect upon its patrons and the music that came from it. It was here that Janis Joplin developed her country and blues hybrid-styled voice that would blur the lines between country and rock n’ roll.

In 1974, when Austinites and the nation were extolling the benefits of living in the heart of the Lone Star State, and the “Cosmic Cowboy” movement, which had its roots directly planted in the history of Threadgill’s and Armadillo World Headquarters, was at its peak, tragedy struck Kenneth Threadgill when his wife Mildred died, and he decided to close his club.

After nearly succumbing to the city of Austin’s desire to demolish the original Threadgill’s site which had become an eyesore, it was purchased by Eddie Wilson, owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, a sister venue of a kindred spirit. Wilson’s idea, however, was to make Threadgill’s a Southern style restaurant, based on the success of the menu that he offered at his kitchen at the Armadillo. So, on New Year’s Eve 1980, the Armadillo closed, and on New Year’s Eve 1981, Threadgill’s opened as a restaurant. It was an instant success.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Photo assignment: Richard Reed, musician

1 09 2010

I recently returned from a photography assignment in Providence, Rhode Island. I was contracted by Cochlear Americas to photograph Richard Reed, a full-time musician who wears a cochlear implant and is the developer of HOPE Notes, a cochlear implant music appreciation program.

HOPE Notes (from the Cochlear Americas website)
“HOPE Notes is the first of its kind—a program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional Folk, Blues & Country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways. HOPE Notes includes a CD, DVD, and a detailed User Guide including lyrics designed to assist and enrich your use of the program. The DVD incorporates both visual and audio cues while the CD (designed for use on the go) focuses solely on the audio component of the program.”

To learn more about HOPE Notes or to order, contact Cochlear at 1-(800)-523-5798 or check out their website here.

A Life Without Sound
A late-deafened adult, Richard lost his hearing due to an ototoxic antiobiotic he was given to treat peritonitis in the early 1990s, when he was in his mid-30s. His hearing loss progressed from mild to profound over the next two years. Read more about his hearing loss in Rick Massimo‘s insightful article in The Providence Journal here. Carolyn Smaka from AudiologyOnline interviewed Richard in July. It’s an excellent introduction to Reed’s hearing loss as well as the development of HOPE Notes. Check out her interview here.

When I asked Richard what it was like as a full-time musician to not be able to continue in the field, he told me about playing one night after his hearing loss. “While deaf and using useless powerful digital hearing aids, I used to sit in with my brother Tom in various Blues bands or with old friends. I could feel the bass and drums—thought I could hear myself a little. One night in Newport, it became painfully obvious just how little music I could actually hear. During a piano solo, a cord to my amplifier came loose, but I kept right on playing—with no sound coming out!”

After he retired from performing, he worked in his sister Roberta‘s antique store “refinishing and painting warped and wild folk art furniture, which was therapeutic but unfulfilling.” He wore hearing aids during this time, but didn’t pursue the cochlear implant until 2002. Richard wrote, What It Feels Like…to Regain Your Hearing, in a 2007 issue of Esquire magazine here.

Return to Music
After receiving his Nucleus 24 Contour CI in 2002, Richard noticed a significant improvement in his ability to hear and understand speech, but found listening to music frustrating. With patience, practice and the help of his aural therapist, music became a source of joy again. Not long after his CI was activated, he stayed away from playing the piano because to him it sounded out of tune. He had to go back to the basics with scales and eventually made enough progress to start playing with bands again. Learn more about his journey back to the hearing world in the article, Hero Spotlight: Richard Reed, available on Cochlear Americas website here. In that article, he says, “As ironic as it was for a musician to go deaf, I realized, too, how many friends’ conversations revolved around music—what’s new, who’s good, who’s playing where. Losing music was horrible, but the loss of everyday conversation was worse.”

At Long Last—I’m a Band Groupie!
On my assignment for Cochlear Americas a few weekends ago, I was honored and excited to photograph Richard and a few of his fellow musicians at The Music Complex in Pawtucket, R.I.

His brother, Tom Reed, plays bass. At just 13, Tom taught Richard, then 12, his first songs on the organ. Tom plays freelance—backing up various bands from week to week—and teaches private lessons. He plays electric bass in R&B bands, and upright bass for Blues, Jazz and Rockabilly. He recorded some bass parts for Richard’s HOPE Notes project. (Photo, left to right: Mark Cutler, Jack Moore, Tom Reed and Richard Reed)

Drummer Jack Moore, a high school teacher by day, has played with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Roomful of Blues and many others. He currently plays with Robert Graves Leonard’s Slippery Sneakers, a Rhode Island-based Zydeco band.

