Author Archives: debramugnani

Three coins in a fountain

April and May in Italy and France was a painful experience because I just kept having to pinch myself to see if I was really there or if I was in a wonderful dream!  I planned the trip back in October and was initially going to be going alone.  In January, a friend I’ve known since college decided to join me for the first two weeks in Italy  and in February a mutual friend of our’s whom I’ve since middle school decided to join us too. We had such a fun time everywhere we went.  We celebrated a birthday in Rome and threw our three coins in Trevi fountain too.  I can’t say what I wished for of course but I just know it will come true!  We had some beautiful weather some days and rain and hail that looked like snow on other days. We visited Saturnia, Sienna, Monterregione, San Gemingnano, Volterra, Solvano, Soldano, Pittignano, Lucca, Pietra Santo, Bologna and Milano.  We ate dinner in the house my grandmother was raised in and lunch in the house my grandfather was raised in too.

In Paris, I spent two weeks with my friend Sandrine.   I met Sandrine while vacationing here on the West Coast two years ago.  She is a Parisian native and much like me here in San Francisco, lives a very full and rich life in the City of Lights.  I took in almost every walking tour offerred in Paris and visited museums I’d never been to before like the Cluny Medeival Museum and The Montmartre Museum which had a very interesting exhibit about the Black Cat cabaret theater.  One of the highlights of my time in Paris was being invited to perform on May 2nd  at the Swan Bar in Montparnasse.  It was very exciting to prepare for the event and the show itself was lots of fun! I spent a few days visiting old friends in  Montpellier, in the South of France.  One day we saw pink flamingos and had a delicious lunch by the Maguelone Cathedral on the Cote D’Azur.  Another day we had a  lovely time hiking around a medieval village called Sauve where R. Crumb lives.

The night before I left Paris, I attended a concert of  jazz icon, Jon Hendricks with  his talented daughters, Michelle and Aria Hendricks and scat improvisor virtuoso, Kevin Fitzgerald Burke, who just happens to be  the son of Kat Fitzgerald, my dear friend and fellow Supper Club Six member.

I’m back in San Francisco now and looking forward to a June “busting out all over” with music, flowers and love!

West Coast-themed show, Bologna, Italy

 Cantina Bentivoglio, Bologna Italy

On May, 6, 2014 I performed at this excellent jazz club in Northern Italy.
RSVP on Facebook 

Cafe Bentivoglio2

Performances and Guest Appearances by:
Pierluigi Mingotti
Ettore Cimpincio
Biagi Fabio
Maurizio Ribani
Nicolò Sergio Cantautore
Federico Ossani
Fabrizio Nardini
Chiara Magliozzi
Maddalena Raabbi
Elena Mirandola
Sara Porqueddu

Location: Via Mascarella 4/B, 40126 Bologna, Italy


Latest blog post –Not! Yes!

Debra at Pescadero Tree Farm
Dear friends, I don’t know how your month has gone but I know for me it’s been a mixture of moments of feeling super overwhelmed with not having enough time to do all that I’d like to do for the holidays and also many moments of happiness and joyful connection. When I practice the lyrics to the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, I sometimes jokingly exclaim to myself, “Not!” and at other times say, “Yes! It certainly is!
What are the true gifts of the season? For me they are spending time with some of the sweet people I have in my life, they are spending time with friends and loved ones and enjoying the sights, tastes and sounds of a magical time of year in a myriad of ways:
  • Enjoying an afternoon holiday party where there is laughter and good humor over a cup of eggnog, cookies and savory treats.
  • Lighting a candle and taking a few moments to sit and quietly reflect on the all the wonderful performances I’ve been a part of this year.
  • Sitting around the dining room table with good friends sharing dreams and stories with hot soup, bread and cheese on a rainy evening.
  • Spending an afternoon at a tree farm in Pescadero with old friends making holiday wreathes, picnicking, roasting marshmallows, and getting on a wooden swing hung from giant Eucalyptus trees and swinging up to see the view of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Enjoying a festive night at the Sausalito Cruising Club with many of my dear friends in the audience. Feeling the barge brim with holiday cheer.

(marshmallows roasting on an open fire…)

roasting marshmallows


What, to you, are the true gifts of this season? As I consider this question, I realize that for me, the season’s gifts are not about the striving for perfection in baking or decorations, it is mostly about time connecting with new or old friends and family. So as I go into the final stretch of 2012, I think I’m going to just lighten up on my unrealistic expectations for what I think I need to do, or would like to do and focus on enjoying the times I have with the people I care about and the rest will fall into place on its own, it always does.

