Twenty-five years ago this month, I gave birth. To an album of original songs.
Back in those days of yore the Internet, at least in terms of wide usage, was in its infancy, and the compact disc (CD) was the go-to format for both purchasing (yes, purchasing!) and listening to recorded music.
I finished the album in September of 1996, shortly after turning 24 years old, and held the finished product — a shrink-wrapped, professionally packaged CD direct from the manufacturer — in my hands for the first time that December.
Though the moment of opening the box and pulling out a record store-ready disc was strangely anti-climactic, the achievement it represented was nothing short of the realization of a lifelong dream I had spent years actively working toward.
Having been rejected or ignored by 75 record companies, I released the album on my own small label, Hominid Records, which had a business license, PO box, toll-free number, checking account, and staff of one (yours truly). The label operated out of my bedroom in the single-floor house I was sharing with a drummer roommate in Nashville.
Though the disc did receive some airplay on radio stations across the U.S., the hoped-for-with-all-my-being music career that I believed the CD would help me launch never came to be, despite Herculean efforts on my part.
That said, I was — and still am — damn proud of it. I made the best album I was capable of, and on quite a limited budget. I took painful personal experiences and feelings, mixed in some hopes, philosophies, and a heap of musical influences and inspirations, and fashioned them into my own words and music.
I collaborated with a seriously talented friend to realize my vision for each song in his recording studio. I gathered amazing musicians, most of whom I met at writer’s nights or day jobs all over Nashville, to play on the album. Without being beholden to any record company executives or financiers, I claimed total creative freedom over the project. I paid for it myself. I put my heart and soul and countless hours into it, on the studio clock and off. I made a ton of decisions and stretched myself in myriad ways. I learned by doing.