“Did Spring Come Early to Columbia?” A New Song by Rickey Pittman

I really am working hard on my songwriting. Here is song #7 for my CD I want to have made this summer. I’ll be “field testing” these songs on some audiences soon. I’m thinking of adding a couple of traditional songs that I’ve got my own arrangements for to the CD as well. We’ll see about that. I started to make the song be about a Confederate soldier who had a sweetheart in Columbia who had heard about Sherman burning the city, but I couldn’t make the lyrics work, so I kept the chorus and made it a song about a lost love.

“Did Spring Come Early to Columbia?”
Song lyrics by Rickey Pittman

CHORUS:
Did spring come early to Columbia,
Did the dogwoods remind you of our love,
Was the fragrance of magnolias in the air?
Are the birds singing now like they used to,
When our love was strong and I had you,
Did Spring come early to Columbia this year?

VERSE 1
We fell in love at first sight,
Didn

A Song for Johnny . . . A true story

I wrote this song in memory and in honor of Johnny. I never knew his last name. He was Hispanic, and he was hired by the Pittman family to take care of my grandfather in his last months, when we knew he was dying. A hospice worker of a sort, I guess, who lived with them. Their house was just outside Rochester, Texas, in a part of the country known as the Texas Badlands. The water there tasted like sulfur. I liked Johnny and got to know him well. I still remember vividly his telling me how his mother made tortillas. My cousin Sammy didn

Forgotten Lullaby: A new song/poem

This is the second anniversary of my brother’s death. This poem, that I hope to turn into a song, came to me, so I scribbled it down. With my friend Tom McCandlish’s help, I’m going to make a CD of original songs this summer. I’ve got six good songs already, so I need a few more. Maybe this will be one. You never know if you’re a poet or songwriter. You just have to listen to your muse when she speaks/whispers. I want to make this CD, not because I have hopes of being a superstar singer, but in hopes that a really great singer will want to sing my songs. Wish me luck on that. Anyway, let me know what you think of this poem.
Forgotten Lullaby

(Written in memory of Jimmy Dale Pittman (April 21, 1954-June 30, 2007) and my granddad Fogle in Ivanhoe, TX)

Abandoned now after all these years,
The fence long torn down,
A little house dies alone
Without a whisper or a frown.

It barely stands in Ivanhoe,
A little one road town,
Named after a book no one reads,
I can almost hear a sound

My memories shift like forking roads
To my granddad

An Interview with Laura Elisabeth Ulrich, an Extroadinary Vocalist

Laura Elisabeth Ulrich is one of the brightest and most talented women I’ve ever encountered. We first met in my English class at ULM, and I was impressed with her writing, and later after hearing her sing, with her voice. She is passionate, loyal to her friends and family, and an achiever by nature. She is the paid soloist for the First United Methodist Church in our area, teaches voice and theatre, composes music, designs websites, has been the hired soloist for funerals, weddings and other social events, has been the paid soloist for several sports events and conventions, including the Republican National Convention. Laura graciously consented to this interview for my blog.

1. QUESTION: Give me a grief summary of your musical life.
ANSWER: I began scat singing “Lullaby of Birdland” before I could speak… I grew up singing jazz and from there I went on to do musical theatre until I got into college. Once in college, I received my first vocal lessons and switched over to Opera. My professor’s teaching belief was if I could learn the basics of Opera and do well in that, then I could do anything. I’d say she was right.
2. QUESTION: Laura, when and how did your love for music develop?
ANSWER: Honestly, I had no die-hard love for music growing up. I liked jazz, rock, heavy metal, and soundtracks. Actually, I typically despise listening to others sing. I’m FAR too critical. I hate listening to myself sing. What I fell in love with was the interpretation of music: the thousands of different ways that you can get across an idea, emotion, or belief through music. It can be instrumental, vocal, or even silence. Victor Hugo states it well, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” Whether I’m listening to music or writing it, that is the point in which I search for.
3. QUESTION: What is your favorite genre (do they use that word in music world?) of music? Any particular favorite performers and songs?
Ooooh… genre… mmm… Rock. I have a severe love for Pink Floyd. I also like instrumental music – anything by Hans Zimmer or Jeremy Soule is incredible. Favorite songs? “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, “Fearless” and “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd, and a remake of “All Along the Watchtower” by Bear McCreary.
4. QUESTION: You’ve traveled a good bit with your music. Tell my readers about some of your travels.
ANSWER: When I was younger, I sang with Masterworks Children’s Choir. We traveled to New York and D.C. After that, I didn’t travel with music until I got into college. In 2006, I performed in Austria for the 250th Anniversary of Mozart’s death, and went on to perform in Italy in 2007 in “The Marriage of Figaro.” I went over as an understudy and took the role of Cherubino over from the Italian woman they had originally cast. This past summer, I sang at the Republican National Convention several several times (with my first performance being on National television after not sleeping for three days and JUST arriving from the airport). During the summers, I travel across the state teaching music and acting with CA Studios (such as teaching kids to sing a rendition “Row, row, row your boat” in three part harmony with the Beatles’ “Come Together” as accompaniment), and now I am performing in Bastrop, La at the Rose Theatre as Lucy in their production of “Jekyll and Hyde.”
5. QUESTION: Do you play any instruments?
ANSWER: Heh… I can barely read music. I grew up learning things entirely by ear. If I can hear something once or twice, then I can perform it. I didn’t even attempt to read music until college, and… it still kicks my butt. Thus, I never tried to pick up an instrument. I can play piano enough to barely pass a piano proficiency exam (because I was required to in my degree lol!). However, I -did- just pick up a bass over Christmas and can now play through all of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album… I’m trying!!
6. QUESTION: What are your future musical plans?
ANSWER: Future? I have no idea. I’ve decided that I enjoy music far more as a hobby than as a profession. I enjoy theatre. I enjoy opera. I enjoy writing instrumental music. I’d love to one day have my stuff performed by Monroe Symphony… maybe it’ll happen. Either way, I’m doing what I’ve always done – I take the opportunities as they come. If something happens, AWESOME! If not, I’ll try again later. My foremost goal is to discover my niche in the music world. I can sing opera. I can sing musical theatre. I can sing jazz. I can sing rock. I can write the music. I can tear it apart and understand it. I really have a knack for hearing and writing harmony that isn’t typically there. But I can’t figure out what I prefer or which I enjoy the most. So my quest for now is to figure out exactly where and how my passion for music lies.

