Warm your soul with Heart of Song

Four Orcas singer-songwriters join forces in a concert at Orcas Center on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Susan Osborn, Melody Funk, Mandy Troxel and Carolyn Cruso will be uniting to present a one-night “songwriter in the round” event. Tickets are $19, $2 off for Orcas Center members, and $15 for students and can be purchased online at orcascenter.org or the center’s box office. Subsidized tickets available for $5.

“We, as humans, have been gathering together for eons to tell stories and sing songs. In these polarizing times, it is even more important that we do so,” Osborn said. “We four island women represent different perspectives on our condition, but all from our experience as women.”

Osborn has been singing since she was 3 and writing her own songs since she was in sixth-grade. Her 40-year career in the music industry has taken her across the world and has culminated in a total of 25 solo albums. She first came to Orcas in 1983 after being invited to perform and teach a class at the Outlook Inn.

“It was love at first step on the island,” Osborn said.

Osborn’s first vocal coach was Funk’s mom when they both lived in Austin, Minnesota.

“Both of my parents were music teachers and choir directors. We would have ‘singing Saturdays’ at our house where we would have to sing ‘correctly’ everything we usually spoke as long as we were inside the house,” Funk said. “On family trips, my sister, two brothers and I would be assigned a note a half step apart and then we would sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,’ or ‘Mary had a Little Lamb,’ and stay on pitch. … Reading music was a prerequisite of being in the Funk family.”

Funk has lived on Orcas off and on since joining the Rosario Resort’s house band – Sail – in 1975. She’s been playing guitar and writing songs since she was in her early teens and received a full-ride music scholarship to Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon for her oboe playing. She majored in Jazz.

She has since performed all over the Pacific Northwest and even spent 10 years entertaining audiences on cruise ships.

Just like Osborn and Funk, music brought Troxel to Orcas Island.

“I came up here to be part of the Woodsong Music Festival back in 2002. I had never heard of Orcas Island,” Troxel said. “A musician friend asked me to sing backup for him at the festival, as he knew I would love it here. By the next festival a year later, I was living on Orcas.”

Writing and singing since high school, Troxel said she has had large hiatuses between then and now. When her two sisters were listening to pop music of the 1980s, Troxel found a love for Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Emmylou Harris.

“I’m not sure why. It just resonated with me. I also think that songwriters are really great people to hang out with,” Troxel said. “They are keen observers, poets, and often wickedly funny. Sometimes I think I write songs just so I can keep hanging out with songwriters.”

A self-taught singer-songwriter, Cruso has been writing song lyrics since she was in grade school.

“When I was about 7 and couldn’t sleep I used to put my own words to popular songs,” Cruso said. “ I’ve been writing my own complete songs since I was in my 20s and made my first songwriter album in 2001.”

Cruso first visited Orcas in 1983, then life took her throughout Europe as a wandering minstrel. She returned to Orcas permanently 17 years ago.

The format of the early February concert is “songwriter in the round.” It’s described as, “A magical way to see and hear multiple songwriters share their musical stories.” Piano, keyboard, bass, flute and ukulele performances are to be expected during the show along with the standard guitars and vocals.

“We are an eclectic group of songwriters, so I’m sure that anyone can come to the show and find a song that touched them. Anybody who is interested in thoughtful lyrics, yummy harmonies, and celebrating their community in song should come,” Troxel said. “The round-robin format makes for a very intimate setting of musicians singing and listening, and building off of each other. I should also add that there are a couple surprise guests in the works, which will further spice things up.”

Join Cruso, Funk, Osborn and Troxel at the Orcas Center for an evening of musical celebration.

“It’s a fantastic evening of each one of us sharing our souls through song,” Funk said. “Each one of us has a unique style of songwriting. Together, we are magic.”