The Heroine’s Journey of Bet Williams

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

It may seem schizophrenic, but I love that I am working on many different projects at any given time. Writing a blues song for my band and feeling like the blues are everything. Then working with my partner in Epiphany Project creating songs in Aramaic or Armenian or Sanskrit and that feels like that’s the thing – a kind of world music, spiritual connection. I might then focus on writing some poetry or making sketches for a stop-animation video. At times I take another stab at an idea for a theater and music piece. That kind of freedom works for me. Maybe doing many different things seems unfocused and is not the way to appeal to a huge market and not a recipe for success, but it is the only way I have been able to live and work as an artist.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Ha ha ha ha ha that’s good! You know that’s not achievable, right? I love this question anyway. I do have moments that are amazing when I feel right and at one with the universe. Being awake. Being alive. Being open. Being in the creative flow. Meditating. I don’t know if that’s happiness but it’s something like that.

What is my greatest fear?

Big fear – that we’ll cave in as human beings and forget that we can live on this planet in peace. That we are of the same thing – from the same life force. That we can care for each other. I’m afraid of apathy – that people don’t feel they have the power to help the world or don’t know how to.

My small fears are that I won’t get to create the things I imagine in my life. That I won’t love enough, be loved enough. That I’ll be stuck in my small thinking.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I’m incredibly unorganized. And I procrastinate. In the end when I need to make something happen I do, but I could be better. Every year I make the decision to become a hyper-organized person. In little ways I get better, but I’ve learned I will never be the super-organized queen some part of me thinks I should be.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

Kate Bush – I love her work, her voice and her connection to something so otherworldly. I relate to it and it is an inspiration that she does her work without a care for sweeping the market of pop-music. I think she is brilliant.

John Hodian – His music stirs up so much human, spiritual yearning. His melodies somehow balance beauty and pain, longing and elation. I admire him greatly for never settling for something that is not good. For his quest for something profound.

Bob Dylan – for his ability to be (seemingly) exactly who he is. He doesn’t seem to feel the need to do things just because they are expected of him, or simply to please someone. And well of course because he is perhaps the greatest most prolific songwriter ever even if you don’t love his voice.

Joni Mitchell – for the conversational poetry she made into song. In my early years of song writing she was a big influence.

Daniel Lanois – I admire his production work with different artists but especially his solo work. The way he can create a space, another world, a place you feel inside but can’t quite pinpoint.

What is my greatest extravagance?

Wine, food, travel and wine… again.

On what occasion would I lie?

To protect my son. To protect my family. I would lie. Huge lies. Ridiculous lies.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

I don’t like it when I hear something in my work that seems insincere or that seems like I just let it slide. Like I wasn’t tapping into something real and only wanted to get the song or project done but didn’t go far enough with it. It’s not honest. I hate when I am not honest.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

The snow is falling here in Yerevan and has been for weeks. Late at night I find time alone in the kitchen to write and it feels like I am writing from a true place. Finding time, having time for this is like happiness. I feel happy now in my work.

I also had a time I was alive and well in Philadelphia in my late 20s and early 30s. I felt I was on fire then. I feel that again now, but in a different way. There have been times in between when I have felt some of that but the past 14 years I have been more about the survival of every day life. Making enough money living in New York was always hard, then living in Berlin for 6 years while touring in Europe was hard too while at the same time raising a son. The feeling of being pulled in many directions. Having a child. Splitting myself in quarters trying to be a good mother, a good partner, a good artist, a good human. But now I (try to) meditate and just let all of what I am mesh together and I create from there. I believe it’s making fire again.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would be a more compassionate being and I would be freer with my love, with my passion for life. I’d feel less fear or at least react less to it. I

wouldn’t be an asshole at times. But a friend of mine said it right; we’re all assholes. I add to that… sometimes.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I have not yet achieved what I imagine. I have recorded many albums that I am proud of or that I am glad we documented with my band Bet Williams Band and also with my partner John Hodian with Epiphany Project. I think I am a late bloomer. I think it is coming. Maybe I’m crazy but it keeps me working.

Where would I most like to live?

I have several favorite places on this earth. I am living in one of them – Yerevan, Armenia (but don’t tell anyone they’ll come and spoil it). Also New York City – it’s the greatest city in the world. At some time I’d like to live in Paris. Also New Zealand, the south island, a magical place that feels familiar like a wonderful, weird dream. Also it would be amazing to live in the Grand Canyon but that’s kind of impractical I suppose. At the end of the day I still want to go back to New York.

