Born in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, Diane taught herself guitar during long winter evenings, her feet perched on a wood-burning stove. She wrote her first songs in high school and began working her way through 100 English Folk Songs, a classic collection of ballads. She was captivated by the beauty and power of the melodies and the way the words provide a glimpse into the past.
Diane moved to the Boston area to earn a degree in elementary education at Boston College, then a graduate degree in communications at Lesley College. She honed her stagecraft at the wealth of folk venues in the Boston area. Her first cassette of six original songs received much local radio airplay. She supported herself as a freelance editor, working for various publishers and magazines in the Boston area, including Houghton-Mifflin and Inc. magazine.
In the late 1980s Diane studied guitar with 12-string master Tracy Moore and polished her vocal skills at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. She created some striking songs on the lap dulcimer that make the most of its quirky charm. She also fell for the quirky charm of her husband, John, whom she wed in 1991.The First Recordings
Diane signed with an independent label, BCN Records, which in 1993 released Shoes That Fit Like Sand. It includes one of Diane's most enduringly popular songs, "Raisin Pie," to which Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham brought his magic. Also in 1993 Diane joined the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society, a band that performed maritime, Celtic, and Colonial music on fiddle, flute, guitar, accordion, banjo, whistle, and percussion. In 1995 the Wizmak label released the band's CD Airs From Who Knows Where, featuring some of Diane's compositions.
In 1994, Diane had four songs on BCN's compilation recording The Songs of Jack Hardy, and in 1996 the label released her second solo CD, Gathered Safely In. Selections include a dark take on Steve Goodman's "Lookin' for Trouble," with by an amazing harmonica solo by Chris Turner, and an intense dulcimer version of "Black is the Color." On other songs Diane sings in French, interprets Scottish airs with words by Robert Burns, and soothes listeners with "All Through the Night." The most surprising track is "Heard It Through the Grapevine," which Diane transforms into a folk song.
Diane left BCN and in 1999 released a holiday CD, Hope! Says the Holly. It includes a wry version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," complete with sound effects. She added three new verses to the classic "In the Bleak Midwinter," turning it into a Solstice song, and she used the African calimba to give a celestial ring to "People, Look East" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."Branching Out
Reflecting her love of history, Diane created a program called "A Silver Dagger: Exploring Women's History Through Folk Songs." Women in centuries past left few records behind, but we can glimpse their inner lives through the songs they used to speed their work or ease an aching heart. Diane performs in historic clothing and plays authentic instruments. In 2008 she recorded a companion CD for the program.
When her daughter was about four, Diane began leading sing-alongs for babies and toddlers, a joyful activity she pursued for ten years at various libraries. For six years she led her own sing-alongs in a rented room at an Arlington church and sold many copies of her CD Toddler Songs.
Diane took a break from the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society to record her fourth solo CD, Beat of the Heart, which came out in 2003. It includes Diane's own sea chantey, "The Great Sea-Serpent of Cape Ann," her setting of Longfellow's poem "The Children's Hour," and the title song, rejoicing in the universality of music. Other songs hail from Québec, Ireland, England, and the USA, including a bouncy version of "Froggie Went a-Courtin'."
In 2005 Diane rejoined the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society. The band performed widely, gave July 4 weekend concerts on Georges Island in Boston Harbor, and played music at historical events in Lexington and other towns. Summer concerts became a specialty, brightening evenings with songs, stories, and original compositions. Diane produced the band's 2008 album "Liberty!"Artistry for Hire
In 2005 Diane created a Solstice poem,The Longest Night, along with four accompanying songs, and led a group of 50 children in reciting and adding effects to it at a service at her church in Arlington.
In 2006 she was commissioned by the choral group In Choro Novo to arrange her song Silver the Moon for four-part harmony. The group has presented it twice in concerts at Boston University's Marsh Chapel. This inspired her to create arrangements of her own and other songs for the UUlations, her womens' a cappella group.
That same year, Diane satisfied a longtime dream and joined an early music group. She became a member of Vox Lucens, a 12-member choir that sings glorious a cappella music by Renaissance composers. She participated in recording the group's 2008 CD The Rarest of Gems.
Also in 2006 Diane received a commission to create a quilt with Shaker themes as part of a project by New England Voices. The project included two concerts, in Arlington and Amherst, and a CD. Diane sang in the chorus on Shaker songs and modern works inspired by Shaker music. Her quilt was the backdrop for the Arlington concert.
