LIST OF ARTICLES – PAGE 1 (previous page)
|The Oregonian (OR) 2000, 2001, 2010||Just Out (OR) 1999, 2008|
|Citysearch (OR) 1998, 2001||Earth Island Journal (CA) 2001|
|The Portland Tribune (OR) 2001|
LIST OF ARTICLES – PAGE 2 (this page)
|The Oregonian (OR) 1997||Portland Songwriters Assoc. (OR) 1996||The Women’s Journal (OR) 1997|
|The Voice Magazine (CO) 1992||Omaha World Herald (NE) 1995||Indie-Music.com (IN) 2001|
– by Francis Caldwell, September 1997
It’s in her ready smile and easy laugh; it’s in her music and in her heart. Theresa Demarest is filled with the pure joy of living. In 1989, when breast cancer recurred, doctors told her she could plan on living 6 to 17 months. “Then I’m going to do exactly what I want,” was her response, and she’s been making music ever since.
A shy girl in high school, she surprised no one in her traditional Catholic family when she became a nun shortly after graduation. She did not leave her guitar behind when she entered the convent; in fact, she may have left the shyness instead. At age 14, struggling over her Mel Bay chord book and loving every moment of it, she had taught herself to play on a guitar meant for her younger brother. In the convent she continued to play and organized a band of nun musicians, “We People.” “We’d really freak people out when we opened with songs like ‘Wipe Out,'” she laughs.
It took only four years for her to realize the nun’s life wasn’t for her. She left the convent and married a musician. Known as “Tom and Theresa,” they played gigs all over the Corvallis area, stopping only briefly for the birth of their son Joshua. The marriage lasted eight years. Joshua is grown now living happily in Denver. Theresa named her recording company Joshua Records after him; the record label is a picture of their dog Brother, looking cool in his ‘shades.’
After the divorce, Theresa moved to Bend where she began attending college to earn an LPN degree. She came to Portland to pursue her studies further. She had just begun when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The lump had been ignored by physicians for years. “We’ll watch it,” they said. It was after one of her nursing classes when she herself decided the lump was suspicious and asked for a biopsy. Cancer was rare in young women back in the early 80s, but the lump proved malignant. Massive chemo-therapy and a bilateral mastectomy held the disease at bay for five years.
“I’d always said that I’d never do chemo, but when the time came, my first question was ‘Is this vein big enough?’ You never know what you’ll do until you live it.”
By the time the cancer returned, Theresa had earned her RN and worked as a critical care nurse at Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital, where she still works two days a week. This time more surgery and radiation therapy were the prescribed treatments. Doctors were not optimistic. But Theresa was and remains so.
She began to sing and write songs as she had never done before. She has gathered a group of musicians who give music critics something to rave about. I was part of the audience at Portland’s The Bite in August. Theresa Demarest and Good Company wowed all of us with songs that move your feet and heart at the same time. Outstanding musicians Janice Scroggins on keyboard; guitarist Tim Ellis; African Percussionist Chata Addy; saxophonist Dennis Springer; bassist Jimmy Solberg; and clarinetis/flutist/saxophonist, Dick Saunders are among the group. Strong support on the vocals comes from Myrtle Brown and Lynn Anne Sylvester. Rich in diversity and pure talent, the band has been dubbed “Funky Folk Blues Diva with Jazz Cats Facing Northeast.”
The songs on their newly released CD “Moon Rising” express exuberance for life, both the up and down sides of it. “Being Who You Are” and “Ariel” came to her when she faced cancer the second time. Another, an instrumental “From the Inside Out,” captures the awe she felt communicating with Keiko the whale at the aquarium in Newport.
The group is now preparing for an event on Saturday, September 20, Women Songwriters Ignite the Aladdin, taking place the same weekend as Race for the Cure. The American Cancer Society Special Events Manager Sally Lynch will distribute leaflets about the event at the health fair occurring on the 19th, and Theresa will talk a little about her battle with breast cancer at the concert.
Women Songwriters Ignite the Aladdin will ignite you as well. You can see for yourself by accessing Theresa’s Web Site http//www.theresacd.com. Here you can listen to the songs and read the reviews. The kind of spirit Theresa and her band exude is what the world needs most- passion, love, and awe for our favorite pastime—life.
