Bringing My Nina Simone Show back to Chicago. Monday, November 7th

I first performed my Nina Simone tribute in January 2013 at City Winery Chicago. We sold out. It was my first performance there and my first ticketed sold out show. and now after sold out shows in NYC and Atlanta, I am bringing it back home. The show has evolved. I have evolved as a performer and as a person. Singing Nina Simone’s music is quite like coming home for me. And performing her protest songs during these times, on the night before the election, well, it’s just crazy Kismet don’t you think?
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Step Out of the Comfort Zone!

I'm stepping out! Photo: Terrell Clark

Stepping out of the comfort zone. It’s scary. But often, it is the only way to move forward. Sometimes it involves taking a risk: leaving a job that doesn’t fulfill you but pays the bills; taking on a new venture of any kind; leaving a partner; taking a chance on love when you’ve been single and content-ish for ages “who needs the pain?;” performing new music; writing your book; re-arranging furniture; changing the color of your walls – it’s all about going for what you want and not letting fear of failure or change stop you. Be bold. Be strong! Tomorrow ain’t promised to you. Do the work. Be bold enough to dream! Take small steps towards that dream! And finally, take care of yourself: body and mind. That’s what I am doing.

(photo: Terrell Clark)

Say something!

Sharing time with friends and loved ones is the simplest gift to give to yourself and others. These relationships sometimes go in cycles. Sometimes family and friends become estranged. If you have anger towards someone but you know that deep down it stems from them being a less than perfect person to you (i.e. a schmuck) – try to remember the love. Sometimes we may have been the jerk in the situation. Well, just be honest. Don’t make an excuse, own it, say “I screwed up” and “I am truly sorry.” Sometimes that’s all you need. You can say “I don’t care,” but if you’re spending time bitching about it – you care! Let them know that even though this times sucks right now you do have love for them and it is a true hope that over time all will be well. You may be surprised at all the misperceived slights you are both seeing. Love always reigns and life is too short to hold onto bullshit. You might be mad as Hell at your family member or friend but I bet it stems from a deep place of hurt. Of course don’t be no fool, but dead silence over a prolonged time is, well … deadly. At least put that love out there, then go have a waffle or a mimosa and keep it moving. It’s Sunday! Have a Blessed One full of Love, Joy and Forgiveness!

Getting out of the funk.

Sometimes our particular circumstances make us retreat and hide. Life’s bullshit can make you grumpy and depressed. I have learned that it’s the simple things that can lead you out of this darkness. If you are feeling down and out, just reach out, get amongst other people and reclaim your joy. Do what you have to to do to take of business in baby steps. Don’t get overwhelmed by the icky stuff and don’t get stuck in your head. You need room to breathe! Keep the faith. Keep it moving forward!

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!