Farm Girl’s Fascination with Musical Fantasy

In last week’s blog, I introduced you to my “Kansas” — the one-red-light-town of Newville, Pennsylvania. If you go another three miles past the red light, you’ll come to the farmhouse where I was raised. 

I can still picture my mother’s brown Wurlitzer piano sitting in the living room. It was a treasure to her because as a young woman she purchased it with her own money in the 1940’s. It was the centerpiece of my life.

Frances at the Wurlitzer piano.

I have no first memory of the piano…just a collage of memories. In fact, it feels as if the piano and I were womb mates and we grew up as playmates. 

According to my mother, I started playing by ear when I was two or three years old. In her opinion, one thing that separated me from other children was my approach to it. While others would bang on it, I’d touch the keys very gently, one note at a time. I later learned that there is a time and place to play fortissimo (very loud) but I had to come out of my shell before that ever happened. 

Together, we [the piano and I] would put on little shows for my “Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.” I must have had a thing for shows because in the winter, I’d perform little dances on our farm pond—ice skating to music and creating lovely choreographed movements. I tried to be just like the Olympic skaters I saw on our black and white TV. I’m sure I was just like them. LOL!


Sometimes, I’d create a little choir with the chess pieces from our chess set and of course, I always lined them up according to their height. The piano, the shows, the skating…these were all indicators of the creative path I would choose in the future. A convergence of skill and desire.

Angie — after her bath.


In addition to musical fantasies, I suppose every farm girl needs a dog and we had many. My personal favorite was Angie; a lovely apricot-colored poodle. Sorry Toto, nothing against Terriers. My mother liked poodles and picked Angel from a December litter—a Christmas dog. She followed me around the farm and sometimes she’d sit on my lap when I practiced the piano. Yes, I was one of those odd children who loved to practice

It’s pretty clear that my fascination with performing started with living room shows around the piano, skating to music and arranging plastic chess choirs. Once I began writing music and recording albums, I started getting invitations to sing at various churches and events. 

About fourteen years after my first album, Under The Big Blue Sky, I began to dream of doing a big annual Christmas concert and in 2014, I started Portraits of White.

This week’s video:

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