ALBUM KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED!

- originally published February 23, 2019 -

Dear Friends,

I am bursting with excitement and thrilled to share that I just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to record my first ever full-length album!!! If you’ve been following my career for the past five years, you probably know that this has been a big dream of mine. Through working other jobs, I’ve been able to self-fund the EPs and singles I’ve released (except for Restore, which was also a product of a Kickstarter Campaign), but I finally felt like it was time to record an LP. In summer 2017, I had an idea for a title (to be shared upon the album release), and had an idea of some of the songs that I wanted to include. From there, everything started flowing. By mid 2018 I had written the full album and dreamed up the vision.

Fast-forward to now. The campaign has launched and this post is really just a formality to invite you over to Kickstarter, where you can be a part of making this record possible. I’ve worked a lot to get some of the pieces together so far, but as a completely independent artist, I really need help to make it happen. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE CAMPAIGN:


It is my hope that this new record will open up more doors musically – that I’ll be able to go on at least a small tour and have the chance to sing for you and meet you in person! I have ideas for professional music videos and homemade lyric videos…it’s going to be such a fun season. Most importantly, I can’t wait to finally be able to share more music with you. I am so excited about these songs, and can hardly wait for you to hear more.

In the meantime, check out the Kickstarter Campaign here with lots more info !!!: roriekickstarter.com

and please e-mail me with any questions about the project and/or your interest in becoming a backer!! rorie@roriemusic.com

With Love,

Rorie

stories of silver

- originally published October 17, 2018 -

My favorite color used to be lime green. I loved it so much that I even even bought the lime green version of the Ti85 calculator for algebra and calc classes (whenever I got a wrong answer, my teacher would jokingly say, “that’s because your calculator is green.” I did get the right answer sometimes too ;)) People used to tell me that I’d probably change my mind when I got older. Well, maybe that is true. I do have a new favorite “color combo.” It’s one that has found it’s way into apartment decor, the colors I gravitate toward in fashion and photography, and more. Purple + Silver.

I recently learned of Biblical and literary motifs where Silver is a color of redemption, and Purple is a color of royalty. I started thinking about all of the things I knew of that related to silver: a silver medal (second place), silver/gray hair, C.S. Lewis’ book ‘The Silver Chair’ (where there are indeed symbols of redemption, and being set free), the phrase “silver lining,” and the beginning of the story of Les Mis:

The main character and ex-convict Jean Valjean is finally let out on parole, and no one will take him in. He finds his way to a church where he is shown true hospitality. Out of desperation, Valjean tries to escape in the middle of the night with some silver candlesticks. A group of gendarmes finds him and brings him before the bishop, telling him that this man has stolen his silver. The bishop completely shocks Valjean when he proceeds to tell the officers that “the silver was given to him as a gift, and speaking of, he forgot to take the two other silver goblets with him when he left!” After they leave, the Bishop tells Valjean that he must “use this precious silver to become an honest man.” He challenges him to a higher plan for his life, and just like that, Valjean’s life is redeemed. He becomes an influential person who spends a lifetime living in grace, even through some incredibly trying plot twists, and is able to help and show love and compassion to a lot of people.

As a synesthete, I am always fascinated by colors, their meanings, and how they relate to stories, sounds, numbers, etc. I had never really thought about the inner meanings of this color palette that I enjoy so much, but when I realized that there was such cool symbolism, I knew I had to share! Here’s to a wonderful combination of redemption and royalty.

What are your favorite colors and what do they mean/what do they mean to you?


story behind the song: FALL AND RISE

- originally published December 3, 2017 -

Fall and Rise talks about the ebb and flow – the rise and fall – of life. There are great seasons, and there are horrible seasons. There are ups and downs, and if you’re like me, you experience those ups and downs in the same day (or hour, or minute!). In all seriousness though, I have found that in those dark moments, it is so important to know and believe that the story does not end there. So I thought of the idea of flipping the phrase “rise and fall” to “fall and rise,” and I was particularly inspired because this year has been a really hard year in many ways for a lot of the people closest to me. The song came together in one sitting this past summer. I liked it, but thought I would “save it for later.” Then, I played it at a few shows, and multiple people kept singling out, so at the very last minute (like, two days before I went back into the studio!) I switched out another song for this one, and I’m glad that I did because this ended up being probably my favorite on the EP. Tommee and I recorded it with a variety of sections (rises and falls…) and a cinematic feel, with the hopes that it might one day get picked up for TV+film.

