Amanda_West_AP2

Amanda West – Mindfulness, Medicine & Magic

MY STORY:

BEGINNING

I do not remember a time in life when I did not sing. My closet-artist mother and backyard astronomer father made sure we spent our summers on the road seeing much of the western United States. Around the campfire at night with my two younger sisters we would sing folk songs from the old records: Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, The Beatles.

After two years of uninspiring piano lessons I picked up the guitar, an old one abandoned in the closet from my parent’s early hippie days in San Francisco. Just plucking one of the out-of-tune strings gave me a feeling I loved, and realized if I learned to play I would always have someone to sing with.

My first guitar teacher taught me 3 chords then told me to go home and write a song, which I did. Thus at age 11 my songwriting career began. It very well may have fizzled away in the monotonous anxieties of adolescence but for a fateful day in September. While walking to school at the beginning of my Sophomore year of high school, I was hit by a car and sent smashing onto the asphalt. Rushed away in an ambulance with a broken shoulder and bruised body, my every day reality was shattered. During my slow recovery I deeply awakened to the understanding that life is fragile and precious.

AWAKENING

I started writing songs in chemistry class and skipping lunch to practice with the band I formed to accompany my original songs; it was called Walpurgis Night.  A few years later in college I booked and played our first tour from Santa Cruz, CA to Seattle, WA and back. In those 10 days I found my two greatest loves come together: music and travel. I imagined doing it for the rest of my life, following in the footsteps of my musical idols: Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette and Loreena McKennitt.

At the University of California in Santa Cruz I earned a degree in Cultural Anthropology, trying to find the answers to my ever burning question: What does it mean to be human? At age 20 I was falsely diagnosed with cancer and spent a month once again contemplating my mortality. I turned to the gypsy life, travelling through Eastern and Western Europe, Central America and Africa, still searching for the answers.

In January of 2007, back in Santa Cruz, I set out to record my first solo album, having lost my band and my way a few years before. All those spring nights I drove up into Bonny Doon, laying down tracks under the careful guidance of another musician and sound engineer who I didn’t know at the time would later become my husband. He also happened to co-own a prestigious music venue in Santa Cruz, The Cayuga Vault, where I soon became house manager. For two years I wove connections, attending hundreds of acoustic music concerts, and booking and playing my own tours in between. By the time the building sold and the business closed in 2009, Pete & I were living together, touring part time, and planning our wedding.

MOTHERHOOD

Perhaps no one was very surprised except me when, a few years later, my first child was born. I had always wanted children, yet somehow, despite my obsessive list-writing and planning skills, planning for a child seemed impossible. Before I was born my parents had lost their first child at 7 months in the womb. The big sister I never had, and my parent’s learning through their loss, stayed with me. I didn’t think having a child was something anyone really got to choose. But on the summer solstice of the year 2012, the prophesied “end of the world” by some calendars, he showed up. I was a week shy of my 30th birthday.

Everyone said it would change everything and I was so determined it would not. I spent my pregnancy booking shows, skillfully hiding my growing belly on stage, and worrying about how my next album would be completed. At the time I knew no other active musicians who were also parents of young children, and all I could see was my career falling over a cliff. Honestly, I was terrified.  

At the same time, it is true, that all my life I had looked forward to birth. I had actually studied to be a birth doula (birth assistant) a few years prior, but then realized the on-call life and the performing musician life didn’t fit together very well. I had studied a hundred books and articles, but of course nothing can prepare a first time mother for the journey. It was 24 hours long with 3 hours of pushing that literally ripped my pubic bones apart and left me on the edge of requiring a blood transfusion. After Pete half carried me up the stairs back home, I didn’t leave the house again for a month. I couldn’t walk and just standing made me feel faint. It was another long road of healing.

