Super Typhoon Yolanda Benefit Concert

Lindsay and her sister in their homeland

Lindsay and her sister in their homeland

I have a friend (Lindsay) who is Filipino and living here in Palo Alto. I reached out to her the day of the typhoon and asked if her family back in her homeland were ok. At first she said they hadn’t been able to make contact yet, but shortly after that response came another message saying that they were safe. I asked if she was doing ok and she said she had been watching all of the news coverage, and it made her sad.

It reminded me of when my parents were in an earthquake in Chile in 2010 and my siblings and I were unable to contact them for part of the day. Everywhere I went that day, I saw breaking news on the earthquake, and I didn’t know if my parents were safe. Eventually I found out that they were fine. A similar experience occurred when my brother was in Japan’s earthquake in 2011. I eventually found out he was safe too. Having those experiences made me more empathetic to my Filipino friend’s situation.

Two days after the typhoon, I saw Lindsay in person and again asked if she was doing ok with all of the concern about her homeland. She answered, “Yes, I am ok — I am going to do something to help!” (I love that answer!) Later she let me know I was part of that plan, and she invited me to play at a benefit concert November 22nd. Here are all of the benefit concert details, and here are all of the associated fundraising details. Come if you can, donate if you can, pass along the invite if you can. Every dollar donated will go to medical supplies and data services for search and rescue. Here are the requests we will be donating to:

Supplies for Medical Team
Organization: SEMPER (Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response).
“100% of the donations go to medical supplies, equipment, and training. Since everybody volunteers, we have no administrative or overhead costs. Any degree of assistance is appreciated, and our pending deployment will require pharmaceuticals and other direct patient care supplies. Thanks so much.”

Broadband Global Area Network Device (BGAN)
Organization: Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation
“There is an immediate need in these areas to establish faster and better communication lines via voice and data. According to the UN Office for Coordination on Humanitarian Affairs, there are about 659,268 displaced people/missing and data services or connectivity will hasten the search and rescue of these people.”

I admire Lindsay’s reaction to the news of the typhoon. First, she felt the sadness of it, then decided to do something about it. She made a plan to help, and reached out to people around her to also help with her plan. The next time you hit a pitfall, remember her statement: “Yes, I am ok – I am going to do something to help!”

Making a Music Video to the Rhythm of…the Ocean

anna cate at the ocean music video shoot

I knew immediately that I wanted my video filmed by the ocean. It was for a last-minute music contest entry, and I was determined to record it at the beach. What is it about the beach that is universally soothing to everyone?  The rhythm of the waves, the light on the water, the breadth of the landscape? A sense of awe and wonder never evades me when I visit the ocean. 

But even with my love for the ocean, I couldn’t have planned on one remarkable thing that happened as I was capturing the film — something I wasn’t even aware of until I was playing it back.

 A lot of little things went wrong during filming: equipment had been misplaced, batteries ran out, my favorite hat I wanted to wear was nowhere to be foundWe only had a small amount of time to film before the sunlight was gone. We’d done a few takes, but decided to give it one final go as the day’s final rays from the sun faded on the water. The videographer had me move to a different position for lighting purposes, and I became more aware of the sound of the ocean. This is when the magic happened: without even noticing, my tempo caught up with the rhythm of the waves. As I looked out over the beach, the phrases of the song quietly tucked into the timing of the sea. I found myself breathing better and easier between the lines of my lyrics. The ocean was more than a pretty setting right then — it was my metronome and my muse. 

 In the past I’ve felt the need to “comp” all of my songs, using hundreds of little pieces strung together to meet my expectations of what a good recording should be. With this video, I hit a milestone: I sang a recording that was 100% organic — no syncing together. The audio is raw, not composited, and right next to the ocean. About as natural and real as you can get. 

Of course there are little imperfections, but they are actually what I love most about the recording. The quiver in my voice when I sing the word “heart.”  The part when I sing the end of the bridge and wander off pitch but then back on again. The details I once thought needed to be edited out, I now see as the parts that share my most authentic emotions.

 The environment inspired a performance that was authentic and present, different than the glossed-over content that our tech-savvy society frequently delivers and consumes. I finally *get it*, that thing music teachers and sound engineers have always tried to explain to me: I understand now what it means to perform a song with genuine emotion, not unrealistic perfection.

Maybe heading back to nature will help more of us in our quest for beauty and art that’s real, not flawless. Present, not perfect. Connected by the rhythm of the ocean, not the beat of a click track. 

See the video here: