Born in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, Diane taught herself guitar during long winter evenings, her feet perched on a wood-burning stove. She wrote her first songs in high school and began working her way through 100 English Folk Songs, a classic collection of ballads. She was captivated by the beauty and power of the melodies, and the way the words provide a glimpse into the past.
Diane moved to the Boston area to earn a degree in elementary education at Boston College, then a graduate degree in communications at Lesley College. She honed her stagecraft at the wealth of folk venues in the Boston area. Her first cassette of six original songs received much local radio airplay. She supported herself as a freelance editor, working for various publishers and magazines in the Boston area.
In the late 1980s Diane studied guitar with 12-string master Tracy Moore and polished her vocal skills at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. She created some striking songs on the lap dulcimer that make the most of its quirky charm. She also fell for the quirky charm of her husband, John.
The First CDs
In 1993, BCN Records released Shoes That Fit Like Sand, which includes one of Diane's most popular songs, "Raisin Pie." Also in 1993 Diane joined the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society, a band that performs maritime, Celtic, and Colonial music on a wealth of traditional instruments (fiddle, flute, guitar, accordion, banjo, whistle, dulcimer, mandolin, bones, spoons, bodhran and a unique instrument called the pogo-cello). In 1995 the Wizmak label released the band's CD Airs From Who Knows Where.
In 1994, Diane recorded four songs for a BCN Records compilation CD, The Songs of Jack Hardy. That year took her to South Carolina for a concert arranged by a devoted fan.
In 1996 BCN Records released Gathered Safely In. The title cut uses the classic form of repeated second and fourth lines to encourage singing along. Other cuts included a dark take on Steve Goodman's "Lookin' for Trouble," sparked by an amazing harmonica solo by Chris Turner, and an intense dulcimer version of "Black is the Color (of My True Love's Hair)." Diane sings in French, interprets some Scottish songs with words by Robert Burns, and soothes the listener with "All Through the Night." The most surprising cut is "Heard It Through the Grapevine" -- yes, that one -- which after Tarazification becomes a folk song.
In 1999 Diane released a holiday CD, Hope! Says the Holly. She chose her favorite songs for mid-winter, such as a wry version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," complete with sound effects. She added three new verses to the classic "In the Bleak Midwinter," transforming it into a Solstice song. She used the African calimba or thumb piano to accent "People, Look East" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
Reflecting her love of history, Diane created a program called "A Silver Dagger: Exploring Women's History Through Folk Songs." Women in centuries past left few written records behind, but we can glimpse their inner lives through folk songs. Diane performs in historic clothing and plays authentic instruments. In 2008 she recorded a companion CD of songs from the program.
When her daughter was about four, Diane began leading sing-alongs for babies and toddlers, a joyful activity she pursued for ten years at various libraries. For six years she led her own sing-alongs in a rented room at an Arlington church, and sold many copies of her album, Toddler Songs. She was often recognized and beamed at by children of a certain age while out and about in Arlington.
Diane took a break from the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society to record her fourth solo CD, Beat of the Heart, which came out in 2003. Another wide-ranging trip through time, the songs hail from Quebec, Ireland, England, and the USA, including a bouncy version of "Froggie Went a-Courtin'."
In 2005 Diane rejoined the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society. The band held July 4 weekend concerts on Georges Island and brought music to historical events in Lexington and other towns. Summer concerts became a specialty, brightening summer evenings with songs, stories, and original compositions. Diane's "The Lady in Black" tells the story of a mythical ghost on Georges Island, and appears on the band's 2008 album "Liberty!" (which Diane produced for the group).
New Works for Groups
In 2005 Diane created an interactive Solstice service,The Longest Night, for her church, First Parish UU of Arlington. She rehearsed and led a group of fifty children in reciting and adding sound and visual effects to her poem about two children lost in the woods who meet a most unusual bear, who takes them on a spiritual journey to encourage the sun to return. Diane wrote and arranged four songs for the event.
In 2006 she was commissioned by the choral group In Choro Novo to arrange her song Silver the Moon for four-part harmony. This led to her embarking on arrangements of other Taraz songs for choral groups, including the UUlations, a womens' a cappella group drawn from her church choir (she coined the name).
That same year, Diane satisfied a longtime dream and joined an early music group. She became a member of Vox Lucens, a 12-person Renaissance choir that sings glorious a cappella music by Renaissance composers. She participated in the group's 2008 CD The Rarest of Gems.
Also in 2006 Diane received a commission to create a quilt of Shaker themes as part of a project by New England Voices. The project included two concerts, in Arlington and Amherst, and a CD. Diane sang in the chorus for Shaker songs and modern works inspired by Shaker music, including a new piece commissioned for the event. Diane's quilt hung as a backdrop for the Arlington concert.
In 2009, Diane's tenth CD was released -- 15 tracks of diverse beauty and fun called Inspiration/Tarazification. It showcased Diane's ability to perform compositions by others and make them uniquely her own. A highlight is her composition "Let's Go Canoeing on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg," about an actual lake in Webster, Massachusetts. As always, there's a holiday song -- a shimmering rendition of "O Holy Night" sung in the original French.
Spending Time in the 18th Century
In January 2010, Diane was invited by the Lexington Historical Society to teach colonial-era songs to a group of singers who appear in period dress as guides and reenactors. She researches songs from the 1700s, including many written to promote either rebellion or loyalty to the crown, as the group includes reenactors from both the British and American sides. She creates sheet music for the group, runs weekly rehearsals, and directs them at various events.
Inspired by the variety and vitality of the songs brought to the group, Diane created a program similar to her "Exploring Women's History" program, calling it "Songs of the Revolution." She presents this program at museums and historical societies throughout Massachusetts, performing in a gown that she sewed by hand.
The companion CD for "Songs of the Revolution" has become a best-seller, purchased, downloaded, and streamed throughout the world. It is particularly popular with buys in England. Jonathan Gilbert, Diane's colleague in the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society, contributed vocals and played recorders, whistle, mandolin, and viola. The 21 songs illustrate many aspects of life in the 1700s.
In 2011 Diane teamed with Jonathan again to create her second holiday CD, The Old New Year. Many of the songs came from her annual holiday concert, a long-running tradition.
Diane was called on to provide music for other events in Lexington, including the show "In Their Own Words," a depiction of the events of April 19, when the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired on Lexington Green. She also was a presenter in the Lexington Historical Society's Living History program, performing Colonial music in the barn of the Hancock-Clarke House for visitors from all over the world.
On to the 19th Century
In 2011 Diane provided music for a Veterans' Day event sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society that included Civil War reeenactors. To look the part she sewed by hand a hoop-skirted gown from an 1850s pattern (with over seven yards of reproduction fabric). She then created a new program called "Home, Sweet Home -- A Civil War Sampler," presenting the stirring music of that poignant and fascinating conflict.
In 2012 Diane released the companion CD for that program. Recording once again at her favorite studio, Straight Up Music, she collaborated with engineer Larry Luddecke and several talented musicians to create a tribute to classics of Americana, the roots of popular American music.
The recording for 2013 was A Victorian Christmas, an intriguing look at the original versions of familiar carols. Christmas was not a big deal until the Victorians turned it into the major event of today; they created or revived many carols and traditions. It's utterly fascinating, and a great deal of fun, to hear the original tune of "Jingle Bells," which was much more athletic! The mood ranges from serene to boisterous, and Diane sings in French and German as well as English.
Diane has brought "A Victorian Christmas" to many historic houses, libraries, and halls. The ideal setting was a two-day open house at Longfellow House, where she delighted in performing "I Heard the Bells" in the music room/library of Henry's beautiful home, the site of much heartbreak for him and his family. Visitors delighted in both the music and the sight of Diane in her festive hoop-skirted gown, which fit perfectly into the mid-1800s surroundings.
In 2014 Diane took a stroll through her favorite jazz standards with a backup band of fabulous studio musicians. Let's Do It! brought her back to Wellspring Sound in Acton, where she recorded her first few CDs, and the masterful engineering of Eric Kilburn. With Mike Duke on guitar, Peter Tillotson on bass, Steve Langone on drums, and Billy Novick on clarinet, Diane created a divine love-letter to the American songbook, putting her own elegant spin on "Summertime," "Since I Fell For You," "Tiptoe Thru the Tulips," and the title track. There's French, of course, on "Stardust" and "La vie en rose." And then, she presents the absolutely definitive arrangement of "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?"
That same year she produced a CD for the UUlations, an nine-womean cappella group of which she is a member. They recorded in the St. Anne Chapel at the Bethany House of Prayer, in Arlington, an amazing stone church built in the 1920s that perfectly suited the ethereal voices. When Music Sounds includes songs Diane wrote and and arranged for the group. She also created the graphics for the CD.
