Interview with PUBLISHED MagazinePublished November 14, 2019
Barrett Cobb is an accomplished singer, painter, and flut- ist living in New York City. She has performed with some of the top people, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. She is the author of the bestseller, Walk Shepherdess, Walk.
P: Barrett, tell us a little bit about how you came to your passion and purpose in life, which I know is art as well as music. You’re so unbelievably gifted. How did that all come to be for you?
BC: Well, I have always been interested in music. I sang a lot of folk songs when I was a child. Then when I was 10 years old, I decided that I wanted to be a professional musician. I played the flute, and I did that professionally for a long time. I also studied singing, and the more I sang, the more I accompanied myself on the piano.
The way this book came about was when I was playing some folk songs on the piano. My very favorite of all the songs I ever learned from my mother was “Walk, Shepherdess, Walk.” I made up an arrangement for it; I also put a flute in, and I recorded it. Then, after that I just thought, “Well, these are such beautiful images, and it just seems like a picture book,” so I painted the pictures. As I was painting the pictures, a sort of alternate storyline, a backstory came to me. I included that in the book. It is definitely a multimedia experience, and that’s more or less how it came about.
I feel that there is a need for gentleness, subtlety and reflection. I feel my book is that way. I feel that children’s literature is all hard-edged, and I wanted something that was sweet and touching. I believe that’s what the world needs now. I would like to transport people to a kind- er, gentler place. Actually, my book is not necessarily just for children, because the paintings are more detailed than often you’d find in children’s books, and the music is performed in a more classical style. I like to think that my book is for anyone who possesses a tender heart and a love of beauty.
P: Tell us if there are any lessons in the book and what you hope people will learn. I know you’ve already shared some benefits, but are there any lessons?
BC: Well, one thing is that my heroine, the Shepherdess, I see her as sort of a role model for girls. She’s independent, self-sufficient, strong, and joyful. She doesn’t depend on a man. She’s just a very strong person. A side note is I purposely avoided making her conventionally beauti- ful. I think she’s endearing, but she doesn’t have the conventional beauty we think of as fairy godmothers having, because I don’t really think beauty and goodness are necessarily the same thing. I think there’s too much emphasis on this, especially for little girls.
I’ve always had women in my life that I’ve looked up to. I privately think of them as my shep- herdesses. I named the one in this book, Ann, after a woman who was a nature counselor in a camp I went to when I was nine years old. She just showed me how much beauty there is all around. Also, both she and my mother encouraged me to explore. We hunted arrowheads, and I hunted fossils, learning all about plants and things. That’s always been a big part of my life.
P: That’s wonderful to have that encouragement and to foster a sense of adventure. I don’t think all women that I’ve met have had that in their background. The book may open up peo- ple’s eyes that maybe hadn’t looked at the world that way before.
BC: That would be wonderful. I’d love to think that possibly could happen. I know in painting, I like to find things that aren’t so obviously beautiful. I like to find the beauty in unexpected plac- es. I think it makes everyday life much more enjoyable. If you can always find something beau- tiful to focus on, it helps you get through. That’s just what comes to mind. I think it enriches one’s life, and maybe makes people more understanding of each other.
It’s my intention that the reader would listen to the song, which can easily be downloaded at www.walkshepherdesswalk.com. The book is a multimedia experience.