In 2014, Pamela left everything she knew about life in Seattle, and set out on a soul journey as a traveler, nomad and adventurer devoted to picking up where she left off as a musician and artist over 35 years ago. Since then, she has crafted three albums featuring her mastery on didgeridoo, busked and performed at numerous venues, fairs and festivals, made an eye-opening trip to Mexico and bought a van to live in full-time. Prior to this chapter, she worked her way through the 9-5 world before making a life-changing decision to leave Seattle and start a new chapter devoted to her music.
Now in 2021, the Oregon-based multi-instrumentalist is leading a double life playing didgeridoo pumping out powerful dance rhythms on one hand and composing for piano spinning out reflective neo classical works on the other. Either way, the music she makes reaches deep into the soul to reflect the emotional beauty that life can be. To her, the art of making and playing music is an ongoing practice that takes her ever deeper into the connection between art and life and how they can influence and enhance each other.
“Music has always been a way to express what I’m not able to put into words,” she states, “I don’t see music in terms of genres or categories but rather as expression of what I feel and what stories can be drawn from those emotions.”
Indeed, storytelling has been a main forte in Pamela’s music whether it’s through the soft and dreamy hues of songs like Memories in a Green Cathedral or the cinematic soundscape of songs like Walking Under Cedars. Pamela has taken didgeridoo, married it with a composer’s mind and has brought this ancient instrument to a whole new level for audiences who are not as familiar with it.
“When I hear someone humming a tune I played as they walk out the door from a show, then I know I’ve done my job well,” she laughs.
The history of didgeridoo is long and varied. It is an instrument of many Australian Aboriginal tribes who use it primarily for dance, ceremony, celebrations and telling of the Dreamtime Stories – the Aboriginal stories of creation. In was roughly in the early 1960’s when didgeridoo hit Western shores. Since then, it’s been considered a novel instrument but Pamela’s deft capabilities, songwriting skills and creativity is beginning to change this view as she creates works influenced by rhythms from drum music of the Middle East and urban funk and rich hues of ambient electronic music.
“I guess you can say I’m kind of the Leonard Cohen of didgeridoo players,” she smiles, “I love taking bits and pieces and putting them together and then shaping the sound to reflect a mood or tell a story. In this way the didgeridoo becomes an organic synthesizer and a viable instrument that you can make memorable songs with.”
Pamela is no stranger to synthesizers and keyboards either. Her first instrument, the organ, is the precursor to modern day synths and she was not shy about shaping sound in those early years. And even though she has developed a love affair with didgeridoo, she has not forgotten her keyboard roots. She is currently crafting a set of ambient neo-classical pieces featuring piano and voice against gossamer synth washes for an album that is due out sometime in 2022.
“Playing this kind of music is the perfect counterpart to playing didgeridoo.” She says, “When I play this kind of music, it satisfies the nostalgic throwback side of me whereas didgeridoo satisfies the primal shamanic side of me.”
Pamela received her degree in music composition from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington as well as being a self-taught musician and composer. Among the highlights of her career, she has twice won the Seattle Artist Award for composition from the Seattle Arts Commission and received awards from Yamaha and ASCAP for composition and recording. She is currently active in building a portfolio for film and production music as well as teaching and training people in playing didgeridoo and recording techniques. When she’s not performing or recording, she can be found honing skills and her love of woodworking in crafting didgeridoos from agave and yucca. She is also a self-described unapologetic tree hugger who often takes long restorative walks through the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Ever the traveler, she lives, works and plays from her van while sharing stories from the destinations that she goes to. You can find out more about her travels in her blogposts.
A personal note:
Thank you so much to those Aboriginal communities who have shared the didgeridoo with the outside world as part of sharing their culture. It’s my hope that in doing so, all of us can bridge cultural gaps as we learn more about each other and work together to build a world out of love, respect and balance.