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: fanlink.to/RorieDawnEP

rise.png
riselyrics.jpg

story behind the song: MEASURELESS

- originally published December 11, 2017 -

Measureless is a song about the immeasurable love of God. The kind of love that is not afraid to enter into the most hopeless places and situations, being not only so vast and beyond our imagination, but also closer than we can comprehend. One of my favorite lines in this song is “walls guarding all I’ve failed to prove / start to shake within the wild truth.” No matter what kind of strength we are able to muster up in this life, or how many times we fail, or whatever we face, grace is greater. Life isn’t easy, but knowing that you’re loved changes everything, and I truly believe that we are set free when we believe that. When I wrote and recorded this song, I imagined taking a blanket out into the middle of a field with a few friends, and looking up and seeing a sky glimmering with endless stars (this sonic imagery is actually drawn from a real experience in college when a group of friends and I did just that). I also wanted to create something that sounded as though John Mark McMillan and Florence and the Machine (two of my favorite artists!) made a song together, but maybe don’t tell them I said that…

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: fanlink.to/RorieDawnEP

measure.png
measurelyrics.jpg

story behind the song: DAWN

- originally published December 18, 2017 -

Dawn is a song about perseverance. It’s about wrestling with questions and facing the unknown, even if it means staying up all night, metaphorically or literally, while you move through whatever it is. In the past I’ve written a lot of songs with lyrics that are more “wordy” (I love words) – so for this song, I wanted to write something that was more straight-forward and declarative. I ended up singing the lyrics and melody to myself for the first time on the way to the dry-cleaners on a January evening.

*If you joined the live Q&A that I did on facebook on the eve of the EP release (here’s a link to the replay if you missed it!), then you heard this anecdote: a couple of days before the EP released, I was driving down the same road that I had taken to the dry cleaners on that January evening last winter. There was a street sign leading to a small, offshoot road…and I suddenly read the name on the sign: “DAWN DR.” I kind of gasped and started laughing, realizing that I had probably read that sign subconsciously before making up the song. It didn’t register in my mind because, at that point in time, I had no idea that it was going to turn into something that I would end up releasing, let alone the inspiration for the title of an EP!

Anyway, back to the serious description: I was thinking about how easy it is to unintentionally give up on something that is actually important to us (note: there’s a huge difference between good, intentional rest, and just giving up). A lot of times we aren’t faced with two options: keep going, or don’t. Apathy creeps in slowly, and usually in disguise. It’s easy to say we’re not going to give up when things are looking promising, but when you’re facing what seems like complete failure or an unknown future, that’s when the choice becomes real. It takes real faith and grace to see it through until that literal or metaphorical dawn.

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: fanlink.to/RorieDawnEP

story behind the title: ‘DAWN’ EP

- originally published November 30, 2017 -

It’s really no secret that writers and poets have been captivated by dawn (the time of day) for centuries, and this little blurb that you are about to read is no exception. Every time I write and release music, it feels like my whole life story and the state of my mind are being poured out into the studio and uploaded to the internet, so I try to choose titles carefully…

The dictionary definition of dawn is: “the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise.” Wikipedia is careful to emphasize that it is before and different from the sunrise. There is also another definition, for the verb tense of the word: “become evident to the mind; be perceived or understood.”

There is some light, but it is not quite day. You can suddenly see where you are headed, but you are still aware that you are not quite there yet. I’ve always seen tension as a catalyst for art, and here in the tension of the “not yet” and “what once was,” is that first glimpse of light – the dawn.

In these songs, I talk about some of the stuff that can be a bit difficult to talk about: doubt, depression, difficult seasons, success, failure, loss, real love, perseverance, and faith – in my life and those around me. If I was releasing a larger project, there would probably be a greater variety of themes present throughout the songs … but I have realized that there was something truly purposeful about being in the place and time that resulted in this music.

