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Marilyn Cooney: Bio

My life began with family sing-alongs, my father on piano and accordion. My love affair with the piano began the moment Dad placed my small fingers in C major position. Many years later, most of the songs on this CD were born on that family upright, which my mother had shipped to me from New York one Christmas. Growing up near New York City, I was raised on Broadway tunes, but credit also goes to Debussy, Irving Berlin, Motown, The Kingston Trio, and others whose music became part of me. I have always tinkered with words, but at 16, lyrics and music converged when my siblings bought me a pawn shop guitar. As I sang the works of Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Carole King, and Laura Nyro, I learned that everyday experiences could become universal songs. As a high school English teacher for 32 years, I was privileged to help students find their own writing voices, while they showed me the courage of self-expression. In the meantime I attended and led seminars in self-discovery, where I began to write songs. When I retired, my dear husband encouraged my devotion to music. The path led to the San Francisco cabaret community, where I encountered musicians who became friends, mentors and colleagues. It was Barry Lloyd who faithfully transcribed my songs into lead sheets, tweaking a chord here and there for flavor. He also taught me vocal interpretation and some simple ways to accompany myself. But Barry is the primary pianist on this album, and as you listen, you will know why his solo cabaret shows are acclaimed nationwide. Songwriting is a mysterious process. Sometimes it seems as if out of nowhere, notes and words come flying, and all I have to do is scribble them down before the moment is lost. Other songs require far more conscious effort, but all are gifts. I hope that my experiences and observations, collected here in musical form, will speak to you or encourage your own self-expression, for truly, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN A LIFE!

2015 UPDATE!  It's been awhile since I have added to my bio.  Lots has happened for me musically since 2010.  I have been performing regularly with Kathy Holly and the Supper Club Six at the Villa d'Este for six years.  We also entertain at the Sausalito Cruising Club.  I have done quite a few shows with my friends in the San Francisco music community - such as Joe Cohen, Lua Hadar.  I have entertained many guests at Zingari Jazz Lounge in the Donatello Hotel on Union Square.  I met the gracious and talented Rita Beach and sat in with her and for her at Max's Restaurant in Burlingame, which has always been a great venue for supporting live music.  After many years of working hard at it, I am now accompanying myself, both during gigs where I have a regular accompanist, and at my own solo shows in Retirement Communities.  It is a great joy and privilege to bring music to the residents and staff. My husband and I have begun singing duets together at private parties and in great clubs such as Society Cabaret in San Francisco.  It is wonderful to share that part of our lives!