All Sails Unfurled

I stumbled across a recording of a song that I wrote over 10yrs ago for Linuwel School in East Maitland. It was a song to bring all the school years together from Yr12 to kindy, plus parents/family, at the end of a night of performance and song in the school hall. (tiny school)

Kindergarten were and always have been the keepers of grace and love and on this night the sea of everyone parted as they spiraled in so quietly to the hall. The whole school sang. It was amazing.

This song is called ,”All Sails Unfurled”, which, funnily enough, was my School motto at Wickham Girls Highschool which sat next to the industrial, Newcastle Harbour. Its such a fantastic motto and a great message to impart on a child and young adult. Funny ,because our sails were, by rumour, unfurled. My preferred boat was a pennyfarthing skateboard, my sails were my legs as I charted a path down the Tafe carpark in handstand position.

I thought of the precarious nature of the relationship between parent and child. How trust and unconditional love walks such a complicated path. How we all do our best even though our best may fall short.

What I wanted to capture in this song was the heart space. The heart ache. The joy. What we hold as carefully as we can in the love and guidance we share. Really our wisdom is only  a tiny step ahead of our children. Kindy’s have so much to teach.

This was sung by my children’s choir, Cicada. You can hear their honesty when they sing it. Bless.

All Sails Unfurled.

Written by Tanya Sparke.

A conversation between the parent and the child

Deepest pool of heart and soul

Carry me on to oceans blue

There I’ll sing my truest song

To you my moon

And all I love


Bravely you bring me forward

Braver still you offer me this life

All my joy, my pain confided

In quietness, gentleness, courage and love.


They say;

be with me

I’ll never tire

Grow with me I’ll offer you my soul.

Take these pearls like the deepest diver.

Build your boat, fill your sails

Off you go


Deepest pool of heart and soul

Carry me on to oceans blue

There I’ll sing my truest song

To you my moon

And all I love


This is Connie Converse.

Like Photographer,Vivian Maier, she was discovered well after the point. Connie was re-found in 2009 in a pile of filed recordings.

I’ve been a little obsessed with her.

It must have been a difficult time (50’s) for an intelligent creative woman to seek a career in music as a singer songwriter. Her story touches me deeply as do her songs full of sadness and sunsets of what could’ve been. Her melodies are sometimes complex and her lyrics, sometimes really funny. She took off in her VW when she was 50. Yep. Connie would be 91 if she was alive today, however, her brother now deceased believes she drove into a lake or a river somewhere. I wonder why he thinks that. He never saw her again. She left letters for everyone though they weren’t suicide letters.

What touches me is the shyness of these women’s art practice. Not bold, not able to be heard or seen, and so, forgotten. I don’t believe Vivian wanted to be found but Connie did and then gave up. I feel the weight of the moment she gave up as I stare out the window at the Tarago. I really love them both.

An article from the BBC   Connie

Her album of songs Connie Converse

I would like to gather my favourite singers and do a concert of her songs. Should I?

It’s a matter of dignity..

Darcy and Magnolia are Sleeping.


Darcy and Magnolia are now 17 nearly 18 and 16. This year Darcy is doing his H.S.C and Magnolia is doing Yr 11 but she’s also doing H.S.C Drama Accelerated.

I can’t believe I wrote this song when Indigo was 8, Darcy 2 and Magnolia 1yr old. I found myself back in my hometown of Newcastle. I was parenting 3 kids  and I’d gone back to Uni to try and finish a Bachelor of Music in Composition and I was working leading choirs in schools and in the community. It was hard yards and motherhood was mind numbing. I wanted to write something that expressed the strange space you inhabit where sleepless nights and nappies and, and, and…you know what I mean.

There’s a baby crying right now across the road. They seem to leave it cry and my overwhelming urge is to take it in my arms and rock it to sleep. It cries all through the night and day and I can sense the exhaustion the parents feel. There is nothing more interrupting than your first child. Often why people only have one I expect.

This song, with its friends from the same phantom unfinished CD shall one day be released but for now I weep a little at how my babes have grown. That’s what Ive been doing. Growing them up. Still going. A tense year ahead and no song to describe this journey. When I wonder at my lack of career, I have to remember, this is what I’ve been doing.

One night I was having dinner with my friend Caroline and Luka Bloom and his manager. He asked, “why haven’t you “made” it. Or something to that affect.


I said, “I don’t know but I have 3 kids”.

He said, “That would take up some considerable time”.

As my mother said, “It never stops”!




recent top tunes

Ive recently discovered Margaret Glaspy. I don’t know very much about her and there aren’t many you tubes so it’s like watching someone go from home video’s into the Daytrotter studio and start to pick up speed. She’s a top guitarist and her voice is maturing out from the fashionable squawk to something with more depth. She references other songs in her compositions both lyrically and musically but she’s not smug about it. Here’s a few tubes.

Emily King is going from strength to strength and will tour NZ this year. She had a record deal as a kid, got out of it and then found her sound. Her parents are Jazz musicians and she’s taken her lead from there I reckon. One of her biggest fans is Joan Wasser, (Joan as Police Woman). That makes sense. I love Joan. This is from her second album, “The Switch”.( as an independent) but I prefer her first, “Seven “. She’s says she’s a “light” singer and I love that. I’m so sick of singers yelling it down and ripping your face off. Nothing wrong with giving good head voice. I prefer to have my face ripped off with varying tonalities and amps.And give me some mistakes too, thats where the art hides.


And heres Joan.

I listened to Joans first two albums as if they were my lovers. I listened as  I grieved my mothers death. I didn’t know that they were written as she was in her grief after the death of her boyfriend ,Jeff Buckley and her own mother. It was all I listened to. I love Joan. She’s mad and wonderful and she has yoga arms. I’ve seen her twice now and she helps me feel strong in some way. I don’t know. She’s been trying for an Al Green sound for while now and I think you can hear that best on her latest album, “The Classic”.

One more. This is Brooke Waggoner and its literally the only song of hers I like. Thats all.