I was born April 21, 1952 in Oceanside California, the first son of Pacific Northwest natives, while my father was serving in Korea as a captain in the Marine Corps. As soon as Dad returned from the war we moved back up to the Seattle area, and while I’ve traveled much the Northwest has always been home. My grandparents gifted our family with a piano when I was 7, and that was the beginning of a relationship with my longest-term therapist. My mother used to say that she could always tell what kind of mood I was in by listening to me play. I took lessons early, but really didn’t care for my strict piano teacher so pretty much taught myself how to read chord symbols and began to accompany myself singing. Having lost my 8-year-old brother to cancer when I was 10, I was a painfully shy adolescent.
When I was about to turn 15 I told my parents that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was voice lessons and they obliged. I joined the Bellevue High School choir the beginning of my junior year, and had my first solo singing experience with the beautiful “Hostias” from Faure’s Requiem that same winter. After that, thanks in no small part to an incredibly inspirational choir teacher, Jack Varra, singing, theater and choral music became my passion, and eventually my career. In my senior year high school yearbook I wrote as one of my highlights, “Hostias, and the start of living.” It was indeed.
Shortly after graduating from high school, I moved to Los Angeles for a year and a half, worked several jobs, including a really fun stint at the Columbia Pictures mail room, then returned to Seattle where I was employed as a singing waiter at the Holiday Inn by the airport. My coworker and great friend Michael was planning on making the big move to New York City in May of 1973, and after receiving lawn furniture as a present on my birthday, which sounded so permanent, I told my parents later that night that I was going to move with him. Two weeks later my trunk and bags were packed, and Michael and I were on our way to the Big Apple. I stayed in New York for 3 years, studying private voice with some excellent teachers and enrolling at HB Studios to study acting. During my time there, I appeared in shows both in and out of the city (including Amsterdam for 3 months and London) and toured with a singing group that played Miami Beach and the Catskills. While I was in New York, Spirit began calling to me. In a series of serendipitous events, I found myself in contact with a group of gay men who met weekly to discuss spiritual topics, led by a man named Hal, who lived in a beautiful apartment on Central Park South where the meetings were held. We frequently had guest speakers. In 1975, William Thetford, one of the co-authors of A Course in Miracles, came to share with us about the upcoming publication of this now famous series of books. It was a magical time of incredible opening for me.
During a private conversation with Hal one evening, he told me a story of his meeting with a woman who would come to be the single most influential person in my life. I remember every detail, and the story has a unique vibration to it. Every time I tell it, including now, my body shifts frequency and I feel a presence flowing through me. I invite you, reader, to open your heart as you experience it now.
Hal was pretty well known in the inner circles of the burgeoning New Age Movement which was coming to fruition in the 70’s, and was acquainted with Werner Erhard, the founder of EST, as well as other pioneers in the vast expansion of consciousness that was occurring at the time. In the summer of 1974, he had planned a visit to see his sister in San Francisco, and had arranged for several meetings with people, including Erhard, during his 5-day stay. The day before his departure he was bustling around tying up some loose ends, and as he was approaching the entrance to his building on Central Park a man passed by him, and just as he passed Hal heard the words “Mount Shasta”. He turned around to ask the man if he was speaking to him but there was no one there. While it was curious to him, he didn’t really think much about it again until he was on his very early morning flight to San Francisco. The closer he got to the West Coast, the sound of the man’s voice intoning “Mount Shasta” became more and more persistent until upon his landing he could think of nothing else. His sister was at the gate to pick him up and as they were walking through the airport, he turned to her and said ,“Could you please cancel my meetings for me? I have to go to Mount Shasta.” His sister replied “Are you crazy? You don’t just cancel an appointment with Werner Erhard … it’s, … well, it’s just not done.” Hal said, “If he doesn’t understand, I don’t think I needed to meet with him anyway.” He asked at the airline desk where the nearest airport to Mount Shasta was, and within an hour was on a plane to Redding.
