"Willing To Burn," which showcases Maia's saxophone playing, was written at a songwriters' retreat hosted by Miles Copeland at his castle in France. "The idea behind the retreat is to bring together 24 songwriters in this beautiful and completely unfamiliar place," Maia says. "We are put in groups of three which change every day and we're expected to write a new song with writers we've just met. The whole system should not work but it does, over and over again." Maia has attended eight such retreats, where she collaborated with many such remarkable writers as Carole King, Howard Jones, Paul Carrack and Lisa Loeb.
Maia composed the next track on the CD, "Long Way Home," under unusual circumstances. In 1997 she opened four concerts for Dar Williams, Bruce Cockburn and Richard Thompson. "I went from playing in 40-seat clubs to playing in open-air theaters before 5,000 people who were not there to see me, and who I had to win over," Maia says. "Naturally, I was nervous, so my escape was to work on this one little idea every night before the show. This routine put me in the writing mind, which is a lot more relaxed than the performer mind." "Crooked Crown" deals more directly with the type of fear that led to "Long Way Home." "Sometimes before I go onstage, I feel like a rock star with everything going great for me. And yet other times, I'm almost crushed by fear," says Maia. The song asks why there is such a fragile line between the two emotions all the time. The eccentric voicings and catchy rhythms give "Crooked Crown" a particularly haunting groove.
"'Lightning,'" explains Maia "is about someone who is rooted and stoic but really looking for something more exciting." On the flip side, "One Good Reason" has a more light-hearted feel. "The hook in this song could have been corny, but when you sing it like you mean it, it really works," says Maia. "Happiness," which was co-written with Janet Robin, certainly lives up to its name. "We were both working very hard at the time, coming so close to making it but falling short and getting constantly deflated by the music business. We decided to write a song that would remind us how lucky we are to make a living writing and playing music."
"Understudies" is about rooting for the underdog, especially in love affairs, while "Your Own Justice," with Jonatha Brooke on backing vocals, discusses the end of a relationship. "Two friends of mine were splitting up, and although I am closer to him, I felt that he was not treating his wife all that well. I wrote this song from her perspective, describing how I would react in her situation," continues Maia. The optimistic "You Can't Lose Them All" talks about how fast fortunes can turn, and how no-one should ever give up their dream.
The final song on this CD is a real surprise: a brief performance of "Ghosts" which Maia wrote in 1976 when she was five years old. "My folks, being ultra supportive from the beginning, heard it and wanted to record me," tells Maia. "After hearing me sing it once, my dad played the chords. The tape was saved but forgotten and sat in a closet 20 years until a family friend found it again."
For the future, Maia's goal is to have a long a long career both as an artist and as a writer. "I want to regularly record albums, have other artists record my songs and generally just keep the wheels turning," she says. "I'm extremely fortunate to have found a way to carve out a living from writing, performing and recording music. This is what I want to do with my life."
More About Maia:
"Maia's CD is absolutely wonderful. I'm so glad I got to write with her. Maia is an old soul and a new friend." ? Carole King
"In the tradition of great female artists, Karla Bonoff, Bonnie Raitt, Christine McVie, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlin…now enter Maia Sharp." ? Art Garfunkel
"Maia Sharp is a musician's musician?her songs have the harmonic twists and turns that always kill me, her voice gets to my heart and soul, and she still manages to deliver those classic, fabulous hooks." ? Jonatha Brooke