Dawn is hopeful. In the Bible, David says “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn...” Dawn is the beginning of something, and it happens over and over again, every day. In 2017, I sat here looking out into that in-between. Maybe you have a similar experience. Whatever the reason you found yourself reading this, maybe something in one of these four new songs will resonate with you. Thank you for reading, thank you for listening, and thank you for being you.

xoxo,

RORIE

LISTEN TO THE EP HERE: fanlink.to/RorieDawnEP

story behind the song: GOLD

- originally published November 26, 2017 -

Before I begin: these stories are little doors into my personal thought process and inspiration as I wrote these songs. As a poetic songwriter, I really value listener interpretation, as there is something special about listening to a song and making it your own. The other day, someone told me about another interpretation for “Gold” based on a relationship story, which I thought was incredibly cool. That being said, I’m excited to share these stories over the coming weeks, but if there is something in one of these songs that I don’t mention, it can certainly still be part of your personal listening experience.

So there is a bit of a theme to the songs on this EP. I’ll be honest and say that it was unintentional, however, as the choice for which songs I was going to record this summer played out, I realized that the four I chose were the right ones simply because they said exactly what I needed to say this year. Gold is about that fight for “success,” and whatever image we have of that in our head or whatever we feel has been impressed upon us. I wrote this in a season where I felt really wrapped up in an expectation of what I should be doing, or how things “should be.” I think it’s good to realize that things aren’t quite how they should be in life, but I noticed that within this intense pressure I was actually stifling the value of what I did have, and the beautiful people I live life with. There is a whole lot lot more to life than what we have, what we do, or what we achieve. I wrote the song during the summer, so it has a sort of anthemic but light, floating feeling to it. I wanted it to be open to interpretation, but to also instill that feeling of finding light in the middle of the fight.

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: fanlink.to/RorieDawnEP


goldlyrics.jpg

How-To: A low budget music photo shoot… in your kitchen

- originally published September 17, 2017 -

Last winter, I had an idea for a single cover, but didn’t have the budget to plan a whole professional photo shoot. So I started brainstorming ways to take the photo within the confines of our tiny apartment – and that is how this came about: 

If you haven’t heard the song: –> YOU CAN LISTEN HERE <–! But the motive of today’s blog post is to give away all of my secrets, step-by-step, and perhaps convince you that you too can take a photo in your kitchen and use it for a professional endeavor. I mean, if you want to of course. 

1. Dream up an idea 

2.  Notice that the light looks best streaming through the kitchen window in the winter

3.  Schedule the photo shoot for a Saturday morning in January

cranes.png

4.  Spend a few cold winter nights making a basket-full of paper cranes out of light grey paper that you could only seem to find in bulk at Office Depot (about $11.00)

5.     Go to the fabric store and find three things: 1. The very last piece of shiny, iridescent fabric (about $12) and 2. a spool of shiny, iridescent basket filling material ($4.99) 3. Clear Fishing Thread (~$3.75) 4. Painters tape (I already had this, but I think it’s about $3 at Home Depot)

6.     Take the original fabric that you had used as shutter curtains (shown above) off, and (using the painters tape), temporarily replace with the basket filling material. Make sure you remember that this new material is see-through and does not count as curtains!

7.     Take the clear fishing thread and cut long pieces to hang from the ceiling (also using painters tape). Stand on a step stool to tape the birds to the ceiling (try not to fall)

8.     Take your piano bench – which just happens to be the perfect height – and set it in front of the window

9.     Invite your mom, Kathy, over to help you with the camera (thanks mom you are the best!). Adjust the settings how you want them, and take a bunch of photos

10.  Choose the one that you’d like to use, and send to your super-talented friend/colleague Camilla to work some magic…because I don’t know about you but stovetops do not belong on a song cover unless, of course, the song is about a stove, or cooking, or something that I probably won’t write about any time soon. 

11.  And there ya go! Those are all the kitchen-based photo shoot secrets I have for today…and probably for a while. A few months at least. 

new music coming soon!

- originally published on September 8, 2017 -

Dear Friends,

Helloooo! I’m here today to tell you a bit about a new project I’m about to release this Fall. I had the opportunity to work with an incredible producer named Tommee Profitt: and we created a 4 song EP that I couldn’t be more excited to share with you! 

The first single – DAWN – drops Friday, September 15 (and the full EP will be out in November), and I am asking for YOUR help. If you love what you hear, these are a couple things you can do:

  1. Share with your music-loving friends and family, both online and in person!

  2. Follow on Spotify / Subscribe on YouTube / Instagram / Facebook – I mean, you get it. There are people asking you to do this all the time, but it really does help, and I would sure love to share lots of great content with you this season!

