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Meet Abby Litman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abby Litman.

Abby, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up learning and playing classical piano but I never totally loved it. Wasn’t until high school when I discovered Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Edna St. Vincent Millay that I became obsessed with folk music and poetry. I started writing poetry, learning guitar, writing songs and last minute decided to apply to USC for the Popular Music Program.

At that point, I had never sung or played my music in front of anyone, but I knew I wanted to pursue it. I had a rough start at USC but once I got settled in I was able to improve at guitar, write more songs and meet friends who would become the musicians that I still play with today.

Post college I released my first album called Seasons along with an illustrated lyric book that I made. It was great to finish it, but I didn’t really feel like it pushed me forward, so the first couple of years out of school were tough. Once I moved to Echo Park, I met a lot more musicians, played more shows and felt more connected to a community.

After playing a lot of noisy venues to audiences who weren’t there for the music, I decided that I wanted to start a house concert series exclusively for folk songwriters and musicians and called it Good Folk LA. Throughout the past year, I have put on six shows that brought together folk songwriters and musicians with other like-minded musicians and music listeners.

I just released my newest single titled “The Garden” and will be releasing a music video to accompany it soon. I am also planning the next Good Folk show that will take place on March 16.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Hasn’t been smooth…
-College was really hard, a lot of pressure to be seen as the cool kid in the music program and a lot of self-doubts.
-Post-college just had no idea what I was doing and didn’t feel like my program prepared me at all for actually trying to be a musician.
-Making money has always been difficult, and balancing work and creative life is really hard.
-You are constantly surrounded by other musicians publicizing their successes that it feels impossible not to compare yourself to them and not to diminish your own success.
-It is hard to maintain the confidence to continue writing and put out music even when you don’t want to and aren’t sure if your work is good enough.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My original music:
I write folk songs and often draw illustrations to accompany them. I think I am most proud of staying true to myself when I often think I should change myself, my musical style, my appearance based on what seems to be currently trending. I am proud of the musicians that I surround myself and proud that I don’t settle for anything that doesn’t feel authentic to me. I try to always stay true to my writing style and the musical choices that I make.

Good Folk LA:
I put on house concerts across LA featuring folk musicians and songwriters who live in LA or are touring through LA. I hope that I help folk musicians reach broader audiences and that I give them the opportunity to perform their music in intimate spaces. Each show is specially curated, and I am proud of the fact that despite the opinions of others, I stay true to my taste in music and make sure that each show feels cohesive and meaningful.

My music teaching business:
I have around 25 private students all over LA – I teach guitar, songwriting, piano, and voice. I love teaching one-on-one with students, and I am proud of the relationships that I have build with each student. I am also proud of my students and enjoy seeing how much they have grown as musicians and as people.

What were you like growing up?
Outwardly as a kid, I was very shy, but around my close friends and my family, I was opinionated, silly and outgoing. I have always felt that is hard for me to show my true self to people who I don’t know. I have always been very introspective and in my head. School was sometimes hard for me because I didn’t participate and teachers thought that I wasn’t trying.

Growing up I was super close with my family – I have two brothers, one older and one younger. I wasn’t a huge music fan as a kid. I would spend most of my time exploring my backyard, doing art projects and building imaginary worlds in my head. I loved to be in nature and would often daydream of what it would be like to grow up in the wilderness.

Growing up in a DC suburb I often longed for a different life where I could be surrounded by nature, animals and live in harmony with the world around me. My favorite memories growing up are from spending every summer in Maine with my family.

My great grandmother had a house in Maine that was given to my Mom, and that is where we went every summer. I loved to swim, find crabs, dig in the sand, explore the beaches and listen to the ocean. The ocean has always been my happy place. As a child, I also loved finding old things like antique jewelry or used books with notes inside.

I loved looking through my great grandmother’s items and felt that I connected with her on so many levels just by digging through boxes.S till today, all of the jewelry that I wear every day used to belong to her. I also grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community were learning about our history and heritage was very important. Both of my dad’s parents were Holocaust survivors and lost all of their family in the Holocaust.

I grew up hearing stories of their survival, and I feel that their experience is ingrained in me today. Because of that, I have always been so interested in history and the experiences of people in the past. I think that is also why I felt so connected to folk music when I first discovered it. I felt like I was uncovering stories of people whose stories had never been told.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dario Griffin, Justin Higuchi

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