In 2009, Diane's tenth CD was released -- 15 tracks of diverse beauty and fun called Inspiration/Tarazification. It showcased her ability to make the songs of others uniquely her own. A highlight is her composition "Let's Go Canoeing on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg," about a lake in Webster, Massachusetts. As always, there's a holiday song -- a shimmering rendition of "O Holy Night" sung in the original French.Spending Time in the 18th Century
In January 2010, Diane was invited by the Lexington Historical Society to teach colonial-era songs to a group of guides and reenactors. Over the years she has hunted for songs to teach the group, digging ever deeper into the experiences of New Englanders in the Revolutionary era. Inspired by her work, she created a program similar to her Women's History program, calling it "Songs of the Revolution." It was an immediate hit. Diane has presented it at dozens of venues throughout Massachusetts, performing in an open-front 18th-century gown sewn by hand, and playing authentic instruments.
The companion CD for "Songs of the Revolution" is a best-seller throughout the world, particularly popular in England. Its 21 songs illustrate many aspects of life in the 1700s. Jonathan Gilbert, Diane's colleague in the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society, contributed vocals and played recorders, whistle, mandolin, and viola.
In 2011 Diane teamed with Jonathan again to create her second holiday CD, The Old New Year. Many of the songs came from her annual holiday concert, "Carols by Candlelight," a long-running tradition that began with several years in a cozy Arlington chapel and moved to Diane's even cozier living room for more years of musical joy, plus mulled cider and sugarplums at intermission.
Diane was called on to provide music for other events in Lexington, including the show "In Their Own Words," a depiction of the events of April 19, 1775, when the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired on Lexington Green. She also was a presenter in the Lexington Historical Society's Living History program, performing Colonial music in a historic barn for visitors from all over the world.On to the 19th Century
In 2011 Diane provided music for a Veterans' Day event sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society that included Civil War reenactors. To look the part she sewed by hand a hoop-skirted gown from an 1850s pattern with over seven yards of fabric. This inspired her to create a new program called "Home, Sweet Home: A Civil War Sampler," presenting the stirring music of that conflict. In 2012 Diane released the companion CD for that program, recorded at her favorite studio, Straight Up Music, in Arlington. She collaborated with engineer Larry Luddecke and talented musicians to create a tribute to beloved classics.
Diane was now releasing at least one recording a year, and sometimes two. In 2013 she created A Victorian Christmas to go with a new program exploring the original versions of familiar carols, many of which differ in fascinating ways from the versions we know today. Christmas was not a major holiday until the Victorians created or revived many carols and traditions. It's such fun to hear the original tune of "Jingle Bells," which was quite athletic! The recording's mood ranges from serene to boisterous, and Diane sings in French and German as well as English.
Diane has performed "A Victorian Christmas" in many historic houses, libraries, and halls. The ideal setting was a two-day open house at Longfellow House, where she sang the poet's "I Heard the Bells" in the music room of his home. Visitors delighted in both the music and the sight of Diane in her festive hoop-skirted gown, which fit perfectly into the vintage surroundings.Jazz Standards and More
In 2014 Diane recorded her favorite jazz standards with an amazing backup band. Let's Do It! brought her back to Wellspring Sound in Acton, where she recorded her first few CDs, and the masterful engineering of Eric Kilburn. With Mike Duke on guitar, Peter Tillotson on bass, Steve Langone on drums, and Billy Novick on clarinet, Diane created a love-letter to the American songbook, putting her own elegant spin on "Summertime," "Since I Fell For You," "Tiptoe Thru the Tulips," and the title track. There's French, of course, on "Stardust" and "La vie en rose."
The recording also includes Diane's absolutely definitive arrangement of the skiffle classic "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?" It features dozens of rapid-fire brands of chewing gum from the last century or so. Diane's instructions to the band were, "Play as fast as you can!" They had a ridiculous amount of fun doing so.
