In 2014, three years before I retired, I wrote about a Lifetime of Music that I had enjoyed tracing the different genres and artists that I had gravitated to over my life, starting with my earliest musical memories and going up through my current favorite genre, jazz. In the ensuing years since then, my tastes have not really changed but rather my musical library has expanded dramatically. I don’t recall what prompted me to think about this again but as I thought about it, I realized it really had to do with audio technology innovation.
In my lifetime, we have gone from music recorded on vinyl disc and reel-to-reel tape to 8-track tape, to cassette tape, to compact disc, and now to digital streaming. With each new advancement, it has become easier for us to enjoy our music and to take it with us on the go wherever we might be headed. While some choose for their listening pleasure to retain some of these older technologies, particularly vinyl albums, for me, I have embraced the latest technology with a passion using two wonderful inventions.
My almost exclusive daily listening device is a Bluetooth speaker, of which I have purchased several very nice ones. With these devices, I can carry my music with me wherever I go, whether that is working out in the yard or taking a long bike ride.
And even when I am driving in my car, I am typically streaming my music through the Bluetooth feature in my car.
Originally, the music I was streaming was CDs I had purchased that I had uploaded to my computer and subsequently downloaded to my iPod or iPhone. But now for many years, I have enjoyed one of the online musical services available. And it is one particular service with its unique feedback feature that has dramatically allowed me to expand my music listening library.
I know when I first started listening to Pandora, I would sometimes get annoyed at the ads that would pop up every so often—something that had always irritated whenever an ad came up on the commercial FM radio station I happened to be listening to. At some point, I started their monthly paid subscription and I often tell people it is the best five dollars I spend every single month. In fact, I love Pandora so much, I will gladly pay the $5.48 (or whatever it costs in the future) for the rest of my life as it has introduced me to and continues to introduce me to so much new music I would have never heard.
Starting first by creating stations of my favorite jazz artists, Pandora has expanded my horizons to new artists that I have begun to enjoy. Using the “thumbs up” feature for these new artists has broadened my exposure to new artists even further. Once I had heard several great songs by these new artists, I would then create a separate station for them that would further introduce me to even more new artists, continuing to use the thumbs up or thumbs down feature that further customized my station to my specific likes.
I now have a total of 63 stations in my library, of which 15 are jazz stations.
When I first started to listen to jazz music, I mostly steered towards West Coast or Cool Jazz finding favorites by Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, and Bill Evans. With these artists mostly recording instrumental jazz, I could listen to them no matter what I was doing particularly when I was reading and did not want to be distracted by a vocalist. But when not reading, I enjoyed the sweet tone of jazz vocalists.
My jazz vocalist library was somewhat limited and so I decided to expand my library there first. Having enjoyed the mellow sound of Diana Krall’s voice, I began to listen to her station much more, thumbing up new artists I had not heard before and thumbing down ones I did not like.
One new artist I began to enjoy was Stacey Kent and so added a station just for her which has exposed me to a number of great songs by her on a number of different albums.
Between these two female jazz vocalist’s stations, I was further exposed to Sophie Milman…
…discovering beautiful new music by them that I have grown to love.
To test your own particular musical tastes, Pandora seems to occasionally “push the envelope” when adding in music that may be a bit farther afield from the original station artist’s genre. But I am glad they do as this has expanded my library beyond just female jazz vocalists to several great female singer-songwriters. Some of these artists I might have eventually discovered back in my XM Satellite radio days on their Coffee House station if I had continued that. But some I may never had heard of had it not been for Pandora.
My first discovery in this new avenue was Juliana Raye. Having first been wowed by Dominoes, the title song from her album of the same name, I have since fallen in love with almost every song on that album. She now has her own Pandora station as well.
Suzanne Vega is another female singer-songwriter that I have discovered, having first enjoyed her song Caramel. She now has her own station as well.
Now with the addition of two female singer-songwriter female vocalist stations, I have further discovered Missy Higgins…
…and Kat Edmondson.
All with such a sweet mellow voice and great music.
If any of these artists are new to you and you also enjoy listening to female vocalists, I would highly encourage you to check them out as I am confident you will find you love their music as much as I do.
Of the 16 or so hours each day I am awake, I am typically listening to Pandora about 10 to 12 of those hours. So, I get a great chance to listen to a lot of music and occasionally totally new artists. With this ever-expanding musical universe for me, I dare say I will continue streaming Pandora on one of my devices for many years to come, broadening my world of music even further.