Lovely ~ UPDATED

My niece Gabi is 15 years old and is sort of my hero.

gabibir

That sounds weird and I can’t really explain myself without telling stories that aren’t mine to tell, but I can tell you that she’s so much like me it’s a bit eerie.  The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. While I was writing dark, angsty poetry at her age, Gabi has skipped forward to look for the light.  I sang in my bathroom so much that it drove my family nuts.  Gabi taught herself the ukulele and performs original songs for strangers in parks.  She sews her own clothes and costumes, and constructs elaborate dragon wings, and makes zombie sock-puppets and is quietly and unapologetically herself.

A few weeks ago I heard a song she wrote and recorded herself and it made me cry…possibly because I’m an extraordinarily proud aunt, but also because the sweet words she said were what I needed to hear…what I needed to remember.  And I’m sharing her song here because maybe you need to remember too.

She didn’t have a video so she just clipped together footage from Skype sessions and homemade videos with her brother and sisters and friends, but it’s a bit perfect.  If you like it, you can check out the website she made this week.  I tried to convince her to sell her stuff on iTunes but she’s content to share it online for free and put out an online tip jar if you want to pitch in for ukulele strings or blank sheet music, or other musical instruments she hopes to buy and learn.

Thank you, Gabi, for reminding me of how lovely things can be.

UPDATED:  I fucking love you people.  Have I mentioned that?  Because it’s true.  Gabi was amazed at your wonderful responses.  She received over $1,000 in tips (which she’s earmarked to pay for a drum kit and actual music lessons) plus help and advice from other artists.   She just updated her site so you can download her music, and she’s currently in the park writing a song about this whole experience.  If you want to keep up with her progress you should follow her page on Facebook right here.  Thank you for being awesome.  All of you.

203 thoughts on “Lovely ~ UPDATED

Read comments below or add one.

  1. You should be a proud Aunt! What a great song. Images were a fabulous snapshot into Gabi’s world. I love seeing young people embrace who they are. Thanks for my morning inspiration. Glad to leave a tip!

  2. If she doesn’t want to sell her music, maybe she’d at least consider selling my a zombie sock puppet or three…. those sound like fun!

  3. Gabi is truly awesome and amazing! I love her smile (and that purple uke!!) Keep going, Gabi, just like this!

  4. She is incredible! Thank you for sharing with us! I loved seeing that this morning and I needed that reminder as well.

  5. There is nothing I enjoy more than a teenager that dares to not be normal and be themselves. There is nothing more lovely. She is truly a gem – and a great songwriter! She should not go through this life anonymously. She needs to be heard. Thank you for sharing!

  6. you are right, she needs to put them up on itunes… thank you, that was very nice. Very

  7. Very nice… she may have a future in the music business. If she so desires. The songs were great thanks for sharing.

  8. I listened, was impressed, and began my errands. Realized about an hour later that I was humming Gabi’s tune. Joining the chorus, would LOVE to buy her artistry/genius. Please keep us updated on this remarkable young woman.

  9. Umm, when I said I’d love to buy her artistry/genius, I meant on iTunes, of course. This was not a zombie comment.

  10. I really loved both of the videos. Dance All Night had me bouncing around in my chair (much to the surprise of my colleagues!) I look forward to hearing more.

  11. I love it!!!!! I am so sick of hearing all the crap on the radio these days and here is a girl only a year older than my own daughter, singing a song she wrote herself!!!! awesome!!!!!!

  12. That was beautiful! I wish I would have been so brave at that age to just be myself. Being a teenager could have been so much more fun!

  13. She is wonderful. That song is wonderful. So glad to see a young person being able to express who they are as freely as she is expressing herself. Her hair color changes, her singing, her quirkiness. All Lovely.

  14. So I don’t have to go to work until 9:30 this morning, and I thought “what am I going to do with myself for 2 1/2 hours?” then I thought I’d get caught up reading your blog posts. I didn’t make it further back than this post because I’ve been watching Gabi’s videos. Thank you so much for sharing, she is indeed truly lovely.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing. Dance All Night picked me up this morning. It’s the little things that remind me that I do belong on the crazy earth.

