Book a discovery call

Stephanie Freeth CoachingĀ 


Book a Discovery Call with Stephanie
Embodying My Voice: A Songwriter's Journey Back Home creativity finding your voice Mar 21, 2024

There's something vulnerable about our voice. I imagine many, if not all, of us have experienced a time when we felt our voices were shut down, whether by force or by choice.  

Sometime in my late teens, I disidentified as a singer. I was more comfortable identifying as a woman, dancer, student, and later a mom, wife, and executive coach, but not a singer. Looking back on milestones when I stopped singing, there were two auditions where I wasn't chosen for the elite choir, one in high school and one in college. Despite having sung in choirs throughout middle and high school, I lost confidence in my voice and kept my singing sequestered to more private spaces like the car, shower, or kitchen during the pandemic. 

So, in my late 40s and despite being a business owner since 2014, I felt called to explore the deeper layers that kept me from sharing my voice and perspectives more widely, particularly in online spaces where I wanted to build my brand and my coaching practice. Despite marketing norms, I wasn't regularly sharing written or video content online, even though I had the skills to do it. I sensed that some deeper yet amorphous fear was keeping me from speaking up, putting myself out there, and sharing my perspectives. 

Fast-forward to the summer of 2023, when I felt a strong nudge from within to sign up for a Sing the Body Electric workshop with sound healer Eileen McKusick and Australian Singer-Songwriters The Brothers Koren. It was three days of in-person singing, toning, and releasing sounds long-stored in the body within a supportive community of others daring to do the same thing. I had so much fun that weekend that I took The Brothers (Isaac and Thorald Koren) up on their invitation to enter into a 9-month intensive process with them called The Songwriter's Journey, which would lead to writing and recording at least two original songs.

When I said yes to this, it came from a deep knowing that I had to do this, even though a critical voice in my rational mind said, "What the hell do you think you are doing? This is indulgent and ridiculous for a 49-year-old mom. You're not a singer." And now, eight months into the journey, I've written over a dozen original songs and will be recording seven of them in early April 2024 to be released as my debut album in 2024, even though I had previously deemed myself no longer a singer.

One of the phases of the Songwriter's Journey is called "Daring to Suck." It's been transformative for my willingness just to let whatever is there come out of my mouth while suspending judgment and criticism. One practice is to use Voice Memo on your phone, sing whatever wants to come out, and then give it a name. Repeat as often as possible. This practice helped me move through my fear of failure and to play and take myself less seriously. As of today, I have 160 sound files in Voice Memo; some are snippets (aka downloads, see below), and others are versions of full songs that I keep refining before studio recording in April 2024.

The process to bring back and embody my voice from within has included what Isaac and Thorald Koren call the five stages or roles of the creative process. (This relates to song-writing, but it also has wider uses in other creative endeavors like innovation and new product development, etc.)

Here are the 5 stages/roles:

Downloading / The Download(er)

This is the wide open space from which a phrase or snippet of melody drops into your awareness, seemingly from nowhere. This phase requires receptivity and the willingness to listen for impulses that may be subtle or that get drowned out by a busy mind. It's been on outdoor walks with my dog in my neighborhood this winter, where many downloads have emerged into my conscious awareness. 

Sculpting / The Sculpter

The Sculpting phase is when you take the raw download and, with the curiosity of yes/and, start to put shape to the download. This phase might mean adding, trimming, cutting, and polishing. It's the iterative part of refining melody, wording, phrasing, and rhythm.

Framing / The Framer

The Framing phase gives structure to the downloaded and sculpted material. Here, you might ask:

  • What's the structure of the chorus, the verse?
  • How many sections will there be?
  • What's the melodic rhythm that was usually created by Thorald that I can then write lyrics into?
  • What else does this need?

Making / The Maker

The Making phase is getting it all done or complete, finishing the song. This could be writing the remaining lyrics within a given timeframe, like a few hours or for a weekend. Time pressure or at least focused attention helps at this stage. There were many songs where I finished the lyrics (rhymes and all) within a couple of hours, much to my amazement.

Curating / The Curator / The Critic

The last stage of Curating brings in the Curator and perhaps the constructive Critic. Only now (and not from the outset) is the Curator invited in to reflect on questions like:

  • Could this benefit from more shaping or different framing?
  • Is this any good?
  • What do I do with this?
  • Should I record this and put it on the album? 
  • What does someone else hear and feel when they listen to it?

What's genius about this five-step process is that the Download and the Sculpting happen without consulting the Curator or Critic. It feels like play rather than work. 

So why am I bothering to write this up and publish it in blog format? Because I believe in the power of sharing our stories in vulnerable and honest ways. No coach can take someone somewhere that they haven't been willing to visit in themselves. When I coach leaders, we go on a deep dive into their inner world to reclaim their authentic power from within. That's what I've been doing for myself with the support of my coaches (or voice coaxes, as they call themselves).

Once it's recorded and released, my album will be a polished product, but that doesn't mean the process to get there...