The Kitchen Musician ~ January 2014

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Hello Friends,

While reflecting on the past year, I found myself returning several times to the remarkable life and accomplishments of Nelson Mandela. A new song, “A Seed on a Stone” is the end result. Come into my kitchen. I will share my song with you.

  This Month’s Music: A Seed on a Stone
  Upcoming Shows
  Featured Non-Profit:

Tom at Parish Center for the Arts – Photo: © 2013 Dan Tappan


I am proud to say that my song “Working Poor” is included on a compilation CD entitled “Everybody Needs a Home”, produced by Steve Rapson. I am joined on this CD by Mary Gauthier, Steve Rapson, Ruthann Baler, Trish & Phil Knudsen, Peter Neuendorffer, Kathleen Larkin, Mary Pratt, Junko Ogawa, Cheryl Perreault, Sandy Streid & Keith James and Andy Tarsy. Proceeds from the sales have exceeded $1000 to benefit The Pine Street Inn, working to support the homeless here in the Boston area. Sales in 2014 will benefit Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. You can purchase this CD at my upcoming shows, or for more info or online purchase, please see The Homeless Project.

In other news, my daughter Mally Smith recently released her first solo CD, Mally Smith & The Fertile Void. It has been getting rave reviews. You can preview and purchase this CD at On Monday, Mally begins an adventure as she travels to Thailand, Bali, Shanghai and Japan. In part, she will be working on advanced certification as a yoga trainer. Let’s wish her well and safe travels!

This Month’s Music
A Seed on a Stone

Click the image above to play the video.
A Seed on a Stone
© 2014 Tom Smith
Lyrics in the comments section below.

As the old year ends and the new begins, it is customary to look back and reflect upon all that has happened in 2013. There have been so many newsworthy events and the passing of many notable individuals. In addition, each of our private histories have been affected by personal milestones and transitions.

Since his death on December 5th, I found myself reflecting upon the extraordinary life and accomplishments of Nelson Mandela. How remarkable that a man who was imprisoned for twenty seven years could emerge and lead a campaign of reconciliation to found a new rule of law in South Africa based not upon the color of one’s skin but upon love and respect.

My personal connection with Nelson Mandela centers around his visit to Boston in June of 1990, only four months after his release from prison. Janice Allen, a wonderful music teacher at my children’s school (and where my wife Margo and I work) was asked to assemble a children’s choir to sing at Boston’s Hatch Memorial Shell where Mr. Mandela would be celebrated. Our two older children, Heather (ten years old) and Andrew (eight years old) joined about fifty other children from all over the city. Twenty three years later, they can still sing N’Kosi Sikelel (The South African National Anthem).

To me, a seed on a stone is the perfect metaphor for a song to honor Nelson Mandela. This metaphor is simultaneously hopeful and hopeless. A seed is the physical embodiment of re-birth, yet circumstances that place it on a stone present a struggle that most would write off as hopeless. Nelson Mandela has said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” However, the impossible is done as represented in this image of a tree which, against all odds, split a boulder.


After Nelson Mandela’s death, media pundits remarked how his life was so remarkable that we can expect to see such an example only once in a century. While I appreciate the sentiment of this comment, it also made me sad. It is my hope that such examples would be normal and typical among our leaders. When I despair over the current state of national and world leadership, I rekindle my hope by looking to the example of Nelson Mandela.

“Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa” in Xhosa)

~ Tom

(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)

Upcoming Shows

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014: Hopkinton, MA
I join Cheryl Perreault and a bevy of musicians and poets as we celebrate Martin Luther King. 3:00 pm at the Hopinton Public Library. Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014: Watertown, MA
I will be one of many folks to sing a song at the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston’s annual members concert. For details see Folk Song Society of Greater Boston.

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014: WATD-FM
Joining host Sandy Tannenbaum Streid for some music and conversation. Listen live on WATD-FM 95.9, or on the web at

Click to view details for all upcoming shows.

Featured Non-profit:

This month, I offer as a non-profit that embodies Nelson Mandela’s spirit of tackling the worthy impossible – building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

For more information, please visit

  • Tom
    January 3, 2014

    A Seed on a Stone
    © 2014 Tom Smith (ASCAP)

    I knew a man who had a dream
    The kind romantic fools and visionaries see
    That all people are deserving of
    A rule of law founded on love
    But when dreams meet power
    Those in command will own the hour
    Into prison he was thrown
    A seed on a stone

    They did not comprehend
    That seed contained the hope of women and of men
    Hope that would not be denied
    When restraints had been untied
    Its root found the path
    That split the rock in half
    The impossible was done
    By a seed on a stone

    Now that he has gone away
    Why can’t we walk the path he showed us yesterday
    “Once in a lifetime” pundits cry
    “A man and circumstance collide”
    When I despair
    I’ll seek the fruit his life did bear
    And find it on a tree that’s grown
    From a seed on a stone

  • Peg Espinola
    January 3, 2014

    Beautiful, as I would expect from you. Terrific picture, too! I approve your message that there have to be (and no doubt are) more than one person like Mandela per century. In fact, there are some extraordinary folk in Africa and elsewhere now, making changes maybe not QUITE so momentous, but amazing nonetheless.

  • Peg Espinola
    January 3, 2014

    Oh, and in addition, congratulations to Mally, and to you for being on the “homeless” CD. Just bought it, can’t wait to hear it! Peg

  • Nyanna Susan Tobin
    January 3, 2014

    Shalom. Just lovely. Thank-you for a way to share our feelings. I cried. May his memory be a blessing we all experience for years to come. Nyanna

  • Anne Sandstrom
    January 5, 2014

    Wow! What a terrific song, Tom. So well written and your performance is heartfelt. btw, my brother happened to arrive in Pretoria just after Mandela died. He said it was quite remarkable and that South Africans were all quite interested in having Obama there – that was a big deal. Thanks for sharing this special song!

  • stuart stotts
    January 14, 2014

    Lovely song, tom. Glad to find your web site. Great spirit in it.

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