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From Songwriter to Caregiver: Tanya Leah Finds Unexpected Inspiration in Months Following Her Father’s Severe Stroke, and Evokes Shawn Colvin’s ‘A Few Small Repairs’ on Lilting New CD ‘Roses For Panjo’
(Published: August 21, 2014)

From Songwriter to Caregiver: Tanya Leah Finds Unexpected Inspiration in Months Following Her Father's Severe Stroke, and Evokes Shawn Colvin's ‘A Few Small Repairs' on Lilting New CD ‘Roses For Panjo'

August 28th Full-Band Concert is Set for NYC

Songwriter/singer/producer Tanya Leah's album ‘Roses for Panjo' recalls Shawn Colvin's ‘A Few Small Repairs' in a number of ways. First, there's the visceral reaction to the tracks themselves...an achy, middle-of-your-stomach feeling that something ‘bigger than the song' is going on here...then there's the voice, clearly reminiscent of Colvin's emotional tug. But, whereas ‘A Few Small Repairs' darkly recalled a marriage falling apart, ‘Roses for Panjo' seeks the sunnier side of the street - a place where hope can fuel recovery...a destination that is, to use one of Leah's titles, ‘Somewhere Beautiful.' Tanya Leah manages to create a lullaby for her ailing father that lifts our spirits even as she aims to bolster his. In doing so, she gives us all an understated gift.

As a frontwoman and performer, Tanya Leah is not a household name. Yet, as a respected songwriter in New York and Nashville, she has quietly written songs that have collectively sold over two million copies. Her songwriting credits and successes follow below, and include tracks for such artists as Melinda Doolittle, Wynonna Judd, Lesley Gore, and many others. As a live performer, she has toured with the likes of Alison Krauss, Jonatha Brooke, Ani DeFranco, John Hiatt and more. Her songs have also been featured on numerous TV shows, including ‘How I Met Your Mother'.

Her thriving career as a songwriter was upended in 2011 when her father Ira (aka Panjo) had a severe stroke. Leah put her writing career on hold, and came to New York to care for him. She shares the story in her notes, below. Along the way, the songwriter became the caregiver, but over time the caregiver re-emerged as a songwriter, emboldened...and this sea change prompted her to create the project ‘Roses for Panjo' - songs of hope and inspiration for her father, as he fights through the physical and emotional challenges of his new life.  

In August of 2011, I was just a songwriter living in Nashville with my husband, Arnie, happily writing songs that my publisher would try to get other artists to record.
By the end of first week of September, my life no longer resembled anything I recognized - my father, a wonderful artist/musician/poet, suffered a debilitating stroke, and became completely incapacitated...and I became a caregiver.

I came up to NY to try to help dad get better. I was sure he would - after all, he was still very spry for his age, and both my grandmother and my uncle had had terrible strokes that they recovered from well. It didn't actually occur to me that he wouldn't recover fully, and it certainly never crossed my mind that he would not regain many of the basic functions that he had lost. He still cannot move his left side, cannot communicate easily, cannot eat, move, swallow, or do anything for himself.

For a long time, he was understandably distressed and would become extremely agitated. I scoured the internet to try to find something that would help. I read online that people with dementia and/or Alzheimer's who suffer from agitation can sometimes find some peace and relief by listening to simple, happy songs, or relaxing music that takes their mind away from their struggle for a little while.

And by the way, did I mention I'm a songwriter'

So, these songs and this project were born out of my love for my father, and my need to try to soothe him, lift his spirits, and take him to a happier state of mind. I'm happy to say that I've been playing dad the songs, and they really do seem to help him...

And the funny thing is that they've made me feel better, too.

I have been receiving wonderful feedback from many people, and I am so grateful for that. Some have told me that not only do they enjoy it, but their kids do as well. Some have used it as a lullaby album. Or as a happy road trip record. Some start their day with it, and others listen as they wind down at night. I'm just glad people like it... :)
I'm deeply hopeful that this music will help people, as well.
I would love to hear from you, and hear your stories...please feel free to email me, or share your thoughts on the Roses For Panjo facebook page, if you'd like.

Wishing you and yours well...
With love and gratitude,

On August 28th in New York City, Tanya Leah will perform live at Rockwood Music Hall, with her Roses For Panjo band, featuring Everett Bradley, John Mettam, and Lorraine Ferro and Bryn Roberts.
The free show begins at 7pm.

More About Tanya Leah:
Tanya Leah is an award-winning, multi platinum-selling artist/songwriter who began singing and playing her songs in the NY/NJ club circuit at an early age. She became a regular at the world-famous "Bitter End" in NY's Greenwich Village, which allowed her to hone her craft and connect with other aspiring artists and writers. She toured with her own music and as a sideman with other artists, sharing the stage with the likes of Alison Krause, Dee Carstensen, Jonatha Brooke, Ani DeFranco, John Hiatt and more. During those early years, she supported her songwriting by singing on other writer's demos and on national jingles including Coca-Cola, M&Ms, and Downy, to name a few.

She traveled the NY-Nashville-LA songwriting circuit trying to make her way, and got lucky when her first song that was recorded by another artist also became her first #1 song. That, and much pavement-pounding, ultimately landed her her first publishing deal and launched her songwriting career. Since then, Tanya has had a number of gold and platinum records, and singles that have reached into the top forty, including four that have reached number one. The list of artists who have recorded her songs is long and varied and includes stars such as Melinda Doolittle, Wynonna Judd, Lesley Gore, Susan Ashton, Natalie Grant, Margaret Becker, and many more. Also, her songs have been heard in numerous tv shows such as "How I Met Your Mother", "Dawson's Creek", "The Hills", and others.

In 2011, her father had a terrible stroke, and changed the trajectory of her life and career. After 10 years in Nashville, she put her writing on hold and moved back to NY to help with his caregiving. After not writing at all for the first 6 months, she decided she would try to create songs that would lift his spirits and soothe him. The result is a collection of new songs that have become a project called "Roses For Panjo" which she hopes will bring beauty and joy to people of all ages.

She currently lives in NY with her lovely and talented husband, Arnie, and her ridiculously adorable cat, Julius.

Please visit the Roses for Panjo website for more information about this music and the incredible musicians who lent their talents to bring it to life, and also to see some of the wild and whimsical artwork of my dad Ira, or as he signs his art, "Panjo": http://www.rosesforpanjo.com/home.html -

Watch Tanya Leah's video for ‘Signs of Spring' from the new album:

Visit:   http://www.tanyaleah.com/home.html

More Information: http://www.tanyaleah.com/home.html

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