  3. Add the song(s) to your Spotify/Apple Music Playlists! Playlists are huge right now for artists!

  4. Leave a Review on iTunes – it really does help when people are browsing around to discover new tunes!

  5. I am always writing and planning to make more music – but before I make an album or anything like that, I am needing to grow to be able to afford a big project (or even another small project). If you really want to support these projects financially, you can download the song on iTunes for $1.29, or on Bandcamp (where you can name your price – they’ll be up here when the full EP releases). Huge thank yous to those who have tipped on ConcertWindow this year – you help to make this possible, and I am constantly blown away by your support!

I can honestly say that it is your support and friendship that keeps me writing new songs and I am FOREVER grateful to share this journey and great passion with you.

Thanks again for everything. Can’t wait to share these songs with you.

Yours Truly, 

RORIE

The details // Part 2

- originally published June 1, 2017 -

the details, pt 2.  // the taste of sound when you’re playing the piano.

sometimes, it’s that iconic image of writer + pen + paper, 8am at the kitchen table: free-writing that turns into serious writing that turns into some kind of finished product, and it was a day well spent.

but most of the time, it’s not like that at all. it’s the lyric that pops into your brain on the way to the dry-cleaners. humming a line into your phone while stopped at the stoplight. waking up in the middle of the night to scribble something in your journal so you don’t forget.

it’s the worst things in life turning into the best songs. it’s the best things in life that make you dance. it’s the taste of sound when you’re playing the piano. it’s the feeling when you’re at a concert and all of the sudden there’s something new humming through your head, buzzing.

it’s watching (over and over again) everything that you didn’t understand suddenly making sense. making sense of the misunderstood, over and over again. pen + paper + whenever it happens, over and over again.

The Details // Part 1

- originally published March 9, 2017 -

the details, pt 1.  // coming home from work.

every minute is a detail. every note, every color, every word.

sometimes, I get so caught up in the big picture – the goal, the intent – that I forget about all of the moments in-between.

blue-velvet clouds overwhelm the sky, and I watch them from the fifth floor. the sun sinks a bit too early, and our little city is veiled in dark. but glittering stars and lamplights keep the dreamers awake.

when I get home to that evening light slanting through the halfway open blinds, and realize that we forgot to take out the trash. when there are piles of dishes and medical bills and Christmas cards from two years ago on the fridge.

the way the phone rings, the way the tea tastes. the way your heart shakes inside a fragile mess of bones. the way you can feel so anxious, but know you’re not alone.

life is a canvas full of details – let me see it all up close.


Learning to Pay Attention

- originally published March 9, 2017 -

I think it was a few days after New Years when I broke down over something random, and then realized that part of the reason for my sadness was simple: somewhere along the way there seemed to be nothing “new” anymore.

A family loss right before Christmas. The quiet of winter. No snow (ha, but really though).

Then this weird thing started happening: everything in life started connecting. For example, I had this idea to write a series on my blog about “the details.” I’d pick an everyday scenario (eg, coming home from work at the end of the day) and then write down a series of details, trying to capture even the unassuming ones. Then, I saw an article with a quote from the book “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” which I immediately remembered that my friend Laura had told me to read years ago. It was the same day that I came down with the virus that everyone had last month (ugh), so I went to the library to find it (it’s always nice to have a book to read when you’re not feeling well).

It didn’t take me long to discover that I absolutely love the book, and I laughed at the critics online who said that there was simply “too much detail”. There is a whole section where the main character Francie decides that she wants to focus in on every detail of a moment:

“But she didn’t want to recall things. She wanted to live things – or as a compromise, re-live rather than reminisce. She decided to fix this time in her life exactly the way it was this instant. Perhaps that way she could hold on to it as a living thing and not have it become something called a memory. […] She brought her eyes close to the surface of her desk and examined the patterned grain of the wood […] She dropped it into the metal wastebasket counting the seconds it took to fall. She listened intently so as not to miss its almost noiseless thud as it hit the bottom. […] Francie heard, as it for the first time, the sound the desk drawer made when she opened it to get her purse. She noted the device of the purse’s catch – the sound of its click. She felt the leather, memorized its smell and studied the whirling on the black moiré-silk lining. She read the dates on the coins in her change purse. There was a new 1917 penny which she put in the envelope.”

If Francie (or the author, Betty Smith) was alive today, I would like to read her blog. Sorry Francie, I know blogs did not exist in 1917 – but I’m glad we get to read about you in your book (which is a new favorite).