Cabaret show at the Swan Bar, Paris, France

Enjoyed my first solo show in Paris on THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2013   JEUDI, 9 MAI, 2013  PERFORMANCE  AT 21:30, 10E




accompanied by


Traveling song

San Francisco, September 28, 2012

I’ve just returned from a marvelous trip to Europe. I brought back many souvenirs, including a chest cold and a spirit ready for change. I’ve been resting up as much as possible since my return and as I do so the memories of what I visited have been ever present: cobblestoned streets, ripe tomatoes, delicious bread with olive oil, the Eiffel tower popping up everywhere in Paris, the swoosh of the Metro, the calm in Italian cities when everyone is at lunch, the effervescent Mediterranean sea sparkling off the Cinqueterre shores, the sounds of French women speaking to each other like a song, the sounds of Italians laughing and playing with each other in lifelong patterns of communication. Bakeries, butcher shops and the oh-so-delicious deli’s. Food plays such a big part in Mediterranean life.

I feel lucky to have maintained contact with cousins in Lucca, Italy and when we visited there I made sure to offer them a song or two which they appreciated mightily and one of my cousins, a trained tenor, returned the favor with a lovely, Italian accented rendition of “I Did it My Way.”

When in Paris I visited the Swan Bar’s open mike and sang three songs, including Autumn leaves half in French and half in English, The Nearness of You and Honeysuckle Rose. There was a fellow there who was able to make saxaphone sounds with his lips so I asked him to sit in on my performance. It was a lovely evening. I’m looking forward to a return trip to Paris and Italy within the year. I do not want to let another twenty years keep me from the places my spirit has always felt a deep kinship with.  I’m looking forward to the unfolding of my art as I assimilate the experiences I had in these magnificent places this summer.

If you’d like to see some of my photographs from the trip, visit these hashtags on instagram:  #silk_italy and #silk_paris.

What’s the scoop on Instagram?

As my good friends will tell you, I have become obsessed with a creative little application on my iphone that just happened to have been recently sold to Facebook for one billion dollars. Yowsa! I was already a fan of Instagram when the news broke and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the  sale doesn’t ruin a good thing. I have several feeds on the application, (Temptime, sfgenerations, MonroePersonnel)  but my main one is @silkshots. I have recently created a new @silk_moments feed for contests and shoutouts too. People post their photos to this feed by using the hashtag #silk_moments. When there is a photo that strikes me as particularly “silky” I post that photo to the whole list with my kudos. Silky is a subjective term and I’ve used it to describe everything from a smile, to a sunset to a delicious looking piece of pie.  You get the idea. The current contest is a match your caption to your photo contest. The best matched caption to photo will be announced this weekend.

Instagram is simple to use and very rewarding. It allows one to express one’s creativity through photography and instead of just filing away the photograph in a folder somewhere on your hard drive it is shared with people all around the world. I really enjoy following other people’s feeds and seeing life from their vantage point while learning about places around the globe. It also feels great when people comment favorably on a photo or click the like button.

Not so surprisingly, since I’ve been creating on Instagram, I’ve noticed I’ve found new ideas coming to me when I’m singing too. Inspiration begets inspiration begets inspiration… The circle of creativity is such a mysterious and wonderful adventure!

I have added an Instragram photo stream on the right of this article out a few of the current photos in my #silkshots stream.

Melodies of Mama Mia

Enjoyed performing in a musical review of Mamma Mia

November 4th & 5th, 2011

in Tina Canepa’s production of

Mamma Mia at the

Italian Athletic Club


A lovely little poem I came across whose author is unknown. Could be my personal credo.

If any little word of mine

may make a life the brighter,

if any little song of mine

may make a heart the lighter,

God help me speak the little word

and take my bit of singing

and drop it in some lonely vale

to set the echoes ringing.

If any little love of mine

may make a life the sweeter,

if any little care of mine

may make a friend’s the fleeter

if any little lift may ease

the burden of another,

God give me love, and care, and strength

to help my toiling brother and sister.

Simple pleasures

We’ve just passed the Summer Solstice and summer is in full swing.  The longest days of the year are great for relaxing and listening to great music both out and about and on your own musical devices at home.  I’m really loving Pandora. All I have to do is search for a song I’ve always loved and it creates a station of music with similar traits.  The past week I’ve been toggling between  a James Brown  and a Ladysmith Black Mombasa station.