Those first few years of motherhood were the hardest of my life. The pull between what my baby required of me and what my music asked of me was nothing less than wildly painful. We made the best of it. I learned to pack diapers and pacifiers and strollers into the car alongside guitars and microphones. Sometimes Pete would wear him (thank goodness for baby carriers!), sometimes he’d sit or lie on a blanket on the stage. I made it into the KPIG Radio Hall of Fame for being the first woman to perform with a baby on her back. We carted him off to Europe and played in Germany and the UK. By this time he was nearly 3, and it was one of those shows he asked to speak into the microphone before we played. “I just want to say, I’m so glad you’re here,” he said to the crowd, and Pete & I beamed.

But the mama musician touring life is exhausting. The magic of live performance began to fade. I started to find the magic more and more often while playing and recording in our home studio, and less and less often on the stage. I also began to find it in another avenue that was new to me: that of the community singing circle.

WOMB SONG

In the winter of 2014 another musical channel came into my life. Through a mutual friend I connected with Megan Jacobsmeyer who had a vision to run singing circles for pregnant women, and she needed a musician to help her do it. This seed of an idea grew into Womb Song, an organization we co-founded and I continue to lead. Through those early years of motherhood, Womb Song became the place in which I could be both mother and musician, and the identities made sense together, and supported one another. It also deepened my roots into my local Santa Cruz community, forming friendships that still hold me deeply to this day.

Somewhere in there, people started asking for private music lessons again, the way they always have, but for the first time I started to say, “yes”. In my early post-college years I worked at an adoption agency, a preschool, summer camps and after-school music programs. Working with children was a love close to my heart, and a wonderful place to explore what it means to be human. In these years I learned many skills and tricks for managing groups and leading classes. With private students I found I could go really deep, figure out what they loved and how they learned to connect right into the heart of it all. In this manner, even as my performances dwindled, I kept my guitar in hand daily, teaching lessons, passing along my passion and discovering to my delight, that I loved this work too!

And one day, Pete & I realized we were ready for another child. And at last he came too, just a few days past the winter solstice of 2017. This second birth and post partum time were as healing as the first had been traumatic. A reminder of the way life moves in cycles and seasons.

TODAY

This brings me to here and where I am now: a mother of two wild, beautiful, small human beings. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with the love of my life: my British-born husband, man-of-many-hats, Pete, and our many musical instruments. And because life wasn’t exciting or unusual enough, we started homeschooling a few years ago. So we juggle. And we get overwhelmed. And we laugh. And we cry. But every day we give thanks: for this life, these gifts of community and creativity and family and humanity, and this beautiful planet earth. Every day is an experiment, a lesson, a continuing exploration of the question: What does it mean to be human?

 Thank you for listening to my story. If you’ve enjoyed hearing it, I hope you will make the click to stay connected – join my mailing list, and my patreon where I share my latest ideas, work and creations.

As humanity on planet earth moves through this great time of change and shift, we need each other more than ever. Music is such a powerful connector and reminder of what truly matters in life. Please join me.

with love & gratitude,

your mama musician,

~ Amanda

 

FOR THE PRESS:

“Bringing many generations together with love, peace, hopefulness, and the joyful resonance of voice.”

“Songs written from the heart and most beautifully sung from the heart.”

– Isle FM Radio, Scotland

“Captivating melodies and contemplative lyrics. This music deserves attention.”

– The San Jose Mercury News

Amanda West is an award-winning singer songwriter, music teacher, community leader and mother.

A native Californian, she grew up singing around campfires and recorded and released her first album of original songs at age 17. Earning a degree in Cultural Anthropology, Amanda set out to discover what it means to be human. This quest carried her around the world, touring with her music in both the U.S. and Europe, while releasing five more albums of mostly original compositions.

In 2014 she co-founded Womb Song, U.S., an organization that supports women into motherhood through song. This work continues through community singing circles, rituals and workshops.

Understanding music to be a part of our human birthright, playing an essential role in our experience of being alive, Amanda has found her life path and greatest joy through sharing music with others.