That’s when it kind of hit me. Maybe it wasn’t that there was nothing new in life. Maybe I needed to PAY CLOSER ATTENTION. These details were not to be overlooked.

The connections haven’t stopped there. At the end of last year, I wrote about how I was inspired to declare “perseverance” as my word for 2017. Since that day, the word and concept have been jumping out at me everywhere. Like, everywhere.

I have been inspired to write new songs, and the literal metaphors (those words are confusing next to each other, but bear with me) that I used later showed up as themes in a conversation participated in, or a sermon listened to. This has happened a lot, and I hesitate to try and explain it all, but it has been too present to ignore. Do you ever experience one of those blessings that you know should just be absorbed and not shouted from the rooftops? Yup. There have definitely been some of those.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is nothing new. As long as we are breathing, there is purpose here. “[God’s] mercies are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23) There is something incredible that happens when we pay attention. Suddenly, we find our lives intersecting with the lives of others in ways that we never planned or anticipated. Maybe it’s a new friendship. Maybe it’s having the opportunity to help a total stranger, only to realize that by helping them, they have helped you even more. In reality, there are so many things in our lives that beg to not be taken for granted.

These past two months have reminded me of two quotes that I love:

“…that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” – Annie Dillard

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver

I don’t know about you – but I am actually really looking forward to paying attention, being astonished, and telling (more like writing/singing) about it soon. What has amazed you recently? I’d love to hear about it.

book.jpg

hello from our little apartment by the river

- originally published February 1, 2017 -

When I moved here, I was reeling from all of the transition a bit more than I wanted to admit. When conversations with friends were suddenly made via phone or long texts sent at stoplights (rather than walking 10 feet to the next house over, letting myself in the unlocked door, and helping myself to my friend Rachel’s groceries before she even returned from class), I started falling into a daze of nostalgia with way too much time to think. But I’ve learned that the best way to get excited about living in a new city is to explore as much as possible…

It didn’t take me long to realize that there was something really special about living right next to a river. When I was a kid, I would read book after book of historical fiction goodness where characters escaped through the forest next to their little wooden house and spent hours adventuring by the nearby river, or creek, or pond.  I used to pretend that I lived by a river too – but the only body of water that I could see on a daily basis was a man-made pond near our neighborhood, full of keep out signs about “electric shock” and “no fishing.”

Now that we live in a city right next to a river, I have realized the effect that this has on my mood. Sometimes, the river is peaceful, sunny, and a bit too bright to look at until sunset. Other days, I’m driving to work and the water is full of dark fog and haze. Other times, I’m running and the clouds are full of color, whispering over the water. Sometimes the water is choppy and stormy, completely mirroring my emotions. And then there’s the water at night: with city lights, the bridge, the ferris wheel. Riding bikes over the pedestrian side of the bridge after dark and seeing the whole city across the water. Sitting on the bench by the water and writing. Watching little sailboats glide across the blue on an early July morning. Seeing the water ice over in the winter. Visiting the hidden lighthouse and taking photos of rocks by the water.

Can you tell I’m obsessed?

Living by the river has reminded me to be patient, and to never give up the opportunity for a grand adventure. What is special about the place where you live? What makes your neighborhood, town, or city unique? I’ve lived in a variety of places and I can assure you, there is always something. 

some river photos:

river.png

word of the year, 2017

- originally published December 16, 2016 -

[a few weeks ago] It was a week that wasn’t my favorite. I’m wording it that way because, in the grand scheme of the world, it wasn’t so bad. Still, I was feeling emotional and defeated, and wanted to run. The sky was bright and sunny when I drove to my favorite running path, left my car parked in a pile of leaves, and started out. I was so pumped. This was going to be the best hour of the whole awful week.

I had completely underestimated how cold it was. Suddenly, I was attempting to run against the wind, face stinging and lungs burning. We are very dramatic here, but it’s true. The winter sun had deceived me. It probably would have been a wise and totally valid choice to turn around and go run inside at the gym, or at least find some warmer gear (I was wearing pretty warm layers already, so I’m not advocating running in extreme conditions in an unhealthy way). But for some reason, I knew I needed to keep going. If I went back to my car, I would probably just drive home and wallow. So I kept running, walked a little, and then ran the rest of the way.

