Susan Gayle Abod ~ Albuquerque
Genres: Cabaret, Jazz
Abod (b. 1951, Chicago) is an American feminist activist and musician. She was a member of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band and was nominated for an Outmusic award for Best Female Debut CD in 2004. Susan lives and works in Santa Fe.
Let’s start with the name. Abod is pronounced like “avid” except with a “b”. The story surrounding this odd name is that Susan’s father’s father, Sol deserted the Russian army and arrived at Ellis Island with a name something like “Obodofsky” It is rumored that Sol, wanting to be free of discrimination in the new country, chopped off the “ofsky” but then it seems that the Ellis Island official looking at Sol’s writing, mistook the first letter “O” for an “A” thus you have “Abod”.
Susan’s musical roots go back to when she was 7, singing along to South Pacific in her family’s Chicago basement, ruining the molding by nailing a blanket to the wood to make a curtain for her stage. Susan now harbored a dream: to become what she called “a bohemian singer,” living in New York and performing in small, intimate nightclubs throughout the city. She took her first guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago just about the time when the Beatles album first arrived in the U.S. It was when she was attending her first years of college as an English major that she started writing songs. Like many of her peers, she was disillusioned with the times, so Susan took a time out, left school and went to visit her sister, who was already involved in the women’s movement. After her first few consciousness raising groups she knew she had found a way back to her self through a feminist vision of the future and what she loved, music. She went back to Chicago and auditioned for the newly formed Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band.
She joined up playing bass and being one of the lead vocals. The band recorded “Mountain Movin’ Day.”on the Rounder Records label with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band in 1973.
She attended DePaul University’s Music School to study music composition where she graduated in 1974. Finding herself among a growing community of feminist/women’s music, Susan performed and recorded with Willie Tyson, Casse Culver, and Betsy Rose, in addition to producing concerts for artists like Meg Christian and Margie Adam in Chicago.
In 1982 Susan decided to focus on developing her own writing and performing style. She completed a successful 6-week European Tour and started building up a name for herself in the Boston area lining up gigs at popular nightspots like Ryles and the Club Café. She started to explore and expand her style, stretching her interpretations of her own songs and jazz standards. The Encore Awards nominated her Outstanding Female Vocalist for Excellence in Boston Cabaret.
Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities in 1986, Susan suddenly had to put her dream on hold. Susan explains, “My whole life as I knew it completely changed. I had to stop working and make healing my primary vocation.” Even though the disease exhausted her physical strength and prevented her from working full time, in 1989, at the urging of a friend, she channeled some of her energy into a 2-hour weekly commitment for a year with other artists and writers that grew into a play. The Living with Aids Theater Project created “Alive with Aids” for which she wrote Soliloquy, and performed (included on the CD).
After a failed attempt to keep up with a graduate school counseling program due to her health, Susan was inspired to write and produce a one-hour long documentary “Funny You Don’t Look Sick: Autobiography of an Illness” about her own debilitating condition. Produced by volunteers, the project took three years to complete. Screened at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in November 1995, the video has since been distributed to thousands of individuals, schools and libraries throughout the country. The sequel “Homesick” is due for release at the end of the year. (To see video preview go to www.homesick-video.com)
Fifteen years after the initial diagnosis, Susan produced her first CD “In the Moment” featuring 16 songs. The CD represents a collection of original songs and favorite covers that Susan has gathered over the years reflecting music and lyrics that are thought provoking, inspiring, and entertaining.
More recently she recorded 2 new songs which can be found on itunes: Under Santa Fe Skies and Holiday Time in Santa Fe.
above: Susan Abod plays “Caffeine” at Tiny’s of Santa Fe 2/16/2011
for more information: susanabod.com