Nina Simone & Me.

I’m getting into Nina-mode. Taking on this show is a challenge on some levels (logistically, financially) but it is also the easiest thing I have ever done. Many have questioned my choice to bring the band with me to my show in Atlanta. Why not pick up musicians in Atlanta? The answer is simple: I want a certain level of comfort and ease on stage because I want to be totally free of worry. I need to have my guys (The Shivers) behind me because they know me and will guarantee the best presentation possible.

An acquaintance and fellow singer said to me: You sing Nina Simone? You must be a beast!

The truth is I have never been intimidated by her repertoire, mostly because her exploration of so many genres is perfectly suited to my voice and nature. She is the one artist who did what I have always done: sang whatever she wanted to sing. I don’t have the technical genius of her piano playing and music theory but that does not discourage me. I am not a Nina imitator. But I believe that I do share her power as a performer. And her ability to reach an audience is something that I also share. It is my lifeline. The ability to be vulnerable and honest on stage is one of my gifts. It is natural. I’m not boasting here. I am telling you my truth as a performer. Every time I go on stage I call on my ancestors: the Preacher (Papa), the Slave (my great-grandmother), the Mother and Nina Simone.

Feeling the joy! photo:

Singing this amazing artist’s repertoire empowers me. Perhaps it is because of her musical choices and her independent spirit that I am drawn to her. Nina Simone is dear to me. Her journey, her drive and her energy ignites a joy and energy in me as a performer. Performing her repertoire is not like doing covers because she covered so many genres which has always been my thing. She sang in French and Hebrew – my favorite thing to do is to sing in different languages. Her exploration of American Roots music (chain gang songs, Gospel shouts and chants) Blues, the American Songbook, show tunes, rock, Pop, RnB, protest music and a cappela vocalizing – it’s all stuff I adore. The drama of the singer as character, the characterization of songs – that is so my thing. How could I help but connect to this artist?

Atlanta: Get ready!

I perform My tribute to Nina Simone on Friday, July 1, 2016 at City Winery Atlanta. $20 8pm for tickets & info:
Tickets and info

Paris 2016

Yep. I went to Paris again. I returned to perform in the Jazz Opera: “Don’t worry, Be HaRpy.” It was a wonderful trip – grueling (we were driving constantly to rehearsal and soundchecks) but wonderful. But it didn’t start off that way. I should note here that things got amazingly better almost immediately, but I have to describe it to you!!
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Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones

I started this post as a lament after hearing some awful gossip. A longtime close friend said unkind things about me and it hurt my feelings. Apparently, this friend took issue with my Gofundme campaign last year and my financial problems of the past few years. I had an inkling that that may have been the issue but refused to believe it. It shook me. I had been trying to reach out to this person in the past and there was always an excuse, a rational explanation as to why we were no longer close and I would be elated for just a small display of kindness from this woman. I started to feel like I did back in the days when I used to try to get the attention of some guy I was infatuated with. I racked my brain to figure out what I had done to this friend that would lead to this estrangement but the friend always denied there was a problem. And I accepted that. But I ain’t no fool. That is what was on my mind when I prepared to write this blog post. I was ready to pour my heart out (as is my way) about my sadness, anger and disappointment. And then, I heard that a childhood classmate is battling Cancer. Suddenly my concerns over that broken friendship seemed trivial and petty.

Fighting for one’s life is a real crisis. Fretting over a friend’s disloyal behavior ain’t shit.
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Sometimes When I Dream, I Dream Like My Mother.

It’s Five A.M. and I’m feeling very connected to my mom & grandfather right now because of a vivid dream that woke me this morning. I feel connected to my mom and Papa because they too had very vivid dreams that they always remembered and sometimes they were prophetic. My mom always acknowledged that I did the same kind of dreaming. The three of us had recurring dreams as well. My mom had a recurring dream that she told me (when I was 14) was about me singing in the then Soviet Union in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It totally came true when I was 39 years old – after she had passed. Sounds weird but I’ve had a couple dreams connected to real events that I’m not convinced were pure coincidence. And I always know when I’ve had a “special dream” because it “reaches through” and I can’t forget it. Ok, now that you think I’m totally cuckoo – I’d like to wish you all a good morning!

