Gina Harris Moves Us with Her Original Songs
by Robert M. Gardner
In “The Magic of Ordinary Things,” Gina Harris creates a solo musical memoir, taking us back to her childhood. Harris’ original songs detail simple pleasures, as she grows from a little California girl into an accomplished young woman. She paints with tender words how her parents’ love and her voice teacher’s care instill inspiration.
In “My Father Loves Me,” an up-tempo jazz piece, Harris recounts how, despite her failures and temper tantrums, her father provides unconditional love. Touchingly, she sings, “He sees it all, the bad and the good, / My father loves me like I hoped he would.”
Sublime jazz and dance enhance Harris’s stories with vivid detail and insight. She recalls small events that nurture her as singer, lyricist, and composer. Everyday childhood memories take on special meaning through the lens of her memory.
In her song “The Magic of Ordinary Things,” Harris sings to her mother about the first time she tries lipstick: “How does it start? / You open my heart.” In the innocent pleasure of pretending to be a woman, Harris realizes how her mother turned play into insight into their shared womanhood.
Confessing to be inordinately shy, Gina Harris relates how her music teacher had her lay flat on the floor to shed tensions that inhibit her voice. As she gains confidence, we see her rising smoothly from the floor. Her voice takes flight, like a flower blossoming. Like her mother, her music teacher challenges her to stretch her boundaries, to see possibilities.
Harris’ musical retrospective fit well into the 200 events scheduled in the Bay Area during November as part of the nationwide program “Reimagine the End of Life” during November 2019.
As Harris reflects on her life, I find myself recalling my own childhood memories. Only as we grow older, do we come to appreciate the teachings of our youth.
Harris is backed by three excellent musicians: Jason Martineau, music director on piano, Sascha Jacobsen on bass, and Kelly Park on drums. They are the perfect accompaniment for Harris’ insightful lyrics and glorious voice.
Her beautiful sentiments linger in my heart and her music echoes in my ears. Her unique vision into the mysteries of life opens new realities. See and hear Gina Harris at The Marsh, San Francisco, on Wednesday, January 29—one night only. Highly recommended.
“The Magic of Ordinary Things” by Gina Harris, directed by Michael French, at The Marsh, San Francisco, on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Info: themarsh.org
Cast: Gina Harris
Musicians: Jason Martineau, Sascha Jacobsen, and Kelly Park.