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Meet Peggy Watson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Peggy Watson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve been singing in public since I was quite young. My mom had a voice like an angel and taught me to harmonize while we worked around the house, cleaning and cooking.

Growing up in the high desert, with its wide open spaces, inspired my poetry and songwriting from the beginning. We moved to San Diego when I was 15, and there started my music career.

My first public appearance in front of a large audience took place at Montezuma Hall at SDSU. It was a fundraiser for people affected by massive storms in Bangladesh. I was honored to be asked but nearly fainted when I had to go on the stage after a popular hard rock band. Looking back, I wonder what people thought when they saw me come on stage with my big acoustic guitar – a skinny, timid 16-year-old playing soft songs about nature and love. Well, I got through it and found out I liked singing in front of people.

I’m not a typical musician in a couple of ways. I worked full time most of my life and raised two daughters with my loving husband. While I’ve always been a serious musician, I never had the urge to go out on the road. Maybe it was a necessity, having a family to raise. But it was more than that. I loved most of my jobs. Early on I worked in the printing industry and then in the shipyard as a pipe fitter. Then I went back to college. For the last 24 years of my work life, I was a teacher and high school counselor. Almost all of my jobs taught me a lot about people, love, struggle, and humor. In a way, the work I did cultivated my creativity and gave me the seeds I needed to write meaningful and relatable songs.

But songwriting is more than lyrics. I worked hard on studying the music of my favorite composers, such as Joni Mitchell and John Prine, along with classical and world folk music. I was lucky to find myself in the company of some of San Diego’s finest musicians, including my longtime music partner, David Beldock. With a partner so versed in melody, harmony, and intricate guitar techniques, I’ve been able to stretch far beyond what I could have done by myself.

I’ve put out nine CDs of mostly original music. While I’ve performed in concert series, folk clubs and house concerts, many people in San Diego know me for the fundraising concerts I’ve organized or just performed in over the years. We’ve raised money for AIDS organizations, Doctors Without Borders, women’s rights organizations, environmental groups, peace initiatives, and much more.

Has it been a smooth road?
Now that I’m a grandmother, I’m having more fun than ever! Being a performing musician while working full time and raising a family was never easy. Occasionally, I’ve wondered how my life would have been different had I completely devoted myself to music. But I don’t regret the choices I made. In fact, I celebrate them. I have a close and loving family and that is what is most important to me.

My biggest challenge in life came along in 2016 when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Fortunately, we caught it early and after enduring surgery and months of chemo and radiation, I survived! And I’m still here. Having faced the horrors of cancer, I gained a deep appreciation for everything I have. People always say that, right? But its true! I love my life and feel grateful every day. And going through a really hard time has given me lots of grist for the songwriting mill.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
For performing songwriters, San Diego is probably not much different than other cities. There are limited venues and getting decent paying gigs is always a challenge. I would recommend keeping yourself afloat with other sources of income while you’re gigging, studying music and developing your skills as a singer and songwriter. It takes discipline to work at a day job and do music but it can be worth the effort.

And hopefully, eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation where music can sustain you. Work hard and be patient.

As for how San Diego could improve the situation for performing musicians, that is a very complex question. I don’t have a simple answer. But more funding for all of the arts and more emphasis on the arts in schools would cultivate a rich environment where more artists, writers, and musicians could flourish.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cathryn Beeks, Dennis Anderson, Allen Watson

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