I sang with David Cassidy. (How it came about & videos!)

photo: Chris Deford

Dayton, Ohio 1970:
I am ten years old and in the throes of my first crush. He was a TV star of the hit-series The Partridge Family. Keith Partridge. David Cassidy. The most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I would go to the supermarket with my mom and make a bee-line to the magazine racks to look at and make my mom purchase: Tiger Beat, 16 Magazine or whatever other rags featuring him on the cover. If it included a pull-out poster – it was mine.

He was unattainable of course but I fantasized daily about him. His image was taped on my walls. The hair cut, the puka shell necklace, those eyes, that sexy look and smile. Sigh.
I outgrew my schoolgirl crush by the time Prince came along, but I always had a soft spot for DC. And as he withdrew from the limelight, I grew up. I remember noting that he had been on Broadway and Vegas but by then the news brought just a nostalgic smile. He was part of my childhood innocence.

Fast-forward 46 years to Chicago 2016:
I am on Facebook whining about Lady Gaga’s Grammy tribute to Bowie. My college friend Craig J from Northwestern popped in on the thread and suggested we record our own Bowie tribute, and “oh by the way, did you know I have been playing keyboards for David Cassidy for over eight years?” Continue reading ›

I sang with David Cassidy in NYC.

We stare into each other's eyes...

Friday, March 11, 2016: I sang with David Cassidy at BB King Blues Club and it was fantastic. Stay tuned for a full report!

Moving forward, taking chances with the solo show! (I have a title!)

Feeling the joy!

After my last blog of self-reflection and bemoaning over my lack of action in showbiz at my advanced age of 54 years, I have decided to submit my one woman show in a solo festival. If I make the cut it will be produced, mounted and given all the bells and whistles (production, stage managing, marketing, a theater) that I have only dreamed about. It will become a reality! And it is kinda scary, but not too scary. I feel good about the work. I have a great team: Arlene Malinowski (the Empress of the solo show who has helped me develop this show and is my dramaturge) Kay Alden (former head writer of the Young & the The Restless who has editing superpowers) Maverick director Polly Noonan and others. It’s time!! I am owning this! 2016 is the year!

Never give up! Never surrender! (from the movie: “Galaxy Quest”)

I’m getting old and I can’t deny it. Yet, still I dream of doing great things. Is that crazy?

Life was simpler then.

I feel it more than I can deny it. It is in my bones, my muscles, in the number of things I have accumulated in my house. I think about death. I look back on my life and realize that I have advanced past the age to fulfill a lot of dreams. It’s almost too late. Every time I realize it is my experience that makes me wiser I am confronted with it. I am getting old. Sometimes when I say: I am getting old I wonder if I should correct myself.

Should I be saying: I am old?

Should I just get real and stop pretending that I can make something happen? Continue reading ›

nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger

That is the opening line of a piece from my one woman show that I performed at the January Story Jam series in Wimette, Illinois. Wilmette is a mostly affluent, predominantly White suburb of Chicago. I entitled the story “nigger,” which tells the story of the first time I was called such by a White person. I have to admit that I had some reservations about presenting a story about being called a nigger to a mostly White audience – for about a minute. Hell, I told the world that I weigh 300 pounds in my “Fat” piece, so I figured: “I’m just keeping it real” and besides, I injected a dose of humor into the story, so what did I have to lose? It turned out that I had much to gain by the experience. Continue reading ›

My Words for the New Year 2016 and for 2015: Verklempt & Gratitude!

Singing for Redmoon's GCFF: the most wonderful photo ever. Photo: John Zich

Definition: Verklempt is a Yiddish word that means “overcome with emotion.” Pronounced “fer-klempt,” people use it when they are so emotional that they’re on the verge of tears or at a loss for words due to their emotional state.

I am Verklempt.

I’ve been trying to compose a New Year’s message but I am just so grateful for the love that I have received, the response to my Gofundme campaign and my recent sold-out show at City Winery (for starters) that I just end up sitting at my computer weeping uncontrollably. There is always the desire to discard the past year (if it was a particularly shitty one) and look toward the new: Put aside the past crap and move forward. Yet, I can’t help but reflect on the New Year as a growth of seeds sown in the previous year. Everything that has happened to me in my life has made me who I am. You can not truly escape the past. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it and approach the coming year with new hopes, plans and ACTION. So my New Year’s resolution is to learn and love the past year and take action to be the BEST I can be in 2016.
(Thanks Fred for my new mantra)
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