Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Something Martha Graham Said and My Friend Jill

Posted on: June 2, 2012

My friend Jill was visiting DC from her new home base in Toronto, Canada.  I was so lucky that she spent a couple of her few hours in town for a conversation with me over coffee.  We were talking about being artists and both thinking about what and why is it so be an artist, the quality and recognition of one’s work (and so many issues that dog the mind of a creative person), when I remembered about something that Martha Graham said.  Turns out the quote is Agnes De Mille recounting what Martha Graham said to quell a moment of artistic doubt,

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

And I also told Jill about a watercolor picture my daughter Eloise made of a bunny, which I absolutely adore for so many reasons.  Eloise doesn’t doubt the quality of her artwork…she just makes it.  She’ll go along and make kid art, kid art, kid art…and then every now and again she’ll make something that, in my opinion, is just plain terrific (like this here bunny).

PS:  I frequently sing, “The Sparrow,” a song and book by Jill Leger:


The Sparrow
Words and Music by Jill Leger
Illustrated by Jill Leger
Sing-Along on Youtube with a karaoke video of “The Sparrow”:
Hear Emily’s recording of “The Sparrow” on:

Jill’s MySpace page:

I got to perform in a revue of Jill’s songs called, “Googling My Ex,” which she made into a CD,

Googling My Ex

Words and Music by Jill Leger

Jill Leger made a recording of her show “Googling My Ex (And Other Obsessions).” You can find it on
(Emily’s vocals on “Annie in My Room,” “My Safe Harbor,” “Another Taxi,” and “Googling My Ex Ensemble”)



2 Responses to "Something Martha Graham Said and My Friend Jill"

A devoted, devout Emily fan am I. Now and forever…And here’s to beautiful, blessed art.

I miss you Jill…but so proud of all your artistic achievements in Toronto! xoxo

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