Also in 2014 Diane produced a CD for the UUlations. When Music Sounds was recorded in St. Anne Chapel at the Bethany House of Prayer in Arlington, a 1920s stone church that perfectly suits their ethereal blend of voices. Diane wrote and arranged some of the songs for the group, and she created the graphics.Can't Stay Outta the Studio
2015 was another a two-CD year. For the Lexington Historical Society Colonial Singers Diane ran a Kickstarter campaign and produced Now Kiss the Cup! This collection of songs in praise of spirits was recorded in the Taproom of Buckman Tavern, built in 1710, where the Lexington Militia gathered the day the American Revolution began in 1775. Recording challenges included brutal cold and a series of storms that had singers clambering over towering snowbanks. The hardy New Englanders persevered, and the result is a recreation of an evening in a Colonial tavern, complete with a crackling fire, clinking tankards, snippets of conversation, and rousing songs that have echoed off the old wooden walls for centuries.
The second 2015 recording was What Is the Wind? It includes some songs written when Diane was in her 20s, as well as one of her newest at the time, "Your Truest Friend," featuring her new words for the tune of Londonderry Air (Danny Boy). Peter Tillotson played bass, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes offered captivating fiddle, and Billy Novick added soaring pennywhistle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
In 2016 Diane released A Fond Farewell, a CD of memorial songs, both original and classic. Not meant as her farewell (!), Diane called on bluegrass fiddle master Darol Anger and bassist Peter Tillotson, and for the first time added longtime engineer Larry Luddecke's bluesy piano. As one reviewer put it, the recording is "not nearly as depressing as you might expect!" The mood is decidedly upbeat and inspiring despite the memorial theme.So Much History to Explore
In December 2016 Diane created "Factory Maids," honoring the generations of workers who labored in New England's textile mills. The location for its debut was perfect -- the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, the site of the country's first complete cotton mill. Dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing, Diane accompanied songs created and enjoyed by millworkers, playing dulcimer and parlor guitar. As a descendant of immigrant millworkers on both sides of her family, Diane is honored to tell their stories and celebrate their determination to find a better life in a new land.
In 2017, three years after her first foray into the standards, Diane got the band together again for Let's Misbehave! She added Larry Luddecke on piano, and Bill Reynolds replaced Steve Langone as drummer. The group played the living daylights out of such classics as "Georgia On My Mind," "God Bless the Child," "Angel From Montgomery," and "Ain't Misbehavin'." At the CD release concert the audience reveled in a take-no-prisoners romp through Diane's inspired medley of "Wonderful World," "Cupid," and "Johnnie B. Goode," led by Diane's dulcimer -- always the first choice of instrumentation for early rock & roll, don't you think?
By now fans were downloading and streaming Diane's recordings everywhere -- Thailand, Japan, England, Europe, South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. In 2018 she released two compilation CDs of material from previous releases. She gathered up her many sea songs on Sailor's Delight, adding two new tracks: "Lady Franklin's Lament" and "Leave Her, Johnny." Celtic Melodies features her Irish and Scottish songs, including her extremely popular rendition of "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier."The Play's the Thing
In 2017 Diane adapted a London play written way back in 1728, The Beggar's Opera by John Gay. Its cast of scoundrels, beggars, thieves, and ladies of the evening scramble to survive in a society awash in corruption and hypocrisy. Unlike classical operas, Mr. Gay's play was in spoken English, and the music was short, familiar tunes for which Gay wrote new words. The novelty of hearing well-loved melodies in the midst of shocking cynicism captivated the public.
Diane trimmed the wordy play into a manageable size and selected 20 of its original 60 tunes. Directing a cast drawn mostly from the Colonial Singers with others from the Lexington Historial Society, Diane accompanied the songs on her lute-like "English guitar" and took the role of Mrs. Peachum. She delighted in turning the usually prim and tidy Lexingtonians into scruffy guttersnipes with blacked-out teeth and sooty noses.
The group presented The Beggar's Opera three times in 2017 and 2018 as part of Wicked Revelry, an evening of scandal and wit at the Lexington Depot, complete with rum punch, Colonial-era snacks, and a rowdy sing-along.Videos, Television, Courses
Diane has made slide-show videos for many of her songs, available on YouTube. There are links on her website to easily call them up. The 24 so far include "Raisin Pie," "Amaryllis," "Let's Go Canoeing on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg," "Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabella," and "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier." "Johnny" is a particular favorite, at 222,000 views and counting.
In 2017 Diane's "Let's Go Canoeing" was used in My Lottery Dream Home, in the third episode of season three. Host David Bromstad helped a couple find a home on Webster Lake and learned to pronounce the original name with the help of the song. Diane continually hears from people in various countries as the show and her song circle the world. "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," has been used in the credits for a series about the American Revolution.
In 2018 Diane created even more historic programs, and in 2019 she presented a four-week course, Singing the Past to Life, for Framingham State University's Adventures in Lifelong Learning program, held at the Framingham Public Library. She traced the history of American music from the first immigrants in 1630 through the Revolutionary War, the Victorian era, the Civil War, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. On four Tuesdays in April she explored a wide range of styles that provided an emotional window into the lives of Americans over the centuries.
Other providers of adult-education programming continue to host her, including the Osher Institute at Tufts University and the Jenks Center in Winchester.And Then Came Covid
In 2020, Diane grappled with pandemic isolation and an autoimmune disorder that left her at risk. She adapted to a new reality of virtual rehearsals and performances.
Just before the world shut down in March, Vox Lucens finished recording Caroling in the Light. It was released for Christmas 2020, a love letter to Renaissance polyphony and favorite old carols, so old that the group sang them with the English pronunciation from centuries ago. Diane's husband, John, did the recording in the resonant sanctuary of Park Avenue Church, where Vox Lucens are artists-in-residence. Mixing and mastering was done by Larry Luddecke at Straight Up Music in Arlington, coordinated by telephone, e-mails, and file transfers.
Diane was soon back at Straight Up Music, isolated in the recording space while Larry stayed in his control room. Theo the studio dog was bereft at being unable to join in; he just didn't understand why he couldn't snuggle up to Diane as usual. The result of these sessions was Rockin' out on Star Island, a private-issue album of songs from a conference center on the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire. Half are from previous recordings, half are new, and all are wonderful evocations of the special place Diane and John have visited each summer for decades.
In January 2021 Diane was invited to join the Scholarly Advisory Board of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, based in New York City. She has performed multiple times under the sponsorship of the institute and looks forward to more collaborations.Persevering
Diane regained her health and managed to keep rehearsing with Vox Lucens, her Renaissance group. In fall 2021 they held an outdoor concert in her backyard. A large audience reveled in live music after so long without it. The birds in the vicinity joined in. Another backyard concert in spring 2022 was blessed with lovely weather and equally enthusiastic birds.
In 2022 Diane revisited Straight Up Music to record four singles, two inspired by the pandemic: Suitcase Full of Knives, The Aggravation Tango, Dream Lover, and If Ever I Would Leave You. She collaborated with Straight Up owner Larry Luddecke on piano, Peter Tillotson on bass, and Billy Novick on sax and clarinet. Billy added moody sax to Suitcase Full of Knives, about dealing with the unexpected (something we have a great deal of practice doing nowadays) and outdid himself on The Aggravation Tango, creating a spiky argument between clarinets that is aggravating, but not unbearably so. Adapting to the changed world of music delivery, Diane issued these singles not on a physical CD, but in digital form only, for downloads and streaming.
As restrictions eased Diane resumed rehearsals with the Lexington Historical Society Colonial Singers, first by Zoom and then in person. They worked on her adaptation of another antique play, The Disappointment, or the Force of Credulity, which back in 1767 was intended to be the first drama written in North America to be produced in the Colonies. But on the eve of its opening it was canceled as "unfit for the Stage." The problem was that it was based on a practical joke that had been played on some residents of Philadelphia who were sure they would be recognized and ridiculed. The play, not performed for a century, and then in an inaccurate form, is a vigorous romp through a Colonial world where looking for buried treasure was a common pastime, and illustrates the roots of American humor.
Diane had to suspend rehearsals when conditions worsened, but she hopes to revisit The Disappointment someday. In the best business tradition, she pivoted to work on the group's second recording, which had been on hold since fall 2021. Released in August 2022, An Abundance of Pastime captures the sound not of trained singers but of ordinary folks whiling away an evening by the fire, entertaining themselves in time-honored fashion by singing ballads, silly ditties, and rounds. Diane's husband, John, recorded the group live at Munroe Tavern in Lexington, and Diane mixed and mastered with Audacity.
Diane intends to use her new-found Audacity skills to make recordings in her home studio. Live performances have picked up, and she gives a First Saturday Concert every month via Zoom. The evolving landscape of music distribution means that her 19 solo CDs, 6 CDs with groups, and 4 singles keep finding fresh listeners around the world. She loves hearing from people who appreciate her 51 original songs and hundreds of interpretations of the creations of others.