“Switch on the kitchen light, fill the pan with water, turn on the stovetop…” And so begins most days for songwriter Gary DeMichele. “It’s my daily ritual and it starts with making that first cup of tea – strong and black - very early in the morning while the house is dark and quiet.”

It’s a ritual that would grow to play a critical role in his creative journey. “Once we started a family, my free time seemed to evaporate overnight. And then one day it hit me that I hadn’t finished a song in quite a while.” The old methods weren’t working anymore. “It used to be almost easy. Leave a guitar and a notebook lying around the house and the songs get done. Those days were gone.”

Gary realized that if he wanted to get back to songwriting, he’d need to create the time and space for it. “It was only going to happen if I took an active approach – much like an exercise routine - and so I started waking early, before anyone else was up.” It was a tough change for someone inclined to burning the midnight oil but one that would prove fruitful. “It was only an hour or so in the morning but I soon started finishing songs again and the whole process developed a momentum of its own.”

As the new ritual took hold, Gary decided to go a step further. “Inspiration was always important to my songwriting but I was coming to really appreciate the craft, the practice of sticking with an idea and seeing it through to fruition. I wondered if I could push myself a little harder.” 

Thus was born 52 in 52, a songwriting endeavor that had Gary writing, recording and releasing a song a week for a year. “I remember it was December 31st and I had prepped an email announcing to everyone in my contact list what my plan was for the next year. I figured a little public accountability would help keep me committed. Hitting send was terrifying. I knew it was one of those threshold moments, a point of no turning back without a serious blow to my confidence and self-identity as a songwriter.”

The project was fruitful if not so easy. “It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever tried to do, week after week, getting it done around the needs of my family and my work. But I wouldn’t trade the experience, I learned so much.”

Since then, Gary has kept up the output and increasingly found ways to collaborate with other songwriters and producers. “The process of making music is so rewarding, whether it’s finishing a song during one of those predawn sessions, tinkering around in my home studio or collaborating with some of the amazing folks I’ve been privileged to work with.”

His latest release Morning Light is a collection of simple self-recorded acoustic demos.  “I’ve been wanting to find a more immediate way to get the songs out there. I was reluctant to release something so simple and unpolished but decided maybe the songs can stand on their own. It’s a bit of an experiment so we’ll see how it goes.”

The title is a nod back to that daily ritual. "I could never overstate the importance of committing to those early morning sessions several years ago. Week after week, month after month. Hundreds of songs that simply never would have been finished were it not for that decision. And of course, maybe the help of some strong black tea."