One of the strongest women I know, and one who is renowned throughout the indie music community as “Aoede The Muse,” is Lisa Sniderman. She is an award-winning pop-folk singer, songwriter, artist, playwright, and author. Lisa has just released a memoir, A Light in the Darkness, about a decade of creating music, plays, and performances in face of a debilitating disease. She calls her illness the “Gift in the Curse”; the Curse is the disease the Gift is her ability to share connect with others and inspire those with life challenges. As long as I have known her she has been a source of joy, creativity, and strength, so I was very happy to get a few minutes with her this week.
Patrick. Aoede, you write, you sing, you produce incredible musical stories and albums like What Are Dreams Made Of, you do voices, you have won tons of awards for your music and now you have released this book A Light in the Darkness. Why did you decide to write a memoir now?
Aoede. I decided to write a memoir because I have been living for more than 10 years with a chronic illness, a rare auto-immune disease, and to be honest, most people know me as Aoede, an artist persona. This way I have an opportunity, in addition to just creating expressing as Aoede, I also have an opportunity — and in fact I have had a yearning – to do more than just express. It was my way to be able to speak to other people who might have struggles with chronic illness or disability or other life challenges to inspire hope and courage to them to keep dreaming and keep living life to the fullest. I am sharing my story so others may be inspired.
Patrick. Actually, this is more than a memoir. It is poetry, illustration and most of all, an intimate conversation between you and the reader. You quote the lines one of your early songs What if you were born/Knowing how your life would unfold. I am sure everyone who reads that line stops and wonders. You have entered their minds. So what is your answer to that question?
Aoede. What if you already knew — that was the concept. How would your life change? How would it be different if you knew what was to come? I think it is more fun to have a mystery, to look at life as a gift and a curse – that is what I have come to see in my situation. We all go through unexpected challenges and hardships. If we can come out the other side perhaps in a better place in attitude and wanting to teach and to learn instead of thinking “I am my disease , I am a victim”.
Patrick. I remember sitting with you at the Music in Media Awards – and you won one. You didn’t look like a victim. There is a poem in the book that to me encapsulated it. It’s called The Hand I Was Dealt, and a stanza from it really hit me:
This is the place/I never wanted to face/But it’s time—oh it’s time/I stop playing it safe
Have you ever played it safe? Everything you create pushes boundaries?
Aoede. Yes. I feel like I play it safe in several ways. I just said that I was hiding behind my artist persona so that it wasn’t my voice, it was Aoede. That means I could share the light and the bright and the happy. But to actually be able to delve into that darkness is why I ended up writing my memoir. Also, even just being at home because of the real limitations on my energy, my stamina, the fatigue and lack of energy– it means I am home. So when I say play it safe I am literal and I am also figurative.
Patrick. This book is certainly not safe and I don’t think you are playing safe. Any final thoughts?
Aoede. If I could tell people who are going through something similar one thing, it is to live in your place of joy, to share your story, to never stop dreaming and to shine your light.