Sometimes, we race out the door in excitement or determination: “Yes, this is it! I’m ready!” And then we hit a wall of wind and it’s “Wait. This is definitely not what I signed up for. What if I made the wrong choice?” I’ve been learning that, most of the time, there isn’t a neon sign giving us another set of choices: “will you keep going, or give up? pick one.” It’s usually a slow, unintentional defeat that enters through distraction or doubt. We suddenly find ourselves deviating from our lane without even meaning to.  (Side note: this is in no way an argument against rest. I think rest is actually a super important element in not giving up [and could – probably will – write a whole other post on that], but intentional rest is different from avoiding a confrontation of circumstances, or brushing discomfort under the rug.)

I’ve heard about people declaring a “word of the year,” and never thought I’d actually do that. I love words and there are so many great ones, so shouldn’t they allll be words of the year?! But I realized that I do have a word for next year, because it’s been on my heart a whole lot recently. When I was running in the cold that day, it made me think about my attitude towards a lot of things in life. About running a long race in a short life.

There is a scripture that is read at lots of weddings, and perhaps has become cliche to many of us. But, as many times as I’ve heard it, I was still surprised to see my word there, nestled inside a very important statement: “…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

My word for 2017 is: perseverance. What’s yours?

Climate Music Video // Behind the Scenes

- originally published November 20, 2016 -

We have so many awesome behind-the-scenes photos from filming the “Climate” music video, so I have to share them on the blog! Last summer, Franck and Caitlin e-mailed me and told me about their film company, Open Valve Studios. They said that they had discovered my EP on iTunes and would love to travel to DC (they live in LA) to film a music video! We spent a couple months planning over e-mail and Skype, and then filmed for three long days in early October.

The video shoot was one adventure full of mini-adventures. I decided to tell the stories through photos (here are some of my favorite photos, all by Marie from Open Valve Studios – unless otherwise noted):

Live Performance at Anthropologie

- originally published on September 20, 2016 -

A Friday evening show at Anthropologie in Old Town Alexandria! Friends stopped by to listen to music and browse the fall collection. Shoppers wandered the storefront throughout the evening and enjoyed cupcakes, drinks, and music along the way. Others chose to visit for a date night. It was a great evening! Here are some photos from the event, all taken by Cam Dorinsky. I am wearing the Auralis Lace Top, the Pilcro Serif Mid-Rise Cords in “honey,” and the Monogramic Pendant Necklace, all by Anthropologie. Thank you so much to Anthro Alexandria for hosting me, and to all of you who were there! I love singing for you! Stay tuned for more show announcements soon.

RORIE BOOK CLUB I PART 2

- originally published September 17, 2016 -

… So you can probably tell that I don’t update this blog too often. But I’ve decided that whenever there is something that I want to say that won’t naturally fit in a social media post, I will write it here. (What else should I write about?!)

Last year, I wrote about some of the books that I had read and it was so fun to hear everyone’s responses and ideas for what to read next. So here is a list + mini-descriptions of some of the books I’ve read this year (there are others, but these are the best ones, in no particular order.)

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh- This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I felt like a kid again, reading something profound but not too complex, unable to put it down (although it is a book for adults). It was a story that felt so very real but painted beautifully. Also, a must read for anyone who loves flowers. Thank you to my friend Jessica for recommending this!

Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot – I am always coming across these awesome quotes from Elisabeth Elliot, so I decided that I should read one of her books, and this was the one at the library at the time. It’s an intense memoir of the difficult loss of her husband while on the mission field. Her perspective is incredibly honest.

Mary Oliver Poems – I won’t list out all of the books that I read because one day I literally checked out about 6 of her poetry collections (surprisingly none of them included the typical quotes that I always see from her everywhere), and they were all wonderful. So, if you’re looking for inspiring, modern, beautiful, nature-esque poems, find a Mary Oliver book. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the poems I did read:

What I want to know, please, is what is possible, and what is not. If it is not, then I am for it.” -The Garden, White Pine (yes, yes, and yes.)

the old gold song / of the almost finished year…” – Fall (because, I mean, what a cool way to talk about fall)

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like small dark lanterns.” – Yes! No!, White Pine

I’ve knelt there, and so have you, hanging onto what you love, to what is lovely. The lake’s shining sheets don’t make a ripple now, and the stars are going off to their blue sleep, but the words are in place – and the fish leaps, and leaps again from that black plush of poem, that breathless space…” -At the Lake, White Pine

“…What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day — who knows how, but they do it — were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?” –
 How Would You Live Then? 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and Other Concerns + Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: So I was obviously way behind on this, but I finally read the Mindy Kaling book. Hilarious. And then we were visiting our friend Anne in Texas on the way to Oklahoma, and she had ‘Why Not Me?’ sitting on her bookshelf. Part of the magic of reading a book is remembering where you read it, why, and who recommended it to you. I think these stories are part of what makes reading and sharing books with friends special.

