by jennifer hetrick
anyone who has heard ryan marie rettew perform knows that music and healing mingle like two peas in a pod, if music and healing were brightly green garden veggies for in-need bellies. and they just might be, if imagination stretches enough for the better around sound, soul, and earth—in this case.
rettew resides in coatesville, chester county but will be moving to bowmansville, lancaster county in the next few months and grew up in on the edge of berks county in elverson in her childhood days.
she easily reminisces about those first music memories.
“my dad played guitar, so there were always guitars in the house, and he writes his own instrumental songs,” she says. “as a little girl, i remember sitting around having my dad play his guitar. and i took piano lessons when i was eight.”
her grandfather played guitar, too, but more in the electric persuasion. she described him as looking a bit like an old rocker, to boot.
her dad is an acoustic guitar kind of fellow, just like his daughter who lulls crowds with an easy and genuine magick at her shows.
when her school friends began signing up to learn to the play the clarinet, she wanted to tag along on that same wagon, but in the end, she decided to stick with piano.
one year, she received her first two cassette tapes as gifts: ace of base and no doubt. “as soon as i got them, i was always listening, playing the songs over and over,” she says. “i’d have the order of songs and the words memorized.”
she soon fell for the beatles, shortly after her first decade of having joined the world, this round. a track from “rubber soul,” released in 1965, swam through her in full swing of lyrics in her preteen days.
“my family went to the community pool one day, and i sang ‘norwegian wood’ from start to finish and knew all of the words. as we were getting out of the van in the pool parking lot, to go swimming, my dad said, ‘you have to be the only 11-year-old who knows all of the words to that song,’” rettew reflects.
she soon began attempting to teach herself how to play the guitar and then took lessons in shillington and began writing her own music and lyrics. writing poetry in high school and college had great ties into her lyricism, which carries an often uniquely simple yet deep, soul-tugging appeal to it, getting to the heart of those who hear her music, all for the better. many who hear her listen in awe and have agreed that there is something mystically healing about how her plucking of strings and voice whisk together to bring songs to the air.
( ryan marie rettew at the other farm brewing company in boyertown
this past january - photograph courtesy of samantha stoltfzus )
“i think that music has the ability to carry a message even in the wordless parts. a rest, or a pause in a piece of music is just as powerful to me as the notes and the lyrics. i think part of the reason i'm drawn to music of past generations is because i'm fascinated by the timelessness of it. i know that people listening to these songs when they were first written were as moved as i am, listening to them now, and i like that music can connect my present to the past. it gives me a sense of belonging with the world that i don't normally experience.”