Portland-based singer-songwriter Jenny Van West will take the stage at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 as part of Music at the Merry Barn: Celebrating the Intersection of Story and Song.
From 1-4 p.m., Van West will welcome music lovers of all abilities for an interactive workshop, Songwriting After 50. Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome, and no prior experience is necessary. Space is limited to 10 participants.
“When I got into my 50s, a wall of negative messaging hit me all at once,” Van West said. “‘You don’t matter anymore. Middle age is unsexy; no one wants to hear about it. No one wants to hire you. Sit down and shut up. Don’t dress like that anymore. Menopause? Just stay home!’
“These messages filtered into every aspect of my creative life, but isn’t all that stuff a bunch of hooey? Why is it so persistent? What can we do to regain our creative footing, or prevent the messages from taking hold in the first place?”
Workshop participants will learn from each other while answering questions that arise.
Van West doesn’t promise participants will walk out with all the answers, but they may have a renewed sense of energy and purpose, and a few great ideas to propel them forward.
A writer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and producer, Van West’s greatest musical passion lies in what good songs can do: alleviate loneliness, support language development, lessen trauma, create joy, build community, and harmonize diverse populations.
Van West has released three albums of original songs, and has toured extensively in the U.S. and Western Europe. She currently teaches and builds community with recent immigrants and their families in Portland. During the pandemic, she produced a national music podcast, “Postcards,” and currently serves as program coordinator for DocSong Portland.
She has received first place in the Maine Songwriter’s Association songwriting contest, a Community Rock Star Award from the Maine Academy of Modern Music in 2019, and a Mission Award from Mayo Street Arts in 2022. To learn more, go to jennyvanwestmusic.com.