Acclaimed guitarist and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mark Cutler‘s latest CD is Red. He has been the lead singer and songwriter for such renown rock bands as The Schemers, The Raindogs, and The Dino Club, and has toured with Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and many others. The Providence Phoenix recently profiled Mark here. Cutler works in the software business during the week and reserves his very busy weekends for gigs with various ensembles. You’ll find Mark Cutler videos on youtube here. Richard has played many gigs as one of Mark’s sidemen—before going deaf and again post-CI.

Today, Richard plays two to three times a week in New England nightclubs, concerts and recording sessions. When not performing, he travels the world to lecture about his hearing loss experience and “CI music.” He recently returned from Europe, and played squeezebox on two-time Grammy award-winning children’s singer/songwriter Bill Harley‘s newest CD, tentatively titled Songs We Sing. Future travel plans include CI Music Workshops in Salt Lake City in November, Toronto and Orlando in February, then back to the UK in March. Richard is playing with Mark Cutler in a reunion of their old band, The Schemers, in Newport at an autumn festival next month. He says, “this time I’ll hear my piano parts!” When I asked him what inspired him to create HOPE Notes, he said, “it was a way to give CI users simple exercises to learn or relearn some basic songs and tonalities.” He has already starting writing songs for Volume II.

Upcoming Feature in Hearing Loss Magazine
Reed has written an article about his hearing loss and the development of HOPE Notes that will be published in the upcoming November/December 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Donna Sorkin, Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Cochlear Americas, will contribute sidebars about strategies to appreciate music and another titled, “What the Research Says…and Why it Doesn’t Matter.” Some of the images from my photo session will appear in her feature article. Cochlear Americas manufactures Nucleus cochlear implants and the Baha programmable bone conduction system. My otolaryngologist, Dr. John Niparko of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, says that I am a candidate for the Baha system.

Behind-the-Scenes Photo Notes
For the jam session photos, I used the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)—with three Nikon Speedlights (with color-correcting gels)—an SB-900 fitted with an Alzo Mini Softbox as my main light, an SB-800 on the Nikon D300 as the trigger and an SB-600 on the side with a snoot. For the portraits with the beige background (shot in Richard’s home), I used my Nikon SB-800 Speedlight fitted with a Ray Flash, which replicates the lighting effect produced by more expensive studio ring flash units. It produces a shadowless light on your subject and a soft even shadow around the edges. I was very happy with the results of the ring flash in this session. If you’d like to try this type of lighting, check out the Coco Ring Flash Adapter—at just $49.95 on Amazon, it’s well below the $199 I paid for my Ray Flash a few years ago. (Hmmm….which product came first?—The Coco Ring Flash is an almost exact replicate—but I do agree with many of the online reviewers that, for a non-electronic, purely plastic gadget, the Ray Flash is still overpriced at $199. Having said that, I did buy it and am happy with it. When it first came out, it was listed for $299.99. It’s plastic people, plastic—no electronic parts, no cords, nothing—as one reviewer commented, “they were probably shamed into dropping the price.”). At any rate, whether you splurge on the Ray Flash or spring for the “poor man’s” version (which I was unaware of at the time of my purchase)—the Coco Ring Flash—it’s a really fun gadget to add to your photographic arsenal.

Want to learn more about the Nikon Creative Lighting System? Check out the Nikon School Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting DVD, featuring photographers Bob Krist and Joe McNally. Joe McNally’s book, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes, is an excellent resource as well. A lighting workshop with this master is definitely on my to-do checklist! Check out McNally’s excellent blog here and Bob Krist’s elegant website here. And for really comprehensive information on lighting, bookmark David Hobby’s blog, Strobist.

Whew! And finally, special thanks to my photo mentor, Brian Loflin, for his tips, troubleshooting and advice…and to Michael Schwehr for his service as my most excellent photo assistant.

All photos are by Cindy Dyer © 2010 Cochlear, Ltd.







Latest portraits: classical guitarist Charles Mokotoff

9 11 2009

Charles LeavesCharles Mokotoff is our next cover feature for the Hearing Loss Magazine. An IT specialist with NIH by day, he’s also a classical guitarist. Michael and I met him at the Hearing Loss Association of America headquarters in March. He performed for the HLAA staff and I did some studio shots for his upcoming feature article. He came by my studio earlier this week so we could get some additional images for the upcoming January/February 2010 issue. In exchange for these additional photos, he’s going to perform at our Tapas Potluck Party this coming weekend and we’re excited that we’re going to have live music! I also shot the photos on his website here. You can hear sample soundbites here.

I told my sister Debbie that if this works out well, I’m going to barter musical services from other artists for future parties. I’m thinking that, in exchange for some wonderful new head shots by me, Josh Groban can come sing something Italian for our annual Pesto Fest. As accordian-playing (and bizarre) comedian Judy Tenuta sarcastically says, “yeah, that could happen!”

Insert useless information here: During our Vegas-to-Kodachrome Basin-Bryce-Moab vacation many years ago, my cousin Bill and I were at a casino in Las Vegas. While we were waiting in line at a hotel restaurant, Judy Tenuta walked down a ramp right past us. I had only caught her act just a few times on tv, but I knew who she was immediately—the result of a photographic memory, I guess.

Hey Josh—have your people call my people!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Another night at the Opry

29 06 2009

During our behind-the-scenes tour at the Grand Ole Opry, our guide Jamie introduced us to the security guard at the entrance where the artists enter the building. She mentioned that no one gets past him without identification. There was a blonde-haired woman standing at the guard’s desk who looked remarkably like Rhonda Vincent to me, except she had blonde hair (Rhonda Vincent’s hair is naturally a very dark brown). In response to Jamie stating that “no one gets past the guard,” she looked over at us and said something like, “tell me about it. I had to show him I’m in the program guide to convince him who I was.” We all laughed. Barbara’s husband, Bill, who is a big Rhonda Vincent fan, linked arms with her and said something like, “Darlin, come with us,” or something to that effect. Funny thing is, he didn’t recognize her even then until we were at the end of the tour and we told him who she was! Hal Ketchum and his daughter, Sarah Rosie, walked right past Debbie and me backstage and since his hair wasn’t its usual gray, we thought he was a band member!

SIDEBAR: Jamie took us to the historic Studio A, where Hee Haw was filmed. I grew up watching Hee Haw and just had to go stand in the exact spot where the background haystacks would have been. I could just picture Buck Owens and Roy Clark doing their “I’m a pickin’…and I’m a grinnin'” spiel. It always impressed me that Roy Clark could play the banjo, guitar and the mandolin. Such talent! Mike Snider (who was on the roster this night) stars in Pickin’ & Grinnin’ with Mike Snider: A Grand Ole Comedy Revue, which debuted just a few days ago in Studio A (the television portion of the Grand Ole Opry).

FYI: In the photo with Alison Krauss holding a hymn book (9th photo down), that’s her (handsome!) brother, Viktor, accompanying her on acoustic bass.

I shot these photos from the second to the last row of the Opry. Yes, in the waaaay back. (In fact, I just read that there are 4,400 seats in the building. I’m pretty sure I was in seat # 4,399.) I shot with my Nikon D300 set on 1600 and higher, depending on the light fluctuations, and used my Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR lens, handheld (except when shooting vertically—then I used my sister’s handy shoulder as a prop—thanks, Deboo). The images aren’t too shabby from that far back (at least you know who the artist is in each one), although it would have been such a treat to be up front for optimum photography! I used this same lens when I shot the images from our first visit to the Opry in 2008 here. The Opry show was back in the Ryman Auditorium at the time and we had better seats to that show—I was shooting at no more than 800 ISO during that performance, so the images are a bit better.

I included the last photo of John Conlee’s dialogue during real-time captioning, a first for the Grand Ole Opry! It was great to be there during its debut and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) hopes they will implement it as a regular service. At the time I shot this photo, Conlee was introducing Sammy Johns, who wrote and recorded the 70s classic, Chevy Van.

Click on the individual names for their biography / websites / music video:

Jimmy Dickens
Jimmy C. Newman
Rhonda Vincent (Heartbreaker’s Alibi with Dolly Parton)
Mike Snider
Hal Ketchum
Point of Grace (I Wish)
John Conlee
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys
Jim Ed Brown
Sammy Johns
Opry Square Dancers
Vince Gill
Alison Krauss with The Whites

View Alison Krauss videos on AOL Music here. One of my favorite duets is this song, How’s the World Treating You, with Alison and my long-road-trip buddy, James Taylor.

THIS JUST IN: Thanks to Wes for the correct name of Hal Ketchum’s daughter, as well as some background info on Hal:

Hal Ketchum is one of the best, pure and natural singers of any genre of music. Had the pleasure to see him in concert about 50 times and have gotten to know him as well. Very down to earth guy. By the way Hal has one grown son and daughter by his first wife and three younger daughters Fanna Rose (Rosie), Ruby Joy and Sophia Grace by his current wife Gina. Ruby is the one that has been with him recently on stage at the Opry as well as other concerts. The daughter in your picture of Hal is Rosie. Just wanted to clear that up. By the way, great shots.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Captioning: a first for the Grand Ole Opry

26 06 2009

One of the events at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Convention 2009 was a night at the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show that began in 1925. Before the show, several of us were treated to a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry, including the back entrance where the artists enter, the mailroom, the green room and historic Studio A—where the music variety show Hee Haw was filmed. At the end of the tour, we got to stand in the background on stage during the first performance by Little Jimmy Dickens and the Opry Square Dancers.

Although we weren’t allowed to shoot photographs during the tour, I saw a photo opportunity tailor-made for HLAA when the Grand Ole Opry’s vice president and general manager, Pete Fisher, was introduced to us by our tour guide, Jamie Hulet. For the first time in its 83-year history, the Grand Ole Opry would be real-time captioned. I saw an opportunity to get a shot with some of the people who got that ball rolling. We were granted permission to shoot, and Fisher called Jimmy Dickens over to join us. The Opry was treating that night’s show as “somewhat of an experiment” and may continue the use of captioning in the future.

Thanks to Karyn Menck of Tennessee Captioning and her team of CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) writers, the HLAA staff, and to the Grand Ole Opry management, we enjoyed the show with real-time captions. Associated Press picked up the story about the captioning and the news spread across the country. Read more about the use of captioning at the Grand Ole Opry and HLAA’s involvement in this article on www.tennessean.com.

On the entertainment roster that night were: Jimmy Dickens, Jimmy C. Newman, Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, bluegrass vocalist Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Allison Krauss with The Whites, Point of Grace, Jim Ed Brown, bluegrass legends Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys, John Conlee, singer/songwriter Sammy Johns (who wrote Chevy Van, a hit in 1975), comedian and banjo champ Mike Snider (of Hee Haw fame), and the Opry Square Dancers.

My sister Debbie and I couldn’t get John Conlee’s 1980 hit song, Friday Night Blues, out of our heads after that night! We realized just how old we were when we remembered the words to that song and his 1983 hit, Common Man, which was also written by Sammy Johns.

Here’s a fact I didn’t know—if you’re inducted into the Opry Hall of Fame, you’re paid just $600 for your performance. If you’re not a member, you earn just $300. Clearly these artists do it for the love of the Opry and its history and their love of performing!

Kudos to Nancy Macklin, director of events for HLAA, for putting on a fantastic convention. I could hardly believe it when I learned this was her first time planning a convention—she was organized, professional and less stressed than any convention planner I’ve ever encountered—wonder what her secret is?

I’ll have more stories and photos to share from our evening at the Grand Ole Opry. See photos from our first visit to the Opry in 2008 on my blog posting here.

______________________________________________________________________

Photo, from left: Brenda Battat, executive director of HLAA; Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry; longtime performer and oldest living Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy Dickens (then and now); and Barbara Kelley, deputy executive director of HLAA and editor of the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine (which I design and produce for the organization). Barbara wrote in a recent press release, “It was fun to be a part of history, satisfying to have communication access, and rewarding to know that the work of our organization and others is paying off. Thanks to the Grand Ole Opry for looking forward. We hope it continues.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Jay D. Henley, The Music Man

6 11 2007

My latest really fun project was photographing an up-and-coming country singer, Jay D. Henley, for the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine, which I also design and produce.

My friend Ed Fagan (www.columbiaphotography.com) has photographed and designed Jay’s three self-published CDs. When Ed recently told me that Jay had a hearing loss (a condition called aural atresia), I knew we just had to interview him and feature him in the magazine. Barbara Kelley (editor of the magazine) and I got to hear him and The Stone Broke Band play at the Carroll County Fairgrounds in August. I got the performance shots of him then (www.cindydyer.com/Henley). Barbara interviewed him afterwards and I shot the cover and feature photos near Jay’s home in Woodbine, Maryland last month. He was a pleasure to photograph and I wish him the best of luck in his musical endeavors (and hope he remembers us when he hits the big time)!

To learn more about Jay and hear his music, go to his Web site: www.jayhenley.com.

Order his CDs online at:
http://cdbaby.com/found?artist=jay+d+henley&soundlike=&style=&album=

The magazine is on its way to HLAA members this week. The magazine is available for download at http://www.hearingloss.org/magazine/latest.asp (click on the far right link to download). Barbara and I hope this exposure to a reading audience of 40,000+ will open doors for him in the music business (and result in a few CD sales in the process)!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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