As often happens when we make impulsive intuitive decisions, Hal’s rational brain started to take over, and while he initially felt that something momentous was about to occur, he came to decide that his intuition was probably just telling him that he needed a break, so he prepared to spend a relaxing few days away from his routine. He rented a car at the Reading airport and proceeded north on I-5. He was feeling very light and jovial, telling himself that this was just what he needed, when he turned around a bend in the freeway and right in front of him was magnificent Mount Shasta. An energy began to course through his body and he had to pull off to the side of the road because of its power. After sitting in this vibration for a few minutes, he heard the words “You are home.” Tears welled up in his eyes, and he was now certain that this was the reason he had been called here as he had never in his life felt anything as powerful as this mountain.
He looked at his map, saw the town of Mt. Shasta, and decided that would be his first stop, proceeded on the road and arrived in town early afternoon. As he was driving on the main drag of this small town he saw a little restaurant called “Friends of the Mountain”, decided with a chuckle (he had a beautiful, resonant chuckle which came upon him frequently) that he qualified as a friend of the mountain, and sat down at the window counter contentedly looking up at Shasta from his seat. A waitress came over and after he ordered his cup of coffee she asked him what had brought him to town. He paused for a moment, then decided to tell her the whole story, ending with “I guess I’m just here.” She looked at him, nodded, and said “Oh, you must want to see Pearl.” Hal describes that at this moment in the story an energy so powerful come over him that the room around him disappeared, and he heard his voice, as if it was speaking on its own, say “Yes, I want to see Pearl.”
As the energy began to subside, he got this image of a woman living in a cave somewhere as, for the second time in a day, he had felt a presence stronger than anything he’d ever encountered. He asked, “How does one see Pearl?” In a very matter-of-fact manner the waitress responded, “Oh just give her a call. I have her number here if you want.” His rational brain kicked in again, concluding that he was undoubtedly just getting another jolt from the mountain, and he thought “This is probably the local psychic or something. But, if this is what you do when you’re in Mt. Shasta, I’ll play along.” He went outside to the payphone, dialed the number the waitress had given him, and a sweet little voice answered, “Hello?” Hal was a bit taken aback by the quality of that voice, but responded, “Hello, my name is Hal, and I’ve just arrived from New York City. I’m here at “Friends of the Mountain” and I’d like to see you if I could.”
Pearl said, “Oh, did Carol give you my number? She’s such a sweet little thing.” Hal responded that she had, and Pearl said, “Well, you must be very busy. You people from New York are always so busy.” This irked Hal a bit, as he really didn’t like being stereotyped as a typical New Yorker, and he responded, a bit tersely, “No, I’m not busy, I’m just here in town for a couple of days and Carol suggested I call you.” Pearl said, “Well, you’ll want to take a drive up the mountain first, so how about if you come by my house about 4:30? Would that work for you? Carol can give you directions.” Hal said that that would be fine, finished his coffee and drove to the end of the Everitt Memorial Highway at just under 8,000 feet elevation. He meditated there for a while, bathing in the energy of the place, then proceeded back down the mountain to Pearl’s place.
He arrived at a little cottage at the end of a dead end road only a few blocks from the center of town. He walked up to the front door, knocked, and as the door opened he saw this tiny woman smiling up at him. He noted (as people often did when describing Pearl) her almost translucent skin, as she said “You must be Hal. Come in, come in.” He entered into a small living room set up with chairs in a semicircle, and Pearl seated herself in her large armchair facing the other chairs and invited him to sit down. She began to speak, saying “So tell me what brings you …” and then stopped.
In retelling this moment, Hal describes an energy more powerful than either of the earlier experiences of the day permeating the room, expanding his heart, and once again, the room disappeared as he sat gazing into this little woman’s eyes. (If you, reader, will stop now for a moment, place your attention on your heart, you may find that you are able to experience a bit of a “quickening” yourself. Stories like this hold great energy.)
They sat there for several minutes, just experiencing the wordless communication that was passing between the two of them, and as the energy intensity gently began to lessen, Pearl smiled at Hal and said “Well, welcome” and began to speak about the great laws of the universe.
