Over the last week I’ve been bombarded with the horrific images of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction in the NJ/NYC area. It’s somewhat surreal to me considering the fact that my manager and I barely missed being caught in it ourselves. Every time I see pictures or videos of the flooded subways I think, “Lord….that could have been us caught down there!” My heart aches for people who lost loved ones, homes and personal memorabilia. I cannot imagine how that feels so I just continue praying for all affected by Sandy’s wrath.
One bright spot in this catastrophe is the strength of NJ/NYC residents. People seem to have joined together to not only help one another with food and shelter; but also to uplift each other’s spirits during a dark period. Rescue groups are traveling to the area to lend a helping hand to their fellow man. Celebrities are hosting telethons to raise money to that will be used in the forthcoming months/year to help rebuild. Is NJ/NYC area forever changed? Yes! However, that does NOT mean that the region will not return stronger and better, as long as people remain unified in bringing it back to its full glory. After I sat back and thoroughly pondered what to take away from the aftermath of this natural catastrophe, I realized the primary lessons I learned in relation to my life as an indie artist is being resilient and the power of teamwork.
When I left the east coast in 2009 to relocate to the SF Bay area I was frustrated and upset with the music industry. I honestly questioned if I’d ever sing professionally again because I was tired of encountering individuals who talked a “good game”, but never delivered. Granted I knew what I was getting myself into when I considered a career in the music industry, I thought things would be somewhat different in the indie scene, but I was sadly mistaken. Fortunately my time in the Bay area, starting with my stint at the Jazzschool Institute in Berkeley, offered me an invaluable chance to grow and find my voice. After discovering my voice and realizing what it meant to others, as well as me, I decided it was time to throw my “hat back in the ring” as a music artist.
Once I decided to bring my music career back to life, it made complete sense that I approach it differently than when I was on the east coast. I realized one of the key things I needed to do is assemble an effective team. Most books about success in the music industry discuss the necessity of a team to support a music artist. The team usually may consist of a manager/business manager, entertainment attorney, booking agent, and a publicist. I considered hiring these players years before, but thought as an indie artist I would never be able to afford them. A brotha didn’t have any money to payroll these folks! LOL However, I figured if I was going to do this “thing” then I needed to go the extra mile and do it RIGHT!
This solitary decision has been one of the best I have ever made. I started with securing an excellent manager who is 110% behind me. It doesn’t hurt that she’s my mother, but her work ethic and dedication to the development of my career is unparalleled The other players are appearing one-by-one as I move forward with recording/releasing my sophomore project.
The weight of my decision “hit” me at the conclusion of my house concert in Raleigh, NC last month. One of my friends who attended the performance sent me a text message the next day expressing the extent of his enjoyment of the concert. He stated that my manager’s welcoming nature transformed the house into a “home” for the audience. He was EXACTLY right! My manager’s hard work in preparation for the house concert blew my mind; including setting up chairs, baking cakes, preparing cider, and greeting everyone with a warm smile. Our collaborative efforts resulted in a magical night of music and love for all involved. One cannot ask for anything better.
At the end of the day, I cannot travel this music road alone. I cannot achieve my dreams of performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival alone. It will require a collective effort from me, my selected team members, fellow musicians, and fans of my music. I am just grateful to find individuals, like my amazing manager, who believe in my talent and vision. Teamwork can be a wondrous blessing.