  16. Gabi is wonderful! I love her voice and individuality! I can’t wait until my soon to be 13 year old niece hears about her too!

  17. Somehow that little girl/Woman just made a 40something cry with longing of times past and a best friend who is hurting and too far away for a hug. Dance All Night. Indeed. Thank you, my dear. Thank you.

  18. I would love this for it’s visual and musical content alone. She is, indeed, lovely.

  19. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this! And please thank your niece as well! This is my new favorite song!

  20. …it’s filled with so many obstacles and hatred…And I said life is whatever you make it to be.”

    Having felt seriously knocked around by the world these past few weeks this is Just.So.Perfect. Thank you Gabi!

  21. That’s awesome! So many young girls could definitely take a page from this talented young lady’s book. I can see why you’re so proud!

  22. You know how people post their kids singing at concerts or somewhere and they are such proud parents and you listen because they’re your friends, but really feel like you just wasted 3 minutes of your life? I did not feel that way with this. I will be listening to it again and again. Her voice is sweet and lovely, the words are meaningful and I was thrilled to just hear a simple song – no pushed vocal crap beyond her years, just pure lovely tone sung in a healthy way and with great pitch and a wonderful, original song. Way to go Gabi!

  23. “The difference is that instead of retreating from the world, Gabi reshapes the world to work for her. ”
    Another difference is that for most of her life, she’s seen her aunt acknowledge her own challenges to the world and be loved for it. The world would be a far better place if everyone had role models that embraced both the good and the bad in themselves rather than hide behind the “normality” that they think society wants to see.

  24. What a lovely few minutes I just spent watching and listening to her. I’m trying to understand what’s underlying my misty eyes. I think it’s hope. Simple hope.

  25. Great voice! Super cute and talented! She’s awesome and I want her to be friends with my 14 year old to teach her to be happy with who she is! 🙂

  26. I have now listened to Dance All Night several times. I. Love. It. Lovely is lovely as well. 🙂

  27. Both songs are fabulous. What a niece you have! I needed this after all the bad and disturbing news that has been coming at me through the news and fb. This. This makes me happy!
    Go Gabi! You rock!

  28. Thank you Jenny for sharing your lovely niece with us! She has a beautiful voice and talent that shines. I’d buy her songs in a heartbeat because her voice and talent are so wonderful, but for now I’ll fill her tip jar and enjoy her sharing her unique beautiful voice and talent as she likes. My daughter (17) wants to learn the ukele so I’m sharing Gabi’s video when she gets home from school because I know she’ll think it’s GREAT like I do.

  29. wow, amazing young woman! Makes me want to be so free. Thank you for sharing her with us. More please.

  30. I would like to buy a recording of “Dance All Night” to put in my playlist of “Get Back Up Off the Floor and Dance!” Playlist, please. How do I do that?

  31. Wow, what a beautiful and talented family you have. Sniffle. Ok, need to go find something horribly sophomoric to make me laugh so I don’t leak mascara all over my face at work.

  32. You should include a link on the sidebar that says, “Click here for instant mood lifter”. Thanks so much for sharing your niece and her talent with us.

  33. Well, I think Gabi is going to find (is probably already finding) that she’s just inherited thousands of new “aunties,” thanks to Aunt Jenny! What an amazing young woman — love her voice; love that she writes her own stuff. Just donated to her tip jar because I want to hear more of that voice. Thanks for sharing her.

  34. Thank you for sharing her wonderful talent and such a beautiful soul. I’ll be singing Dance All Night all day.

  35. Hey this is great. Sorry for an unwanted recommendation. For her really cool website it would be better to make sure that the links to “video” and “music” open in a new window. Like this visitors don’t get lost and still want to buy from her.

  36. Wow, that was abso-fracking-lutely amazing! Not only was is she a beautiful girl, she has some truly serious talent.

  37. WOW!! She’s awesome. Seriously. She’s not a singer-cliche.

    I nominate her Official Songbird of the Church of Bloggessianism! We could do a GoFundMe or Kickstarter for her to make a demo!

  38. I’m getting dressed and take a walk. It might only be for 10 minutes but I’m going. I need to see something lovely today.

