Tim and Charlotte Seawall, Everett
Everett musicians return to a life of making music after years of putting the passion on the back burner.
Char, you are retired from the Everett School District?
For 28 years, I taught reading, writing, and world history, retiring last year as a sixth grade block teacher at Eisenhower Middle School.
So is 60 the new 30? Talk about life in retirement and passions that don’t go away.
For years, I worked to inspire young writers to chase their dreams, but always in the back of my mind was the gnawing thought that my own creative life was crammed into odd moments on weekends and a few months in the summer. During a one-year sabbatical, however, I co-wrote a full-length musical. That experience in my late 40s made me realize I still had something to say. I did not want to be on my death bed with hundreds of unwritten songs on my heart. From that fear, and with nudging from my husband and fellow musician, Tim, came the drive to revive my songwriting and performing career with him at my side. Our acoustic duo, Windfall, recorded the first album in our basement just four months after Tim had heart surgery. Being a performer at age 30 was full of the adventure of “living the dream.” The hardest thing to overcome at 62 was that it seemed like it would be a difficult sell. However, we have been welcomed into the songwriting community and found venues supportive of our work.
How old were you when you started writing songs?
My mother never forgave my father for buying me a guitar when she needed a washing machine. But that guitar allowed me freedom from circumstances beyond my control. At 15, I started performing at military bases in California and Germany, and in that process began writing songs. As a younger writer, my songs were focused on my own experiences. When I worked full time as a musician prior to teaching, I was trying to write “marketable” country music. Having my own children influenced my music because I began to change my priorities and become more other-focused. Now, nearly all of my music comes from real life stories of people I meet or from stories I read. The latest one I wrote was inspired by a TED talk from a woman who works with Syrian refugees. It’s called “On The Shores of Italy.”
How did you and Tim meet?
We met in 1977 when we both put ads up at the Musicians Union in downtown Seattle. We had instant connection as musicians, but I moved away to Colorado. Eight years later he stopped by Denver on his way to a golf tournament. When he got off the plane, neither of us could remember what the other looked like. But after a romantic proposal at Taco Bell three months later, we married and spent our first half year of marriage separated until I moved to Seattle with my kids.
Talk about “If It Were Your Kid” and what inspired that song.
I have always been troubled by human trafficking. In researching the topic, I became aware that our area was a hot spot for sex trafficking, which directly impacts kids who are often forced into prostitution. I figured the only way that men could commit these types of sex crimes would be if they did not picture these children as someone who might be their own kid. We first performed the song for a church service on Freedom Sunday, which seeks to draw attention to human trafficking.
Are faith and social justice regular themes in your music? Describe your albums.
It’s been an interesting evolution. Our first album — “Prayers of the Blue and Gray” — was inspired by a visit to Civil War sites. The stories haunted me, and some were written as I walked the cemeteries. Our second album “Life Happens” is filled with songs inspired by people I encountered in my daily life. On “Best Days of My Life” the music was described by a recent listener as our most social-justice focused album. Over the years, I have been involved in prison ministry as well as working with people transitioning out of homelessness. As my life has settled down, my heart has been able to look at issues of concern in the world and try to give them a human face and story. My hope is that the songs will point to our common human struggles as well as the hope and grace that help us get through.
Talk about the British songwriting contests you’ve entered two years running.
The website says, “The UK Songwriting Contest is one of the world’s longest-running songwriting events and is widely regarded as the most prestigious international songwriting competition. It launched in London in 2000… and it is well known in the music industry as a launching pad for new talent.”
I entered this contest to get outside comments because I knew even though mom loved my music, she was, after all, my mom. I wondered if my work would stand up to professional scrutiny. I also entered because many fans of our folk music come from internet radio airplay in the United Kingdom and Canada. Seven of the 10 songs on our latest album received semi-finalist status, as well as a couple of love songs from previous albums and a new Christmas song, which also received radio airplay on Women of Substance Radio and Podcasts. I was also named a semi-finalist as a singer/songwriter.
What are some of your other interests?
I love adventures and road trips. Because it is our 30th year of marriage, my brother and his wife are treating us to a week-long white water rafting trip in Idaho. And I do plan to swim with sharks again. For some reason, facing fears has always intrigued me.
What’s something that’s always in your fridge?
Probably a full week’s worth of some chili or soup. It’s our cost-saving retirement meal plan.
What is your pet peeve?
Trolls on Facebook who insist on trying to turn any statement of positivity into an argument.
What is your greatest happiness?
Spending time with my grandkids and learning and growing with my husband and best friend, Tim.
If you could choose anyone from history to dine with, who would that be and why?
Henry David Thoreau. As a young person growing up, his writings gave me permission to be who I was and not follow the crowd. Also, his appreciation of nature resonated with my love of the outdoors.
What is something most people do not know about you?
When playing in a country rock band in Colorado, I was made an honorary member of an outlaw biker gang for trying to prevent a fight in an alley involving a biker and a cowboy. I do not recommend this tactic, but it makes a great story to tell my grandkids to illuminate the expression, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”