I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
— Maya Angelou
 
 

Dear Visitor ~

Rather than sitting to the task of writing a personal narrative for this page titled "Bio", I wish we could just sit together in conversation, each of us curled up in a comfy chair, holding a cup or glass of something good.  I would tell you about my musical beginnings and my childhood spent listening, a large part of the time, to my parents' record collection of great symphonies, Broadway musicals, jazz and every folk singer/musician recorded at the time.   By age 10,  I was captivated by the songs of Odetta, Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Clancy Brothers, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Mercedes Sosa, Miriam Makeba and Bob Dylan.  Their music was personally life-changing, and the catalyst in my first passionate goal: to learn how to play the guitar and accompany myself singing.  My music collection grew to include more songs, rhythms, melodies and voices from a broad spectrum of genres that continue to inspire me and shape me as an artist today, striking a deep chord in me, moving me to act or to create something, and igniting in me a hunger to dig deeper, to know the story behind the music, the influence on the composer, or to better understand the culture and people that created that music.  Opening my photo album, you would see my family and friends, as well as others pictured there whose lives have intersected with mine and are forever part of me, and the places that I have called "home" (Germany, Pittsburgh, France, Greece, New York's Hudson Valley, Connecticut) and the places I have visited, all of them now a part of my story.  I would show you the books on my bookshelves, including Pete Seeger's "How to Play the 5-string Banjo", and the hand-illustrated songbook created by "Uncle" Bob Schmertz, my grandfather's best friend and the first banjo player I ever knew.  It was from that book and listening to Bob Schmertz that I learned "Monongahela Sal" and other story songs that told about the history and rivers around my childhood home in Western Pennsylvania.  His songs were later recorded by Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.  I would sit enraptured as my grandparents regaled me with tales about hootenannies at the Schmertz' home, where my grandfather played the jaw harp and my grandmother sang and danced, a side of each of them that I never got to witness. And there were other stories, such as the time when Pete Seeger went into the audience in Pittsburgh and pulled Bob Schmertz out of his seat and up onto the stage with him.  If you told me back then that one day I would not only meet Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman of the Weavers, singer-songwriter Tom Pacheco, and other musical giants in my life, but that they would also become friends and mentors, I never would have believed you.  But it happened...

 

 

Together with my DNA and the memories of my ancestors in me, I am the sum of all these influences and many more than what I am able to fit onto this page: other extraordinary people, family, friends, teachers, mentors and spirit guides, opportunities and adventures, gains and losses, and mistakes and lessons that have shaped the person and artist that I am.  I cannot write about any awards bestowed on me for having learned all that I have from them.  There are no famous stages nor published reviews that define me.  It is not important; I have everything I could ever desire or need in my life and in music, especially a deep well of gratitude and an immense sense of fulfillment each time I hold an instrument in my hands and sing, giving new life to an ancient ballad, discovering a new song or story, inventing something original, or jamming and swapping songs with friends around the circle.  The blessing is being able to enjoy and share the gift of music throughout my life, especially with others.  The ultimate is finding out that my music has made a difference in someone else's life, moving or inspiring someone in some way, just as others' music has done for me.

I could not complete this "bio" without acknowledging and thanking some special people who have been powerfully influential in my development as both an artist and human being: The many teachers throughout my life, and also my students, because you have also taught me; My parents and grandparents, for all that you provided; In particular, my paternal grandmother, Martha Beck Reid, for planting the first seeds and nurturing my artistic growth through her generous gifts: my first guitar, music and art lessons, and tickets to many live performances; My husband and life partner, Ferenc Bozsó, for his love and support, wisdom, insights and many talents ~ Without him, this project would never have been achieved; My daughter, Clare Reid Bozsó, for her beautiful presence in my life and on this album, for teaching me the most profound meaning of love, and for showing me what true grit, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles look like; Pete Seeger, for helping me understand the great importance of the small things, and for having given wider and deeper meaning to why I 'cannot keep from singing'; and Tom Pacheco, for writing the songs that tell our stories and give a voice to the human heart and soul - and for his encouragement.   To both Pete and Tom, I thank you for showing me that, despite our struggles, there is still purpose, beauty, courage, humor, and especially - HOPE - in it all. 

With love and gratitude, 

Susan