2002-11-28 / Community

Westlake musician plays with heart

By Gregory Koteles
Acorn Staff Writer

By Gregory Koteles Acorn Staff Writer

Diane ArkenstoneDiane Arkenstone

Diane Arkenstone hears music all the time.

The thirty-something West-lake resident wrote her first song at the age of 3, played piano at 5 and picked up her first guitar at the tender age of 7.

"There’s just music in my head when I wake up," she said. "It’s just everywhere. I sit down at a piano or with a guitar and suddenly there’s a song or a really great chord or melody."

If her name sounds familiar, it could that you’ve heard of her Grammy-nominated ex-husband, David Arkenstone, who’s been on the New Age charts since the 1980s. But a musical veteran herself, Diane has been making a name for herself in similar circles.

In fact, her latest album, "Jewel in the Sun," debuted at No. 16 on Billboard’s New Age charts when it was released in October, peaking at number 11. In all, she’s worked on more than 40 albums, producing four under her own label, Neo Pacifica Recordings, and others under various pseudonyms, as well as composing music for the Olympics and television shows.

Arkenstone’s music embraces many styles, combining Celtic-sounding melodies and Native American rhythms with a distinctly techno beat and haunting vocals somewhat reminiscent of Enya.

"It’s pretty neat stuff," she said of her work. "It’s a little more pop than new age, with a little touch of world."

She’s something of a musical jack-of-all-trades, playing not only the piano and guitar, but more unusual instruments such as the dulcimer and mandolin. Even her eight guitars are all tuned differently to bring added variety to her music.

With an opera singer for a mother, you might say that music is in Diane’s blood, but if so, it skipped her seven brothers and sisters, none of whom plays music. More than music, sports was emphasized at home, and Diane grew up with dreams of being a gymnast or runner.

Fate, however, would have it otherwise.

Asthma and a heart condition kept her from participating in the sports at which her siblings excelled, and she turned to music to enrich her life. Now on her fourth pacemaker (she had the first put in at the age of 20), Arkenstone looks back on her life of music with no regrets and doesn’t allow her heart to make her music skip a beat.

"I was just supposed to do music," she said. "It is so incredibly healing."

Arkenstone continues to make music with her ex-husband and expects to have three more albums out before the end of the year, with 16 in stores in 2003. She’s doing so well she plans on launching a second label aimed at signing new artists, while keeping Neo Pacifica to showcase her own music.

"There is so much great music and so many talented people out there," she said. She plans on trying "all sorts of wild, crazy things" with her new company and producing a wide variety of music.

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