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Meet Lara Oshon of Studio Sky in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lara Oshon.

Lara, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started piano lessons when I was eight, living in the suburbs of Atlanta. My parents bought the clunker piano from our church gym for $50, and that stained and chipped instrument eventually became my best friend. I studied for about 11 years, and playing the piano by myself with the door closed became my primary emotional outlet. I had no aspirations to become a songwriter or singer, and in my early 20s moved to Los Angeles to attend grad school at UCLA to become a bilingual therapist.

It wasn’t until age 29 that I had an experience that catalyzed my creative abilities – I suddenly started writing music and painting. I felt this deep internal compulsion, and after much initial resistance – including the fact that I didn’t know how to sing, compose, or paint!! – I just started letting the creativity come out of hiding. With a lot of support from friends, I began sharing my art and gave my first concert of my original songs. Singing in front of people was one of the bravest and most terrifying things I’ve done, but it also connected me with a sense of belonging and true ‘me-ness’ I’d never felt before. I kept at it and haven’t stopped since.

I have moved back and forth across the country several times, sharing my art and music with many thousands of people on both coasts. I’ve recorded and co-produced four albums and three singles, and am currently working on my fifth album. I’ve led mindfulness groups involving music and art, and have given talks in spiritual communities. I have toured and collaborated with highly talented professionals in music, art, dance, choreography, design and product lines. I designed and launched five successful social cause t-shirt campaigns. I recently moved to Long Beach, CA so I could have a larger studio space. I’ve met so many amazing people along the way, which keeps me going!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There is an undercurrent of fear and doubt that seems to be part of being human, and especially when you’re putting yourself out there in a creatively personal way. My music and art are deeply personal, and I’ve had to learn how to create some professional distance from my work once it’s ready to be shared. When a song or painting is in the early formation stage I am very careful about who I share with, but once a work is complete I release it to the world and let it have its own life. This is when the fear and doubt monsters love to show up! Ultimately I know my job as an artist is to tell the truth as authentically as possible, and how it is received is not up to me. This is sometimes easier said than done!

When I was starting out, I had no idea how to do anything – use a microphone, record, perform, do an art show, put on a concert, build a website, market myself. I didn’t train to become an artist or musician so I just trusted my impulses and did things one step at a time, making tons of mistakes. I’ve had so many helpful people show up, and I’ve had to be willing to constantly learn and be a beginner. I’ve learned to make friends with risk and failure, and redefine those for myself. You get told ‘no’ way more times than ‘yes’ in the creative industry, so you have to define success on your own terms. I’ve dealt with financial issues, depression, isolation, and wanting to give up a thousand times. At the end of the day, I believe life is a precious gift and we have the opportunity to embrace who we are and make the most of our talents in service to others.

I have also held full-time jobs throughout much of my creative career and basically started my life over at age 30. I realized I no longer wanted to be a therapist, was just starting to professionalize my art and music, and initially took a series of low-wage jobs just to get by. I eventually worked my way back up and now have a parallel career as a communications executive, but it is a lot to juggle everything sometimes. The older I get the more I am able to hold all these different parts of myself and my work inside one big circle of permission.

Studio Sky – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I created STUDIO SKY as the umbrella business structure for all of my creative endeavors. I think of it as the innovation lab that houses all my work, which includes songwriting, composing, contemporary art (original paintings and reproductions), recording, producing, live performance, public speaking, and merchandise. A lot of stuff! As an indie artist, it is also my own publishing company and record label, as well as my working studio space.

I specialize in creating and communicating original content that nurtures the human spirit, building a culture of belonging and peace. I believe the creative arts are a primary way to build bridges of empathy in our very polarized world. My creations reflect my own personal process of growth, filtered through my training as a therapist. Each of my paintings and songs holds specific intentions of empowerment, expressing both my questions and movement toward wholeness.

I was raised in the South in a very devout Southern Baptist home. While that is no longer my belief system, it has given me invaluable understanding of fundamentalism. I believe it’s vitally important for us all to remain curious and connected with those who believe, think and act differently than we do. When we cluster only with those who share our same beliefs and experience, it becomes too easy to judge and make others wrong. I call bullshit. I believe in the power of music and art as a universal language that doesn’t give a crap about your beliefs – it simply speaks to the heart. That’s my intention – to speak directly to people’s hearts, across any religious, political or cultural divides. My real interest is in spiritual development and human potential, and for me, creativity is the best way I know how to participate in our collective transformation. Later this month I’ll be releasing a new single that addresses the enormous upset in our country along the Mexican border, with our current leadership, and in the political/social climate in general. It’s a call to remember our shared humanity and relatedness.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I think it’s the collection of moments when I witness how my painting or song or presence has been the exact medicine needed for a person in that moment. The experience of my specific creation meeting someone’s very personal need is so fulfilling. Because my creations exist in the world separate from me, I don’t often get to witness their effect. But when I see a person’s face light up, and their whole body relaxes and they exhale deeply while looking at my painting, that’s incredibly gratifying. Or when I feel a person’s heart open and tears fill their eyes because they feel met when listening to my song, that’s my fulfillment.

I wrote a song for my Grandmother years before she passed, and I sang it at her funeral (she was 108!) It was a wonderful experience of being able to offer something from my heart that also met a need for my own family, and we could be in a shared place of love and tenderness together. One of my favorite Rumi quotes is the one “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there…” My most satisfying moments are when my work creates a shared experience of this field.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kelly Hoyle Fuller, Samuel Hanson, Jerry Evans, Wingate Downs

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