SHORELINE — When Camille Bloom applied for a teaching position at Shorewood High School five years ago, she left one item off her resume.
Potential rock star.
Bloom, 29, managed to keep her musical talent hidden from most of her students until she recently performed at a farewell concert on Friday, June 17, at the school auditorium.
The English teacher is leaving the school district for one year to travel throughout the United States and Europe, performing music she has composed (she also sings and plays guitar) at various venues.
“I never thought I would stop teaching and tour,” Bloom said. “I thought teaching was it.”
For many students — except those who accidentally saw Bloom play when she opened at The Bite of Seattle — the farewell concert was the first time they saw their teacher perform.
Students would occasionally tell Bloom they found her band’s Web site, or ask her to play one of her two CDs in class. But Bloom refused to let them hear her play.
“I really tried to keep it separate,” Bloom said. “I want them to know I am a teacher first and they couldn’t get extra credit by coming to a show, buying a CD or knowing lyrics.”
The farewell concert was emotional for Bloom, whose last day of school is today, June 24. One of her students opened the show, and two songs performed by Bloom were inspired by stories students shared with her.
“I told both kids about the songs and they were very excited, they felt someone had heard them and understood,” Bloom said. “Both have heard the songs but have never heard me live.”
With a designated “counseling couch” in her office, the former Shorewood head basketball coach is willing to listen. She hopes to inspire adolescents to become more involved in music, which has been a method for her to process complicated issues, such as her parents divorcing. Bloom said her band is “not a partying band” and members do not drink alcohol.
“I want to show kids there are other ways to cope with a tough childhood and parents getting divorces,” Bloom said. “They don’t have to drink, stop going to school or rebel; they can write music and come out OK.”
During her tour, Bloom intends to create curriculum for an English course entitled “Writing in the Music Industry.” Due to her own experience writing press releases, content for a Web site, biographies and cover letters, Bloom says there is a need for the course.
Bloom also hopes to conduct songwriting workshops at high schools during her tour, as well as give presentations on how to succeed in the music industry.
Born in Spokane, Wash., Bloom was reared by parents who were professional musicians. Her mother sang and played the tambourine and her father played the bass and guitar.
At the age of 2, Bloom remembers singing the part to the Beatles “The Fool on the Hill.” When she was 19 years old, she taught herself how to play the guitar.
“I grew up singing,” Bloom said. “I took choir in the sixth-grade, but never took voice or guitar lessons; I just listened to my mom harmonizing.”
As the first college graduate in her immediate family, Bloom attended both Whitworth College and Eastern Washington University, from where she graduated. Once she began teaching, Bloom scheduled short tours during spring and mid-winter breaks, and once took three personal days to play in New York City and Boston.
Although she has toured a dozen times, this time Bloom will be hitting the road solo. Bloom has two other primary members that play with her at local performances — a drummer and bass player. While she enjoys the energy of a large group, there are advantages to playing alone.
“It keeps me honest, I can’t hide behind a band,” Bloom said. “I tend to be more dynamic on my own.”
While on leave from teaching, Bloom will not be receiving a paycheck, nor will she have medical insurance. To cover tour costs, investors are helping with expenses.
“I have made lists and charts to see if it made sense or not to apply for leave,” Bloom said. “The only thing to my advantage is that I hope to have a home to come back to.”
Bloom hopes by going on tour, she will prove how important it is for students to pursue their passions.
“I can’t tell kids to live their dreams and find something they are passionate about if I turn this down,” Bloom said. “This opportunity came and I had to take it.”
Bass player April Sather, 32, performed with Bloom at the farewell concert. The two met through a mutual friend while attending different colleges. As a long-time friend, Sather could tell the concert was emotional for Bloom.
“She loves teaching, but also has this drive to give this a try,” Sather said. “It’s kind of like now or never and she doesn’t want to look back and have regrets.”
Bloom’s coworkers have told her they are in awe that she has essentially worked two jobs for the past two years, sometimes working seven gigs in 10 days, in order to make a name for herself.
Veronica Cook, a teacher at Shorewood, attended Bloom’s June 17 concert. This was the first time Cook had seen her fellow co-worker and friend perform.
“Someday I will say I worked with her before she was big,” Cook said. “I think she will make it.”
Because Bloom made sure to get her substitute teaching certificate before she leaves town in September (she will be playing area festivals during the summer), students may see her during the upcoming school year when she has tour breaks.
No matter where her music takes her, Bloom will likely always be teaching, encouraging, or listening to someone.
“If I end up playing music and touring the rest of my life, I plan on always going and talking to kids,” Bloom said. “Whether at Shorewood or around the world I don’t know yet.”
For more information, visit Camille Bloom’s Web site at www.camillebloom.com.