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Don Chaffer

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Lori Chaffer


Don Chaffer (Director) & Lori Chaffer (Assistant Director) bring over twenty-five years of arts experience to their positions as directors of C.A.I. They’ve recorded over 25 albums as artists–many with their band, Waterdeep (Squint Entertainment). They’ve written over 10 shows for theater and hundreds of songs, dozens of which have appeared in TV shows, on label releases (theirs and others), and various charts. Click here for more details on their experience and career highlights.


A Personal Statement from Don

On Empathy

After my band Waterdeep played a show one night, a fan came up and told me a story about his friend, who had recently died of cancer. “When he got sick, I sent him your album, What You Don’t Know,” he told me. “My buddy didn’t like it at first, but he kept listening to it, and a month later, when he was near the end, I flew down to see him one last time. It was... you know... there were tubes and machines... he was thin and pale... I said, ‘How are you?’ He just smirked and answered, ‘I’m long on diagnosis, and short on cure,’” quoting a song from that album.

When I told Lori the story, she said, “I love that. It’s like we don’t know what we need until we need it. The guy with cancer didn’t want to deal with the heaviness of the record when he first got it, because he didn’t need it then. He needed it when he was dying.”

It’s really empathy at its most mysterious. We don’t know what we need, but someone knows it for us. A loved one gives us a record, a stranger sings us a song, and it’s there when we need it.

On Wonder

In high school, once, I went to an art installation exhibit, where a room was dimly lit with a neon-pink canvas on one wall. My eyes couldn’t focus on it, and it glowed. I moved around; it never changed. I looked at it from the side; I couldn’t see the canvas. So, I touched it (I know, I know. Don’t touch the art); my hand went right through it. Everyone in the room gasped, but then we all realized there was no canvas, just a hole in the wall with light pouring through. So, I stuck my head in, and saw the track lighting, but I still couldn’t tell how big the space was. When I reached further in, I couldn’t touch the back. The space may have ended two inches past the end of my fingers, but it could have been infinite.

I was filled with wonder. An artist let me feel infinity. Wonder has reached me often: in the sound of Aretha Franklin’s voice; in that line by Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep”; in the giant tap dance number before intermission in Anything Goes. To feel the rush of mystery, to be overwhelmed by simplicity, to be smitten by an image, sound, smell, taste, or touch, these are what wonder is. It opens us up, and even when we see the track lighting, it can show us the infinite.