Courtney Naliboff: A musical journey to inspire

3 mins read
Courtney Naliboff performs at the Higher Grounds Café in Philadelphia, Penn. (Photo by Jonathan D. Nimerfroh)

NORTH HAVEN – Moving from Boston to a small island community in Maine might seem like an odd move for an aspiring musician. It also might seem difficult to produce a complete album while running the drama and music program for an entire school district.

Courtney Naliboff, a graduate of Mt. Blue High School and many of its music programs, did not expect to end up in North Haven. After graduating from Brown University in 2002 with a double major in Music and Theater she went on to get her master’s in Journalism from Boston University. Once in Boston, Naliboff, who plays many instruments, kept busy performing various gigs around the city. The job offer to be North Haven’s music and theater teacher was “something completely out of the blue,” she said.

The superintendent of MSAD 7 heard about Naliboff through a college friend and quickly contacted her parents so he could get in touch with her.

“They told him, ‘she’ll never leave Boston,’ but gave him my number,” Naliboff remembers.

She ended up taking the job and has given up city life for an island community whose population is well under 500. In doing so, she has found the inspiration for an album titled, Almanac, and recently released it this February. “The concept came together in late 2010,” she explained.

Almanac is a 12-song compilation, divided into four seasonal groupings. It was the “seasonal change” on North Haven that inspired the album for Naliboff. “Not just physically like the landscape, but also internally, like the way people get in the winter.”

Naliboff relied on the island for musicianship as well, enlisting community elders and children to collaborate in some of the harmonies. She began making the album with assistance from Andrew Fredrick of Portland, but finished it with her partner Bill Travaskies, who also played guitar for the tracks. When it came time to hire a quartet, Naliboff, who has worked with many musicians over the years, opted for four high school students from Rockport.

“Kids have more of an open mind,” she said of working with young musicians.

Naliboff has a few shows set up in the future including a June performance at the Cultural Center in Newport. In the meantime, she is kept plenty busy teaching North Haven’s K-12 music and theater department students. As a former member of Mt. Blue High School band, jazz band, chorus, and the Franklin County Fiddlers, she advises hopeful musicians: “Say yes to every opportunity; don’t restrict yourself into thinking music is only either a hobby or a career – just love doing it.”

Almanac can be downloaded for free from www.courtneynaliboff.com.

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