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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Cora Rose Wood

Cora Rose Wood

I first met Cora at the Western Music Association Awards and Festival where I was serving as an official photographer in 2007 when she was just approaching six years old. There was a crowd in the lobby of the host hotel and when I made it to the center to see who was singing, there was this little gal with a guitar as big as she was belting out a western song. When she stopped singing and the crowd moved away I introduced myself to Cora and her Mom, Laurie, and asked if I could make a portrait of her. I knew she would be more animated if I let her sing, so asked her to sing me a song she made up herself about her pony. She cocked her head, took a deep breath and lit right into a song…eyes on mine, she sang some of the cutest lyrics about how much she loves her pony(made up on the spot, by the way). She punctuated the end of the song with an exclamation point of the brightest smile. The photograph here is of that exclamation point. I’ve since come to know Cora and Laurie and count them as friends and have learned to brace myself when I see my Cora-kins at gatherings as when she sees me she runs to me and jumps up into my arms and wraps those cowgirl legs around my waist.

This year at a gathering in Sierra Vista, Cora was the only one brave enough to come outside on a cold, blustery day so I could photograph her by the blooming trees. Although her hat kept blowing off and she had to chase it, we persevered and created this wonderful portrait of her (complimented by the buckle she won in barrel racing competition). When she was ready to release her first CD, I had the cover image ready. I’m honored that the Wood family chose me to provide the photography and CD design for Cora’s Cowgirl Yodel. Cora has a big voice tucked into a little gal, and she has been tutored by Janet McBride (who tutored a young LeAnn Rimes and also the grand-children of the Von Trapp family). I encourage you to give Cora’s CD a spin.  Cora’s Cowgirl Yodel , which includes seven songs and three poems, is available for $13 postpaid from: Wood Western Music, c/o Laurie Wood, HC 63 Box 18C, Saratoga, WY 82331. Read some of Cora’s poems and more about her here  on the cowboypoetry.com website and visit her web site, www.woodwesternmusic.com, Cora’s Page, which includes audio and video clips.

 Cora Rose Wood's CD Cover
Cora Rose Wood’s CD Cover

 

 

 

 

    

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Audrey Hankins: First Light

Audrey Hankins: First Light

    
     Audrey Hankins is a woman of leather and lace. Leather saddles, lace kitchen curtains. A cowboy poet who first impressed me with her poem Hollyhocks as I sat in the audience at a cowboy poetry gathering and who later impressed me with the way she brings poetry into her every word and gesture, I am blessed to know her now as a dear friend.
     When Audrey approached me to provide the photography and design for her first CD of cowboy poetry, I felt honored and was excited. I knew that the vision I had for this project would fit her very well. Good friend to both of us, Jim Jones, would supply the music to dance around her words and recite one of her poems as well.
     For a project like this, although I can do all the photography for a CD in one session, I prefer to spend some time with the artist. For Audrey, I visited her at her home in Wickenburg and stayed with her for a few days, photographing in several locations and talking until the wee hours of the morning about our lives and her dreams for this CD as we sat at her kitchen table and started to bring the images and design together.
     Audrey’s son lives in a nearby “horse town” and we went there so I could photograph horses, cattle, and a windmill for the center foldout in the morning light. I worked with the image to create a sepia toned artpiece with “hand colored” horses. The next morning, pre-dawn in uncomfortably cold weather, we headed into the desert east of her home and I laid on the ground, face down in the dirt and stickers (almost backed into a prickly pair as I moved to find the perfect composition), and created an evocative sillouette of Audrey in the first light of day. When we got back to the house and warmed up over coffee and toast, I brought up the images for her to see. Until then, she had another title for the CD. The image that is on the back traycard of her CD got us to talking and inspired her to rename it after one of her poems (the first poem on the CD), First Light. The blessing of that image made the cold and stickers insignificant. The cover/autograph page/inner traycard images were created at the ranch of her close friend Suzi Killman, western singer/songwriter and daughter of equine artist Hildred Goodwine. Audrey loves the cover image as she says it conveys a “come on in and have a cup of coffee” welcoming feel.
     The CD turned out to be as “Audrey” as can be…warm and welcoming and full of stories that are like the woman herself, a bit of leather and lace/sunshine and strength. First Light, which includes 17 original poems, is available for $17 postpaid, from Audrey Hankins, P.O. Box 688, Congress, AZ 85332. You can find out more about Audrey, read a few of her poems, and take a look at her poetry books here: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/audreyhankins.htm#Light

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William Merritt in Sedona

William Merritt in Sedona

This picture is of my husband, William, yet not at the Kearny Gathering. The picture here is him by the Red Rock Crossing stream in Sedona and since he is singing a song he wrote called Where the Water Runs, I figured it fit. I’m in Ruidoso having my first week of “soul charging” in many long years and he is up in Kearny, AZ, performing “officially” for the first time at a western music gathering.  In his first set he included: Cowboy’s Prayer written by Badger Clark, Calling Out Your Name by Rich Mullins, The Saddle (a song we co-wrote), and the Rillito Song (name pending: a song about the historic Rillito Racetrack in Tucson being sold out to become soccer fields). For his second set he performed: Where the Water Runs, High Chin Bob (which I call “the kitty-cat song), Julio Robledeo (by Eddy Harrison), and Hurryin’ Back Home (another William Merritt original).

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William Merritt, my talented husband

William Merritt, my talented husband

My husband, William, has been coming forward in the western music world…first in the audience, then at the fringes of the jam sessions then singing in them, and in the last year he has participated in some open mic sessions at the western gatherings. This weekend, while I’m in Ruidoso, NM, he is performing at the Kearny gathering in AZ. He is a singer and a songwriter with a passion for traditional western music and it’s culture. We have co-written a song, The Saddle, that he’ll be perfoming this weekend and that you can hear on his website, williammerritt.net(as well as other songs). I’m hoping that his good friend Jon Messenger adds some harmonica accompaniment to his song Where the Water Runs. I am so proud of my very talented husband!

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