7. QUESTION: What advice would you give young singers?

ANSWER: Never let -anyone- tell you that you can’t do something. Can’t never could. You only fail when you have failed to try. I can’t count the hundreds of times that people have told me that I couldn’t do something and I’ve (luckily) been able to proven them wrong. Even now, with “Jekyll and Hyde” – My entire college career, I was told that you can’t perform both opera and musical theatre (that’s why I switched to opera rather than remaining with musical theatre). Yet in this show, I’m singing all the operatic first soprano chorus lines that lie in the stratosphere of high C’s, yet my actual character is an alto belter role. I was told I’d never make it into the Rome Opera Festival, that I’d never win competitions because I was a freshman, that I’d never win another competition because I won the previous year, that I’d never get the leading role in three consecutive shows in one season, etc. If someone tells you that you can’t do something, take that as an opportunity to prove them wrong! Never ever ever give up. It takes hard work. It takes blood, sweat, and tears. But in the end, it’s a mental game. If you believe to your core that you can do something, then nothing will stop you from doing your absolute best. Again, you only fail when you have failed to try.

Here is a list of Laura’s performances:

Performance Credits

Title of Production Role Played Backstage Work Year Venue
Hilarious History Betsy Ross 1995 Oxford University School
Pinnochio The Blue Fairy 1996 Young Troupe
Annie Warbucks Annie 1996 Strauss Theatre Center
Boogie on the Bayou Woodpecker 1996 Young Troupe
Southern Angst Narrator 1997 Young Troupe
Ramona Quimby: Age 8 Susan 1997 Young Troupe
Junkyard Dogs Skeeter 1997 Young Troupe
Return to the Forbidden Planet Chorus 1998 Young Troupe
The Hobbit Set Design 1998 Young Troupe
Sound of Music Louisa 1998 Strauss Theatre Center
I Sincerely Doubt That This Old House is Haunted Spotlight 1998 Strauss Theatre Center
Wait Until Dark Gloria 1999 Strauss Theatre Center
High Society Chorus 2000 Strauss Theatre Center
Sleeping Beauty Princess Narcissus 2000 Young Troupe
Wizard of Oz Ozian 2000 Young Troupe
Julius Caesar Various Costuming 2000 Neville High School
Cottonland Christmas Unwrapped Various 2000 Strauss Theatre Center
Canterbury Tales 2001 Neville High School
A Midsummer Night

Thoughts on the Saint Patrick’s Battalion (San Patricios)

I just ordered a DVD about the Saint Patrick’s Battalion who fought for Mexico during the Mexican War. I hope to show it at the Celtic Society of Northeast Louisiana and the Scottish Society here someday. The site I got it from is here: A bit of trivia: Did you know that 1,500,00 Mexican citizens claim Irish ancestry? That fact is amazing to me. However, I’ve learned that there are schools and streets in Mexico named in honor John Riley and the other Irishmen. There’s a lot more to this story than I realized. I tried to attach the study guide offered with the video, but I think that failed. If you’d like a copy of it, leave a comment with your email or just email me and I’ll send you one.

Return from Greenville, Texas Public Library

Last night, I presented a program of stories and music to the Friends of the Library in Greenville, Texas. Today, I presented my program to a large room of children and parents. The audience was warm and receptive, both to my stories and the music. This was my second program at this library, and I’ll have more photos of my visit to post very soon.

A Poem for the Clan Cumming and the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Hielands

The summer is starting to fill up and already I’m making plans for a busy fall, scheduling schools and festivals as musician/singer and storyteller. Today, I have Scottish matters on my mind. At noon today, at the Picadilly at Mall St. Vincent in Shreveport, I’ll be speaking and signing books for the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Hielands. That society has some great people in it. You can find their excellent website and all sorts of Scottish information here: If you live in Northeast Louisiana or East Texas, you should visit them sometime.

I also did some more reading on the Clan Cumming and wrote them another poem. Here it is:

The Murder of John the Red Comyn at Greyfriar