Tag Archives: Lenka

More Collaboration, Please

Lenka performs at College Coffee House in Fairbanks, AK

col·lab·o·ra·tion/kəˌlabəˈrāSHən/

Noun:
  1. The action of working with someone to produce or create something.
  2. Something produced or created in this way
This past Saturday night I went to see Lenka perform live at the College Coffee House. She is a professional recording artist from Czechoslovakia,  and she sang a variety of songs — all original — in both English and Czech. She shared her performance with a girl named Sabe Flores, a student of the Berklee College of Music and Alaska hometown girl; they took turns singing solo songs and also performed complicated duets. First of all, I was struck by the fact that these two people were even able to cross life paths, let alone perform music together. Layer on top of that the fact that Lenka plays guitar and Sabe plays the cello — not the most common of combinations, at least in my mind. What they produced together was unlike anything I’ve heard live and was quite a study in contrasts: Lenka’s voice is rich and haunting, while Sabe’s is breathy and light; Lenka mostly plays guitar chords, while Sabe plucks, bows, slides, and strums on her cello. Even on a visual level, Lenka is dark-haired and mysterious, and Sabe is much blonder and bright on stage. But somehow it all made sense, and the listening audience was enraptured for their entire 90-minute set.

What I thought about while I was watching this was Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind. I kept thinking that the two of these women, sharing and performing music together, is part of the essence of his book. Together they are enhancing the Meaning of their own work while telling the listeners a Story (I particularly loved one of Sabe’s songs dedicated to her father). Their personal connection is probably largely based in Empathy, and it takes a creative Design effort to coordinate the technicalities of their respective musical styles and how they will weave in and out of each other’s songs. Talk about working out the right brain.

Right now I am collaborating on a new project with a friend I met doing Crossfit down in San Jose. I am also collaborating with one of my best friends from college — we are planning the 25th Anniversary celebration of our college a cappella group. I would consider participating in any team sport a constant collaborative effort, which for me right now is curling. My relationship with my  husband is a lifelong collaboration, one in which we are constantly trying to blend our abilities and personalities in order to enhance the other person’s strengths and prop up their weaknesses. We are trying to make the sum of our respective parts greater than each of us as individuals… even while the parts themselves are wonderfully unique and important. Isn’t that the whole point of collaborating in the first place? And if I wasn’t collaborating with somebody on something, that would be an awfully lonely road to travel. As usual, I just need to stay tuned into all the ways I am already collaborating and keep my eyes peeled for other collaborative opportunities that may arise. And yes, at my meeting this morning we talked about building a more collaborative staff culture…

In closing for today, I truly want to thank Lenka and Sabe (whom I have never met before, not even that night after the show) for reminding me of how much I do value collaboration and consider it (in the spirit of all my musings of late) a high art to be able to do it well.

Advertisements