for delivery: beautiful music

I am a singer and guitarist, &
I will serenade house and household from your front lawn, steps, or driveway!

Treat yourself, your household, or your friends to beautiful music.
(Request your performance here)

  • I sing and perform for adults, kids, and everyone in between!
  • You can surprise your friends when you send me to brighten their day.
  • I can sing songs you choose, or I can craft a concert for you, from a huge range of songs and genres.
  • Are you itching to jam or play too? Invite me to jam with you, you can sing along too!
  • (I will keep a safe 6-foot-or-more distance so you feel safe and comfortable)
  • I will split any tips with incredible aid organizations!**
  • Catch more of my music at amandajanehoffman.com or https://www.facebook.com/AmandaJaneSingsALot

Besides singing, I have a background in teaching, preschool, environmental education, social work, comedy…When I perform, I bring a grounded, positive, nurturing presence.

My repertoire is huge.
Here’s a breeze-through my favorite artists and genres.
Some genres: showtunes (old and new, disney too!), pop, folk, singer-songwriters, rock, r&b, kids music (the good ones), country
Some artists: Anais Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Beyonce, Carole King, Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Joni Mitchell, Lana del Rey, Madonna, Neko Case, Okkervil River, Regina Spektor, Sia, Sufjan Stevens, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston…and many many many many more

*And for those who dig Jewish community, I’m also happy to share Shabbat songs and ritual!
We can also celebrate other faiths, or secular living!

**Organizations include:
Dane County Community Defense
Latinx Consortium for Action
Free the 350 Bail Fund
**Tips can be directed to:
venmo: @amandaTHEjane
paypal: paypal.me/amandajanehoffman
zelle: 8435320410

“When I’m Gone” and While We’re Here

I like planks. They make bravery a simple choice, if not an easy one. I think of my voice as a plank, where I am both the captive, and the pirate captain.

“Open your mouth, Amanda!”  I command myself.

I can kick my own butt over the edge of the plank. Even if I’m saying something dumb, at least I’m doing something brave.

I don’t even have to commit to the action – I just start, and gravity takes care of the rest. I can do things I’m not ready for. Like share my feelings. Or sing into spaces. Or tell friends what I need from them. Or ask for help. Or for money. Or say thanks and share gratitude.

Actually, I’m changing my gratitude habit. I try to cut down on how often I say thanks.

Part of this flows with my current work as a preschool teacher. I’m being trained to encourage desirable behavior NOT by saying “Thanks for doing your job!” but more by saying “You did your job.” It’s clear, it’s affirmative, it’s attentive, and sets an expectation of kids’ doing – and enjoying! – their jobs because it contributes to personal and social well-being.

When a friend nurtures me in needful times, I want to share gratitude. I’ve realized, though, that I say “thanks” or “I appreciate how you…” in such moments because I am scared of losing this support. I feel needful and nervous.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking to perpetuate the help I’m receiving. I’d rather just be real with people. Instead of saying “Thank you” BECAUSE I need their help, I’d rather just skip to the vulnerability: “You’re giving me something I need. You are helping me. You are giving me life. I need this.”

This post and song are dedicated to the individuals who contributed to my #GivingTuesday (scrambles for space with Black Friday around Thanksgiving) campaign. I seek to raise money for Jewish Voice for Peace. I join this work because the state of Israel denies safety and sovereignty to Palestinians. Israel justifies their debasing and fatal occupation by claiming that MY security, as a Jewish person, is at stake.

I used to detest the idea of fundraising. But I’m full-up saturated with the Kool-aid – that is, I espouse the idea that PEOPLE are GRATEFUL for an OPPORTUNITY to be a PART OF  A STRUGGLE THEY FIND MEANINGFUL! Hell, that’s why I’m fundraising – because I want to help.

I offered a song to my potential donors, to tempt them into giving. My anxieties around being a singer ripple into my fundraising work. I should not fear taking up space with my voice. But I should do so intentionally. How can I use my voice to make room for people more socio-economically vulnerable than I am? I should show up for struggles in solidarity with Palestinians, who survive violence perpetuated in my name. But does supporting Jewish Voice for Peace put Palestinian struggle and leadership as front-and-center as possible?

I cannot do big change on my own. I have to share my passion and purpose with my families, and go from there. My sharing must anchor and birth a collective being.

I sing “When I’m Gone” by Phil Ochs in this recording. Each verse details life-giving and self-cultivating work to which Phil feels accountable.

With each vocation he names, the singer laments that they can’t do thusly when they’re “gone” (“I can’t add my name into the fight…My pen won’t pour out a lyric line…I won’t breathe the brandy air…I can’t be singing louder than the guns…). The singer concludes each time, “So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”

I love the sentiment of this song. Life offers beautiful moments, and unavoidably hard times and choices. Avoid not the difficulties – in a finite lifespan, life, love, trouble, instability and loneliness all ring rare and precious.