-by Marty Hughley, The Oregonian A&E Staff, September 1997
“WOMEN SONGWRITERS IGNITE THE ALADDIN THEATER” sounds like a headline following a strange terrorist act. But rest assured, it’s a concert.
Perhaps rest isn’t the best response, though. Maybe the thing to do is go grab some tickets. The show includes some of Portland’s top women musicians, and it’s at 8pm tonight. Although it’s only a concert, it still might burn its way into our memory.
“People have said “Yeah, we’re gonna be burning’ down the house!” organizer Theresa Demarest says. “I thought, “Don’t tell the insurance company!”
The Portland singer-songwriter, whose own band Theresa Demarest & Good Company will headline the event, say the name was chosen to counter the misconception of women with guitars a meek folkies.
“We didn’t want to make people think it was going to be a quiet little evening,” she says. “We’re doin’ jazz, funk, rock & R&B…and a little folk too.” The she pauses, as though imagining riot girls run amok with Marshall amps and Molotov cocktails, and adds quietly, “I don’t want people to be terrified.”
On the contrary, listeners likely will be pleased by a lineup that includes the superlative pianist Janice Scroggins, folk singers Anne Weiss and Connie Cohen.
“These are people I’ve seen around over the years and just loved,” Demarest says. She talks excitedly about all the performers, but especially about Scroggins, who plays in Good Company and who also will present a set of her own compositions.
-by Steve Cahill , A&E Staff, August 1996
Artist’s New Album Resonates Hope and Inspiration
Through the challenges Life has placed before her. Theresa Demarest has always had a special gift to sustain her – the love of music.
“Writing and performing my music has always gotten me through the hard times, ” Theresa writes in the liner notes of “Moon Rising,” her latest album. ” It has brought me the richest relationships, greatest torment, and most exuberant joy.”
An active member of the Portland Songwriters Association, Theresa has managed to build creative alliances and cultivate musical friends throughout the area.
Perhaps because of her background in nursing, or perhaps because she’s nurturing by nature, Theresa has the ability to touch people emotionally with her music. Which is not surprising when one understands how important music is to this remarkable woman.
Music, she says, saved her life.
Throughout the 1970’s, Theresa lived in Corvallis and performed in a folk duet with her then-husband Tom. After she divorced, she moved to Portland. In the early 1980’s she focused on nursing school. It was during that time she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After years of struggling with the disease, she was told by her doctors that she had 14 months to live.
“I went through chemotherapy and surgery….it was very difficult,” she says. ” At some point I remember thinking that, if I’ve only got a year, I’m going to get back to my music.
“Seven months into my 14 month life expectancy, I realized I wasn’t getting sicker, I was getting better,” she recalls. “singing again just made me happy and that changed my body chemistry.”
From that time on, Theresa’s dedication to the healing qualities of music has been stronger than ever. With her cancer in reemission, she’s found in her music a profound sense of hope, beauty, love, renewal and happiness.
Her songs often reflect passion, commitment and exceptional stylistic range.
“Moon Rising” is a beautifully realized album – emotionally resonant, and alert to revealing of quiet truth that define everyday life.
The album’s arrangements of original neo-folk, jazz and blues stylings are expertly supported by some of Portland’s finest vocalists and musicians.
Janice Scroggins is featured on piano, Tim Ellis on guitar, Jimmy Solberg on bass and Jeff Cumpston on drums. Linda Hornbuckle and Myrtle Brown assist on vocals. Bob Stark recorded and mixed the album.
Anyone interested in discovering this special artist’s music will have a great opportunity on Saturday, September 7, 1996 when Theresa Demarest will perform at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts Winningstad Theater.
The concert will also feature GOOD COMPANY, her supporting assemblage of outstanding vocalists and musicians from the Portland area
– Omaha, Nebraska, June 1995, Living Section
Musician Theresa Demarest hasn’t performed in Omaha since the late 1960s, when she was a part of a pop-rock band made up of nuns. She was an 18-year-old member of the Sisters of Mercy at the College of St. Mary when she helped form ‘We People’, a band of novice nuns who lived at the college convent.
“It was fun for us because we were very secluded from the world,” Ms. Demarest said from her home in Portland, Ore. “The nuns really wanted us just to concentrate on being nuns.”
