Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Angels #2 - Michael Aaron West

Gratitude is important. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my own stuff and I assume that people know how grateful I am for their support. This is a series to honor those people in my life who have been angels to me. They deserve it, and nobody, no matter how self sufficient is successful alone. The universe always brings our good through other people. "The more grateful you are the more things you have to be grateful about". - Louise Hay 

My next Angel is Michael Aaron West

Mike West came into my life in 2004, when I booked him for Bearapalooza in NY. I was very impressed with his powerhouse voice and songs, and I really wanted him to be a part of the show. In the end, he couldn't make it, BUT he helped book a Bearapalooza in Nashville, TN. It was the first Bearapalooza outside the NY region, as they had only been in NYC and Philly so far. This was the catalyst for many things, like meeting my partner Jay, and moving to Nashville. After the move, Mike and I worked together on many things. With the help of Tommy Johns, we planned a Bearapalooza in Seattle WA.  We began to perform together as the Budds and produce events together in Nashville, like more Bearapalooza events, a benefit for the Vote “No” on 1 campaign, and the Qnity concert series.  We shared so much of our lives. He and I and our husbands truly became a family.  

In 2007, I experienced something that, at the time seemed deeply hurtful to me. Some of the musicians who frequently participated in Bearapalooza planned their own “Bear” tour without saying a word to me about it. A Bearapalooza tour was something I always wanted to do and had tossed the idea around to a few people, so I was experiencing a lot of emotions about it.  I look back on it now from my new perspective and of course I can see the spiritual part I had to play in all of it, but at the time I was feeling like I was being deeply betrayed by people I cared about.  Michael decided that my dream of a tour of our own would come true and we spent countless  hours together  networking, planning, emailing, coordinating volunteers, sponsors, websites, graphics, logistics and more. Michael worked tirelessly to help me secure all the venues and wrangle the artists, and in May of 2008 the van headed from Nashville to Boston and we traveled down the East Coast, working with over 20 different musicians on the Bearapalooza Road trip. I could not have done it without Michael. He and I are very different and had many ups and downs in our relationship, but at this time when there was a lot of negativity coming at me, he is the one who more than anyone else stood by me, defended me, and championed Bearapalooza as passionately as I did. He helped a dream of mine come true. The tour is one of the highlights of my life and it created some of my most precious memories.  We also played a gig at Milwaukee Pridefest. We got rained out, but we got to meet two women we both admire greatly, Amy and Emily of the Indigo Girls.
Michael & I performing in Seattle

During the tour, Michael met an FTM guy named Grady and they decided that along with Mike’s partner DJ, they would have a baby and start a family. Michael pulled away from doing a lot of stuff with Bearapalooza to focus on being a great Dad to his son Zephyr. He is so devoted to the well-being and care of his little boy. He has been trying to realize his own dream of releasing his album “Choice” which has had many stops and starts.  Over a year ago, I took on the task of finishing his album as producer. The choices I made in my own life had the side effect of keeping me from completing the project. This is one of the reasons I made a lot of changes in my life recently, so I could fulfill a promise to someone who I owe a great deal of gratitude. I am fully recommitted to finishing “Choice” before the year is out. It is time for me to step up to the plate and make HIS dream come true. He has been an angel in my life and now he needs me to be one in his.  He is a talented writer, a gifted singer, a devoted father, husband and friend. He has taught me so much about growing beyond differences in perspective, about family, about persevering, and most of all that loyalty does exist. 

Check out his website and order the reissue of his album “A Long Stretch of Highway” 
Thank You Michael for all the blessings you bring to my life ! 
Take a moment to acknowledge the angels in your life.

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