A Twenty Year Journey

In 1977 how does an eight year old boy living on the New Jersey shore emotionally survive his father’s mental illness and the news that his paranoid schizophrenic father has been murdered? How does he survive the fact that his body has never been found and there never would be any closure for him? How does he survive the fact that the same genetic predisposition might be his? Music.

Well, that little boy grew up to be the lead singer/ songwriter of one of the few multiplatinum, Billboard awarded and twice Grammy nominated rock bands of the 90’s to survive and thrive when most have gone into oblivion. No big PR firms, trashing of hotel rooms, or over-the-top pyrotechnic concerts; just plain great lyrics and music written and performed from his heart that have given him venues full of loyal fans for 20 years in both his solo and band’s career.


That band is Tonic and the musician/composer is Emerson Hart. Everyone has known his songs, but until his solo career, in spite of his success and awards in singing and writing for Tonic, movies and television, who recognized the name ‘Emerson Hart’? Although Tonic was a force in the music arena, it was not until 2004 after the release of his first solo album “Cigarettes and Gasoline” and his ability to talk about his father through his music and interviews did he start getting recognized for his songs everyone had been singing for years.
Along with Emerson’s songwriting success, his Tonic co-founder and lead guitarist, Jeff Russo, has scored several television shows, including the television show, Fargo. They are both musicians with something to say. 

As my son often reminds me, “It’s not always about fame”, but loving what you do and making great music. These musicians, both Emerson and Jeff, have relatable human interest back stories and I am not alone in thinking  that in this digital age Fair Pay for Fair Play must be demanded by music fans to keep all music alive. It is a real issue concerning the plight of the 90’s rock bands who were surging on the cliff of the changing musical tastes of 2000 and now trying to survive through the streaming age.

A Twenty Year Tour with new Tonic material and special re-release of 1997’s Lemon Parade with “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me” is planned for 2016. Still standing after all these years. 

If you are a fan of keeping great rock alive and want to celebrate this milestone year for Tonic, check out the links below.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved


wmeclients.com/music/contemporary/Tonic Links:

1) 10/2015
Cryptic Rock interview: http://crypticrock.com/interview-emerson-hart-of-tonic/

2). 10/2015 – http://youtu.be/NHpyIsADUxs
3) – 2014 – In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD): 
4) – 2010 – Przystanek Woodstock 

5) Kosovo – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tonic-to-become-first-band-to-perform-in-kosovo-additional-dates-to-take-them-across-europe-before-returning-to-america-73430172.html
 6) 1997 – Old Vic Chicago – https://www.facebook.com/tonicband/videos/10153481670454590/



Someone asked me recently what are the things important to you about being a mother. I never really thought about it. It just is. I’m just a mother and that’s part of my DNA once I had children. When the nurse placed my first child in my arms I became a different person – a mother first and foremost. My children’s welfare has always come before mine and no matter how old they are now, I still think about them. I share their joy’s and their burdens and I am forever subservient to their happiness.

That doesn’t mean that I had selfish desires and wants that I followed through within my life as a mother, but basically my mind is always with them. Motherhood has always been such a strong scope of identity for me. 

My husband was killed when the children were very small, so basically my family depended upon me as the sole provider for many years. Until I got back on my feet after the shock of losing my husband, sometimes we had to exist on my children’s paper routes money. We shopped at thrift shops for clothes and did without the luxury snacks that normal homes had in their cupboards. Salted carrots were a treat for my children.

This sounds so unrealistic for the successful anchor person and television personality that I had been most of my adult life. Until I relocated to New Jersey to be with my husband and his career, money was no option. When I had to return to work I quickly, very quickly, found out that once you step off of the carousel it’s very difficult to get back into a regular 9-to-5 job versus one in television. 

Why would an anchor woman want a regular job? Because I love my children and I want to be with them as much as I can. That answer didn’t seem to muster with any of my potential employers. 

For a solid year I sent out thousands of resumes without one successful result. As time droned by I was forced to ask my aging parents for a small loan just to survive. It was my worst nightmare having to do that because my parents were not wealthy people and were outliving their own resources.

Finally, in the depths of my darkest days through an employment agency, I went on a job to be a secretary. After all I did graduate from Katherine Gibbs, so at least I knew I could type. I was lousy at shorthand, but I could type. The job was an hour’s drive on the Garden State Parkway from my home, but I went praying all the way. I was at the end of my emotional and financial line. 

When the human resources person held my resume in her hands, she looked at me and said she didn’t think I was right for the secretarial job. My heart sank. Another dead end.  I couldn’t believe my life.   Then she said I would be a perfect fit for the assistant marketing manager position. 

Well, my life began again because of that smart woman. Within two years I was VP of marketing and used my television skills and celebrity contacts to travel the country promoting our company until they relocated to Los Angeles.

Because of my love for my children, my life went in another mysterious direction that eventually led me to my second husband and to my children having advantages of furthering their lives and careers that perhaps they would not have had. 

For me, letting go and letting God, is no joke. The circuitous road traveled was the right one for me and my children. 

What has motherhood done for you and what does it mean to you ?

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016 ©

 All Rights Reserved