The concept was simple, at least to Kiki Ebsen, an accomplished singer-songwriter whose own compositions are almost as familiar as tunes from her career touring with multiple Grammy-winning musicians for two decades. In the first half of 2015, Ebsen found herself ensconced in her career, and everything was going along nicely, if not predictably.
Suddenly in the spring of 2015, Kiki experienced what all artists dream of—an epiphany and massive burst of creativity, and she wrote several new songs all at once. Ideas were coming to her so quickly it was even slightly overwhelming. Yet one new song literally fell out of her mind and onto the keyboard of her Kawai, a song she named “peace.harmony.” The lower case font and the punctuation, she said, were “intentional to show the two concepts were linked together in a more than permanent way,” as though they’d always belonged together.
“This song just wrote itself so quickly that I was surprised and almost a little stunned. It was like the ultimate gift,” said Ebsen. The more she played it, upon reflection, Kiki realized such a sense of healing and transformation coming over her each time she sang it. Others who heard it remarked that it was impactful to them as well. She explained, “I had reached a point in my life when I realized that I was at such peace and in such harmony, as happy and content with my life and work. I just wanted to share my renewed joy and inspire others to create joy in their worlds.” A natural opportunity was waiting to do just that.
One of Kiki’s favorite concert venues in between touring dates over the years was her Southern California ranch, where she’d host concerts for close friends. She had also begun to host online viewing access at minimal cost for fans to enjoy the music. Their tuning in also meant they were contributing to her nonprofit organization, The Healing Equine Ranch. That was her prior path.
In reflecting on the year that had blossomed for her in 2015, Ebsen realized that, in addition to her earliest repertoire and compositions, since 2014 she’d really expanded her music choices to embrace jazz and emphasize solo vocals. So many new friends had come into her world who were supportive, encouraging, and dynamic musicians, who resonated vocally and embraced her love of jazz.
Was Kiki a rock singer, an independent singer-songwriter, a teacher of natural horsemanship and proponent of equine healing, an artist, or a jazz vocalist, she asked herself? There was only one answer: “Yes.” Yes, she loved all artistic genres with equal passion and yes, she was going to find a way to keep doing all of the things she loved—and all at the same time. Armed with a 2016 calendar and a new set of colorful ink pens, Ebsen drew up plans for the future. First item on the agenda was to gather and introduce her friends, old and new, to one another on New Year’s Day. She describes the meet-up as an “amazing and joyful synergy that flowed through that event.”
Ebsen was then inspired to establish a cyber-concert venue, along the creative lines of “Live from Daryl’s House,” where artists could play their original songs as well as where dear friends could gather and pay tribute to the work of other artists who had been, and continue to be, sources of inspiration in their musical journeys.
Kiki then decided that her new “peace.harmony” composition was exactly the one that most closely communicated the feeling she wanted to convey through these concerts. In fact, it would be the perfect name with which to brand her new event series, a real-life and cyber meet-up. There you could experience the music in person, or online, quiet the weary mind and fill your soul with contributions of skilled artists as singer-songwriters, as jazz vocalists, and musicians in the rock genre. She envisioned it as a restorative, creative vortex that could serve as a point of inspiration. Also deciding that proceeds would benefit her nonprofit, The Healing Equine Ranch, the impact of goodness would reach even further in days ahead.
So, on New Year’s Day 2016, as she prepared for her party, Kiki the artist took out her pastels and her small chalkboard, and out flowed her super logo for the concert series, in just about seven minutes. That’s how things work in the creative vortex. And she decided that day to launch her first peace.harmony concert at the end of the month, setting the date of Sunday, Jan. 31, as the debut. What happened next is where the adventures began.
The debut peace.harmony concert had all of the makings of a magical Sunday afternoon. Ticketed guests would gather at the Southern California venue, Kiki’s Healing Equine Ranch about 5 p.m. With “inspiration” as the hallmark, likely no other artist has had the impact on Kiki’s songwriting as has Joni Mitchell, whom she refers to as “the ultimate songwriter.” But going from concept to reality was a path filled with fascinating challenges, rewarding outcome, and a lot of peace and harmony that was shared throughout the most amazing day of music you could ever hope to imagine. There were a few obstacles in the path to overcome first.
This story is Part 2 in a five-part series. Part 3 is a behind-the-scenes look at how music professionals prepare themselves to launch a dynamic new show, as Kiki Ebsen & Friends pay tribute to the music of the iconic Joni Mitchell.