It is no wonder then that in 2011 when she felt like she was burning out from the politics of community work, she had lost her voice. She was in a phone conversation with a friend when she suddenly felt her voice drop. And it was gone. Her speaking voice was gone. Oddly, she recalls being able to still sing, however. And so she just sang what she had to say all the time—in board meetings, to friends, to volunteers, to anyone. The problem was tunefully solved.
On the other hand, her debut appearance at Tanglewood posed a serious problem. She wouldn’t be able to speak to the audience! So, she didn’t. It might have appeared abrupt to them, but she just got up and sang. “I think they thought, ‘Boy, That’s some weird performer!’,” she says chuckling. “It’s funny now, but not quite so funny then.” Her speaking voice took a six-month hiatus and it’s still slowly returning.
To Martin, it was an indisputable sign that something was seriously wrong. The irony is that she joined these causes in order to help protect children, to help provide them with safe environments and to give a voice to people. The unexpected consequence was losing hers.
Despite her organizational skills and detail-orientation, it clearly just wasn’t enough. She needed to constantly toil at aligning interests. It wasn’t the hard work that gnawed at her but the constant stress of feeling that something that needed to be done wouldn’t be. For community building to work, the whole community has to do the work. But many leaders--more so than community members--either plainly can’t or won’t.
Picture minds working for what’s good
So that all things could have a place their own
If every inch is a concrete box
What’s free is only what you’ll buy into…
… There’s no turning back
One mans vision is not the word
Of all who live here now
Dressed disguised as one who says he knows
Ignorant is the human heart
Consumed by the thought
It doesn’t have enough
- From A Place in the Country
And so the tide changes yet again. Rebecca Martin found herself making a decision to pull away from community building and to focus more on her music. So began the genesis of Twain in March of 2011 with the lead song to Up and Go which paints much of her sentiment at the time.
All the summer long there was a choice to make
A face amongst the crowd, the sun was beating down
You’ve come too far to up and go
Believe me when I tell you so
- From To Up and Go
While she had not exactly given up music during the past seven years (Paul Motian’s On Broadway was released in 2006, The Growing Season in 2008, When I Was Long Ago in 2010), her efforts were divided between motherhood, community work and music. And the push and pull between music and her other passions had taken a real toll on her. She knew it was time to move on well over a year before she made the decision. But as is her style, the edges still needed rounding, so she stayed.
In her time she’ll stand open
Out in the world like she’s never been
Alone but a part of everything
There’s nothing wrong
The signs are all deserving.
- From God is In the Details
Martin chokes up every time she speaks of it. She says it feels like vanity to walk-away from community work to return to “music.” She feels the sting of guilt when thinking of all the voices that still need to be heard, all the children who need protecting, of politicians and whole communities that need to be made aware and made to act. There is still much that needs doing, but music pulls her in.
Music and Rebecca Martin are like the moon and the tide. She steadily peaks and ebbs as waves of passion and experience build stronger and stronger closer to the shore she seeks. But the moment she feels she is about to witness a huge impact, the waves crash and music pulls her back again.
Rebecca is rushed to the shore where she is needed at specific stages in her life, then pulled away to another to leave her footprints there. But wherever she goes one thing remains clear, music propels her. It is her nature. It is the force that guides her. Whether led by or pulled by it makes little difference. Its influence will remain constant throughout her life, and we’re the beneficiaries of that.
The cycle may seem senseless at times, or even sad and disappointing. It’s a cycle of life. What exactly are we accomplishing here? But it is the crashing of the waves and the pushing and pulling of the tides that shape the land we live in. It’s the crushing force applied on these colliding elements that create beautiful gems out of loosely held sediments.
Changing tides share the same paradox as changes in one’s life. The rise begins at exactly the same time as it reaches its lowest point. There is but a split second when the water slows to a still, till it surges once again to refresh and renew. Such is the life and music of Rebecca Martin.
Just beyond the hillside
Back where the curtain calls to us
There the music reminds me
That the whole world
is waiting to find us
- From Just Beyond the Hillside
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