Through song, spoken word, and monologues, Paula explores stories of trials and triumph so listeners can imagine their own path of
possibilities. 

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Paula Ralph Birkett’s music is a journey thru soul, sound, and sincerity. Crisscrossing thru R&B, SoulJazz, Gospel, and Singer/ Songwriter her songs explore stories of trials and triumph, so listeners can imagine their own path of possibilities.


On a wintry February afternoon, a frightened little girl's mother tried to ignore an outraged passenger on a Queens NY bus.  Apparently the mother stepped on the passenger's foot by accident and an apology would not do. The five year old girl, trembling at the passenger's angry voice, clung to her mother's leg.  The mother told her daughter “Just think happy thoughts until we get off the bus” and immediately the little girl started singing the chorus to Paula Ralph-Birkett’s song Fearless "You ain't slowing me down. I got somewhere to be, I got somewhere to go”. Soon, not only did the outraged passenger stop mid-sentence, but the entire back of the bus turned to listen to the little girl encourage herself.  It is for this reason Paula is a singer, songwriter, spoken word artist, and monologist.

Fearless, a soul jazz single independently released by Paula in 2010, was the precursor to her soon to be released debut EP #SomethingBetter. Paula doesn't claim to be the something better but hopes to stir something better in her listeners.  "Most of my songs are very personal and illustrate the struggles and stresses of living. But also the hope life can bring, if we choose it.”  

The start of #SomethingBetter

The stirrings of something better began in Hempstead, Long Island in her mother’s basement. She vividly remembers singing the R&B slow jam “This Time I’ll be Sweeter” as her mother, in the midst of a divorce from Paula’s father, laid in the dark, on a green well worn couch listening to every word.  After the last note, silence hung in the air until her mother whispered “Sing it again baby.” That’s when the spark was lit to use her gift for others.

Paula began her professional career in musical theater working in regional theaters throughout the New York Tri-State area. She developed her songwriting ability writing R&B and Gospel, and expanded her vocal production ability thru Dance/House music, including the James Preston Jr.  joint Ain’t No Runnin’ Away, produced by Willy Washington.  She also sang as a featured vocalist in international gospel ensembles touring London, England and Verona, Italy.  Paula has performed and written dramatic presentations and spoken word pieces in the New York Metro area and has played in music venues big and small, such as the Schomburg Library for Black Culture, The Greene Space at WNYC, the United Nations, and the Dwyer Cultural Center.  She is currently the featured vocalist in the progressive jazz group Tyrone Birkett | Emancipation.  Although she shines her gift on their current recording Postmodern Spirituals - The Promised Land, the idea of #SomethingBetter would not leave her alone.

Elements of #SomgthingBetter

Paula Ralph Birkett’s music is a journey thru Rachelle Farrell soul, Dianne Reeves sound, and Bill Withers sincerity. Although the EP was originally titled Sweet Life, having written all the songs on #SomethingBetter, Paula wanted the name to hint at songs that could actually add something better to life, even if for just 3 or 5 minutes.   For example, Sweet Life a bright soul-pop tune was birthed as Paula and her husband Tyrone Birkett were coming home from the laundromat.  Whiffs of freshly cleanedclothes couldn't break the putrid smell of frustration that hangs in the air when life doesn't work out the way you planned. But when she considered the life they had already built and shared, like a boom of thunder she heard the chorus Sweet Life/ Lovely Life/ I GET to live. It’s moments of decision like this that she hopes to give her listeners.

These are songs Paula has not only written and sung with her heart, but lived with her life.  Choose to Live, an old-school R&B joint, is about a colleague Paula knew whose husband had left her after 17 years of marriage.  Her teenage daughter tried to commit suicide because she thought she was the reason her father left.  Paula remembers this women saying with tears welling in her eyes “I gotta keep living.  I gotta live for my daughter.”

Though the EP deals with the battles of real life there is always an element of optimism.  Gotta Open Up Your Eyes, Paula’s take on ‘70’s jazz fusion, is her rebuttal to the argument that love is blind. She says “I believe God is Love and that He wants to show us Himself. But Love can be hard to see thru tough circumstances.”  Her heart can be heard in the lyrics Awake to what you seek/ Fear is putting you to sleep/ Darkness is telling Lies/ Love hurt the last time/ But devotion is not blind/ to clearly see what can be/ you Gotta Open Up Your Eyes. (By the way, Tyrone Birkett gives a tremendous saxophone solo on this tune.)   Heroes, a dramatic singer/songwriter tune, shines a light on the fact that everyday ordinary people Could be brave/ Maybe save the day/ And help someone hold their head high. And the inspiration for the title tune Something Better, with its unintended Latin feel and much intended funk, came as Paula restlessly sat at a corporate job.  