What is my most treasured possession?

My voice. Is that a possession? Yes my vocal instrument but also the voice of what I think, feel, want to express in this lifetime. It has not always been easy for women to freely hear their own voices apart from everything that is and has been expected of them.

What is my most marked characteristic?

I have a lot of energy for what I do and for being with people. I am not shy. I also have puffy yellow hair.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

Top of Cascade looking over the city, looking to Mount Ararat.

Also Mirzoyan Library for writing and thinking.

In New York – Rollingblading around Central Park or watching the moon over the Hudson River.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

Wine Time – Yerevan, Armenia

And Calumet has a great energy for drinks with friends and dancing if the band is good.

What books influenced my life and how?

Many but thinking today of 100 Years of Solitude The Magus

Who are my favorite writers?

There are so many! Charles Bukowski, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel García Márquez, Tennessee Williams, Pema Chödrön, Anne Sexton, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Dragica Rajčić, Nadja Anjoman, Benjamin Franklin, Patti Smith, Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

John Hodian’s Naghash “Songs of Exile I & II”, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, Sensual World, Yorma Kaukonen – Quah,Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Daniel Lanois, Keith Jarrett, The Llama Dalis (Mike and Dave Biddison), Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, The Band, Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” Cat Stevens, Lin Miranda’s “Hamilton”, Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors”. So much more! Would there be enough time to listen to it all?

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Ahhhhhhh I have none. I don’t know why. I have never felt that way. Many people occur to me in daily life as heroes or heroines but no particular one over all. I know that’s not the answer people like but… OK if I had to pick one I might say from “Orpheus Descending” I would choose Lady. In college I saw Vanessa Redgrave on Broadway in this role. She was so incredible. Her longing for love and passion and for a better, freer, more honest life was palpable from the 5th row where I sat. When she bowed at the end she was so gracious, humble and vulnerable. I stayed in my seat after the curtain call just weeping. I could not move. I was completely taken by her performance. I love that Tennessee Williams called it a play “about unanswered questions that haunt the hearts of people and the difference between continuing to ask them…and the acceptance of prescribed answers that are not answers at all.”

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? 

Dr. Morton Herskowitz, Abigail Adams, Frederick Douglass, Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Martin Luther King

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Jane Campion’s “The Piano”, Kurosowa’s “Seven Samurai”

What role plays art in my life and work?

I’m not sure it plays a role exactly. It is all of my life, my work. It is how I live. How I think. How I love. It is my life. Does that sound pretentious? Probably but…

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

It has always been my husband, John Hodian. There are others but he is my soul mate. Change and growth happen of course and in the future who knows, but it has always been him and our work together. Now we are playing music with our 13-year-old son who has become a great drummer. There’s nothing like traveling the world and playing music as a family. They are my partners in crime. They are my Posse, my tribe.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017?

Inspired honest artists. (Sounds like that should be accompanied by a “need only apply”.”

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017?

Daniel Lanois, Kate Bush, Keith Jarrett. Actually all of the artists I would listen to on my last day!

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on?

I have new songs from a difficult time. I will record them and put out another album. On top of that I will work on some visual things like animation and expression with music in that way. I am looking forward to that.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?

March in Norway with my Family Band (Epiphany 3), May USA tour across the country. (Epiphany 3),  June in Germany, Switzerland and France (Bet Williams Band and Epiphany 3), July in America again, Fall in Europe touring with Bet Williams Band

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

Hmmmm. That’s true. I feel as passionate about everything from love to art to sex to science to the earth to the universe as I ever did. Maybe even more than I did when I was younger. Yeah. Passion never retires. How could it? If you change, if you grow, if you go through the inevitable pain of being a human, you will feel passion. I feel it ebb and flow throughout my life. But if I am awake I feel passion for life, for living, for others, for love.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Ah I see. Yes there are some women to hear, to see! In my life people that I know personally and have been or am inspired by: Laury Zummer Naron – Psychotherapist, Tracey Williams Sutton, Los Angeles Ca. – an amazing actress and teacher, Dr. Morton Herskowitz, Philadelphia – Orgone Therapist studied with Wilhelm Reich, Stacie Hampton, Philadelphia – Graphic Designer, Val Paradiz – Boulder, Colorado. Writer, Translator, Expert on Asberger’s Syndrome, Elizabeth Lee – Austin, Texas singer/songwriter blues singer from

How can you contact me? Email betwilliams11@googlemail.com http://www.epiphanyrecords.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bet.williams.14

Old fashioned phone +1 212 724 6862

 

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