Birthday: January 19
Favorite writers: Thomas Mann, Goethe, Shakespeare, Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fernando Pessoa, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison
Favorite colors: Red, black, brown, baby blue
Pets: One dog - Angel (a tiny but feisty Yorkshire Terrier). My other dog, Millie (a beautiful, shy, big mixed breed), recently passed away, but I still feel her with me everyday.
Who takes care of her while you’re traveling? My amazing dogwalker, and sometimes loving friends and family-although I irritate them constantly by calling every hour to ask how she is doing…
Favorite pastimes: Cooking, reading, writing, going for walks, listening to music, spending time with friends, photography, spending time with my dog, and watching movies.
Favorite places: New York City; Vancouver (Canada); Paris (France); and Kauai Island (Hawaii).
Favorite flowers: Roses, orchids, lilies
Favorite foods: Coffee, great seafood, French and Spanish cuisine
Favorite junk foods: Chocolate, Doritos, French Fries, Diet Coke
Pet peeves: Rude people; intolerance or discrimination of any kind; insensitivity or obliviousness; people who litter and don’t recycle; cowardice.
Your idea of a perfect evening: Playing on an incredible piano in an amazing hall, and then cooking a big dinner for a group of diverse friends (painters, musicians, writers, doctors, lawyers, teachers), accompanied by fantastic wine, and stimulating and interesting conversation.
How did you decide to be a musician? I actually wanted to become a doctor, and was preparing to be one - I wanted to do something that would help people, contribute in some way. But there was a point where I realized how much I loved music and I really just could not imagine a single day where I could not play the piano. That’s when I started thinking that perhaps I could contribute to others in a different way - through art.
Life philosophy? I always try to live my life by listening to my inner intuition and actively making choices and decisions which allow me to remain as true as possible to what I believe is my life’s bigger vision and mission. There can be no regrets as long as I am honest and genuine about myself, and as long as I maintain the courage to continue searching and exploring along my life path.
People would be surprised if they knew: I am actually very, very shy.
Things you would secretly like to do: Go skydiving at least once; write the “Great American Novel”; go up into space on a shuttle.
Favorite airport: Chicago O’Hare: the cool colored lights between terminals, the open spacious feeling - very soothing and relaxing, especially when you are stressed out and running like a maniac to catch your connecting flight.
Least favorite airport: Los Angeles (for aesthetic reasons); Amsterdam Schiphol: this airport (approximately the size of a small country) was built for tall people with long legs whose steps cover a greater distance than mine - I always feel like I’m running a marathon just to get from one gate to the next; Madrid Barajas (I have never left a flight on time from this airport).
Something you wish to change about yourself: I’m a complete workaholic - I have to learn to schedule vacations and holidays.
Best thing about your life: Traveling, being able to see the world, constantly meeting new people, and of course, most importantly, performing and sharing the music I love with many different audiences and communities.
Most difficult thing about your life: Not being able to spend enough time with loved ones, and the consistent challenges and loneliness inherent in an artist’s life.
Who are the people you look up to? This is a difficult question to answer - my mother, of course, for her brilliance, her compassion, and her faith. But there are countless other friends, teachers, mentors and colleagues (both musicians and non-musicians alike), whom I hold a great deal of respect for, and who inspire and move me on a daily basis. There are also many people that I meet while traveling who inspire me because of the selflessness and integrity with which they lead their lives.
Interesting fact about yourself: I am a complete holiday freak - I go crazy around Christmas time, going the whole nine yards: setting up the tree, decorating my entire house, caroling, going Christmas shopping, cooking up a storm… I love it. I think it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in a place where it was always 88 degrees on Christmas day. I remember praying every Christmas Eve when I was a child for some miracle to happen so that I would wake up the next morning to a snowy white Christmas.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be? Teacher, doctor, veterinarian, writer, philosopher, peace activist.
Reprinted with permission: Interview by Catherine Johnson
Heartfelt concern for those devastated in Chile and hoping my dearest family and friends are all staying safe in Hawaii... 2010-02-27» more updates