In the summer of 1976, I took the Greyhound across the country, spending 3 weeks at “The Living Love Center” in Berkley, in workshops led by The Handbook to Higher Consciousness author Ken Keyes, Jr.., then heading north by train to Mount Shasta to meet Pearl. I camped on the mountain for another two weeks, seeing her, and becoming attuned to her energy every day. This began a relationship of teacher and student that lasted for many years. Pearl moved into her next level of existence a number of years ago, but she is still with me, and I rely on her constant guidance and wisdom.
I moved back to the Seattle area, began teaching private voice (using the techniques I had learned from my 6 years of private lessons) and was prompted to go to college for the first time, and enrolling in the progressive school The Evergreen State College. I was very fortunate here to get one-on-one training with some incredible faculty members, where I studied voice, theater, education, orchestration and conducting, as well as appearing in two musical revues that I did musical and vocal arrangements for as well as producing. I was invited by a small cabaret club in downtown Seattle, The Golden Crown (where the present-day Westlake Mall sits), to present one of these revues, On Stage with Kander and Ebb, which was very well received and ran for several weeks. Although it was a gay club in 1980, it became “the thing to do,” and the place was always filled with a wide variety of people from different strata of society, including the then-mayor, Wes Uhlman. It was here that a Seattle producer, Greg Thompson, saw the show and invited me to join the cast of one of his shows he had mounted in Bermuda. I soon began arranging for him, beginning with vocals then moving on to instrumentals as well, serving as music director as well as featured performer and master of ceremonies for Greg Thompson Productions over 18 years. During my time I directed and/or appeared in shows in Tokyo, Bermuda, Las Vegas, Great Gorge, Downingtown, Atlantic City, Biloxi, Mackinaw City, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, Great Gorge, St. Thomas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, as well as several cruise ships. Our shows won awards in many of these cities, and the company was at one time the largest producer of staged revue shows in the world, with 14 productions running concurrently.
For a couple of holiday seasons during this period I was the general manager for a Seattle based Christmas group, The Dickens Carolers, for whom I had performed during my frequent holiday breaks from Greg Thompson Productions.
Over all of these years I taught private voice lessons to fellow cast members and people in the communities where I was living or appearing, including apprenticing and teaching in the studio of one of New York's top vocal coaches, Paul Gavert, whose techniques I still teach today. When, in 1999, I decided that it was time to get off the road, I relocated to Olympia, Washington to complete the 2 quarters at The Evergreen State College I needed to graduate (I tend to stretch things out a bit!), then began teaching piano and voice as a faculty member at the college, as well as transforming the college’s course, “Choral Vocal Ensemble,” which averaged 15 people per quarter, into the 80 voice “Evergreen Singers.” It was at this point that I did some music directing for Olympia's "Kids at Play" summer theatre exprerience for youth, and began taking on more private students, and when I decided to move back to Seattle and leave Evergreen, went into full-time private voice teaching, which I’ve been doing very successfully up to this point in time. During these past years in the Northwest, I served as Music Ministry Director for three and a half years for Unity of Olympia, where I had been a regular soloist during my early years at Evergreen. I continue to solo monthly there. I was also Music and Creative Director for The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus for two years, as well as being a featured soloist at many local churches. Beautiful soul Gina Sala and I cofounded Seattle’s non-audition community choir “Open Voices”
Over the past years I have attended many workshops and trainings, becoming a certified Reiki Master, Acutonics Practitioner, and EFT and Matrix Reimprinting Coach, as well as completing Seattle’s Context Training, the Community Choir Leadership Training in Victoria, BC, Jonathan Goldman's Healing Sounds Intensive and numerous classes at Unity Village and other new thought centers. I’ve studied with the top people in these fields, as well as extensive study of the anatomy of the voice and sound and music healing. It is my profound and humble privilege to bring this lifetime of experience into our sessions together to assist you in your personal and professional unfoldment..