Peter Himmelman is a multi-faceted individual – he is a Grammy- and Emmy-nominated singer-songwriter, visual artist, film composer and best-selling author. In 2011 he founded Big Muse, where through keynotes and workshops, he “awakens fresh opportunities for innovation and creativity” in his clients.
He is coming to the Valley for a performance at the Musical Instrument Museum on Tuesday, July 9, at 7 pm. Peter says that he would like to perform music from his “new album that no one even knows about yet.”
His last album, “There Is No Calamity,” was released in 2017. Since then he has been working on new music. “We recorded it in like three days, all live, really sensational musicians,” says Peter of the new album. “I don’t know when that’s coming out – these days, releasing a record has become very interesting.”
He explains there is no such thing as a major record deal anymore. But he says the upside is that it “purifies the whole thing, you make music for some much more essential reason – because there’s something life-giving about it for oneself and others.”
Realizing where the music business was headed lead him to diversify his projects; He founded Big Muse and wrote Let Me Out: Unlock Your Creative Mind and Bring Your Ideas to Life, both of which bring his unique perspective to the business.
“I never went to college, my life was so unique in a way, but I never went to school,” says Peter.
“There was no institution, there were no mentors, I mean there were mentors along the way but nothing very organized – What did you learn in a band? What did you learn by writing and communicating? – it turns out quite a bit; it just had a lot of different names.”
In addition to businesses, Big Muse also works with colleges, universities and resource-poor high schools. He’s currently working to create an extended curriculum with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communication at Northwestern, “which is an amplification of all the ideas I’m covering. The program – it’s a little bit malleable – it has a lot to do with fear abatement, trust, creation and creativity,” says Peter. “Kind of like looking at the world back as one did as a third grader.”
Three years ago, he went to study at The Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern on a fellowship where he received an Advanced Management Certificate. His wife, Maria, graduated from Northwestern’s law school, has long received the university’s quarterly magazine, but now Peter jokes he gets a copy too.
Peter has four grown children with Maria (whose father is musician Bob Dylan) and he has always put his family and faith above his career. He is shomer Shabbos which he admits has been detrimental to his career.
“I have to say yes, it was not a great career decision if you’re going to be in rock and roll, but it’s certainly a good life decision,” he says. “The life is bigger than the career – not to underestimate the importance of a career. I think my career is like the second most important thing to me, just under my faith and family.”
He admits his whole life plan was to have a big family. He reminisces about his house growing up and when his Grandma Rose would come around and everyone would speak Yiddish.
“I like a full house,” he says. “I like when the kids are there, and now they’re much smarter and funnier than me; you know I used to entertain them and now they are entertaining me. I’ll be cooking and just listening to the conversation, just the rhythm of the sounds in the room, it’s a very happy feeling for me.”
All four of his children currently live in New York, and Peter and Maria will be pulling up stakes in Santa Monica, CA, to join them in the Big Apple this summer. Once they settle back into the big city, I’m sure Peter will get his wish of having a full house once again.
For information or tickets to Peter’s show, visit mim.org.