Patti DeRosa’s bio calls her genre of music “contemporary acoustic peppered with rhythm and spice.” That’s pretty accurate. Patti isn’t just your ordinary singer-songwriter; she adds various layers to her songs and therefore adds a distinctive flavor which often draws audiences into her special magical and musical place either on stage or on her recordings.
So how did you get the singer-songwriting bug?
I got my first guitar at age 13 and started writing songs immediately. I didn’t occur to me not to write! I was very much inspired by the singer-songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s – Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, etc. so I felt the calling. Other early influences were The Beatles and Motown.
I happen to know that you experienced the Beatles in person at Shea Stadium. Was that a turning point in your life? (I’m so jealous.)
Well, I was really little when I saw The Beatles (1st grade?) and while I remember the excitement and the thrill, I don’t remember much of the details beyond the deafening screams. Ha ha
But I somehow knew to keep the ticket stub (which I have framed) and the program book (which is in excellent condition!). I would say that the evening I first saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show was a turning point for me because even at my very young age (a full year and half before that 1965 concert), I was hooked!
I love that your bio calls you an “alchemist” — someone who creates magic with music. Do you often feel that sense of magic when you’re performing?
Oh yeah, making music and performing is definitely a magical experience for me. I use the word “alchemist” because I very much try to incorporate many different musical styles and traditions into what I do. Diversity is my catchword in both my musical and other professional work as a consultant and educator (aka “day job”). People often say that they never know what is coming next when they come to my shows, and while that can present a challenge in the ‘music biz” because I defy genres and categories, I take that as a very high compliment.
I’d like to know more about ChangeWorks. What is your mission with this piece of your life?
For a long as I can remember, social justice work has called to me and my life’s work (aside from music) has been working for equity and justice, with a particular focus on anti-racism.
I’ve had my own consulting firm, ChangeWorks Consulting for over 20 years and I work with adults and youth all kinds of organizations and groups in education, health care, human services, business, community, government, you name it. Wherever I can bring people together across difference to build bridges and dismantle systems of injustice and inequity, I am there.
What are your experiences performing abroad? Do Europeans, for instance, have an impression of what American artists are like and do you feel like your performances sometimes offer them something different?
I love performing abroad. I have found audiences to be very engaged, appreciative, and eager to hear U.S. artists. They are often very knowledgeable about American music too, so throwing in some popular covers helps. At the start of my first tour abroad I noticed that I was “holding back” a bit, as I was nervous about the language barrier – no small thing when you are a songwriter! My international musician friends wisely advised me to just be myself, do my thing, and step fully present into the moment, and it was great advice. I found that folks will respond to your feeling, emotions, and musicality even if they don’t understand all the words. By my second tour, I spoke more Italian, and that helped a lot too, as I was able to introduce my songs and even make some jokes with the audience to build more rapport (this was not much of an issue in Denmark and German as so many people in those countries speak English). In addition, the venues I have played abroad have been very generous to performers in terms of hospitality, compensation, publicity, food, and lodging.
Do you have any goals that you hope to attain in the music world?
Ah, the goals question. Every day I get to perform and play music is a blessing, as I stopped performing for many, many years and just returned to the stage in 2004 (Now I cannot even imagine how I ever stopped!). At this point in my life, I would like to be able to devote more time to my music career and improving my art – writing, playing, singing, performing, touring, teaching. I would also like to meld my other skill-set of facilitator-educator-activist with my music endeavors, creating innovative shows, workshops, and classes that empower and inspire people to be the best they can be and create a more loving, peaceful world. Hmmm…all roads lead back to The Beatles – “All you need is love”….or is that “Revolution”? ❤