Award-winning San Diego singer-songwriters Eve Selis, Lisa Sanders, Veronica May and Randi Driscoll are banding together to give divas a good name.
Their all-ages Luna Diva Fest Sunday at Heritage Ranch in Encinitas is designed to celebrate unity and grown-up girl power in a way the Spice Girls never could.
“I think a diva is a strong, confident woman who lives in an open-hearted space and is comfortable in her own skin,” Selis said.
May and Sanders, seated next to her, both nodded.
“There’s the notion,” May interjected, “that a diva is ...
“Bitchy and closed off,” Selis said, “and everything is their way or the highway!”
“Yeah,” Sanders agreed. “People think divas are fussy and that nothing anyone else does is good enough. Whereas with this concert ...”
“We’ll show people,” Selis said, “that we’re stronger together, every day, when we come together in a positive light. And that is the best definition of being a diva.”
Sunday’s open-air Luna Diva Fest will feature individual and joint performances by the four featured artists. The house band will be led by San Diego music mainstay Jeff Berkley. The repertoire will alternate between original numbers and classic songs about the moon by other artists. The concert is timed to take place as a full moon rises.
May, Sanders and Selis sat down recently for a joint interview in the airy living room of May’s North Park home, where their answers were frequently punctuated by their laughter. Driscoll spoke by phone from Nashville, where she moved less than two months ago. All four were asked to answer the same questions.
What was the first song you ever wrote, and what was it about?
May: “ ‘Nothing Short of a Miracle.’ It’s about Jesus. I wanted to be a nun when I was younger and wanted to join the convent when I was a 17. My mom said: ‘You need to get an education first.’ So I went to to college and became a lesbian!”
Sanders: “I plagiarized some music, because I was 8, and changed the lyrics to ‘Greensleeves’ to something like: ‘I love you, mom and dad’.”
Selis: “It was ‘Laugh and People Will Laugh With You.’ I was probably 10 and wrote it with my sisters as a gift for our father for his birthday. We actually went into a studio and recorded it for a 45 (single). It went: Sing and people will sing with you / Live and people will live with you / Ahhhh... ”
Driscoll: “I think the first was a love song to my then probably 8-year-old boyfriend. I still have the paper I wrote it on somewhere. It’s called something like ‘When Love Fills the Air’ or ‘Love’s in the Air’.”
What was the most recent song you ever wrote, and what was it about?
May: “That’s hilarious. Because it’s called ‘Small Town’ and it’s about the fact I didn’t know I was gay when I grew up in a small farm town, Byers, in Colorado, which is a wonderful town.”
Sanders: “I’m still working on it. It’s called ‘Home’ and I co-wrote it with Thom and Coley Shepherd, a married couple from Austin that I met in Idaho.”
Selis: “ ‘End of the Story,’ which was something someone said to me when I was in one of the darkest places in my life. She said: ‘You don’t know the end of the story,’ and it gave me a lot of hope. I just finished it.”
Driscoll: “It’s about rising from the ashes, feeling reborn and getting back in touch with yourself again — being broken, but not out of the game yet, and coming back even stronger. I don’t have a name for it yet.”
What are some of the songs you are doing at Luna Diva?
May: One of my own, ‘There is Hope.’ And we’re all doing a ‘moon song,’ and mine is ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’
Sanders: “ ‘Crazy Talk,’ which is mine, and ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young. He moves me. I used to lay in my room and put my Neil Young and Cat Stevens songs on.”
Selis: “My song, ‘Fearless,” and ‘Whole of the Moon’ by The Waterboys.”
Driscoll: I’m doing ‘Man in the Moon’ by R.E.M. And, with the girls, I’ll sing ‘What Matters,’ which I wrote 20 years ago about unconditional love. I particularly like to sing it with Lisa, Veronica and Eve because they are all phenomenal singer-songwriters and were all like-minded artists. Doing it with four-part harmonies with them and singing about love feels really good.”
Finish this sentence: A day without music would be ...
Sanders: “Really boring!”
Selis: “Really, really boring!”
Driscoll: “Really, really, really boring!”
What was your worst-ever day job?
May: “Taco Bell, because (laughs) it was really tempting to be around fast food at the time! And, maybe, because of getting minimum wage and having to wear pants that were too tight for me!”
Sanders: “Selling portraits, door to door. You’d go in houses and try and talk people into getting photos of their families and try to get them to buy a package deal. … I did that for two weeks and that was two weeks too long. I met lovely people and they really liked me. They had me go through my whole spiel, and then they’d say: ‘We don’t want it!’ I discovered I couldn’t close — I wasn’t a sales person.”
Selis: “Teaching trampoline aerobics. I had the friggin’ 6 a.m session and I’m not a morning person. I’d say to everyone: ‘Thank you for showing up. I’m going to make this hurt!’ Then I’d put on (Michael Jackson’s) ‘Beat It.’ We each used a small, individual trampoline, and — when you bounced on it — it had an extra beat! I also had to sell gym memberships, and I sucked at it.”
Driscoll: “My grandmother in New Jersey got me a summer job as an office assistant to an ‘accountant.’ What he really did was spend most of his days betting on horses. Since his office was a (betting) front, he made me copy names and phone numbers out of the Yellow Pages because he was going to mail them (things). I also got his lunch. I made maybe $5 an hour.”
What is a diva to you, and what is the most diva like thing you have ever done?
May: “A diva to me is a woman who stands in her power. The way I do that is I’m on the board of Girls Rock Camp San Diego, a camp to empower girls through music. We also do a Women’s Rock Camp. And I’m a mental health advocate.”
Sanders: “I discovered that a diva for me is me knowing exactly who I am and really getting in touch with that. To be able to stand in my own skin, on stage, and not care what people might think. I’m working like that.”
Selis: “It’s very empowering when you decide to make the most loving choice for yourself. Even if it will hurt someone else, in the long run it will be the best choice for everyone.”
Driscoll: “I think of a diva as an artist who is generally female, but not necessarily, and who really encompasses the idea of empowerment and strength through their artistry. A diva has power behind them, whether vocal power, musical power or standing true to what you do. And that’s true of all the women doing the Luna Diva Festival.”
John and Patty’s House Concerts present Luna Diva Fest
With: Randi Driscoll, Veronica May, Lisa Sanders and Eve Selis, with Jeff Berkley
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Heritage Ranch, 450 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas
Tickets: $30 (general admission), $60 (reserved VIP seats)