Patrick Prince of Powerline recently conducted an interview with Tom Keifer, best known as the singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Philadelphia-based blues-rock band CINDERELLA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline: You’re a survivor. You’ve overcome personal struggles … like the title of the [solo] album [“The Way Life Goes”] says, that’s the way life goes, but it hard to overcome [problems] especially with vocal cords. I mean, how are you doing now?
Keifer: Very well. It’s something that will always be a daily — shall I say at this point — maintanence . But, you know, it’s very strong after what I’ve been through. It was a neurological condition I was diagnosed with in the early ’90s, and I was told I was never gonna sing again because I had a partially paralyzed vocal cord. So to keep a very long story short as I possibly can, the way you can really overcome it is to retrain your voice. It’s not an exact science and it’s not easily done. Most singers that get this condition — they’re done. And I was done for quite a while. But I’ve continued to work with some of the best voice teachers in the country. I’ve worked with everybody, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to make that cord perform better and more consistently. And over the years it has gotten stronger and more consistent and the more consistent it gets, it really helps with my confidence walking onto a stage, because for a long time I didn’t have any. Because I would still continue to tour, and I would really have my ups and downs, you know, when I’d be out with CINDERELLA. A lot of nights I’d get up onstage and I really didn’t know what was gonna come out. But it’s more and more consistent, particularly in recent years — the last three or four years. I fell very fortunate to have found the way to continue doing what I love, and in some ways because of all the training the voice is stronger. Some areas of my voice are stronger than they were.
Powerline: You’ve now developed a solid songwriting team with your wife, Savannah.
Keifer: Yeah, she’s a great writer and she co-wrote many of the songs on this record, and also co-produced the record with me and a friend of ours from Nashville named Chuck Turner who’s a very talented producer and engineer. So the three of us were thick as thieves working on this thing for the last nine or ten years. [laughs]
Powerline: Was she a songwriter before?
Keifer: Oh yeah. She’s a singer, songwriter, and an artist in her own right. She plays guitar and piano, and she was in Nashville, actually, before I was, and she worked on Music Row as a staff songwriter for a big publishing company for years and produced hundreds of demos for them for their pitch stuff. She’s one of the best songwriters that I know.
Powerline: Did you find it easy to adjust from writing on your own to writing with another, specifically someone who is so close to you?
Keifer: It’s real easy to work with her, and just generally, because I wrote with other people on the record, you know. Yeah, I mean it was an easy transition. I mean, if you’re in the room with the right person and they have a similar approach to writing that you do, you know, I fell into that pretty naturally. I still write the same way in terms of where my inspiration comes from. And maybe, if I have an appointment to write with a co-writer, what I’m going to bring into that appointment is an inspiration that has maybe been rolling around in my head for a few weeks or a few months or even a year, something that really means something to me and that’s what I’m going to bring into that writing. So it’s the same approach to where I’m writing from. It’s just bringing someone else in to collaborate. You know, it’s a little bit of an adjustment but I started doing that in the mid-90s. The idea of a solo record, I started writing in the mid-’90s and that’s when I really started co-writing with a lot of people, came to Nashville and worked with some really great writers. I really fell in love with this town and moved here because it’s such a creative community here.
Powerline: And obviously the fans are always wondering if there will be a CINDERELLA record soon.
Keifer: Well, you know, we never say never. It’s not for any lack of desire on our part. We actually had a failed attempt on that about ten years ago and it ended up in a lawsuit in courts and it was pretty ugly. We really haven’t had a situation come up that really felt like the right one since then. And maybe that’s because we felt a little burn after that one, I don’t know. I mean, that’s when I started producing this record — when we were tied up in all that. And I produced this record independently of a label. Which, obviously, being on the tail end of that catastrophe, I didn’t really want to deal with a label or lawyers or anything. I just wanted to make some music. So that’s what I did.
Read the entire interview from Powerline.
“Solid Ground” video: