Blog Post: Breaking Free from Domestic Violence with “A Little Note”

When I released the recording of my song, A Little Note, I never imagined it as a music video.

As I strummed my guitar, I envisioned a woman trapped in an abusive relationship.  I imagined her as a waitress waiting tables in a bar. She goes home every night to man who abuses her. One day while covering bruises on her face she looks into the mirror and sees a new determination in her own eyes. She picks up a pen and begins to construct a little note telling him goodbye. At that moment she begins a trajectory that leads her to pack up her suitcase and finally escape.

I recorded this song as a part of my “Heart Of the Great Unknown” album. In 2014 A Little Note won a Washington DC Music Award (Wammie Award) for Song of the Year. I realized that people were moved by this story.

The idea for creating a music video began to take shape as I realized the implications of being able to share this story in a powerful new medium. I was suddenly contacted by Michael O Synder, a well known  film maker here in DC and the process began. It was many months from creating the storyboard, finding locations and casting the movie. Every turn had it’s own challenges and rewards. I did an Indiegogo Campaign and raised the $6000 needed to turn this vision into a reality.

The closer we got to finishing the video the more I realized that this mini film could be connected to the national domestic violence awareness movement. As it happened we finished the video in time for an October release which coincided perfectly with “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”.

A Little Note is a story of hope and determination.

My wish is that victims of abuse take the steps needed to break free and live the life they deserve. I know it is not always an easy decision to leave and it can be difficult to actually break free, but that determination will open up new roads, new opportunities for healing and a better life.

I would appreciate any comments you have on this blog post and the video. Please  share it. One in 4 women will experience abuse in her lifetime. It could be someone you know. Help me share this message of hope.

— Laura Baron

What Treasures Lay Hidden In the Slums of Mumbai?


What Treasures Lay Hidden in the Slums of Mumbai?

On the way to the water spigot she looks up to see her little brother already back from the dawn patrol dragging his sack bulging with the plastic bottles and aluminum cans he hauls to the scales each morning. The raucous sun slathers their brown skin like butter and thirst burns at their throats. But they are used to it. Perhaps too used to it. While the Hilton guests just over the hill refill their lattes and pour syrup on delicate gourmet cardamon pancakes sweet 16 year old Mishra and 11 year old Chimpi with those flashing chestnut eyes look down for the scraps of tin, the clay pot of water tepid with mornings heat, amidst the stale smell of garlic and human sweat hoping, praying it will be enough, enough to last, to survive another day.

And while buses fill with plaid uniformed children backpacks stuffed with last nights homework, a juice pack, a treat Mai hastily threw in with a smile and an absent minded hug, Mishra and Chimpi look out hungrily through their homes of tin and plywood gazing at the same sun praying to the same Ganesha. And Mishra walks the three miles to the junior college she attends each day knowing that this is her lifeline out. If she’s lucky. Chimpi with a quick wit and mind ready to invent the next chip that implanted in the skin will ward off Malaria and the diseases that sicken his neighbors sorts beer tops into piles as he ruminates his inventions. Traces pictures in his mind with ideas flickering through his six hours of sorting.

What treasures are thrown away in the dust to be unearthed by eager hands?: a shiny copper wire, an empty candy tin all the sweetness inside now gone, the intelligent mind and quick wit like a wheel turning inside him as he sorts the trash and his malnourished dreams that wind through his mind, through his days a spark of light rising up out of the ruins.

Dedicated to Katherine Boo, author, “Beyond The Beautiful Forevers”

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Daily Dose of the Muse: The secret world of the Ballerina

Graceful as a butterfly this kind of delicacy comes at a cost. The incredible focus, the hard pink toe shoes, laces faded from years of bracing her legs, strong as steel, flexible as taffy. It doesn’t come easy. Not without the daily sacrifice. Not for the lazy or the weak of mind. The ballerina is like a cartoon of herself as she glides across the wooden floor, her teacher touching her waist and hips making tiny adjustments as she surveys her self with critical self awareness in the long mirrors. Like a swan, Swan Lake the quintisensial dance. Her mind fights thoughts of regrets, weariness for this life she has chosen, yet the excitement of the stage ripples through her graceful fingers as they reach for the imaginary flowers just out of reach. The baroque swells as she leaps-a strange bird across the reaches of space and lands impossibly light on battled toes. She will lace them tonight and wonder as the years roll by what she will do next. How will she land on earth when her whole life has been this uphill battle to be weightless, defying gravity, floating as if on wings, angels wings, alone high above impossibly alone. She is a force of nature. The spray of the surf, her sails still and calm clipping the endless rolling waves.

Daily dose of the muse: The Silence between the Notes

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou

I am the manager of a huge operation. The feeding of a musical career and a variety of beings both human and canine that co-exist in my home (where the dishwasher is currently non functioning) is a continuous cycle. At times I admit I feel this numb invisibility descending upon me as I bob up and down in the static of my own stream of thoughts.

So today I just turned off that weary radio station and went out for a walk in the forest.

Have you ever looked up into the quiet stars or watched a pair of wild geese paddling effortlessly through silky waters and suddenly felt an inner shift? A subtle shift back to a more primitive, more primal awakened state. At first it is almost imperceptible. But slowly like the waters cascading over the glistening rocks the pressures that take up so much real estate in our minds gradually begin to ease and quiet down. And in this stillness, this silence we suddenly hear all we need to know. And it is all good news. We are wanted just as we are: a small minute particle of the same fire that burns in the stars that lights the wing of the green beaked mallard coasting by.

And in the silence of this breathing forest space I finally come home to myself, breaking free from my cage of busyness and exhaustion. Awakened to the wild inspiration of the gushing waters, the intoxicating honeysuckle nearby, and all that the universe is kindly whispering in my ear… And I hurry home as the sky slowly turns pink to my table, to my instrument, to my papers and pens and take notes. And if I am fortunate these notes will sing out across the page into a song that I can share. Oh let me be like the hollow bamboo flute empty, waiting for the master musician to blow the spirit of this endless mysterious universe
Through me…

Daily dose of the muse: My secret addiction

So I don’t smoke cigarettes or drink much (love the occasional Shiraz blend) and I enjoy my cappuccino. But I have this intense craving or maybe it is an addiction. I feel it on most days. It often peeks through when I am swimming in a well of logistics, trying to stay afloat. I feel this tug, this kind of gnawing. So I slip off somewhere quiet with my beautiful Canadian made Larrivee steel string and suddenly I am in a whole other world. I am speaking a language that I know other artistic types share. The language of putting sounds words rhythms paintbrush camera dance steps to feelings both emotional and spiritual that rise up to be experienced, expressed and ultimately witnessed. And in those moments as I am riding those musical waves I feel someone is listening. It’s like having an audience with a very quiet, attentive, an almost invisible friend. But one who listens with her whole heart. And she listens and listens taking in whatever is flowing through at the time. And when those stolen magic moments subside and the songs wind down I look back up at my computer waiting for my eager fingers, at all the bags of groceries spilling out, my kids sprawled with iPads and homework littering the counters and I look up at this invisible someone and say with a bit of a smile and a feeling of relief “Thank you!”

Daily dose of the muse: “Discovering your original beauty”

So we had our floors sanded the other day. A noisy, dusty affair. And I have been thinking it’s kind of like songwriting. Or rather like the psyche of a songwriter. Or perhaps what that psyche needs to remember. And it’s something about returning to our original sparkle mind (as my daughter’s teacher would say) with all it’s gorgeous tree rings revealed. And with a whirl and a roar the old layers of dirt, judgement, chatter, pressure to be a creative genius:) are slowly sanded away. All those stubborn stains, those old feelings of failure, of not begin quite being enough, not the rare, exotic Brazilian variety you imagine is preferred by a more discerning audience. But slowly and not without some upheaval and resistance all this will be surely buffed away. And what is left beneath the surface as the original grain begins to emerge. Imperfect, interesting, unique as a thumbprint, your thumb print as a matter of fact. Perhaps this raw beauty is really a unique treasure waiting to be rediscovered, to reveal itself to us bit by bit. And this deeper grain emerges as a work of art. And this work of art is a part of our “original beauty” You know the beauty we were born with. And on our better days we gaze down at our feet to the rich shining deeply expressive oak tree reaching up from the earth through the floor boards into our hands into our instruments expressing all it’s fragrant beauty of life through us…

Daily dose of the muse-“Why I love songwriting”

Writing and performing reach into a deep resevioire of emotion, intuition and insight for me. Playing the guitar creates a kind of a kinesthetic mantra for my fingers that centers me so that something deeper can emerge. I feel that musicians are a different breed. We breathe a different air, need a different kind of fuel to survive. Inspiration, the muse, we soak it up from wherever we can releasing our creative spores into the world. Music with all it’s resonating notes is the oxygen of life that awakens me from the thinner air I breathe in more mundane moments. Melodic phrases are like prayers I am privileged to witness coming through. And these sudden flashes of insights that give birth to a lyric or an improv or a melody are the stuff we are all born to receive and ultimately to share.

I like to write about things that move me emotionally. A women breaking free of an abusive relationship, the kindness of a stranger for someone in need, the journey to adopt my daughter from an orphanage in India and the plight all children living on the edge, needing a good loving, safe home and a family to come home to.

I love the feel and texture of jazz. From the primal walking bass line, to the time out of time of pure improvisation. I like to feel free vocally to go where my heart moves me. And all those light and airy bossa tones, understated and sensual.

Songwriting-My secret obsession

There is nothing more delicious than a lovely lyric emerging from somewhere in my consciousness. I am never really sure if I will keep the lyric, but sometimes I feel something is emerging that I need to pay close attention to. These past couple of weeks I have had a song idea enter my consciousness. I saw Jeff Bridges amazing performance in the movie “Crazy Heart”. The movie is filled with songs based on simple, raw emotion filled lyrics with strong country infused folk music to back it up. As soon as I finished watching the movie I grabbed my guitar and song began to take shape. I was up late and kept waking up with bits of lyrics ideas which I kept jotting down. Much of this song was written while falling asleep or just waking up. I woke up this morning and lay half asleep while the a revised first verse drifted up to me. The song seems to run through my days as I take the chance to pick up my guitar and work on the music. And ahh yes the music, somehow for the song to work the music must fit the lyric like a glove. It must make the lyric come alive while standing on it’s own feet with no lyric to hide behind. I am almost finished with the song…so I guess it’s time to take a nap (maybe the bridge will be completed when I wake up!)

Emotion is the Magic Potion

No matter what stage of development you are in as a writer and how refined your craft is it is your ability to access your own deep emotional, spiritual, or intuitive dimensions and give them voice that will produce great songs. I have heard many clever and well- crafted songs, but the songs that makes me feel something inside my heart and soul are the ones I want to hear again and again. Our role as songwriters is to access the place inside of us where true inspiration lives and communicate it to through our songs. The craft and polish of our songs comes second. Inspiration and emotional connection come first.

Welcome to my Blog!

I am excited to start this blog and share the love of songwriting with you. This is a place to give and receive inspiration and discuss the writing process. I will share ideas, challenges or describe moments when inspiration overtook and a song was born. I want to hear your experiences too-please comment on my posts. This is not a “how to” blog, but tips will be plenty. I will share mp3’s of songs that inspire me. This is a place to feed the muse inside and get writing!!