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Suzanne Brindamour has missed some moments of glory. There was the time she wrote a song for a locally produced television talk show—which ran long and thus featured no credits. Then there was the time she scored an episode of America’s Most Wanted—but a dramatic finish cut into the credits again.

In February, Brindamour received some long-awaited recognition. Her song “Dear Sevda” appeared on Popstars, the WB show about the making of all-girl band Eden’s Crush. Brindamour—who had sent her work to an L.A.-based music supervisor for several different shows—had known that Popstars’ producers were deciding between two of her songs, but didn’t know which one they had finally chosen. When her piece played on the Feb. 16 episode, Brindamour finally got to see her name flash by in the credits; she’s since had the thrill of catching her tune on MTV, which has re-aired the series.

Success can be a funny business, though. “Dear Sevda,” Brindamour explains, is about a Bosnian refugee; on Popstars, it became a soundtrack of rejection for the girls who didn’t make the final cut. And it’s ironic—if not a little depressing—that a struggling singer-songwriter such as Brindamour may have landed her biggest break on a show devoted to manufactured pop-chart success.

None of this is lost on the 36-year-old Potomac, Md., native. Yet she seems content to find her way to the spotlight at her own pace. As a child, she taught herself to play piano and studied classical guitar. In college, she majored in communications and pursued a career as a television producer. She began writing songs for television shows after she composed a piece for Capital Edition, a political talking-head show produced by WUSA Channel 9. That gig led to more work making music for political ads, National Geographic Explorer, and America’s Most Wanted.

Over the years, Brindamour played with different bands but didn’t perform much in public because, she confesses, it was too nerve-racking. “I was really insecure for years,” she says. “I didn’t even sing until I was an adult. I didn’t think I could.” She has since gotten over her stage fright and has just released a self-titled CD, which Best Buy is distributing in four states. With her vocals and lush sound, local critics have compared her to the likes of Tori Amos and Jewel.

But Brindamour’s biggest fans are neither these critics nor Popstars-watching teeny-boppers. Her greatest enthusiasts can be found in the wards of Children’s Hospital, where she has been musician in residence since January. She landed the job after volunteering to play music for the kids.

One afternoon, she sets up a keyboard and hands out maracas, tambourines, and a small guitar to four children and their parents in a playroom on the hematology and oncology floor. While Brindamour plucks her acoustic guitar, performing playful tunes she’s written just for the kids, her audience members strum, shake, and bang with as much vigor as they can muster. Brindamour stops singing to let each one take a solo.

“They have no control over their lives in a hospital,” Brindamour says. “When I give [them] the keyboard, they have complete control over it. It’s instant feedback. I always ask them, ‘Do you want to hear this or that?’ Any options I can give them to make decisions, I do.”

Brindamour says that she can see herself in the future writing more children’s songs, maybe even cutting a children’s album or making videos for kids.

“The thing I want to do more than anything is write songs and put them out there and touch people that way.” —Annys Shin