When Life Turns Upside Downby Brannah Bibbs: this book was written by my friend Brannah who lives here in Alexandria. It’s a story all about growing up and figuring out life. She introduces the reader to instantly lovable characters that are very real, and you grow attached to their stories more and more in each chapter. It was so fun to read her debut novel, and I have no doubt we will be hearing more from her as an author in the future!

To the Lighthouseby Virginia Woolf: My memory of reading this book revolves around a rainy, coffeeshop day while waiting for the bus from NYC to DC this past May (while/after filming the “Bells” lyric video – see, it all goes together!). I will be honest and say that I knew I needed to read this book because of the title (lighthouses and I are great friends) – but I also knew that it was going to be a very deep and thoughtful read that makes one think about life, which it was.

A Little Bit Wicked (Kristen Chenoweth autobiography): My friend Lauren and I were browsing the biography section of a used bookstore (ya know, per usual) when she mentioned that she had recently read a Kristen Chenoweth autobiography, and that it was really funny. She let me borrow the book and yes, she was right. I think it’s fun to read about the childhood/young adulthood of successful entertainers – and this one did not disappoint.

I’d love to hear your recommendations on what to read next!

“Storyteller” Video Coming Soon!

- originally published May 9, 2016 -

So there has been a lot going on lately! Two weeks ago, we filmed a video for my song “Storyteller.” I had been planning this video for a while, pinning pins to Pinterest boards and such, so to actually put those ideas into action was amazing!

I had the opportunity to work with Stephen Stonestreet, a super talented photographer/videographer/creative based in Charlottesville, VA. His sister, Lauren Stonestreet, is also an incredibly talented photographer, dancer, and musician, so she joined us on set!

The entire day was such a blessing. We all had to get up super early because we were traveling to a retreat center in the Shenandoah Valley. This place is a hidden gem, and the drive was incredible. At some point, I got off the highway and found myself driving through miles and miles of woods (which was slightly concerning because my wilderness skills are lacking, although I’m working on them, or probably should be…;p). The weather was springtime to the core, full of lime green leaves and colorful flowers. The sky was cloudy and overcast but there were still streams of sunlight cascading through the trees. All this to say, it was simply gorgeous and I can’t describe how much I needed that drive.

Before I got there, however, I stopped in Warrenton to work with my friend Kat Simpson on make-up. Kat and I knew each other when we were kids (we went to church and dance class together!), but it had been so long since we’d gotten to catch up! I found out that she works as a make-up artist with her company, Ruby Fox Artistry. It was such a blast to work with her and to get to catch up after such a long time! We couldn’t stop talking! Huge shout out to her for dealing with our crazy schedule and allowing me to arrive at her house suuuper early in the morning. If you live in the Northern VA area, be sure to check out her website for make-up for weddings, prom, etc!

After arriving at Shrine Mont, we spent the entire day filming and chasing the sun (there were random downpours throughout the afternoon, but nothing that stopped us from filming!). We filmed in lots of awesome spaces on the retreat center campus, and we ended by filming the last shots in the woods.

Stephen Stonestreet is incredibly skilled and passionate in his craft. Like, whoa. My mind was spinning the entire day, and we were all completely exhausted by the end of it! I don’t want to give away too much about the details of the video (which will be out in mid-June!), but here are just a few photos that I managed to get below! The last one was taken by Stephen Stonestreet in-between scenes. Thankful to have met two new friends, been introduced to a beautiful place in this beautiful state, laughed a lot (and actually cried too), and to have had the blessing to create some art.

UPDATE - Video now on YouTube:

EP UPDATE

- originally published April 2, 2016 -

It’s been an amazing week full of long days and hard work, but we have a really solid start on a new EP that I already cannot wait to share with you!

