STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Once upon a time, folk artist Lucy Kaplansky found herself torn between life as a clinical psychologist and her passion to pursue music as a full time career. Taking a leap of faith, Kaplansky dove headfirst first into the unknown and never looked back.
“I always wanted to do music and was pursuing music,” recalls Lucy Kaplansky from her home in New York City. “I was in my late teens, early twenties and it was going really well in the New York folk scene. I was too unconsciously conflicted to let myself keep going. It took me years to figure that out in my own therapy – that I wasn’t allowing myself to have the thing I wanted and that’s why I left and went back to school. I told myself, ‘I don’t want to be a singer’ and it wasn’t true. When I finally figured that out, and that was after I’d become a psychologist, it was very clear to me that I had to go back.”
“I’ve always been musical,” adds Kaplansky. “I’ve always played music and sang. It’s always been important to me. I was just thinking about this. I was recently outside and it was a gorgeous sunny fall day. It felt so good. That’s what music is for me. Why do I love music? Why do you feel great and alive when you go out on a great and beautiful day and take a walk? That’s what it’s like for me. I feel alive. I feel fulfilled.”
Playing a dual role as a staff psychologist at New York Hospital and a respected musician in and around the Greenwich Village 80’s folk scene, Kaplansky enjoyed success as part of a duo with Shawn Colvin. When record labels came calling to sign them to a contract, Kaplansky, who was working toward her PhD, opted instead to pursue her medical career.
By the early 90’s, Kaplansky was feeling the creative urge. Following the release of her debut solo album “The Tide” (1994), produced by Shawn Colvin, Kaplansky gave up her psychology practice to return to music. A highly regarded collection of solo and collaborative album releases followed leading up to Kaplansky’s most recent effort, “Tomorrow You’re Going” (2014) with Richard Shindell.
“Richard and I have been singing together for years,” says Kaplansky. “For a really long time, we’d been talking about doing an album together.
We both finally said, ‘Let’s finally do this thing.’ We did something neither of us had ever done with a Kickstarter campaign to get the money and it was very successful, which shocked us both. We made this album of songs we loved and we got Larry Campbell to produce. We’d both worked with Larry Campbell many times over the years. He’s a brilliant player and producer. So, it was just all a fulfillment of a dream and we’re very proud of the album.”
“I really love collaborating musically, especially singing with other people,” adds Kaplansky. “Richard and I really have a special musical thing that makes me really happy. We also have very simpatico tastes and opinions. So, it’s not like he wanted to make one kind of record and I wanted to make another kind. We both really wanted what we came up with.”
Kaplansky and Shindell joined forces with Dar Williams in 1998 to form the folk group “Cry Cry Cry.” The following year, Kaplansky released her critically acclaimed “Ten Year Night” album featuring the song “The Red Thread,” a tribute to 9/11.
Harboring no regret over her decision to pursue her dream, Kaplansky has never lost the invaluable life lessons that her psychology background has instilled in her daily life and her music career.
“I know so much more about myself,” says Kaplansky. “I know so much more about other people and what kinds of motivations people have and conflicts. I think I can read people better and it makes it easier to get along with them. I think it has been really helpful in all my dealings. It has absolutely informed my sense of understanding how to get along with other people.”
“I like to think that the songs I write, which I write with my husband Rick Litvin, are truthful portrayals of the human condition,” adds Kaplansky. “They tend to be about love or loss or grief or motherhood, and my audience really seems to value that.”
“The fact that I still have an audience that still comes out to see me and appreciates what I do is really something I’m proud of,” says Kaplansky. “I’ve written some songs that people have been moved by, and I know that because they tell me so. That is something I’m proud of. I didn’t think any of these things would ever happen.”
Lucy Kaplansky performs at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 on Friday November 6, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-933-4043 or on line at www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
To stay up to date with Lucy Kaplansky visit www.lucykaplansky.com.