Richard's Artist Statement

When I am asked why I became a musician, I answer with a question. That question can vary from day-to-day, but the answer is always the same. 

Why does the salmon swim upstream to spawn? Because it must. That is the salmon’s truth. Why does the oak tower toward the sun? Because it must. That is truth to the oak. Why does the hawk soar? Because it must. That is truth to the hawk.

Why am I a musician? Because I have to, I must. It is something elemental, implicit, innate; there is no other way to be. That is my truth, it’s that simple. 

I must create, explore, question, quest, express. I have to serve the music, share my ideas, and contribute to the forward flow of the stream of sound to the best of my ability.

In order to be a musician, one must know how to listen. I am a listener. And if being a musician is a calling, I listened, heard the call, and heeded it. 

I listen to what is going on around me; I want to hear the truth told by every rhythm, every note and phrase. They instruct me, I receive their lessons. I then know what to to do, and how to do it.

In order to learn, one must listen. I have learned to listen. I practice listening. At jam sessions I often prefer to participate by sitting and listening instead of playing. I learn more that way. I can contribute more by having done so.

I often practice without an instrument in my hands. Listen first, execute later. I play better after having done so. 

I employ my ears. They are my most valuable instrument. As a teacher I listen to my students to try to understand what it is they want, what they need, so I can provide the proper instruction. As an accompanist I listen carefully to what the other musicians are playing so I can blend and contribute. As a producer I listen intently to the songs the writers present so I can more accurately help them achieve their vision. As a writer, I listen to the stories revealed by the heart so I can better understand myself, and by so doing share the lessons learned from a lifetime of listening.

Listen. Learn. Live. Give.