I vacationed in Paducah, Kentucky last week visiting family in the country.  It was great to be so close to nature.  I encountered cardinals, bluebirds, cottontail rabbits, a  woodchuck, and best of all lightening bugs. I got a kick out of taking an excellent vinyassa yoga class in a heated room with country music playing, too.  I also felt really lucky to catch a  local Community theater’s final performance of “Annie.”   The Marketplace Theater group did a fine job with the show with an amazing 13 year old dancer/singer in the starring role that made Sarah Jessica Parker so famous years ago.   The musical’s  theme still resonates today, it was written about the depression era and the thought of “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun” is one that is also most welcomed to hear during our sluggish economic climate.

The pace of life is slower in Kentucky.  In conversations, people are actually comfortable with silence between thoughts.  It felt good to slow down but also suprisingly a little stressful.  My usually  fast paced lifestyle was challenged by the more relaxed environment.  After a few days, I adjusted and enjoyed some of life’s simple pleasures like sitting on the porch, sipping a tall glass of cool lemonade, listening to the birds and finally reading Tuesdays with Morrie, a great little book that is all about savoring the simple pleasures of life.

On my return flight I overheard a conversation between some fellow passengers.  A Tennessee gentleman who had exemplified Southern hospitality a few minutes earlier by graciously offering us his change when we had none for the airport vending machine, was speaking with a family on their way to San Francisco for vacation.  He’d visited here before and offered them suggestions on what they might do here.  I smiled at his excitement over a sunset dinner cruise he’d taken on the San Francisco Bay.  He said, “We found this cruise right near a restaurant called Scoma’s, S-C-O-M-A-S, a great Italian place on what they call, Fisherman’s Wharf.  They took us right there under the Golden Gate Bridge and we got some beautiful photographs at sunset!  Man, those are memories we will always treasure!” He is just one of thousands of tourists who visit San Francisco each year and bring home treasured memories.

So when it’s all said and done, it’s all good. It’s all good:  photographs at sunset on a bay cruise, spotting fireflies at dusk on a warm humid evening in Kentucky or sipping  icy lemonade while listening to the sounds of the cicadas under the stars, they are all simple pleasures we can enjoy during the long days of summer.  It’s raining in San Francisco today but all we have to do is remember that the sun will come out come what may or take pleasure in knowing that the reservoirs are filling up and it feels more cozy inside when it’s wet weather outside.


Summer porch time


The craft of singing

I’m restoring my iphone right now and realizing how dependent many of my morning activities are on my phone and my computer.  If I want to practice singing, the music is on both the iphone and the computer.  If I want to check the weather, it’s there too.  I even have a  series of yoga class podcasts I practice with most mornings.  I am used to immediate gratification.   When I was in my twenties I remember people always saying that ours was the instant gratification generation.  They were certainly right but I don’t think they ever imagined what was to come. 

Singing is very low tech.  You breathe, open your mouth and sustain your speech.  Singing is sustained speech.  Singing is to speaking like poetry is to writing. There is a craft to every art form, singing is no exception.     I am still working on the craft of singing.  I have a lesson every other week and practice my songs when I can.  I also work on memorizing the lyrics. 

 The best way I’ve learned to memorize lyrics is to take a pen to paper and simply write out the words to the song ten times.  The first few times I have to look at the lyric.  After two or three passes, I start to remember parts of the lyrics and have to look back at what I’ve written  to catch a few phrases or  specific words.  Dena De Rose suggested this exercise and suggested you vary the way you write out the lyrics some of the times.  You might write  in large print, in small print, in cursive and in  caps,  in circles, slanting upward, slanting downward and into the margins of the page.  It all has an effect on the way you memorize things.  After writing out the song five or six times,  underline the words that have images attached to them or impact you in some way. In this way not only are you memorizing the song but you are becoming intimately familiar with the story of the song.

Peter Maleitzke recently taught me another way to memorize the lyrics to a song.  You start at the end of the song and memorize the last line and work backwards.  I’ve tried that and it works pretty well too.

Well my phone is restoring, I’m here restoring my self in this moment by quietly sitting and writing this post.  Now it’s on to the dishes.  Sure wish I could find a way to have the iphone or the pc take care of those for me each morning!