A Musician at the Age of Four

Passenger Profile: Christine Spero

By Kenny Kerner
taxi member success rate spero
Here's another story about a busy, successful Indie artist who is also a TAXI member. Christine Spero has a lot to brag about with 55 forwards, two deals, an RCA album, and winner of a 2004 songwriting competition. And I'm leaving out a lot. Let's hear from Christine, now!

When did you first become interested in music and how did it happen?

CS: As long as I can remember I've been singing melodies from the standards my mother would play on her radio. She also sang, and there was a lot of Bach, Segovia, Rimsky-Korsakov, Johnny Smith, and Ella played around the house.

When I was four years old, my parents bought me a toy piano and when they heard me picking melodies off of the radio and records they bought me an old upright piano and lessons for a few years. The day that they couldn't tell if it was the teacher or myself playing they let her go! Since then I've been studying on my own and writing my own songs.

My music teachers at school took me under their wings and groomed me for NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) for vocal and piano. I was always in the church choir with my mother, school chorus and chorales, as well as pianist with the orchestra and occasional organist at church. I then moved to San Francisco to attend college for music and botany and wound up in the local music scene hitting jam sessions with Jazz and Latin players, then became a member of The Peace and Rhythm Unit. I also played a lot of four hand and two piano duets with the classical players.

As a teenager you recorded an album for RCA. How did that come about?

CS: In junior high school I was in an all-girl harmony group and we were approached by an agent to join a four-piece male Pop group, and 7th House was formed. We all played our instruments as well as sang and the harmonies were wonderful. We toured the East coast and worked with Neil Sedaka and Don Kirschner on the RCA label recording some of Neil's and my songs.

As a songwriter/performer, do you feel more comfortable performing with a group than as a soloist?

CS: Well, I have mixed feelings about that. I write a lot of my material with an ensemble in mind and there is nothing like improvising and interacting musically with percussion, bass and saxophone. The largeness of the sound is so exciting with all the spicy Brazilian and Latin rhythms. But when I perform by myself I can take the music to places that I can't when I'm with the group. I can "write" while I'm playing and also be so much more rhythmic.

What is it that might inspire you to write?

CS: I have three children and they are the source for many ideas. For example, on my upcoming CD I have a song called, "Just So You Know." It was inspired by a bike journey that my older son made across the country from Buffalo, NY, to Burbank, CA, to raise money for a handicapped children's camp in Buffalo. I missed him so much that I filled the time by writing this song using the stories he would tell me when he called home. I can only imagine what the next song will be when he rides with a team from Alaska to Argentina in 2007 to raise money to build a school in Maderes Negras, Nicaragua. Check out his Web site: www.bikingforabetterworld.org.

Love is such a great theme. It never gets tired. I wrote another when my other son went on a school trip to Paris and soon there will be one, I'm sure, for my daughter, who is homeschooled. My new CD is titled My Spanish Dream and it was just that! Years ago I was working on one of my pieces, "Therapy" at a time when my husband had broken his hand in a car accident. He was also the guitarist in the group and I gave my song that name because I knew it would be a challenge to his recovering fingers to get it down! There are days that I can say are just devoid of creative ideas and the well is dry. But then someone will say something or you will go through an experience and then the ideas come. Being from New York, I was asked to write and perform something for a 9/11 memorial on the one-year anniversary and having been so affected by what happened I wrote a song called, "A Prayer." It is also on our new CD. Each time I listen to it I tap into the same emotions that I felt that day. I truly believe that melodies are already out there and some days when you're more open and receptive you can just reach out and grab them.

What was your first really professional success story?

CS: Since my very young career, my first really professional success story is the making of our first CD, We Call It Music (available at CDBaby, Tower, Rhapsody, iTunes, etc.) and having such a hot band to play with. All of the songs on both CDs are my own and my music fuses the styles and rhythms of Brazilian/Latin with Pop and Jazz.

One of my deals through TAXI is with the piece, "Therapy," from that CD. It is now published by a leading provider of music for film and television whose clients include Paramount, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and Sony. Also, we were asked to be one of the headliners at the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz this past summer based on the music that the festival director heard from that CD. We were treated with such respect and playing in front of 5,000 people was awesome. It is the largest free Jazz festival in New England and it draws 45,000-50,000 people over a three-day period each year!

