Tonight’s the Night!

Life was simpler then.

It’s Monday and in ten hours I will be hitting the stage with the return of my Nina Simone show at City Winery Chicago. I have NO idea how many tickets have sold. I checked a week and a half ago and the low sales frightened me. The venue seemed secure that the show will sell well. Of course I am not so sure. I never am. Folks say: “you always sell out!” “You always pack the house!” I never count on that. I push, push, push the show until I am crazy. But you never know …

Dress is laid out. Jewelry is chosen. (where’s my purple necklace?) My make-up artist Brayzill stands ready at 5pm.

We rehearsed last night and I feel good about the show. I always feel good when I sing Nina’s music.

Here’s hoping for a near sell-out. Or at least 200 people. The venue holds 300.

OY! My nerves.
Tickets to My Nina Simone Show Tonight Monday, Nov 7th

No More Fussing About this Election. Only Love today.

Photo: Terrell Clark

I am not spending another minute fussing about this election. Today, I am going to spread love and laughter and continue building excitement for my show tomorrow night at City Winery Chicago. (shameless plug: I sing Nina Simone at City Winery, showtime is 8pm I will include a link for tickets) It’s what I do. I sing. I express myself and my shows are a time for celebration and joy and dancing and maybe a few tears. My intention is to make people feel good. Everyone: do something, say something to spread some love today. Give a compliment; hold the door open for someone; tell someone that you love them; smile and say “Good Morning” to a stranger. Just be nice. Don’t lose faith & hope for this world. We are all in this together. And don’t forget to VOTE. My show info & tickets:

Building Strength. Ode to my fitness trainer.

I’ve been thinking about this whole process: working out, gaining strength. The more I do, the more I can do. It’s an amazing thing to experience. As you know this isn’t my first fitness experience but working with trainer Jeremy is at a whole different level. I would NEVER push myself to the extremes that he takes me. And I think this after every workout!

He has started leading me through even harder sessions. 90 minute workouts, at least four times a week. And the growth of physical strength is astounding! I picked up a 25 lbs weight the other day to do my bicep curls. When I started back in 2015, I was using pastel colored weights that looked like they should have been in a bowl with milk!
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I opened two gifts when I woke up this morning.

I saw a meme the other day that read: “I opened two gifts when I woke up this morning – My Eyes!” That’s how I am facing this day. Just happy to see another morning. Just grateful for another chance to be the best that I can be. And I am happy to ignore any fools who might try to piss on my joy parade. I know that some of us may have faced this day with worries and anxiety about our lives. Just have faith, pray or meditate on what you want in life today. Then take baby steps to make it happen. Most of all, be grateful for your life today because as my mama always said: Tomorrow ain’t promised to you. Blessed Be!

Don’t be So hard…On Yourself.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself!” Recently, I gave someone that advice. Then I realized: I’m the hardest on my own damn self! Have I forgiven myself for past mistakes? Hell no! I’m still shuddering over poor choices I made 30 years ago! I think when you stop and think about your patterns of behavior and really take the time to “see,” then you can start taking steps towards changing the behaviors, and stop making the same choices that cause you to stumble in life. But first things first! You have to stop beating yourself up over the past. Ahh. Life can be so complicated. But it’s so wonderful. We never stop growing and learning. And it is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks!

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