Ms. Demarest, who traveled in 1966 to Omaha from her native Sacramento. Calif., said she was asked not to bring her guitar when she joined the Mercy order. She brought it anyway, she said — much to the chagrin of the older nuns.
But Ms. Demarest and her musically inclined classmates had at least one fan at the convent. “Our novice mistress was quite avant-garde at the time,” Ms. Demarest said, “and she really wanted this band.”
“So up on the fourth floor — we had a drummer, a bass player, a keyboard and electric guitar — we would be practicing ‘Wipe Out,’ and it was really hard on those poor old nuns.”
Ms. Demarest said We People played — dressed in full religious habits — at clubs around Omaha, at Creighton University, and even at one of the city’s breweries.
Now 46, the singer-songwriter is returning to her old stomping grounds to play her brand of folk-flavored music on June 23, at the College of St. Mary. In a nod to nostalgia Ms. Demarest said she will play at least one old We People tune — “The Silent Night” — during the 8 p.m. show.
Tickets for the concert — in the college’s Gross Lecture Hall, 1901 S. 72nd St. — are $8 at the door. Tickets in advance can be ordered by mail for $6; call 556-0977 for more information.
After leaving the order in 1968, Ms. Demarest moved back to California, where she met Tom Demarest, whom she married. The two formed a folk duo, moved to Portland and became widely known on the music circuit in that region with the help of two well-received albums.
But after a divorce in 1979, Ms. Demarest abandoned her music career to become a nurse. While in her junior year of nursing school, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After successful treatment, Ms. Demarest returned to nursing.
However, in 1987 she was told the cancer had returned. This time, Ms. Demarest said, the doctors were not as hopeful. She said they gave her 14 months to live.
“I went through chemotherapy, radiation, several surgeries, and it was very, very difficult. And I thought, well, I’ve only got this year, so I’m going to get back into my music again.”
Eight years later, the singer-songwriter seems to have tamed a savage beast with the healing power of music. Ms. Demarest’s album “Bein’ Who You Are” — featuring the poignant title track — is a result of that, she said.
The concept of ‘being who you are’ was the legacy that I wanted to leave my son,” Ms. Demarest said. ‘Bein’ Who Your Are’ is a song that I’ve dedicated to him. I wanted him to have something from his mom.”
– by Sheila Henderson, The Voice Magazine, Grand Junction CO, 1992
When critical care nurse Theresa Demarest was told in 1987 that her breast cancer had returned, she was given 14 months to live. Her response came naturally. She started to sing.
Turning to song seems a remarkable reaction to such fatal news. But there’s a lot about this Portland, Oregon woman that’s remarkable. No stranger to adversity, Demarest first discovered she had breast cancer in her junior year of nursing school. “My anatomy and physiology class was down the hall from the chemotherapy lab of the hospital. As I passed it I would think, look at those poor people losing their hair, they looked so sick,” remembers Demarest. “I’d wonder if that happened to me if I just wouldn’t let go and die.”
But Demarest didn’t let go. She underwent the hours of cancer treatment, which included surgery, with the support of a recently joined Alanon group. “Its 12 step program taught me that I had control over my life, I wasn’t a victim,” says Demarest, whose own father died of alcoholism. Taking a year off for recovery, she returned to school and completed her nursing degree. Four years later, the cancer returned.
“It had metastasized into my chest wall,” says Demarest in a somber, yet composed voice, “and the medical research didn’t give me much hope. There wasn’t much the doctors could do for me.”
Demarest knew she had a decision to make—how did she want to spend the rest of her life? The answer would come easily. The former professional singer wanted to return to her passion—her music.
She had started singing and playing the guitar at the age of twelve. “It was a way to deal with my loneliness and confusion over my family’s situation” she explains. She grew up in California in what she describes as a “very dysfunctional family.” The daughter of a physician and a nurse, she was sent to a Catholic boarding school after the death of her father.
Because of her religious background, she entered a convent at the age of 18. There the self-taught musician formed an all-nun soft rock group calling themselves “We People.”
She discovered, however, that while she was a spiritual person she no longer wanted to pursue traditional religious teachings. It was through her songs that she decided to reach the souls of others.
