Kerry Getz: The Minstrel of Orange County
"I was raised in the Southern California town of Arcadia. I grew up with music and there was a piano in our house," says singer/songwriter Kerry Getz. "My mother -- she was a child prodigy on the piano. I taught myself to play on her piano by picking out a song I heard, but I didn't take piano lessons."
On the West Coast, Getz's music wins accolades from appreciative critics who rave about her "lush, diverse and poignant... songs... delivered in a voice brimming with the same attributes."
Getz has made several national tours, but has never gained the wide audience her admiring critics and fans think she deserves. But she has three albums out on World In Motion Records, with a new one due out at Christmas, followed by another tour.
Getz has a loyal following on the West Coast, where music critic Dave Wielenga has dubbed her "the minstrel of Orange County." In California, she plays venues such as the Greek Theatre in L.A., the Galaxy in Santa Ana and the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. She has also taken her act to small towns like Greeley, Colo., and bigger cities like Memphis and Austin.
Expressiveness and haunting clarity are the hallmarks of Getz the singer. Her first album Apollo arrived in 1997. Los Angeles Times critic Mike Boehm said at the time: "Its level of performance and songwriting artistry and its first-rate production values make it clear that Getz... is up to the national platform she deserves."
Getz tends to juxtapose her vibrant voice against dark and disturbing human experiences. Take the eerily haunting song "Cyclone." It's a song about one of God's true innocents, a young woman who is tragically murdered by her stalker.
"She wore bells around her ankles and ribbons/in her hair/And she danced just like a cyclone at a small town country fair/And she didnít see him watching from the shadows/No. She never saw him there."
Reflecting on the song, Getz muses, "Writers, I admit, can take a subject that may be so dark and bring some strange beauty to it based on their imagination. There was this girl whom I saw dancing. She was oblivious the world around her. She wore ribbons and bells around her ankles. And I just put her in this song with the serial killer. There's a lot of mortality in my songs."
A more personal brush with mortality is "Inhale," a deeply felt tribute to the older brother whose guitar she confiscated as a little girl and held on to until she could play it. Getz says she wrote the song after Kurt died at age 35 from a drug overdose.
"Sunlight and shadow. There I am/I'm darkness and light./I can't be caught. Can't be held/Close your eyes/And there I am/As the dream starts to fade/I'm not quite here but I'm not quite there/you can reach out for me/There I am."
The singer assumes the dead brother's spirit voice, affirming that he will live on within her. "Inhale, hold it. There I am/I'm part of you now./You're my glove. My balloon/But not for long./You exhale. Then I'm gone."
Getz's latest album is Little Victory.
The songwriting is strong, passionate and poetic. The anguish of conflicted love is a recurring theme. In the folk-rock ballad, "0cean in a Bottle," Getz's voice aches with the day-after heartbreak of knowing that a love affair is going nowhere: "I don't want to see/what's happening to we/how did we get here/we let go of the throttle/an ocean in a bottle... /we're droning about things/like sympathetic strings/shadowboxing the familiar/so here we go again/this is where you will pretend that you can't hear me/I'm calling I'm calling."
Getz's songs illumine the heartbreak of losses but they let you feel life's fragile beauty. For even the most desolate romantic, Getz holds out hope. In her title song, "Little Victory," she tells us:
"can't you see every day's a little victory/it'll all work out eventually/just hold on/can't you see every day's a little victory/find the beauty in the mystery/and I'll be there."
Visit Kerry Getz's Web site.