  39. A great young talent! In “Dance All Night”, her smile was no bigger than when she sang that they could “start a band.” The heart wants what the heart wants!

  40. She is lovely, and she is lucky to have you as an aunt. I was very impressed with her songs. I certainly was not doing anything NEAR that creative when I was 15….

  41. Aack! There’s a problem with the email address attached to the online tip jar and I couldn’t donate to her. Could you let her know or let us know when it’s fixed? Thanks if you can!

    (You rock. Her dad just fixed it. Thanks! ~ Jenny)

  42. Thank you for sharing this, I was having a really bad day and it was just what I needed to hear. She’s so talented and I would be proud too if she was my niece. It’s refreshing to see someone be herself at that age, and it probably has to do with the role models she has (like you.) When I was 15, I was trying to fit in with all the cliques in school and didn’t have the courage to be myself as often as I should have.

  43. I’ve had Dance All Night stuck in my head all day. I donated. She is amazing! I wish I had a way to download the song. If she was on iTunes, I would buy her songs for sure!

  44. Loverly! Your niece is darling and her voice is so sweet and tender. One of my favorite things to do (in the whole wide world) is play with the video effects with my nieces and nephews. I hope they’ll always want to do this with me.

  45. Beautiful! She’s very fortunate to people in her life that embrace and cherish her wonderful individuality – so that she can share it with the world!

  46. Get that young woman a record contract! I would rather listen to “Lovely” than anything by Taylor. And compared to Miley? Can I make a heaven/hell comparison?

  47. I LOVE her! What a beautiful voice and what magical music. ^^ She’s awesome! If she needs any extra aunties, sign me up! ^^ XOXOXOXOXOXO

  48. Could you print some lyrics? I really wanted to listen to this but I have some hearing issues and I couldn’t make out a single line. From the other comments, she must be great.

    (Good question. I’ll ask her if she can jot down the lyrics in her video. A few lines I couldn’t make out either but that’s normal with me. ~ Jenny)

  49. Love this so much. I’ve been teaching high school marching band as a marching staff member for the past 14 years, and I will never stop encouraging the importance of music education. How amazing that she taught herself to play the ukulele, and wants to learn more. Go Gabi. Be an inspiration to all those kids out there who are afraid to embrace who they are because it’s not what everyone else is doing. Be you, unapologetically.

  50. Watching that made me happy and sad. How to explain? Happy in the beautiful young lady, her obvious joy, talent, freedom in youth and what seems – celebration of who she is. But, I found myself sad too. Not in her – or about her – but in me. In remembering that time when I too was ME, without apology and with joy. Then you grow up, and somewhere you take a turn where you don’t make choices based in/on happiness, asserting your individuality in whole (when lucky- in part- you may make a small one) where you feel as if you (me) have lost yourself on that turn so long ago, and you wonder how to get it back? Can you get it back? Could you even find your way there again? I’m not sure this makes sense, even to me as I try and explain. Does it to anyone else?

    I posted about a talking toilet several days ago on here with more conviction then I can explain why my reaction to this video of your nieces happiness, for this bright soul (she shines wellness and other positive lovely aspects which I can’t find words for) and of sadness. Is it depression? Wishing for the inner balls it takes to not be the lady in line at the bank, filling the car up, making and keeping appointments…robotic…going about life instead of living it, truly, everyday with zeal and confidence. Is that part of growing up or growing away from yourself? I don’t know. Regardless if the amazing videos, showing the unabashed beauty of a piece of her “HER” life, living it by her rules, or if it’s me questioning why I don’t do the same (since can’t really doesn’t apply here, I could I suppose if I stopped growing up or away).

    Does anyone else feel like this? Maybe not as a reaction to this video specifically, but whatever the catalyst…feel like maybe you lost yourself along the way, and mourn the loss. And want, yet fear, the recapture, re-evolution, the reacquainting of what you know is there somewhere…if only you could take that turn. Ah, alas, morose…sorry.

    She is beautiful and in spirit, voice, charm and aura. You have reason to be proud. TY for sharing. I hope she holds herself tightly to who she is, it’s precious and not worth the sadness down the line when you wonder where did my vivacity go…and why was I the one who directed it to the door. At least today is almost over, and tomorrow brings more chances for turns. Perhaps seeing these videos will give me the kick to take the right one….Garmin/Society be damned.

    P.S. Sorry for the downer there, but I’m used to ignoring those types of what ifs, and I don’t think I want to anymore.

    (Sounds like depression to me. Or at least a heavy melancholy. Hold on. Keep breathing. Ask for help. You aren’t alone and there are ways out. I promise. ~ Jenny)

  51. @Tracie: I can relate to what you wrote. I could NEVER believe in myself–even sometimes to this day at the ripe old age of 54. I don’t know how old you are, but I suspect younger than me. Let’s stick together (and any other tribe members who relate) and remember it’s never to late to be who we’ve always been on the inside!

  52. I absolutely love this!! She reminds me a little of Regina Spektor? But not quite. I love her voice (maybe even more than Spektor’s!!) She should use whatever money she gets on her tip jar to record a few songs or an album, because I REALLY want to be able to buy this and listen to it always. Love it! (And I know my friends would love it, too! They’ll all be forced to hear it tomorrow!)

  53. PS Not that it’s terribly important, but I also play ukulele (rather badly unfortunately) and I’m just a tiny bit older than her. I can’t believe how crazy talented she is! Thanks so much for sharing!

  54. Wow, she definitely need to get a record label and start producing this stuff so I can hear it on Pandora. “Dance All Night” makes me want to somehow forcibly shove the song into my phone so I can listen to it again and again.

  55. She’s incredible! I’m going to keep an eye out for lyrics as well, simply because it’s easier for me to hear music when I know what it is, but she has an amazing voice.

    And I can’t help but wonder, is this the niece from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened who scared the daylights out of your father?

    (The one who put a dead raccoon on his pillow while he was sleeping? Yep. Same niece. ~ Jenny)

  56. So beautiful. So sweet. Amazing that she’s only 15! With this talent there’s no telling what she’s capable of. You should be the proudest of aunts.

  57. WowWowWOW!!! She is the real deal. Ask her to look into ConcertsInYourHome.com and PledgeMusic.com. I suspect she might take this (music as a career) as far as she’d care to.

    THANK you for sharing, Jenny. What a pleasure.

  58. Wow. I think she might be my hero, too. Please continue to share her sweet songs and videos. They remind me to feel happy.

  59. Amazing, beautiful, wonderful, gave me chills, inspirational. What courage that is busting out of such a young, tiny body. Paypal timed out on me and I hope that it’s because of so many donations. I’ll try again for sure! THANK YOU to both of you.

  60. This was wonderful and it made me smile when I really needed a reason to smile. I had a thought. It would be great if there was a place to go that contained links to what other people watch/read/do when they are depressed to cheer themselves up. It would be like one stop shopping for internet”therapy”. What do you think? Could you someday do a post where all your readers contribute what they do in the comments? If you have already done this please forgive me for not reading closely and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PROVIDE A LINK. I need it.

  61. Oh wow! I could listen to her all day! Such a soothing sound. Is Gabi your sister’s daughter?

    (Yep. She’s Lisa’s oldest kid. ~ Jenny)

  62. Gabi is painfully talented and gorgeous, and I can see why she’s kind of your hero.
    I get why she wants to do it sort of low key, and not get signed up or whatever, the last thing your family needs is a Bieber clone that starts out all talented and charismatic, and turns into a douche.
    You can see from Gabi’s music and her videos that she’s vivacious, energetic, and just a little bit crazy – in a good way.
    After over 25 years playing guitar it makes me realize I need to seriously consider the uke!
    Good on you Gabi, and good on you Jenny for supporting and bringing attention to your lovely niece!
    I hope she continues to make great music and bring happiness to others.

  63. I watched both of Gabi’s videos, and by the end, I had this odd secretion from both of my eyes… A careful taste determined this secretion was salty. Any ideas? ^_^

  64. Last night i was having a really tough time. Really tough. After listening to my husband call me stupid all night (among other things), i couldn’t stop crying and wondered why i was on this planet. I came across your post and Gabi’s song, “Dance All Night”. It helped me smile. Is been stuck in my head all day and had continued to lift my spirits. She’s now my hero, too.