She left the convent and while in a music store shortly after, met Tom Demarest, a fellow singer and composer. They married and formed a folk singing duet—Tom and Theresa.
During their 6 year marriage they lived in Corvallis, Oregon, gaining a strong following on Oregon college campuses and local coffee houses. Together they produced 2 albums, the second, Carry Me Back, released in 1975, received recognition from Billboard magazine. When the marriage ended in 1979, Demarest put her musical career aside to pursue a more stable career in nursing.
“Being a nurse is similar to being a singer,” explains Demarest. “There’s a place in music where you get inside people’s hearts and souls.
A good nurse will experience that same place.” Today, with her cancer in remission, she reaches out to people as both musician and care giver.
“Seven months into my 14 month life expectancy, I realized I wasn’t getting sicker, I was getting better,” she smiles. “Singing again just made me happy and that changed my body chemistry.”
She started working in the critical care trauma unit of a Portland Oregon hospital. There she met the people she now performs with. Her first CD, Bein’ Who You Are was released this January. She also just performed her first major concert at the glittering Portland Center for the Performing Arts.
Demarest’s songs reflect the tragedies and triumphs of not only her own life, but of those in our society. She sings about self-discovery, recovery from cancer, family problems, alcohol dependence, the homeless. Reach For You, a song she wrote in 1990, tells of an imaginary conversation between a critical care nurse and his/her comatose patient. She dedicates it to the victims of drunk drivers and to the nurses who care for them.
The title song on her CD, Bein’ Who You Are, was written for her 20-year-old son, Joshua. It’s a message to him that life is not always what we’d hope for, but disappointments can be overcome with inner strength.
There are many who have not had the benefit of Demarest’s music but do have the benefit of her nursing skills. She feels she was always a compassionate nurse, but having cancer changed her nursing philosophy. She describes her new outlook as ‘back to the basics.’ “I look into my patients’ faces, I touch them. I get to know their families,” she says.
Looking into the face of death, Theresa Demarest has come to know herself. “I don’t care now if I have 1 month or 30 years to live,” she says with conviction. “I’m happy.
– posted on website, Sunday, July 01, 2001, Indie-Music.com
“Theresa’s voice is also a high point. At times it gets low-down and growly and then rises to airy and sweet in the same breath. She sounds like kd lang with a kick.”
Intro/general thoughts: If you’re into aromatherapy, candles, meditation, and the ocean, I have found the soundtrack to your life. The live CD “Keiko’s Dream” by Theresa Demarest & Good Company is meant to be listened to with your eyes closed so the imagery can take over.
Type of Music: A cool, new-age kind of jazz with a few moments of R&B and the Blues.
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Notable: Demarest is a real environmentalist, and you can hear it in the natural, wave-like flow of her music. Proceeds from this CD go to the Ocean Futures Society (the result of a merger between The Free Willy Keiko Foundation and The Jean-Michel Cousteau Institute).
Highs: There are several. The little something different is thrown in with “Sunshine,” with its welcome feel of old-fashioned ragtime blues. Theresa’s voice is also a high point. At times it gets low-down and growly and then rises to airy and sweet in the same breath. She sounds like kd lang with a kick. The sax work is stellar on this album, especially on “You Got Everything Babe” and in the beginning of “Tell Me Everything’s Nice.”
Lows: Some of these musical interludes just seem to meander a bit too long. I think in order to really appreciate this music, you must be an avid fan of instrumental jazz and have nothing pressing on your schedule.
Favorite Lines: Actually, my favorite track doesn’t have lyrics. It’s the title track, “Keiko’s Dream.” The music is cool, quiet, and playful. I can picture the whales and dolphins playing in the ocean, dancing over the waves.
Fans: People with a huge collection of music by Miles Davis, BB King, and other blues and jazz greats.
Foes: Rock, metal, and hip hop fans and anyone with a short attention span.
Promo Notes or Indie Notes: Good Company members Myrtle Brown, Linda Hornbuckle, and Janice Scroggins step into the spotlight for “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” which is a nice change of pace. It gives the audience a chance to see just what a talented group of performers this band is. It’s not just Theresa Demarest and Her Backup Band. I got a kick out of the pre-song bantering between the singers.
Summary: It’s impossible to be stressed out while listening to this CD. It’s a fun, playful kind of music that promotes a good cause.