Paris and a Jazz Opera: Anxiety Sets In!

Elancourt Commanderie. 12 Century Chapel next to our apartments in Gyancourt

There’s no turning back now! I am close to departure date and all in all I am in good shape though I haven’t packed yet. I have written a list and checked it twice. I have listened to this Opera so much that I hear the melodies in my head day and night. I find myself tapping out the rhythm of the songs. Luckily, I love the songs very much and have great admiration for the composer so it’s a joy actually. With each melody or song lyric I memorize comes great elation and relief. Yet I am still wracked with anxiety and worry but I always fret about traveling and packing. There are a couple details I have to take care of, a couple adapters to buy for my camera and then there is money, or rather the lack thereof. But the good thing is I am not the only one! There is a benefit to traveling with other young musicians: they tend to be broke also! Continue reading ›

Paris and a Jazz Opera: Don’t Worry, Be HaRpy!

Happy New Year! I know it’s been ages since I last wrote and to be quite honest there hasn’t been too much new to tell except I did present a staged reading of one piece from my one woman show and it was well received. The response was almost overwhelming. I performed it during a cabaret show I did in late November. Since then I have mostly been scraping by as I experience some of the toughest economic times of my life. I have been poorer in the past, but I had no bills in those days. Yet, I remain optimistic. There is a bright spot and it’s in my future. I am going to Paris to sing in a Jazz Opera. How’s that for news? Continue reading ›

Kindness, Knowledge, Empathy, Tolerance and Discourse: Healing Race Relations. It Takes Work.

Kindness, knowledge, empathy, tolerance and discourse. The recent Ferguson decision and the subsequent violence that erupted in that town has brought race relations to the forefront once again. I have witnessed some of the most ignorant assumptions and racist remarks that I have not seen since Barack Obama won the presidency. It seems that many White Americans do not understand Black Americans. And it’s almost enough to make me think that many don’t care to. But being the eternal optimist I cling to hope. There is an obvious disconnect between what people believe is good relations between the races. I think it is because some folks (on all sides) are defensive and do not engage in reasonable discourse while some non-Blacks refuse to view the history of African Americans without some feeling of persecution.

Kindness, Empathy and Tolerance. Continue reading ›

The One Woman Show

It’s official! After nearly three decades, I have started putting together my one woman show! That is all. Stay tuned…

Robin Williams

I have a feeling that the impact of Robin Williams suicide is going to be felt harder as time goes on. I have known for hours now and it’s only now that I can speak on it and I wept. We didn’t know him but his comedy & his work made him familiar. And you just knew he was a sweetheart. He was the true Liberal, the whirling dervish, a one of a kind smarty pants whose career we all watched grow from TV’s “Mork and Mindy” to Oscar winner. And it seemed that he had it all – I can’t imagine the desperation, darkness and despair he must have felt at age 62, a statesman of movies and comedy. But it just goes to show you – that shit (money, success) doesn’t really matter if your heart and soul is lost in that darkness called depression. Thinking of the funny man tonight. Thinking of us all.

Talking Smack

Listen to yourself when you talk negatively about someone. Often times Gossip is a form of laziness. It’s a comfort zone. I think if we took the time to really see what the issue is (fear, jealousy,envy, unfulfillment) in our own life then we wouldn’t just sit and bitch about someone else. We would do something about the issue in our own lives that sparks the sudden vitriol we spew forth about another. It is easier to bitch about a person who writes a play then to start/complete our own writing projects. It is easier to blast on a performer who gets recognition and succeeds than to try to analyze why we don’t get the same and then do something about it ourselves. Talking smack about someone may make you “feel” superior but it doesn’t help your life at all. I really believe that when you try to block someone else’s blessings, you in turn, block your own. And people notice when you are a negative person. It’s tiresome to be around. Love is the answer.

First You Dream.

FIRST YOU DREAM: Crafting a new solo show and watching the amazing Audra McDonald Live From Lincoln Center. (She just won the Tony for “Lady Day.”) Talk about an inspiration! I’m going to sing all of my favorites like she does in concert except the tunes won’t come exclusively from the American Songbook and Broadway – though I will sing a few of those. Gospel, Blues, Disco, an Aria – I have this voice that can handle so many genres, yet I have so few opportunities to sing them all in a concert setting. Ultimately, I’d like a full orchestra behind me (in addition to The Shivers – my core group) but there won’t be anything lacking without it as long as I have my Shivers behind me. My Nina Simone show was the start, then I got distracted (FEAR) but I have to get back on that shit NOW! Don’t know what has buoyed me up to finally do it – but do it I must. Any and all encouragement is strongly requested and sorely needed! Original tunes – I could use a few … In the meantime, Watch the song that was like a shot in the arm – a kick in the butt … Look at those strings, hear those lush arrangements … but first things first, first you dream…

Hanging With Macy Gray & The Women’s Health Foundation Party.

Me & my new friend Macy Gray. A Kindred Spirit!

I am still buzzing from my great night performing (with Raymond on solo piano) for the Women’s Health Foundation at my all time home away from home: City Winery Chicago. It was a great party for a great cause: Women’s Pelvic Health – (the party is cleverly called “Below The Belt”) which offers education and access to health services and health options for all stages of life (adolescence, childbearing, menopausal and older women) They really encourage women to be proactive and act as their own advocates in regards to our reproductive health. The party was packed and well-funded. I believe the enthusiasm is due in great part to the group’s founder and chief Missy Lavender, a petite dynamo with a sweet disposition. Y’all know I do a lot of parties for all kinds of charitable groups but rarely do I get to be in the “front line” as a guest and performer. Since I opened the evening, I was able to do both.

But the ultimate perk of performing for this event was the chance to meet and hang out with Macy Gray! Continue reading ›

Maya Angelou

Dearest Maya Angelou represented so much to me. My mom & I used to read her books together. (her autobiographical Caged Bird Series) She was the zenith of African American Artistic Achievement. She had such dignity and elegance. She was the Poetess, the Sage, the Wonderful Crone. As long as she was around I felt a connection to the familiar. She represented a generation of Black Renaissance, a Freedom Fighter who survived Jim Crow and was active in the Movement and then, there are those sweet memories of reading her books (side by side) with Mommy… Can one love an author as one would love family? In this case I must answer: yes.

“I Could Be Next,” the fear of middle age.

Strange days. I am a very upbeat, positive kind of person. I always look on the bright side of most situations and people. However, lately my usually happy-go-lucky thoughts have turned to those of my own mortality. Stroke, heart attack, Cancer, disease and death are what I visualize on a huge roulette wheel and it’s spinning. Whose number will be up next? It could be me. I could be next. There could be Cancer cells growing in me right now. A little clot may be waiting to stir loose and travel to my brain.

Believe me when I tell you. I do not dwell in this place but anytime one of my peers is stricken, I shudder – first in mourning for them – and then in fear of that big unknown. It feels selfish to think of oneself in light of the loss of another, but I can’t help myself.

I am not young. I am closer to the end than the beginning of my life.

Does anyone else think these morbid thoughts from time to time?

Of course I just keep on living, drink a little less, exercise more (well, I want to exercise) check in on friends…

I say:

It’s time to start living like there’s no tomorrow, because like my mama always said: “it ain’t promised to ya!”