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Beth Schafer - HerSong Music Interview

Beth Schafer has been performing contemporary Jewish music for over 2 decades. Her songs are spiritual, anthemic and social-action driven. Whether she's performing at a national gathering or playing an intimate service, Beth helps people discover the spiritual soundtrack to their lives. She produced the URJ show "100 Years of Women in Reform Judaism" and was the co-founder of "Harmony in Unison", an online virtual stage bringing live music to its 14,000+ members. Beth is a sought-after guitarist and recording artist with 7 studio albums and multiple commissions to her credit. She lives in Atlanta and has a partner and two adult daughters who she’s crazy about. A great way to get acquainted with Schafer's music is to listen to her powerful song, "Another Wave."

What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?

I have always loved music. Playing, singing, listening. I studied and performed throughout my childhood and adolescence taking any opportunity I could to play and learn. I listened to every genre of music and loved to disect what I heard and try and translate it to other instruments. Although I started as a Folk-Rock/Jazz/Blues performer, I switched my focus to spiritual music in my late 20's and have been a national touring artist of contemporary Jewish music playing stages from hundreds to thousands for the past 20 years. In 2006 I won the American Idol Underground competition for faith-based music and even got to play for President Obama during his campaign.

What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?

My first song was about flying, replete with lots of Major 7 chords of the 70's. My influences in no particular order are, John Lennon, James Taylor, Carole King, Paul Simon, Eagles, Joe Pass, George Benson, Bruce Springsteen, Eva Cassidy, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt.

Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?

I started asking for guitars at the age of 2. I started formal lessons at age 6 studying classical first, then rock, then jazz. I continued my education at University of Miam as a Music Theory and Composition major and ended up in production at the beginning of the digital recording era. I wrote for local tv and corporate video and multimedia projects. I played lead guitar in a Blues/Rock band in the 90's called The Implications. The touring I've done since 2001 was with a band under my name. I have a small project studio in my home. My first 7 albums were recorded with co-producer John Marsden. Since relocating to Atlanta, GA, I now work with producer, Will Robertson.

What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)?

I love all stages of the process-inspiration/writing, production and performing. Each brings its own special type of connection. To write is to connect with the self, to produce is to connect with other musicians, and to perform is to connect with an audience. All of those connections are profoundly nourishing to me.

Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music?

Learn!!!! Learn how to read music. Learn about production. Learn about instruments other than the one(s) you play. These things will make you a holistic musician and not just a singer or player of an instrument. Also, before recording a song, play the hell out of it. Make sure you really know that tune before you lay it down and put it out there.

For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with?

Although I have gobs of Jewish music, the more secular music I have written might be of more interest to a broader audience. Try History Will Ask, Haunted, or Prayer of the Workin' Man on the albums Renewed and Raise It Up, Bring It Down

For more information, please visit Beth's website.

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