Family inspires lyrics, career of songwriter

February 26, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

The unfairness of a new sibling stealing the spotlight, the sadness of a mother with cancer, the joy of finding true love - all set to music.

Listening to David A. Alberding's words sung by his deep rich voice, it's obvious family is a big inspiration for his work as a songwriter.

Alberding gives a lot of credit for his musical aspirations and success to his father, who strongly encouraged him, and his late mother, who was a big inspiration and support.


Alberding, 35, of Hagerstown's South End, was awarded a $1,000 grant by the Maryland State Arts Council for his solo vocal performance. He was one of 99 artists, among 580 applicants, awarded a grant based on artistic merit, according to an Arts Council news release.

Alberding says the grant, like one he received in 2001 for writing songs, will help support his musical career. That career is his major focus, his hope and dream, though it is not yet self-supporting.

He has released two albums, "Way Back" and "Wrestling with Angels," filled with his contemporary folk/Americana music.

His efforts have resulted in several Wammie nominations from the Washington Area Music Association and honorable mentions for "The Waiting Room" and "Way Back" in Billboard's national song contest in 1999, according to his rsum.

He wants to create an acoustic album and a blues album.

Thanks to his dad, Alberding grew up listening to B.B. King and Muddy Waters as well as John Denver, Luciano Pavarotti, The Beatles and Neil Diamond.

Alberding's parents, Arthur Alberding Jr. and the late Ronnie Alberding, saw his ability in chorus in a Columbia, Md., elementary school and supported his musical interest.

"It was something I enjoyed, something my father got excited about," Alberding says.

A music teacher at his Mount Laurel, N.J., middle school recorded one of his songs, adding drum and bass to Alberding's voice and guitar-playing.

"He made it sound like a really cool record," he recalls.

While that experience helped him love working in the studio, it was giving himself permission to write his first song that was the turning point for Alberding.

"Then I let people hear it, and they kind of liked it," Alberding says.

He was 13 years old and didn't know anyone who was writing songs.

He'd written two "really bad" love ballads.

"I was trying to get girls," he explains.

It didn't work, but he continued to focus on music.

Alberding studied voice, theater and piano at University of Maryland, College Park, but worked retail for a few years before pursuing a musical career in 1995. He still works part time in retail.

He released his first album, "Way Back," in 2000, two years after his mother died from cancer. The album features a song, "The Waiting Room" about the many trips he made with his mother to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Alberding's wife, Elizabeth, says music helps the shy Alberding communicate - to share his feelings and talk about how his day and life are going.

Many of his songs are personality studies. Some are fact. Some are fiction.

Alberding has performed at Port City Java at Long Meadow Shopping Center and during First Friday events in downtown Hagerstown.

Alberding says the open-mic events such as those at Port City Java are enjoyable because he meets people who enjoy music and they provide a safe environment in which to perform.

"You're in front of a lot of people who also are nervous and anxious and want to do it, too," he says.

He prefers small venues for their intimacy and because the music isn't the background; it's what people came to hear, he says.

"I love music. I believe it's an important part of everybody's life. It brings people together," says Alberding, who moved to Hagerstown in April 2005.

"I perceive God as music," he says. "I believe it has the power to heal and enrich people and make their lives better.

"I'm privileged to be able to perform for people. I feel lucky that people will listen to my music."

David A. Alberding's upcoming concerts include:

· Friday, March 10, 6 to 9 p.m., at Michelle's Restaurant, 10 E. Washington St.

· Saturday, March 18, 7:30 to 10 p.m., at Port City Java, Long Meadow Shopping Center, Hag-erstown.

To find out about other upcoming performances, go to

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