She lives, creates and teachers in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two children, and many musical instruments.

www.amandawest.com

 

 

Amanda_West_AP1

Amanda West – Mindfulness, Medicine & Magic

MY STORY:

BEGINNING

I do not remember a time in life when I did not sing. My closet-artist mother and backyard astronomer father made sure we spent our summers on the road seeing much of the western United States. Around the campfire at night with my two younger sisters we would sing folk songs from the old records: Joan Baez, Peter Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, The Beatles.

After two years of uninspiring piano lessons I picked up the guitar, an old one abandoned in the closet from my parent’s early hippie days in San Francisco. Just plucking one of the out-of-tune strings gave me a feeling I loved, and realized if I learned to play I would always have someone to sing with.

My first guitar teacher taught me 3 chords then told me to go home and write a song, which I did. Thus at age 11 my songwriting career began. It very well may have fizzled away in the monotonous anxieties of adolescence but for a fateful day in September. While walking to school at the beginning of my Sophomore year of high school, I was hit by a car and sent smashing onto the asphalt. Rushed away in an ambulance with a broken shoulder and bruised body, my every day reality was shattered. During my slow recovery I deeply awakened to the understanding that life is fragile and precious.

AWAKENING

I started writing songs in chemistry class and skipping lunch to practice with the band I formed to accompany my original songs; it was called Walpurgis Night.  A few years later in college I booked and played our first tour from Santa Cruz, CA to Seattle, WA and back. In those 10 days I found my two greatest loves come together: music and travel. I imagined doing it for the rest of my life, following in the footsteps of my musical idols: Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette and Loreena McKennitt.

At the University of California in Santa Cruz I earned a degree in Cultural Anthropology, trying to find the answers to my ever burning question: What does it mean to be human? At age 20 I was falsely diagnosed with cancer and spent a month once again contemplating my mortality. I turned to the gypsy life, travelling through Eastern and Western Europe, Central America and Africa, still searching for the answers.

In January of 2007, back in Santa Cruz, I set out to record my first solo album, having lost my band and my way a few years before. All those spring nights I drove up into Bonny Doon, laying down tracks under the careful guidance of another musician and sound engineer who I didn’t know at the time would later become my husband. He also happened to co-own a prestigious music venue in Santa Cruz, The Cayuga Vault, where I soon became house manager. For two years I wove connections, attending hundreds of acoustic music concerts, and booking and playing my own tours in between. By the time the building sold and the business closed in 2009, Pete & I were living together, touring part time, and planning our wedding.

MOTHERHOOD

Perhaps no one was very surprised except me when, a few years later, my first child was born. I had always wanted children, yet somehow, despite my obsessive list-writing and planning skills, planning for a child seemed impossible. Before I was born my parents had lost their first child at 7 months in the womb. The big sister I never had, and my parent’s learning through their loss, stayed with me. I didn’t think having a child was something anyone really got to choose. But on the summer solstice of the year 2012, the prophesied “end of the world” by some calendars, he showed up. I was a week shy of my 30th birthday.

Everyone said it would change everything and I was so determined it would not. I spent my pregnancy booking shows, skillfully hiding my growing belly on stage, and worrying about how my next album would be completed. At the time I knew no other active musicians who were also parents of young children, and all I could see was my career falling over a cliff. Honestly, I was terrified.

At the same time, it is true, that all my life I had looked forward to birth. I had actually studied to be a birth doula (birth assistant) a few years prior, but then realized the on-call life and the performing musician life didn’t fit together very well. I had studied a hundred books and articles, but of course nothing can prepare a first time mother for the journey. It was 24 hours long with 3 hours of pushing that literally ripped my pubic bones apart and left me on the edge of requiring a blood transfusion. After Pete half carried me up the stairs back home, I didn’t leave the house again for a month. I couldn’t walk and just standing made me feel faint. It was another long road of healing.