Working with Chad Copelin and his team in Oklahoma is incredible. It’s so fascinating to team up with them as we mold my acoustic songs into full arrangements. Their style of composition is so in line with what I have dreamed and imagined, sometimes I think it couldn’t possibly be happening!

Some of the songs we chose are ones that I wrote a couple years ago, and others were written just a few months ago. The contrast between the songs and the stories that they tell are pretty emotional for me. I’ve teared up like twenty times.

It’s also been really cool to experience some of Oklahoma, since I have never been here before (or if I have, then it was just driving through, because I don’t remember). The sky is wide open for miles, and the sun is so bright. These small things, like the landscape, have really impacted my ability to relax and dive into the creativity of this project. This place has been a true creative haven.

Being in the studio is definitely one of my favorite parts about making music. After working temp jobs for the past year that were super monotonous (no offense to temp jobs, it’s good that they exist), it’s soooo refreshing to be working on something that I really, really love to do. The long days fly by and I hardly know where they went. I’m also filming a vlog to share with you soon, so be on the lookout next month! & here are some iPhone photos:

RORIE BOOK CLUB I PART 1

- originally published September 9, 2015 -

Reading is a great thing to do all year round, but especially in the summer. I was able to read a few books this season that I really liked!

The first was “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple. For some reason I didn’t expect this book to be as incredibly clever as it was (it is seriously such a good story!). I guess I judged the book by its cover and thought that it would be a mindless vacation read. It is actually such an endearing story with many details, twists, and turns. It’s a clever mother-daughter-family tale, and very unique to the world it takes place in (you really get a sense of their West Coast life, and I was ironically reading it on my very first visit to the West Coast). You should totally read this!!! If you want to, of course.

Then I picked up “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” by Annie Dillard. I have been meaning to read more of her essay books ever since I read through the entire “An American Childhood” in one long day of temping as a receptionist at an office in NYC. This book, however, took a little more time. I ended up reading it in bits throughout the summer, which isn’t something that I normally do…and I haven’t finished yet. I guess that’s why it’s classified as a collection of “essays,” because it’s not quite one continuous story.  I am, however, intrigued by the way that Dillard observes the world with such care and an attention to detail that very few people are wired to master. You can’t read through a book like this too quickly, or you might miss the profoundness in quotes such as this one: “…that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” Just. so. lovely.

Last year, I was wandering around a NY Barnes and Nobles with a gift card when I saw “Someday, Someday Maybe,” by Lauren Graham, sitting on the “new release” shelf. I was drawn to it because, of course: “Lorelai Gilmore wrote this book!” But I mostly wanted to read it because it was about the journey of an actress trying to “make it” in her field, and all of her experiences. While I am not an aspiring actress, I have a lot of friends who are…and being an aspiring musician/writer isn’t too much different. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the book that day. Instead, I got “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard (since I’ve mentioned this one twice now, you should know that it’s another incredible read, in my opinion, with some of the most lovely descriptions of the most simple things in life – I couldn’t put it down.)

So, this summer I knew that I had to find that Lauren Graham book, which led me to literally 10 different Barnes and Nobles (where it didn’t exist anymore?), and then I finally ordered it on Amazon, which I should have done in the first place because it was waaay cheaper. Anyway, I once again was not expecting this book to be really good (I don’t know why I act like a book snob all the time!), but obviously I wanted to read it, and it’s a good thing I did because…IT IS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. Seriously, any person pursuing a creative field, or really anyone, would laugh out loud reading this book. It’s so relatable, serious, and hilarious all at once. I couldn’t put it down. My favorite passage was this: “‘She’s in a play, remember? But then she quits. She quits acting altogether, almost because she loves it too much. It’s too important to her and she doesn’t want to do it for the wrong reasons, for anything resembling ego. She’s ashamed of herself for even wanting to compete, for ‘not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.’ I always loved that line.'” This is when one of the characters is talking about a J.D. Salinger story, which is an important theme throughout this book. Seriously so relatable. I even feel like I got to know Lauren Graham a little more through reading it. Yup, I would definitely recommend this.

Last but definitely not least: I finally read through “Suprised by Joy,” by C.S. Lewis. I’ve been meaning to read this for a few years now, and my friend Camilla gave it to me as a gift this past spring. Written in Lewis’ classic voice, this was another excellent read. It is full of powerful passages such as this one: “…the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to the prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

And this concludes my first blog post about books.