2015 was also a two-CD year. As director of the Lexington Historical Society Colonial Singers, Diane ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and produced Now Kiss the Cup! The group recorded in the historic Taproom of Buckman Tavern, built in 1710, where the Lexington Militia gathered the day the revolution began in 1775. The challenges were many, including brutal cold and a series of snowstorms. Singers clambered over towering banks to reach a drafty room. The hardy group persevered, and the result is a delightful recreation of an evening in a Colonial tavern, complete with crackling fire, clinking tankards, snippets of conversation, and rousing songs that echoed off those old walls in centuries past.
Diane's 2015 recording was What Is the Wind? It includes some songs she wrote when she was just a young thing, in her early 20s, as well as one of her newest, "Your Truest Friend," -- her new words for the tune of Londonderry Air (Danny Boy). Peter Tillotson once again played bass, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes offered captivating fiddle, and Billy Novick added magical pennywhistle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
In 2016 Diane released A Fond Farewell, a CD of memorial songs, both original and classic. Not meant as her farewell, Diane called on bluegrass fiddle master Darol Anger and Peter Tillotson on bass, and for the first time added longtime engineer Larry Luddecke's wonderful, bluesy piano. As one reviewer put it, it's "not nearly as depressing as you might expect!" The mood is decidedly upbeat and inspiring.
In December 2016 Diane debuted a new historic program, "Factory Maids," honoring the generations of workers who labored in New England's textile mills. The location was perfect: the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, the location of the first complete cotton mill in the country. Dressed in turn-of-the- century clothing, Diane accompanied songs created and enjoyed by millworkers on dulcimer and her new parlor guitar.
In 2017, three years after her first foray into the standards, Diane got the band together again for Let's Misbehave! She added Larry Luddecke on piano, Bill Reynolds replaced Steve Langone as drummer. The group played the living daylights out of such classics as "Georgia On My Mind," "God Bless the Child," "Angel From Montgomery," " and "Ain't Misbehavin'". A roomful of enthusiastic fans reveled in the celebratory show, especially the take-no-prisoners romp through a medley of "Wonderful World," "Cupid," and "Johnnie B. Goode," led by Diane's lap dulcimer. It was a night to remember!
Diane cannot let a year go by without releasing new songs to make their way to listeners all over the world. Her songs are enjoyed in Thailand, Japan, England, Europe, South American, Canada, and the U.S. In 2018 she released two CDs drawn from previous releases: Sailor's Delight, a collection of chanteys and songs about the bounding main, and Celtic Melodies, gathering her many Irish and Scottish songs into one place.
In 2019 Diane presented a four-week course, Singing the Past to Life, for Framingham State University's Adventures in Lifelong Learning program, held at the Framingham Public Library. She traced the history of American music from the first immigrants in 1630 through the Revolutionary War, the Victorian era, the Civil War, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. On four Tuesdays in April she explored a vast range of styles that provided an emotional window into the lives of Americans over the centuries.
Other providers of adult-education programming continue to host her, including the Osher Institute at Tufts University and the Jenks Center in Winchester.And Then Came Covid
In 2020, Diane grappled with pandemic isolation and with an autoimmune disorder that left her at higher risk. She adapted to a new reality of virtual rehearsals and performances.
Just as the world shut down in March, Vox Lucens finished recording an album called Caroling in the Light. It was released for Christmas 2020, a love letter to Renaissance polyphony and favorite old carols, so old that the group sang them with the English pronunciation from centuries ago. Diane's husband, John, did the recording in the resonant sanctuary of Park Avenue Church, where Vox Lucens are artists-in-residence. Mixing and mastering was done by Larry Luddecke at Straight Up Music in Arlington, coordinated by telephone, e-mails, and file transfers.
Diane was soon back at Straight Up Music, isolated in the recording space while Larry stayed in his control room. (Theo the studio dog was bereft at being unable to join in; he just didn't understand why he couldn't snuggle up to Diane as usual.) The result of these sessions was Rockin' out on Star Island, a private-issue album of songs from the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire. Half are from previous recordings, half are new, and all are wonderful evocations of the special place Diane and John have visited every summer for decades. Not in 2020, but hopefully in 2021.
In January 2021, Diane was invited to join the Scholarly Advisory Board of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, based in New York City. She feels extremely credentialed now.