Barbara Reed: Musician and Author
At first glance it appears that Barbara Reed has developed two separate careers, but recently her love of music and her passion for writing came together in the unique production called High Notes Are Murder --a mystery novel with a companion soundtrack of original music written for and about the characters and events in the book.
“I played the piano as a kid,” she says, “but at that time I intended to work as a singer. I never expected to be a pianist. I started out singing recognizable song titles in jazz, pop, and R&B music. Along the way, I took a stab at songwriting and one thing led to another.”
For ten years, Barbara toured as a singer, working with bands
up and down
the East Coast. She studied music and learned to write her own charts for the musicians. “These were simple chord,” she says, “but they made the band sound professional--or at least like we hadn’t just met in a taxi on the way to the gig. Which, by the way, happened several times.
“By the time I got to L.A., the music business had changed. The nightclub scene had dwindled, crowds weren’t filling the clubs as they had before, drum machines were replacing drummers, and acoustic instruments were becoming outdated. Bands were forced to downsize and competition for gigs was fierce. Suddenly singers were considered a luxury. I remember one club owner snarling, ‘That’s all the broad does, just stand there and sing?’”
Suddenly her quartet became a trio, sometimes a duo, with Barbara at the keyboard. “It was rough at first and I had to give myself a crash course in accompanying. I wasn’t used to playing in a group, let alone singing at the same time. But fortunately, I’ve been surrounded by great players over the years, so I had their playing in my head as a comparison. Now the trick was to learn from it! Music is an ever-growing thing. We’re always learning, and now the piano has become so much a part of me that I’d be lost without it."
Which leads to this new career as a novelist.
“I’d always wanted to write novels, but adding music was accidental. I discovered the phrase, "Show! Don’t tell,” was harder to pull off then I’d realized. It was easier to “show” how Liz felt on stage if I could let the reader hear her music. So after a few hours of writing I’d unwind at the piano, and I found that the mood I’d been trying to create would make its way into a new song of the same mood. Festive, introspective, it didn’t’ matter. Whatever I’d been trying to make Liz say or feel suddenly became a new musical piece. Pretty soon I couldn’t separate them. One reviewer said it was taking the creative process one step further.”
Barbara Reed is a professional writer and musician, and the author of Harmonic Deception and High Notes Are Murder.
As lead vocalist and pianist she has written, recorded, and produced a contemporary jazz album This Was Meant To Be, along with numerous song lyrics for herself and others.
Suspense series: Music & Mystery Series:
- Harmonic Deception
----Three teenage girls burst into Liz’s first CD release party with assault rifles. They begin robbing two hundred patrons of their valuables but before they’re through, they’ve killed one man and injure three more. They get away, but not before making snide remarks to let Liz know this crime is personal.
- High Notes Are Murder
----Liz discovers the body of her young cousin at the foot of the stage she is soon to perform upon. . . along with four million dollars in gold coins from a twenty-year-old mob heist.
- The Restoration of Innocence
----Liz finds herself a suspect in a tangled murder plot. To prove her own innocence, she must expose the guilt of a close friend.
- Psychological Thriller: Intrusion
- Thriller: Secrets With A Butterfly
Comedy: Andi Burke...Trucker
---A cute, feisty ex-trucker just can’t help giving advice whether it’s wanted or not.
Produced, composed, and recorded jazz album This Was Meant To Be