How can we not admire and respect those artists who are creating to reflect the culture of the time? How can we not applaud the artists who use their talents to support or enlighten us to the needs, injustices, inequalities of our society, and raise awareness of our endangered earth and animals? Suzanne Dean, most recently, is using her creativity to do just that.
Suzanne is a musician and composer. Like Paola Prestini, she values the process and the adrenalin it releases. But it is Suzanne’s statement, reminiscent of Pat Oleszko’s, who said, “I create. Because I can. Because I must,” that impressed me: “…I create because I can’t not create.”
I was sitting at the piano one day in the midst of working on many new songs for my sabbatical project. Often I have no memory of exactly how a song begins, but somehow the music for this song, On a Cloud, began to emerge and I fell in love with the chords and 6/8 rhythm. This rhythm often elicits a feeling of lightness and motion which quickly leads me to melodic ideas. The lyrics begin to come, by matching certain sounds with the melodic contour. After I wrote the first line, I was able to imagine the possibilities of this fantasy. The adrenaline rush of this process is why I create!
I constantly listen to many different kinds of music and always have. It’s hard to name the most inspirational musicians in my life but if I had to pick THE most important, I’d say Joni Mitchell and Bill Evans. Listening to musicians like these has had a profound effect on the music I create.
I am very passionate about the plight of wildlife on our precious planet. For my sabbatical project, I decided to record six new songs and use this CD as a means to raise funds and awareness on behalf of a wildlife organization that I was personally connected to. I like the idea that music can be a vehicle to bring important causes to people’s attention.
So I create because I can’t not create, but it is much more purposeful now, which makes it an even more gratifying experience. My desire at this point in my life is to continue to use my music as an avenue to highlight the critical need for land and animal conservation. My wish is that we could just choose one cause to support, by any means so that we could make a difference. Let’s use the power of our creativity! Woza uhambe nami! (Zulu for Come with me! from my song Ngizohamba.)
Suzanne Dean is an arranger, composer, keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist and educator. In addition to releasing two albums on Nova Records, she worked as an orchestrator on the television series, Jake and the Fatman, and has taught at Berklee College of Music since 1997.
Suzanne received an Associate’s Degree in music from the University of Maine in Augusta, after which she spent some years performing and was the leader of her own jazz quartet. She ten attended Berklee College of Music and received a Bachelor’s of Music in Film Scoring. After a move to LA, and releasing her first two albums, she attended the Master’s program in music composition at California State University in Northridge, California.
Suzanne released her first album, Dreams Come True, on Nova Records in 1987. Her second album, I Wonder, was released in 1991. Her newest CD, Come to Paradise, was released in the spring of 2016. It features well known LA session musicians including Bob Sheppard and guitarist Dean Parks. It consists of original songs for which Suzanne wrote both music and lyrics (with the exception of one, which was co-written). For this new CD, Suzanne features Nicole Zuratis, a New York-based vocalist versed in a multitude of styles. Suzanne adds some vocals on a few tracks and plays 8 string ukulele on the title track.
Suzanne is currently an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in the Contemporary Writing and Production Department. She has continued to write and record during her time at Berklee, but has welcomed her year-long sabbatical to be able to record her new CD.
For more information, visit Suzanne's website www.suzanne.me