A joke on the line: “I won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone…”
I like to add the word “impression” after the lyric “do my share,” transforming the lyric to “I won’t be asked to do my Cher impression when I’m gone.” The verse must then end “So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here!” in my best throaty Cher voice!

 

That time I was on the radio.

Once, my fabulous friend invited me on to her radio show. Results follow!

“Pure Pop for Queer Lovers” on RadioValencia (San Francisco)

Navigate to the following times to hear:

10:40 – “Changer/Call Your Girlfriend” Mashup by Amanda, originally by Anais Mitchell/Robyn
20:15 – “Wagon Wheel/Paparazzi” Mashup by Amanda, originally by Old Crowe Medicine Show/Lady Gaga: 20:15 in
33:30 –  “Sawdust and Diamonds” by Joanna Newsom: 33:20 in

“Put it into Play” – Amanda Jane Singing, Redux!

I want to share my music with you! Follow this link to a recording from Radio Valencia’s “Pure Pop for Queer Lovers” broadcast, hosted by my dear friend Adrienne and the fabulous Mija. 

And for your inspirational pleasure, please read below for a personal reflection.

***

Anticipate the next five minutes of your life.

What might those five minutes hold? Does their world excite you?

Are you scared of them?

***

I wish I did not fear the future.

I want to want nothing from the next five minutes save that they have room for me.

Yet I can’t help hoping that they hold inspiration and fire and friendship and a way out from my worst parts. “Me” is much. Wanting room is wanting the world. Room for my sky-high ambitions, my laziness, my fatal flaws.

***

Sometimes I wrestle with myself, and make demands.

I beg of myself, “Be present! Live in the moment.” Instead, I shroud myself with shadows from What May Lie Ahead.

I keep leaking out of now, and peeking ahead.

Like when I read. My eyes flick ahead to the next word. That upcoming word bumps hips with the word that came before it.

The future ripples backwards and forms my experience of the present.

***

I am trying something new.

I figure: my world has plenty of room for the next five minutes. Who am I to deny them?

I hold myself as beautiful and vile. But when the future beckons me out of myself, I will expect beauty.

Instead of shutting out these unknown moments, I will invite myself into them.

Out of the fuzzy future, I will mold myself a Welcome sign.

***

“Put It Into Play!”

My body is borne of buoyant water. I need support. I love to fall into the fold of my friends.

And I crave the chance to be there for them.

Sometimes my friends are mired in anxiety. Scared to move forward. Taught to do only when doing is right. To know, then act.

Welcome to self-paralysis.

I gave my friends a thought-arrow, to pierce a path through the muck.

You may fear doing wrong. But try anyway. Don’t plan for forever – live out loud. Bump into the world and see what happens.

Every morning, when you wake up, let the first thing you say be: Put it into Play.”

Now you try, and let me know how it goes!

 

Why I Sing in Gardens: A Beginning

The year: 2012.
The place: Berkeley, California.
The wherefore: I had just started an apprenticeship with Urban Adamah, an educational farm rooted in Jewish wisdom, ritual, and agricultural tradition.

The story: On a sun-soaked September day, I arrived at the garden, nervous, and excited. I love working with kids, and my school garden internship had started.

Rachel welcomed me with a tour of the outdoor classroom.  She was my supervisor, and had seemed quiet when I first met her.

But I was ready to follow her lead. Especially because I brought nothing to teach!

I had never taught at a school. Before this adventure in environmental education and growing food, I had been trained in sociology – and before that, musical theater.

That morning, she mentioned a song she’d sing with our first, second, and third-graders. “The FBI,” she quickly noted, flinging her arms about in the shapes we’d form with our bodies during this call-and-response song. I’d pick it up when we sang, she assured me.

And sure enough, when Rachel strummed the shining ukulele, the kids jumped up wide-eyed. They sang “The FBI” by the Banana Slug String Band.

They bubbled forth the refrain, calling out the garden’s “FBI” – “The FBI, whenever something dies, the FBI, is there on the scene!” “That’s fungus (fungus), bacteria (bacteria) invertebrates (invertebrates) the FBI.” With each member of the F, B, and I, the kids made a mushroom cap with their arms, shimmied their fingers, and wiggled like a worm. I followed their lead.

I learned as I watched:

  • The open air was a perfect chance for kids to stretch their bodies and voices, on of the instant benefits of an outdoor classroom.
  • With “The FBI,” we learned how life works in the garden and soil. But songs for gardens can teach about people too: the range of foods people plant, hopes and memories about food and gardens…
  • Gardening is hard work. Songs put silliness and beauty into this work. Kids can sing and work at the same time – the time will fly by.

Five years later, and many enviro-ed gigs deep, I’m studying Agroecology, an interdisciplinary effort to build healthful food systems – systems building ecological resilience by growing and sharing food equitably.

For my Masters program in Agroecology UW Madison, I assembled a Garden Songs training and handbook/songbook, inspired by my volunteering at Troy Kid’s Garden with Community GroundWorks. Read on for the “Garden Songs” manual and songbook, and the story of this project.