  65. Seems to me she’s learned the same lessons you have, but maybe just learned them earlier because she had you as an example. I think the best thing our generation can aspire to is to provide a higher platform for the next generation to start from and view the world from, and it looks like you’ve helped do that.

  66. Jenny (and Gabi, if you’re reading this), she is truly amazing. Her voice is so sweet and her lyrics and vocals far beyond her years. This is coming from someone who is good friends with [among many others] Ralph Covert, The Bad Examples, Iyeoka, Kevin So and DeLonde Bell (all of whom you can look up on YouTube). In short … I know a LOT of very talented musicians. Gabi is already shown startling talent at her age, and I think that she could really go places with her unique sound and amazingly soulful lyrics. Not many 15 year-olds would write the kind of stuff I heard her play in those two videos. Gabi, my hat is off to you.

    And Gabi … if you want to talk more to someone who is great on the ukelele and can help with any questions you may have on how to transition a song to chords a uke can play, I’ll put you in touch with DeLonde myself.

  67. Reminds me of Jane Siberry and KD Lang in “Calling All Angels” and other tracks on Jane’s quirky albums. Utterly delightful!!!

  68. Wow… just WOW. She is clearly a ray of wonderful sunlit, fairy-like goodness! Her voice is great. She reminds me of P!nk (in a good way) – beautiful, strong, sassy, funny, always moving forward to reach everyone and move them!

  69. From the update:
    Yay drums! Wishes of good luck from one girl drummer to another… We are a rather rare breed it seems. Let her know to just have fun with the weird sexism she will find with being a drum playing female. I decided long ago just to revel in the oddity of being a girl drummer. I love it! Therapy in its most primal form.

  70. It’s been said…but what a lovely, silly, delightful human being she seems to be. Your family is quite special. Thanks for sharing them with the world.

  71. Just saw this and clicked, she is great! I’m proud of her for rolling with her creativity, especially in an age of online bullying and shaming! I hope she continues to let her freak flag fly (especially sinice she’s not a freak, she’s just extraordinary ). 😀

  72. I hope this isn’t completely inappropriate. It’s definitely off-topic. The past few weeks, I’ve been feeling really unoptimistic about the world. Every time I read the news–even entertainment news–the lead story is about rape or torture or the killing of an unarmed person. So, to distract myself, I’ve been following the progress of a feminist Kickstarter. A film critic I like, MaryAnn Johanson, wants to watch every movie that comes out and track how well it portrays women (if there are any women in the film at all). People who’ve been arguing that Hollywood doesn’t represent women very well will have actual data they can point to. If a female character has almost no lines and has no role in the story except to look adoringly at the hero, the movie’s score will reflect that. She’s calling it a weaponized version of the Bechdel test.

    I really love the idea that, if the project gets some attention, I might eventually be able to go out to the movies and see a few women onscreen. The Kickstarter was attracting a lot of backers at first, but funding has slowed down the past few days. I’m starting to worry that it won’t reach its goal in time.

    The web page is here, for anyone who’d like to read about the project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1170444626/where-are-the-women-a-feminist-protest-in-film-cri?ref=card

    I apologize if this sounds like an ad. It is an ad. But I had to do something to feel like I’m making a tiny improvement in the world. It will keep me sane tomorrow when I read the New York Times.

  73. Jenny, I don’t know if she’s quite at the point yet but when she is she shouid check out http://www.patreon.com/. It will be a way for her to challenge herself to continue producing her beautiful music while also getting paid to do so. It’s a pretty cool set up.

    She’s got a wonderful voice and I hope she keeps doing what’ she’s doing, with or without a label. Thank you so much for sharing.

  74. Put this on FB too, not sure the best way to reach you:
    This is so great – I wanted to let you know that my husband and his brother have created a couple of music apps. Would be happy to send her a code for a free FunkBox drum machine app if she’s interested. Quite a few musicians use it – Even got album cover credits from the Gorillaz. More info here. http://www.syntheticbits.com/

  75. 🙁 pretty music but i cant really understand her! i wish there were lyrics, but it sounds like she has a pretty voice!

