Hey guys, in honor of Prince Rogers Nelson who just passed, I have decided to share the first chapter of my book “Confessions of a Bad, Ugly Singer”. The start of my book talks about my love affair in my head with Prince. Prince is the reason I fell in love with music in the first place. It just felt right to share today. Chapter 1 is called “Passion and Scars, a journey started by Prince, Prince and more Prince.”
Passion and Scars: It all started with Prince….
I’m proud to say I’m an 80’s baby. It was an innocent-but-sexy, occasionally avant guard time period. The bubble gum sensibilities of Debbie Gibson were counter balanced by the artsy left of center stylings of Thomas Dolby. Music of the eighties made everything OK, and appealed to a broad age range. True artistry reigned supreme on the pop charts.
I always had a teen heartthrob to lust after….Menudo….New Kids on the Block, but the artists were mostly adults. They were picked to represent on merits of musical ability and songwriting. I knew as a kid, these artists were to be looked up to. They were teaching me about life through music. They were my guides and my guardians, shaping my childhood. I used to think they were literally singing to me in the radio.
Those little people in the radio were my world, they were everything. I needed them. I came into the world with extra sensory abilities which made me hyper emotional and suffocated by suburban living. I connected with those little people in the radio like my life depended on it, because it did. My childhood and teenage years were one big countdown to get the hell out and escape to New York City.
The first 18 years were a roller coaster, a rickety Cyclone if you will. Every family has a black sheep, every school a highly visible freak. I was both. In the early years, a terrible ebola-like virus erupted within the school called “Collette Germs”. If someone touched me, they needed to get rid of them by touching another person while gleefully screaming “Collette Germs!” the victim would have to hold up their fingers and exclaim “Vaccinated!”, before the deadly touch or else they were afflicted until passing it on.
Nobody wanted Collette Germs.
This was my introduction to Haterade. And this was my life more or less from kindergarden to high school. Public shaming was part of my daily routine. It followed me when I transferred schools, and interestingly it has always been a very real part of my music career.
I always knew I’d be in the music business in some capacity, and I’ve always been since I’ve always known. It ran through my blood. Despite constant teasing, I managed to garner respect at school when I was tapping into that side of myself. In the 5th grade I was allowed to make mix tapes to play in art class. I would copy my favorite songs of the radio to cassette.
I decided to add the song “White Horse” by the band Laid Back in my play list. “White Horse” had some questionable language.
“If you want to be rich, you have to be a bitch”.
It was also a song about cocaine, which I did not learn until decades later. Despite painstakingly editing out all the “bitch” parts, I was sent to the principle’s office for including it in the playlist. That felt A-MAZ-ING. Even at 10 years old, creating notoriety was like breathing oxygen. Talk about foreshadowing.
I also had a school column called “Rock and Roll Music News” It covered the usual…Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Prince, Prince and more Prince.
Ah, Prince….the first man to awaken the fire in my pre-pubescent loins. I’d endlessly buy copies of Rolling Stone and Black Beat so I could get as much info on him as possible. Here I was a very white ten year old kid, OBSESSED with Black Beat Magazine. I would carry it like a bible. I remember reading extensively about Purple Rain and reporting about it in “Rock and Roll Music News”, long before the movie came out. There were few things more satisfying then hearing the cool kids talk about my column near the water fountain. This was my zone. My lane. I got straight D’s and F’s in school, but straight A’s in the school I was attending in my head. The school of rock. The only school that mattered.
I got heavy into the Minneapolis sound and Prince’s proteges… Vanity/Apollonia 6, Morris Day and The Time, Dez Dickerson and the Modernaires… I actually tried to dress up as Appollonia for Halloween when I was 11. To my mom’s credit, she did not freak out, she merely stated “nope, too sexy”. I knew “Purple Rain” backwards and forwards. I’d create cheerleading routines to “Computer Blue”. I knew all the band members of the Revolution. Wendy, Lisa, Matt Fink (the one in the Dr’s Uniform), Brown Mark, Bobby Z…I had one collective girl crush on the entire band.
FLASH FORWARD TO 2009:
I’m 35, my single “Hey Ya” with edibleRed is an MTV “Buzzworthy” feature. I’m on the phone with Dr. Matt Fink of Prince and the Revolution Fame. I had messaged him via Myspace after seeing that we were featured alongside each other on IMC Radio. He checked out my music and told me to give him a call. He’s telling me all about the last 20 years of his career, his current solo album… He’s a session cat in Minneapolis, his wife is a hairdresser and they have a home studio. We talk about maybe doing a track together. The other line rings.
“One second”, he says.
“That was Wendy and Lisa, I told them I would call them back”.
Rewind…did that really happen?
Fuck yeah, it did. Of course it did, because this shiznit is in my blood.
This business keeps trying to shake me like dew off a lizard but I’m still here. In a perfect world, I would have been an artist in the 80’s….when the artist could be the teacher in the music video, not the student…before the militant age cutoffs and blatant age discrimination against female artists. It was a friendlier time.
Flash forward to 2015. Prince looks the same and the never ending shit show called the music business still pumps through my veins. (note, I wrote this a year before Prince passed away) By now, however, I’ve been put through the ringer hundreds of times.
Honestly, It never occurred to me that in the year 2015, I WOULDN’T be a huge platinum rock star. It just didn’t. This is an attitude that every fresh off the bus New York transplant must possess. It was this credo that gave me the balls to move here in 1993 on a Greyhound bus with $1500. I worked like crazy and saved up from working Summerstock and McDonald’s.
I lost that money in a cab, only to have it returned to me in full.
This began the roller coaster in New York that’s been my life: never easy but never boring. Many of the things that happened to me could ONLY happen to me. It never occurred that my 20 years in New York would bring me a critically panned label debut, rehab, countless bad press, 9/11, and a ton of shitty waitressing jobs well into my 30’s. I certainly didn’t see myself getting sued for millions of dollars for singing in a P!NK tribute band. Let’s face it, that’s why we are all here reading this.
In all fairness, 20 years in New York also gave me a win on Cash Cab, a gig at Yankee Stadium, Central Park on New Year’s Eve, movie cameos, The Cannes Film Festival and a stint on the Martha Stewart Show singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with Claire Danes.
NYC also bought me a front row ticket to Occupy Wallstreet. When I invited the protesters to cook in my kitchen, The NY Post featured me in Page 4 calling me “The Patron Saint of the Protest”. Rebecca Rosenberg did me right and gave me good press. She told me to keep her in mind if I ever needed a reporter.
I did call years later when P!NK Tributegate took over my life, but I didn’t get Rebecca and the second time it changed my life for good. There I was, back on Page 3. But this time around it was a different ballgame. I should have known that getting favorable press in the NY Post twice would go against all odds.
Long gone are the innocent days of the 80’s although Prince still burns the fire in my loins to this day. My relationship to the music industry now is no longer pure, unbridled passion. It’s passion and scars. And that flopped album? Well, it’s a VERY underground cultish pop record that some people around the world actually discover to this day.
It took me 10 years to get a record deal with my band edibleRed. A year to negotiate our contract, then another year to get the record released. Poised for late night talk shows and radio spins, our record flopped liked a fish out of water. I remember reading the Allmusic.com review which stated my lyrics were “dumb” and my writing was “an embarrassment”. That review was everywhere, Barnes and Noble, Rollingstone.com, Amazon. I couldn’t escape it. It wasn’t until a couple years in that we started making some noise on MTV “SuckerFree” and “Buzzworthy”, But by this time, we were tired, beat, drained.
It occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t going to be a huge rock star. So it was time to go for the back up plan.