Jana Stanfield is an ebullient-effervescent, sonic spiritweaver whose music has been heard on Oprah, 20/20, Entertainment Tonight and the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, among others. Her tunes have been covered by numerous artists, including Andy Williams, Suzy Bogguss. Karen Taylor-Good and Megan McDonough. I came upon her soul tickling sound via one of her videos of a song she penned with Jimmy Scott, called If I Were Brave. It now has a cherished home on my ipod and listen to it each day on my way to work and as a tune up any other time I need it. It reminds me of how much we are capable of, if only we allow ourselves to reach and stretch beyond our self imposed limitations.
How do you live your bliss?
International travel is my favorite form of enlightenment. It “lightens my load” of self-imposed limitations. As I write this, I’m on a 9 hour bus ride through Borneo…where I’ve been in the rain forest for the past 4 days, at Orangutan Rescue Centers, visiting our red-headed first cousins.
What inspires your music?
My biggest inspiration is the desire to be helpful. I wanted to be a social worker. This music is my social work, my way of doing good in the world, and in doing so, supporting others’ good work in the world. I love it when people who are doing good things use my music to share with their groups. We are increasing the power of each others’ positive ripples.
How did my new favorite mantra “If I Were Brave” come to be?
In a song called, “UBUIME” (translation: You Be You, I Am Me) I wrote in James Taylor’s style, wrote it about James Taylor, and the song was about asking for Jame’s advice. In the song, he actually called me back, and said, “BSUR, SUC, SIMIM” (translation: Be As You Are, As You See, As I Am I Am), which is a line from the James Taylor song called “BSUR.” None of that happened it real life, mainly because of my fears.
So how did “If I Were Brave” come to be?
I’ve never had the courage to send James Taylor that song. “If I Were Brave” keeps me doing a little more, and a little more, every day. Maybe SOMEDAY I’ll even have the courage to try to reach James Taylor.
What is your growing edge when it comes to bravery and living from the heart and soul?
Great question! My growing edge is embracing more international travel without completely knowing everything about how the money will come in to support that. We’ve heard that “every birth is a little death.” Part of the challenge of our growing edge is that it takes us a little further away from “the known”, and “the known” always feels safer than the unknown. In order to stay on that growing edge, it takes a song like, “If I Were Brave,” or “What Would I Do This Year If I Had No Fear?” to keep our confidence up.
I know you have been traveling lately. What adventures have you had?
I believe we are given our aspirations and our inspirations, our aptitudes and our abilities, our desires and our dreams for a reason. For a long time I have wanted to go see the orangutans in Borneo. Orangutans are in danger of extinction because their habitat, the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia, are being cut down for palm oil plantations. Around Thanksgiving this year, I’ll be leading a trip, taking people with me to Borneo to see them, and to see how we can help. It was an awesome experience being with them for 4 days, and I can’t wait to share it with whoever wants to join me this fall.
What would you say to someone who lets fear rather than courage lead the way?
I’d like right in the mirror and say, “Jana you have a choice…to strengthen your fear muscles or your courage muscles today. The courage muscles often lead to more fun…so let’s go with that.” It’s not easy to make that choice. The song, “George Bailey” is very much about being courageous, to avoid the bigger fear of missing out on wonderful experiences.
Who inspires you?
My inspiration is my mom, Nancy Ferguson, who taught elementary music most of her life and still enthusiastically teaches piano lessons at 72. Among other things, her direct words inspired my songs, “Sing, Love,Dance” and “Do All You Can, While You Can.”
If I Were Brave