The room was filled with family and friends drinking Persian tea and enjoying pastries. Pleasant chatter filled the air, and the anticipation of my performance was building. I picked up my Yamaha guitar purchased from a second hand shop for 25 pounds and began to strum. I was about to share an original song in the public for the very first time. I was 13 years old. It was a Father’s day song to honor my dad. I sang the last phrase, and the room erupted! Cheering, smiles, joy, hugs. I realized then the power that comes with using our voices.
I’ve always been on the shy and reserved side when it comes to things I truly care about. As an introverted, intense and observant child, I noticed everyone else’s needs and was quick to jump in and ease their burdens. Fast forward to graduate school when I studied psychology and learned to better understand what people were going through. I was propelled into an even bigger mode of service to others and caring for their needs. Somewhere along the journey of caring for others, I forgot to learn to care for and value myself. It’s an easy pattern for women to fall into. It has only been in recent years that I’ve learned that I matter as well. I am a priority. Self-care and self-love are essential to well-being.
Over the years, whatever season of life I was in, songwriting was my safe haven. I wrote about everything I experienced; love, loss, family, my children, hopes, frustrations, and faith. It was my go to and constant companion. After testing songs here and there with friends and family, I was encouraged to begin recording. People wanted the songs. I began looking into production. That’s when I started working with bands, producers, engineers and industry professionals.
My early years on the music scene were the most frustrating. People wanted to constantly change my songs or sound (and get credited as the writer, or producer of my music for very minimal contributions and sold it as if they were really helping me out). Session musicians would come to the studio and immediately start joking about me assuming I was a giggly back up for the day, not realizing that as the writer, producer, artist and lead instrumentalist, this was my session and I was their boss for the day. Producers would hit on me and said they would consider working with me because I was a cute girl with a cute body. My first two albums were so overproduced by industry professionals that I couldn’t even recognize my own voice and ended up pulling them from the market. I’m a classically trained violinist with years of writing experience and 5 albums of original music released. I do understand music. Because the people I was working with were so expensive, confident and convincing, I assumed they knew better than me about everything. And yet, because of the dominating voices around me, I silenced myself and diminished my own voice.
A few untruths I had bought into:
“They insist that they know better so they probably do.”
“I’m young and I’m female. What do I know?”
“Maybe my chord choices are wrong here.”
“Maybe my message songs won’t sell, and I do need to dumb down my music and image.”
Here’s the secret I uncovered in the process – They may know the industry better than I do, they may know the recording equipment better than I do, they may have more connections than I do, they may be a lot more advanced in their instrument than I am, they have been working in the industry longer than I have, and credit to them all where credit is due. But what I know better than anyone else, is my authentic self, my heart, my voice and the messages I am passionate about conveying. I know what I want to say and how to say it. I just need to give myself permission to do it.
I spent two years writing and producing my latest project “Where the Rain Falls”. For me, it was a transformative process of embracing self-love, vulnerability, authenticity, and finding strength through adversity and persevering.
I took my time to find the right team to work with. Like minded, compassionate, creative and kind people on a common mission. There is healthy mutual respect and support. I found my tribe. These are the people who don’t try to change me or impose themselves on me. They celebrate me for who I am and share my ups and downs with me.
Whatever industry or season of life we are in, it is not okay to silence ourselves or box ourselves in just to stroke someone else’s ego. No one else has the right to define our value or replace our voices.
We can speak our truth in love. We can respectfully disagree. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to need a change or a break. And it is most definitely okay to celebrate your immeasurable worth and to raise your voice!
– Kimia Penton
Author: Kimia Penton is a singer, songwriter, violinist and psychologist based in Dallas, Texas. Her music is a fusion of pop, jazz, and world music and her poignant lyrics and heartfelt vocals share the life experiences of this well-traveled, international artist. Her latest album “Where the Rain Falls” followed her successful release “Lessons from Life and Love”. Kimia was born in the Middle East, raised in London and now calls Dallas, Texas her home. Her classical training as a violinist started at age 7 and she enjoyed studying both Eastern and Western classics. In her teenage years, she began songwriting and playing the guitar as a way to share messages she was passionate about in a personal way. Kimia’s songs express her love for different cultures and genres of music as well as her passion for observing and studying human behavior.