Those first few years of motherhood were the hardest of my life. The pull between what my baby required of me and what my music asked of me was nothing less than wildly painful. We made the best of it. I learned to pack diapers and pacifiers and strollers into the car alongside guitars and microphones. Sometimes Pete would wear him (thank goodness for baby carriers!), sometimes he’d sit or lie on a blanket on the stage. I made it into the KPIG Radio Hall of Fame for being the first woman to perform with a baby on her back. We carted him off to Europe and played in Germany and the UK. By this time he was nearly 3, and it was one of those shows he asked to speak into the microphone before we played. “I just want to say, I’m so glad you’re here,” he said to the crowd, and Pete & I beamed.

But the mama musician touring life is exhausting. The magic of live performance began to fade. I started to find the magic more and more often while playing and recording in our home studio, and less and less often on the stage. I also began to find it in another avenue that was new to me: that of the community singing circle.

WOMB SONG

In the winter of 2014 another musical channel came into my life. Through a mutual friend I connected with Megan Jacobsmeyer who had a vision to run singing circles for pregnant women, and she needed a musician to help her do it. This seed of an idea grew into Womb Song, an organization we co-founded and I continue to lead. Through those early years of motherhood, Womb Song became the place in which I could be both mother and musician, and the identities made sense together, and supported one another. It also deepened my roots into my local Santa Cruz community, forming friendships that still hold me deeply to this day.

Somewhere in there, people started asking for private music lessons again, the way they always have, but for the first time I started to say, “yes”. In my early post-college years I worked at an adoption agency, a preschool, summer camps and after-school music programs. Working with children was a love close to my heart, and a wonderful place to explore what it means to be human. In these years I learned many skills and tricks for managing groups and leading classes. With private students I found I could go really deep, figure out what they loved and how they learned to connect right into the heart of it all. In this manner, even as my performances dwindled, I kept my guitar in hand daily, teaching lessons, passing along my passion and discovering to my delight, that I loved this work too!

And one day, Pete & I realized we were ready for another child. And at last he came too, just a few days past the winter solstice of 2017. This second birth and post partum time were as healing as the first had been traumatic. A reminder of the way life moves in cycles and seasons.

TODAY

This brings me to here and where I am now: a mother of two wild, beautiful, small human beings. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with the love of my life: my British-born husband, man-of-many-hats, Pete, and our many musical instruments. And because life wasn’t exciting or unusual enough, we started homeschooling a few years ago. So we juggle. And we get overwhelmed. And we laugh. And we cry. But every day we give thanks: for this life, these gifts of community and creativity and family and humanity, and this beautiful planet earth. Every day is an experiment, a lesson, a continuing exploration of the question: What does it mean to be human?

Thank you for listening to my story. If you’ve enjoyed hearing it, I hope you will make the click to stay connected – join my mailing list, and my patreon where I share my latest ideas, work and creations.

As humanity on planet earth moves through this great time of change and shift, we need each other more than ever. Music is such a powerful connector and reminder of what truly matters in life. Please join me.

with love & gratitude,

your mama musician,

~ Amanda

FOR THE PRESS:

“Bringing many generations together with love, peace, hopefulness, and the joyful resonance of voice.”

“Songs written from the heart and most beautifully sung from the heart.”

– Isle FM Radio, Scotland

“Captivating melodies and contemplative lyrics. This music deserves attention.”

– The San Jose Mercury News

Amanda West is an award-winning singer songwriter, music teacher, community leader and mother.

A native Californian, she grew up singing around campfires and recorded and released her first album of original songs at age 17. Earning a degree in Cultural Anthropology, Amanda set out to discover what it means to be human. This quest carried her around the world, touring with her music in both the U.S. and Europe, while releasing five more albums of mostly original compositions.

In 2014 she co-founded Womb Song, U.S., an organization that supports women into motherhood through song. This work continues through community singing circles, rituals and workshops.

Understanding music to be a part of our human birthright, playing an essential role in our experience of being alive, Amanda has found her life path and greatest joy through sharing music with others.

She lives, creates and teachers in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two children, and many musical instruments.

www.amandawest.com

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MINDFULNESS MEDICINE & MAGIC

MINDFULNESS MEDICINE & MAGIC