Remembering Jeff Langley


Jeff and I went to high school together in Ukiah, California.  He was a fine classically trained musician and yet he loved working with all the singers at school.  And we loved him. He was a sensitive accompanist who respected a singer’s job to interpret the song.

Remembering Jeff Langley

Jeff and I began writing songs together early on and continued until his death. We both worked with and loved Connie Cox, the music teacher who lived in Ukiah (because her husband got a job there), which took her away from her beloved San Francisco.  She put all her creative talent into students like us.

Jeff and I did hundreds of shows together, traveled to Vietnam together, worked and traveled on the Indochina Peace Campaign with Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. He was central to putting together the work I did with Ronnie Gilbert and was part of the huge HARP (Holly, Arlo, Ronnie, Pete) concert at Greek Theater in Berkeley. Jeff was the musical director of a show I did called The Near Sisters. He can be heard on most of my early recordings as my pianist and co-arranger.

Jeff and I started collaborating in high school. In 1976, By age 7, Langley was already studying piano and composition with Siegfried Schultze, a concert pianist who fled Nazi Germany during World War II and emigrated to the U.S.

After eleven plus years working together, Jeff and I each went off to investigate other musical interests.  He moved to New York City to earn degrees at Juilliard, writing works for orchestra, piano and choir as well as opera.  I dove deep into understanding feminism and lesbianism in a global context, writing songs about subjects seldom touched.

Jeff eventually returned to Sonoma County and served as Sonoma State University’s Director of the Center of the Performing Arts.  He was one of the visionaries behind SSU’s Green Music Center and became  Artistic Director of the Green Music Center when it opened in 2012.

Jeff moved to Asheville, North Carolina to live with his husband Robert. They hosted me when I had to evacuate my apartment in Santa Rosa during the fires.  Only a day passed before we started writing music together again.

I was living in southern Massachusetts working on a book when Jeff called me from hospice to say goodbye. We had a remarkable conversation and loving farewell.  It is Jeff who encouraged me to get my long overdue colonoscopy which resulted in a discovery of cancer.  Over our long friendship, he enriched my life and then saved it.

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