Under the hum of florescent lights with defeat whispering sour nothings in her ear, a co-worker rushed by and interrupted her thoughts.  Just beneath the woman’s breath Paula heard her say “There’s got to be something better than this.”  That’s when she was reminded that others needed the same impetus as she did to follow long forgotten dreams left on the shelf.

What’s next

Although Paula wrote this music for folks going through some kind of transition - building a business, recovering from a loss, creating a family, getting healthy, becoming an adult - she believes everyone has a champion inside that could use a little reinforcement.  She says, “Every superhero needs a soundtrack to win. And #SomethingBetter is that soundtrack.”

She is currently booking and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, and Pintrest.  Visit her website www.singpaula.com so you can stir up the #SomethingBetter in you.

Booking

rabirwriter@gmail.com

IT'S RIGHT THERE

(SPOKEN WORD)

IT'S RIGHT THERE
In her head
But she's almost settled
in her thoughts
listening the voices that have fought
to keep her asleep
They whisper
play it safe play it safe play it safe
though her dreams wrestle to escape
her trance
She keeps them in check
positioned just under her breath
but their about to SCREAM!
Dare she speak them out loud
Oh how
the universe would conspire
to make them a reality
Because

IT"S RIGHT THERE
in her hands
though she's almost settled
in her seat
her hands just beneath
her thighs
In crippling comfort
She sits
on a wealth of talents unrealized
Because in truth it's cold sometimes
to put yourself out there
But Dare she get up, stand up and
set her hands free
giving and receiving with passion and intensity
Fanning the flame of all she was born to be
would transform her world
Oh I wish she'd look

 

IT"S RIGHT THERE
in her heart
But she's almost settle
in her nerves
Never feeling the rush of excitement
That invites her each morning
to flow in the tempo
of expectation and joy
not just happiness from happenings
but joy deep down inside
Dare she find courage to try again
Her heart would beat in rhythm
to her life's true anthem
But wait,
maybe
I think she perceives

IT'S RIGHT THERE
in her Hope
Though she almost settled
for the statue quo
her dream just won't let go see see
her Hope is employing faith
If she pays
attention to faith
She'll stop denying, apologizing and sacrificing
the Power within
her head
her hand
her heart
to WIN!
'Cause it's not far once she beings
to wake up and declare
All she needs
It's right there

Written by Paula D. Ralph-Birkett
©2016 RaBirWriter Publishing


#SOME
THING
BETTER

Chorus
There's got to be something better this
there's got to be something
There's got to be something better this
there's got to be something
There's got to be something better this
Life's
Got to give something better than this

V1
Waiting for change
Life's gotten dusty cause she
Settled for safe
What she left on the shelf
dreams to change the world
she needs courage
to hold touch them again
knowing life is worth the risk

Chorus

V2
Weak from the pain
of putting her hopes hold she
reaches for change
when dust flies it's hard to see
faith to change the world
but if she fails
she'll try again    
knowing life is worth the risk

Chorus

Bridge
Dreams deferred make the heart sick
It's like dust from a life un-lived
It's not what you get but what you give
to light the spark
and fan the flames
to change the world
to change the world 

Chorus

Written by Paula D. Ralph-Birkett
©2012 RaBirWriter Publishing


I Choose
To Live

V1
Left me alone to die
papers on the table
You gave no reason why
But like a tree is able
To bend in the wind
and not be moved

Chorus
I choose to live
Got to keep breathing
I choose to live
Left me in pieces
I choose to live
I may be bleeding but
I choose to live

 

V2
You became my world
now my ground is sinking sand
it's either life or death
so I close my eyes, take a breath
and pray God please
let my roots grow deep cause

Chorus

Bridge
It may look I have died
when winter's done
the sun will bring
the spring
I let you go
So I can grow
Cause

Chorus

Written by Paula D. Ralph-Birkett
©2014 RaBirWriter Publishing


But I See

V1
Attitude
is all they can see
an angry mood
is all they can see
the role they make you wear
is desperate for repair

Cause in your heart
who can noticed
you're patching hole as you
as you come apart

Chorus
But I see
what they won't see
But I see
what they won't admit
Cause I know
under the disguise
you try to survive
this life
hiding yourself

 

V2
You fight to fit in
they ignore it
try to act like them
they abhor it
the character you play
is vanquished in the fray

Cause in your heart
it goes unnoticed
you're patching holes as you
as you coming apart

Chorus

Bridge:
In the mirror don't believe the lies
In the mirror don't see through their eyes
Cause if your sight
was filled with
the Light I provide
You might consider
when you hear Me whisper
I see I care

Chorus

Written by Paula D. Ralph-Birkett
©2014 RaBirWriter Publishing

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Click the link above to view musings on #SomethingBetter...

 

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