How do you get inspired?

How do you get inspired?

For me, travel and nature are guaranteed to bring a fresh perspective. Put the two together, add fabulous music, and you’ve got Brazil!

And when I say travel, I don’t mean a package tour and sitting on the beach with a bunch of other tourists. Growing up, my dad worked for the State Dept., and we lived in developing countries like Yugoslavia and Indonesia. I had the experience, early on, of being thrown into foreign environments, and learning how to find my way around even when I didn’t speak the language, and I developed a taste for adventure!

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View from Santa Theresa, Rio de Janeiro

So getting off the beaten track is one of the ways I get myself back on track.

Travels in Brazil

We flew into Rio de Janeiro. How great is a city that names its international airport after their greatest songwriter! (Antonio Carlos Jobim)

Once the haunt of artists and intellectuals like Jobim, Ipanema Beach has become commercialized, but you can still find the Bohemian spirit alive high up in the hills in the quaint district of Santa Theresa. Here, with cobbled streets and breathtaking views, we wandered into a little neighborhood bar and heard a great band playing Brazilian jazz and traditional Samba. The all-ages crowd was going crazy – it was great to see so much enthusiasm for live music!

Next, we traveled to the state of Minas Gerais (literally: production mines) to the colonial towns of Ouro Preto (black gold) and Diamantina (diamonds).

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Diamantina, Minas Gerais

These towns reflect the rich and brutal history of the region. In the 16th century, Portugal established its empire on the backs of hundreds of thousands of African slaves who toiled to extract the riches from Minas.

We traveled through the area for a week without ever encountering any other American tourists.  There were long bus rides over winding mountain roads, and some “lost in translation” moments when the language barrier felt overwhelming. But it was often those moments that led to the richest experiences –  when local people went out of their way to help, and thanked us for our interest in their country.

Finally, we made our way to the Sanctuario do Caraca – a stunning former seminary set in a remote corner of Minas nestled amongst mountains covered in rain forest.

The highlight here is the “calling of the wolves,” at sundown when a priest puts out a plate of meat scraps on a patio right outside the church doors. The guests assemble and wait quietly until a beautiful maned wolf  – an endangered species – comes right up to the porch to eat -with grace and dignity, and paying absolutely no attention to the people. A magical moment, and one worth wandering off the beaten track to experience!

What do you do to stay inspired? I’d love to hear.

Maned Wolf

Maned Wolf



  1. My parents are divorced. Their relationship is usually what i write my songs about. It’s tough- but it does inspire me!

  2. last year I was moved by the moment (in history), I had just attended the boston marathon and was back at my apartment when I heard two loud explosions. in the next 48 hrs I had written “Boston Strong”.

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