How did you first become aware of TAXI?

CS: Actually, my brother-in-law, Elliot Spero, who produced We Call It Music and My Spanish Dream and played the saxophones and percussion on them, received a pamphlet from TAXI in the mail and it sounded interesting. These days, an independent artist needs all the tools she can get. We explored them online and joined. We went to a TAXI Rally and had our eyes opened to a lot of possibilities as well as met a lot of nice writers and performers. The panels and classes were very informative and the industry people were very accessible. If you're a member, you have to make at least one Rally.

How has TAXI helped you and your career?

CS: As far as helping me, TAXI's A&R screeners are obviously well versed in their prospective genres. Some of their critiques might not be what I want to hear, but they are always well thought-out and presented in a constructive way. Many of them are so complimentary, which encourages me because they focus on something positive that I've written.

TAXI has really confirmed for me where my strong writing abilities lie. Chris Baptiste and other members of the crew at TAXI have been so helpful and my instincts tell me that they know just what I'm going through when I call with a concern. They make me feel as though we're on the same team trying to further my music. I have to say that I don't write my songs to fit certain listings, but even with that I have found a place for so many of them because there are opportunities for all of the genres each month.

Sometimes, though, it can be frustrating having at least 50 forwards, as I have, and not hearing back, but I realize that it's only a first step in a process and the name of this game is patience and persistence. Without TAXI I wouldn't have been able to connect with the industry with such consistency and I feel that it's only a matter of time before something big comes along. Being with TAXI has also led me to join Broadjam and Sonicbids, which also turn me on to a lot of contests, gigs, and just getting my material out there. I've been on the Featured Artist Page and in the Top 10 many times at Broadjam and it's cool to hear back from members.

What achievement are you proudest of to date?

CS: First, let me say that my greatest achievement is my children, and I know that we're talking music here, but they are such a big part of that. I was honored to be the winner of the 2004 USA Songwriting Competition in the Jazz category with my song "He Wasn't Always That Way" and a finalist in the 2002 competition with "Caribbean Nights." Both of these songs are on our first release, We Call It Music.

I am blessed to be a woman pianist/singer/songwriter and bandleader with a successful career and a wonderful family. TAXI is there to help me take it even further.

What can we look forward to from the Christine Spero Group in 2007?

CS: Our new CD will be out this month and it sounds amazing! Stay tuned to our Web site: www.christinesperogroup.com for the release date of My Spanish Dream and some really big festivals on our calendar. We will be on tour in Nova Scotia, Canada, in early 2007 and we also have a West Coast tour coming up in the spring to promote our new CD and the Alaska to Argentina ride. We are working on a European tour for winter 2007-08. And, of course, I'm looking forward to working on my next CD.

Whew! Now that's what I call success. Christine really knows how to promote her product and get the word out there. We're glad she's a TAXI member and we're there to help all of our members open the doors to the industry.

See How TAXI Works

"The Road Rally was the most productive weekend of my music career."
— Dean Person,
TAXI Member

"I had the drive, and the passion. I just needed help, and you keep supplying it."
— Justin K.,
TAXI Member

"I am in awe of the sheer volume of amazing ideas to help musicians that you not only come up with, but make into real opportunities."
— Mara,
TAXI Member

"I must recommend it to anyone I think is serious about songwriting."
— Dwight Nichols,
TAXI Member

"The critiques of my submissions have been most helpful. I have learned so much during these past six months that I find it hard to believe."
— Gary Bonura,
TAXI Member

"I recently got my first deal as a result of a submission to TAXI! I'm very excited to see that this actually works!"
— George Leverett,
TAXI Member

"The TAXI Staff is an incredible support system and they are always on your side. Aside from writing songs, joining TAXI is the most productive thing a songwriter can do."
— Jose Gomez,
TAXI Member

"The best music I've ever heard has come from TAXI! We've used music from TAXI on ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, Fox and many more."
— Suzan Bader,
DSM /All American Music Library