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Where Does The Music Come from? - Mark Viator


I grew up in a home that appreciated music, but the countertop kitchen radio was the only thing my parents could play. Susan’s experience was similar, but she encountered more barroom jukeboxes with her father. My musical journey began at nine, when I had an epiphany and asked for a guitar for Christmas. My parents bought me a $20 department store guitar and paid for a year’s worth of lessons with a woman who taught kids in her home. I was hooked from the first chord, and other than those initial lessons (thanks, Mrs. Champaign!), I taught myself to play by obsessing over every sound I heard on the radio. Later, in school and at church, I found people to play with.


Susan grew up singing in a church that didn’t use musical instruments. The acapella harmonies she learned there still inform how she sings today. I always want to hear her interpret a song, but she’ll tell you her first love is still harmony singing. That’s rubbed off on me. I love to work up vocal arrangements with her. She wakes up singing many days, and I wake up reaching for my guitar.


Songwriting came secondary to the guitar for me, but I have to say they coexist now. I usually write from some experience I’ve had, either in terms of stories or emotions. We have both lived the songs we sing, and the songs live on through us. My sister recently said to me, “You tell your life story through your songs, don’t you?” Well, I certainly try to. You can hear my Cajun roots, the miles I’ve traveled, and the dreams I’ve had in the songs I write and sing. And, you can hear Susan’s deep country roots in her voice.


So, maybe when you hear the lonesome lilt in Susan’s voice, or a certain haunting echo in my slide guitar, you’ll have some idea where they came from.


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