Q&A with Artists

Multi award-winning San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, artist, playwright, and author Lisa Sniderman, aka: Aoede (pronounced AY-EE-DEE), obsessively creates to heal. She has been honored with more than 50 awards for her songwriting, audiobooks and stage plays since 2012. Highlights include: Independent Music Awards Vox Pop Winner 2014; International Songwriting Competition 2013, 2012 Winner, and John Lennon Songwriting Contest 2013, 2012 Finalist.
Aoede’s music has been featured in television shows, films, web commercials, compilation CDs, and other media.

She’s accomplished all of this against a fierce obstacle-while suffering from a rare disease: dermatomyositis (DM), a progressive muscle weakness disease, for more than 10 years. Sniderman launched Aoede (named after first muse of song in Greek mythology) in 2006, to remind herself to inspire and be inspired, and later created her surrounding fantasy musical world after a lengthy hospitalization in 2010 due to a flare of her DM.

The success of the release party for her acclaimed adult folk-pop album Skeletons of the Muse (April 2012), inspired Sniderman to create her first musical story, Is Love A Fairy Tale? (September 2012), which garnered many accolades. Sniderman’s second musical, What Are Dreams Made Of? (2013), received six Children’s awards and seven stage play awards. Do You Believe In Magic? Sniderman’s third musical, is recipient of six children’s awards, an endorsement from Kids First, and was considered for for Best Musical Theater Album in the 58th Grammy Awards.

Sniderman is also author of a new book: “A Light in the Darkness: Transcending Chronic Illness through the Power of Art and Attitude” (Crimson Cloak Publishing 2018), an inspirational story of the healing power of music and creativity, following your dreams and finding your true purpose. Her memoir chronicles her 10-year journey with chronic illness while obsessively creating to heal.

Sniderman has been a singer-songwriter since 2002. She played instruments such as saxophone and violin and sang as a kid, but mainly she performed in plays and musicals until she was an adult. She found her voice and her muse in an effort to reinvent herself after ending her first marriage, started to take songwriting and guitar classes, and then did private study for many years. Women artists with quirky vocals, such as Ingrid Michaelson, Feist and Regina Spektor, influenced Sniderman’s music, and fans of theirs resonate with Aoede’s enchantingly quirky soprano voice.

Sniderman is inspired by the opportunity to positively impact and inspire others through connecting to her original pop songs or fantasy musicals. She says her story is persevering through the darkness of her disease for more than 10 years by obsessively turning to creativity to express and as a healing path. But her story and her life’s purpose is also becoming a light in the darkness and a muse, offering support, compassion, inspiration, connection, and encouragement to those who need it most-especially those experiencing transformations: illness, disability, or unexpected life challenges.

Living with a chronic illness, Sniderman creates, records, and shares her original musicals, art and music as a healing path and to give back, and seeks to use her gifts and experience to be a light and a muse. She discovered that healing happens during the creation process, but also when she shares her music with others, who often are empowered to share their stories. Says Sniderman, “Music and art are my lifelines, and I just cannot stop creating.”

How would you describe your style?
For my adult albums, quirky folk pop a la Ingrid Michaelson meets Regina Spektor: think childlike, bright, uplifting, happy, heartfelt, playful, feel good songs primarily about life, love and relationships. For my original musical audiobooks, it’s like listening to full length fantasy radio plays complete with dialogue, character voices, songs, sound effects, narration and full instrumental score-a meld of magic, mythology and music. Think Harry Potter meets Into The Woods!

Why do you do what you do?
I have been living with a rare chronic illness for more than 10 years and obsessively creating to heal. I recently discovered that I foster healing by giving your creative spirit wings and inspiring you to share your story. Healing is at the heart of all of my creativity. I create, record, and share my original musicals, art and music as a healing path and to give back, and seek to use my gifts and experience to be a light and a muse. Music and art are my lifelines, and I just cannot stop creating.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to you?
Ambition by far. I truly believe in the law of attraction, and it has been my experience that if I dream something and work hard to make it happen, and truly believe in it, it manifests. The Universe usually conspires to make things happen, even if it is not in the way I imagined or expected.

What inspires you to create music?
My muse flows through me-I can’t stop creating! My inspiration has to touch my heart and spark me in some way because I have limited energy and have to choose where to focus my creativity.

How did you find the scouting process in Rehegoo?
Helpful. Appreciated that someone was there to respond to questions and to promote artists.

How did you feel when signing a contract with Rehegoo?
Appreciated that I was in good hands, and that I could work with a company that I felt could promote me while still pursuing other avenues for licensing my music.

What is the greatest achievement of your career so far?
Wow! There have been a few such as: 1-being considered for Grammy awards for my 2015 musical theater album Do You Believe In Magic?, alongside Hamilton on the ballot! 2-Receiving more than 50 awards for my music, audiobooks and stage plays since 2012 while struggling with a rare autoimmune progressive muscle weakness disease for more than 10 years. Also 3-releasing my memoir “A Light in the Darkness: Transcending Chronic Illness through the Power of Art and Attitude” in September!

What has been the biggest obstacle?
Struggling with a rare auto-immune progressive muscle weakness disease-dermatomyositis (DM)-for more than 10 years. It forced me to reinvent my singer-songwriter’s dream, rather than let it die, and to find ways I could still live my dreams despite lack of stamina, energy, fatigue and muscle weakness. Because of battling DM, I was able to find my niche in creating fantasy musicals on audiobooks and adapting them to musical theater stage plays, and to focus on writing, recording and licensing songs from home, as well as write and publish my memoir.

What is the best and worst gig you have ever played?
Best: Cure JM (Juvenile Myositis) Festival in Hilsboro, Oregon in August 2012. These are the warrior kids with the same disease that I have. I shared my story of being a singer-songwriter with DM and performed as Aoede, and it was near and dear to my heart. Parents came up to me and told me I was giving moms hope and optimism for their kids’ futures.

Worst: In March 2006, in a club in San Francisco, I played a WomenROCK gig for a woman music collective I co-founded. I hit my head on a riser as I entered the stage, but didn’t think much of it. As I was playing my set for Aoede, I apparently had what some later referred to as my Marilyn Manson moment: blood started gushing down from my forehead amidst gasps from the audience, and I was forced to stop playing and retire to the green room. I came down 45 minutes later and played, and split the cut again near the end of the set. I remember this because my grandma had just passed away, and I was flying down to her service right after the gig. Really hard night.

What is your worst and best fan moment?
Worst: I haven’t had one yet! I am crazy fortunate!

Best: A tie between 1-a fan sharing his story of also living with a muscle disease sparking my song “Perfect Day,” where I imagined life through his lens before realizing I was also lamenting my own journey, and 2-more than 78 fans funding more than $5,000 for my Kickstarter in December 2011 to help me release Skeletons of the Muse (2012) (including one twitter fan who I had never met who contributed $500!)

What is your favorite song of yours?
That is such a tough question! It’s like picking your favorite child! Of the ones I’ve recorded, “Perfect Day” or “Fairy Tale Love,” from Skeletons of the Muse. I absolutely loved creating the music video for Fairy Tale Love: imagine a magical, animated fairy tale book falls from the sky onto the forest floor, opens up, and transports you into an enchanted fairy tale world, switching between real characters and early 1900s animations. It is one part Disney and two parts fractured fairy tale! I also just wrote a new song for a closing number for ‘Lights in the Darkness” that will be powerful and anthemic called “Keep Shining.” I love it because the chorus has an uplifting, repetitive lyric at the same time that the lead vocal shows vulnerability and asks questions through a range of difficult emotions.

You can listen to AOEDE’s music on Spotify: