Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
I always became the main character of any book I was reading. Their Eyes, however, spoke loudest.
I found Their Eyes Were Watching God at age 16, after school, with Ms. Wyatt’s Forensics Club preparing to recite an excerpt where Janie, the main character and her Nanny were in the kitchen talking about getting married. I remember giggling at the dialect mostly because I understood it. The words actually gave me clues on what my grandmother and other old folks had been saying all my life. It never occurred to me that this was oral tradition captured. I had only seen this type of written dialect after reading pages of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple against my mother’s approval. I had prepared to deliver the passage but never did; instead I recited The Ballot or The Bullet speech by Malcolm X. Ms. Hurston’s wit in that section never left me though.
At age 20, my friend Kika and I went to the college book store to purchase this novel because Ms. Guilford had required that we read it at Bowie State University. I had not read it from finish to end and would not have that Freshman year in Towers Hall, had not Kika and I sat in the dorm room flipping pages together taking turns to read aloud, one page at a time, to be sure we understood and aced our assignments. What a bonding experience in friendship, almost like Pheoby and Janie. Reading this was great on so many levels. We developed a healthy habit of studying and being a book club before its popularity. We fell in love…with Teacake, with the porch and the people who seemed like my uncles, aunts and neighbors. Oh and the ending! The surprisingly thrilling ending had us turning pages silently enthralled. The poetry of Zora Neale Hurston and her character, our kindred sister, Janie had us put our shoulders back three inches more and lift our heads in victory. We marched with a million men that same year in DC with that spirit.
Just a few years ago, as I began to grow and experience more, understanding and revealing more of who I am in my career and as a woman, I turned back to the pages of Their Eyes Were Watching God as I do with most of my favorite books, only to identify specifically with the pain and eventual triumph of Janie Crawford. My project had already begun. God has its way of making perfect, the time for everything. If left in my hands, I would have released my project Songs for Janie two years prematurely.
This morning I am at my table, with today’s wind knocking around window parts in my house and clashing melodies with the chimes on my porch, relishing in the moment and the timelessness of Life and Creation and Art. All one in the same.
How remarkable a novel published today 75 years ago, resonating like voices in a large and empty chamber!? A novel written when my Grandmother Ruth was 10 years old, and I keep finding parts of myself in the masterpiece…watching God.
I am sitting here on the floor making an attempt to write while getting asked if I like a routine from a six year old fake guitar playing performer. She’s a true performer though. I told my children to give me a minute and I can give them all some attention. One minute. Its Friday evening, wrong time for blog writing. I think I should share a little more with you though.
I’ve had the most amazing week. Yesterday was such a highlight in so many ways. I met with a brilliant mind about a new electronic music project, added another verse to a song I started with the coolest musician, and used my voice and creativity ALL day.
Since June, I have been singing at Georgetown-Lombardi Cancer Center for patients, staff and guests. It is one of the most unique experiences to share my voice as a way to ease, sooth directly and for this specific purpose of facilitating healing and helping patients manage their well-being. It makes me think even more about every song I sing, what I say and how it moves each person. Since then, when I sing whether in the studio or on stage, there is something else that happens in me. There’s more purpose behind my voice for me and for whoever hears it. I feel enhanced. For Lombardi, I’ve chosen songs that are melodically calming, positive or upbeat and lyrically light. Yesterday, I sang Euphoria, Blue Skies, Amazing Grace (He looked beyond my fault), and Night in Tunisia along with some other tunes. An array of thoughts enters my mind as I see people close their eyes and just listen. I feel awkward accepting their compliments because it’s not entertainment. I hear thank you and gladly welcome it, with a thank you right back to them for allowing me to give. This experience is so complete.
I have fallen in love many times. I fell in love with sunsets, and books, netflix lol, and many times, with being a loner. I have fallen in love with craziness, like heath bar crunch ice cream, and more books, and then it was his facial expression. I fell in love with the movement of his tongue as he said, “Take the 36 to Marble Arch” and “The London Eye.” haha. Oh and packin…I seem to fall in love with packing up- being on the run. Today I fell in love with Trinity, as I dropped her off to her new school where she is fully immersed in a new language. What a brave girl. Today I also fell in love with the magic of “keeping on”. For the past couple of days, I felt stagnant in many ways. I call it the mud. But here’s when reflecting and keeping video footage helps me remember what really makes me smile big.
Every time I start to panic about not finishing, not completing, not having enough, I go back to take a look at how far I have come. Here is a clip from an early summer month recording at the Sweet Spot Studios with Federico Pena and Nico Laget…I have had many days of ecstasy in the studio. So through moments of uncertainty, I remember my sessions and purpose filled work. Take a look in…
I left July 2 for London to sing at the Jazz Café. It was one of the many amazingly divine trips of my life. I traveled with a few extra days in my itinerary to allow time for writing and visiting Paris. I was scheduled for interviews, a show, and a recording session. Many thanks to Derek Sivers for introducing me to AirBnB, which is where I met an awesome new fan and my roomy even came to support me in Camden.
Before I left, I had been trying to contact Adele and Amy to let them know I’d be there. I wanted Amy to be my fan. I had recently been playing her Frank album for the last four months after I wore out Back to Black which became an inspiration for “Ah God”, a song on my new album. I was in London during the ITunes festival, and I just knew we’d cross paths. I will miss her so much. She was like an old friend. I cannot tell you how that album spoke for me many times.
It is hard to begin my blogging here and now after the trip happened a month ago, but I took notes. Please stay tuned for a blessed log of my adventure.
Here is a picture of me and my airbnb roomy in Camden’s Jazz Cafe. She represents my day 1.