    (I think she’s planning on adding the lyrics to the summary of the videos. ~ Jenny)

  76. Jenny – I am not on Facebook but my son Sam, who plays guitar in a band, is. I am forwarding this to him. Alex G (the band) tours all over the US and is going to Europe in Feb. I am not saying that to be braggy (much) but because Gabi’s beautiful voice and lyrics are similar to Alex G (the writer/singer). Thank you for sharing Gabi with us. She is lovely.

  77. What a lovely voice.Innocence and awesome, most assuredly shine through. And the music, has a nostalgic quality, that seems to take you back, to your own spent youth. Very NICE indeed. God Bless.

  78. Off topic to Jenny at comment 162…..You should never have to listen to your husband call you stupid (let alone worse things). Help and resources are available to get you out of an abusive situation. Please get help. You are worthy of happiness.

    Sorry for the thread jack.

  79. She is absolutely adorable, and I LOVE the song “Dance All Night”. I too would like to see that on iTunes, I would so buy it.

  80. Gabi is awesome. Ever since I heard her “Dance All Night” song, I’ve awakened each morning with it running through my head. It’s a lovely way to wake up each day.

  81. (my best guess at transcribing the lyrics for the people like me who that helps…)

    One friend of mine told me
    told me “y’know all life [?~]is your parade, hey[~?]”
    I said, “oh really?”
    she said, “absolutely. it’s filled with so many obstacles and hatred.”
    And I said “life is whatever you make it to be.”

    Have you stepped outside?
    Have you tried to smile?
    Have you stared at the clouds?
    Have you listened to all of the beautiful sounds?
    It’s so lovely

    It’s lovely

    So many struggle with finding the good parts of their day
    I offer help, but they just say that they’re okay
    and they think that happiness is out of reach
    I know time seems so bleak

    Happiness is no piece of cake
    It just likes to hide under all the pain
    But look up to the sky; what do you see?
    I think it looks… rather lovely
    Oh so lovely
    Lovely
    Oh so lovely

    I wish I could protect you from everything that makes you cry
    But the [joys?] make your smiles even sweeter
    And they’re lovely
    Oh so lovely
    Yes, you’re lovely
    Oh, you’re lovely

  82. oh, jenny, thank you so much for sharing the gift of your niece. She is amazing! I love her music and videos. I am very grateful for “Dance all night” because it remains in my mind. It also replaces the ear worm of “jingle bells” my neighbors are playing very loudly along with epileptic lights. there must not be any noise ordinance against christmas music in my town. thank heavens my sometimes single-minded brain is focused on the lovely talent of your niece

  83. I love your beautiful, confident, talented niece! Bless her heart for dancing to her own beat and just being “her”!

  84. Wow- she is rather…fabulous, isn’t she? And I’m not sure why I suddenly turned British there, but that sentence does sound much better with an accent. Love her heart, that shows right through.

  85. She’s pretty amazing. My inner 15 yr old is envious(in a good way). At that age I could sing,write,draw..really just create but I thought it was all shit so I never shared it. Looking back I wish I’d had the confidence to be myself and it thrills me to see young people who have it.It’s a rare thing. Btw,this is my first time commenting here. I’ve been reading for only a couple of weeks but I want to say that you have inspired me. I see a lot of myself in your posts and it’s made me feel like maybe I can have a voice too. So I’ve started saying all the weird/inappropriate/absurd things I’ve always thought,out loud. It’s sparked convos and brought many laughs and even strengthened my relationship. I’m saying what’s on my mind and he’s finding it hysterical and interesting. So I thank you..and David Tennant just because he makes everything better.

  86. Well this one has a bright future. Beautiful, talented, aunt is incredibly supportive! There are just those people you see and think “this one’s unique” and I really get that sense about her. Thanks for sharing!

  87. I love the way that Gabi is able to express herself and be herself so completely. It took me 40 years to find the real ‘me’ how I wish I had possessed her courage and talent when I was her age. By the way, I now want a zombie sock puppet!!

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