Samie Jo Pfeifer is the musician behind the melodies of From These Streets I Rise – a mesmerizing performance piece of love and compassion honoring the diverse and immediate experiences of Portland Street Roots’ vendors. After a lifetime of creating music, Samie is granting us early access to one of her songs from the show, “A Life I’ll Be Owed”. After listening to the folksy, resonating twang of her work, we asked Samie to share a bit of her creative journey with us.
Q: When did you write “A Life I’d Be Owed”?
A: This song was written about a year ago, and was the first song I wrote on my banjo- which is a family heirloom I have been allowed to be the caretaker of. It felt right that the first song was written on it be about how I was raised.
Q: Where did your inspiration for this song come from?
A: I grew up with the strong conviction in the Midwest that you work for what you’re owed. You work hard and you work long, and hopefully, at the end of the day, you’ve earned something and can take pride in it. But there’s more to that mentality that can get us in a negative headspace.
What do we value as work? And why do we value some type of work more than others? And with this conviction of work being our identity, how are we setting the world up for those that are not so lucky to find work that we deem worthy of value.
Q: What does this song mean to you?
A: All in all, my favorite lines of the song are the last ones. “I’d be proud to be proud of a life I’d be owed”. We all want something to call our own and be proud of it. I feel this rings so true to the piece Mikki has beautiful constructed.
Q: How does your role as a live musician fit into the narrative of this show?
A: As for my role with the music in the show, this is still up in the air. I am on stage the whole time, but with a new medium of live-streaming and camera angles, I think we are going to have some advantage of manipulation in perception that maybe a live viewing wouldn’t allow. Hopefully, it will add a bit of fluidity to the prospect of an ever-present musical counterpart. Who knows! I’m excited to see how viewers take it in.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: If you like what you hear, there’s more where that came from! And I plan to have all the music I wrote from the show available next month through my Bandcamp page, so the audience can stream it for free or purchase it if they like it. Check back in September for an updated repertoire.
ABOUT THE MUSICIAN
SAMIE JO PFEIFER hails from the heartland of Kansas, where she was brought up in a family of musicians, with a diverse history in Polka, Celtic, Classical, and Rock music. She moved to Portland to attend The Portland Actors Conservatory, then moved on to work with Tim Stapleton in set design and painting around the city. She is thrilled to be back at CoHo, her last appearance in Playhouse Creatures where she composed and performed the music for the show. You may have also seen her as Grusha in Shaking the Tree’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle.