2016 Individual Artist Award recipient Libby Roderick describes the tranquil state of happiness in her artistic practice
As the application period for the 2018 Individual Artist Awards (IAA) nears its March 1 closing date, we caught up with 2016 Fellowship recipient Libby Roderick of Anchorage.
Name: Libby Roderick
IAA Artistic Discipline: singer/songwriter Americana
IAA Career Stage: mid-career
Award: 2016 Individual Artist Fellowship
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as an artist?
“Don’t give up.” Many years ago, after an exhausting false start, in which I had blown all my money on an abortive attempt to make my first recording, a seasoned singer/songwriter gave me that piece of advice, and it went straight to my heart. Within a year or so, a couple of fans dropped a bunch of money on me, and I recorded my first CD, which effectively launched my national touring career.
Who is your favorite Alaska artist and what do you admire about that person?
A man who would never consider himself to be an artist. I was attending a workshop at Meier Lake in Palmer where people were invited to share something creative if they chose. A gentleman stood up and, clearly and profoundly terrified, delivered a trembling version of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” a deeply moving hymn about singing (and living fully) in the face of danger. I have never forgotten that moment, and he remains my favorite Alaska artist because of his courage and determination to sing in the face of his fear. Beautiful.
What was the happiest moment of your life as an artist?
I was performing at an intimate folk venue on the New England circuit, a place called the Left Bank Cafe in coastal Maine. That night, I was exhausted and didn’t really feel like going onstage. My sister was at the performance (a highly unusual occurrence) and I had invited her to sing with me. I wasn’t sure how the evening would go, but something happened and I moved into complete surrender to being utterly in the present, moment by moment. The experience I had is often described as being in a state of flow, in which people become fully immersed in the moment and everything unfolds perfectly, rolling along like a river. I felt incredibly happy throughout that performance.
What impact did the Individual Artist Award have on your art?
The award gave me a much-needed boost, particularly by allowing me to head back to Seattle to record another CD. The producer of my first few CDs had recently stopped serving as music director for Microsoft giant Paul Allen and was able to produce the new recording, and a host of musicians who had backed me up on my earliest recordings also joined us. It was incredibly fun and satisfying musically, and the eventual response to the songs re-anchored me in the importance of offering music to the world in these phenomenally challenging times.
We hope Libby’s experience inspires you to pursue a creative project of your own. Finish your Individual Artist Award application today.
Listen to Libby’s most requested songs: