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Teri Tibbett: A singer's life in Alaska

Longtime Juneau musician to perform a retrospective concert

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2002

Exactly 26 years to the day after she first stepped off the ferry in Juneau, singer and guitarist Teri Tibbett will take the stage at the Back Room for a musical celebration of her life in Alaska.

She arrived Aug. 30, 1976, with her guitar and $20 in her pocket. Over the years she's performed on virtually every stage in Juneau, sometimes in bands but usually as a solo singer. She's been shipwrecked and recorded, has written music books and toured the state as a music teacher.

John Lager has been involved in the Juneau music scene for 30 years and remembers Tibbett from some of the earliest Alaska Folk Festivals.

"One of my favorite songs she did early on was an epic version of 'The Beverly Hillbillies' theme song," he said, laughing and singing the line "Up from the ground come a bubbalin' crude." "It was killer. She charmed her way into the hearts of the Juneau crowd."

Teri is not the only singing Tibbett. She is the granddaughter of renowned operatic baritone Lawrence Tibbett.

"He was world famous," Tibbett said of her grandfather. "He starred at the Metropolitan in New York. In the 1920s he was the first American-born opera singer to headline at the Met. Before that, the stars were all European."

Tibbett spent her childhood in Los Angeles, but it was not a sun-soaked California dream.

"My dad was an actor and my mom was a dancer," she said. "I grew up in a Hollywood family - bleh."

Tibbett's frustrations came from living in an alcoholic family and being an active child in a world that requires kids to sit still, experiences she said she later drew upon as a songwriter. She hitchhiked across the country as a teen-ager, drove to Seattle and caught a ferry to Juneau.

She worked on a troller her first year in Alaska, a job that ended when the boat ran aground. She gave up fishing to pursue her musical interests and visited remote villages in the Interior, working as an artist in the schools. In the past few years she's developed a music curriculum for use in schools.

She has two children and has introduced them to music and performing.

The first half of her concert Friday will highlight her original songs, ranging from the first song she wrote, when she was driving across the Arizona desert on her way to Alaska, and ending with her latest songs about snowboarding and her friends in Juneau.

As a singer she's worked aboard visiting cruise ships and in Juneau bars and clubs. An avid photographer in recent years, she's developed a show, "Living the Alaska Life," which combines her music and photography.

"The second half of the concert will be the songs I do aboard the ships, my songs and other people's songs, with slides on the screen - a musical picture of Alaska," she said.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn. Admission is $10.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

Teri Tibbett in concert

What: 26 years in Alaska Anniversary Concert.

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30.

Where: The Back Room at the Silverbow.

Tickets: $10 at the door.



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