I’ve been reflecting on my recent experience in New York City the last week or so as I’ve perused the various business cards I received from a multitude of jazz vocalists and musicians at the Jazz Connect Conference. I am still on a natural high from my entire trip starting with the Conference that provided me not only with invaluable information from first-hand sources, but also put me in contact with gifted jazz artists on the same grind I’m on daily. I was in my own heaven as I sat there with my coffee and pastries (only $3.50!!! Bargain LOL) listening to veteran musicians discuss the importance of mentoring young artists to respect the craft or actually hearing what a presenter looks for in booking a jazz artist at a festival. It was as if I was in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory having the time of my life. The information being offered inspired new ideas on how to approach my artistry and reach more listeners, but I also felt a warm feeling of pride because it reiterated the fact that my business manager and I are on the right track! It’s a tough road so it feels damn good when you know you’re doing positive things to elevate your career.
Of course I had my “fan” moments when I met a few artists whose music I am into. I always try not to come off too cheesy when complimenting someone whose work I respect, but still giving the appropriate props. That being said, I know I smiled from ear-to-ear when approaching these folks. Ah well……LOL I actually ended the conference having an amazing conversation with a veteran vocalist who gave me the “real deal” about a lot of things in the music world. Thought I shared my personal experiences, I sat there like an eager student in the classroom soaking in every single word spoken to me. It hit me during that conversation how blessed I was to have this chance to be privy to such wisdom. Priceless…..I couldn’t have imagined ending the conference in a more poignant manner.
Then as if the conference wasn’t enough, a close friend of mine surprised me with a ticket to attend the NYC Winter Jazzfest in the East Village. I was thrilled because I had wanted to attend this particular jazz festival for a few years, but never had the funds to make it happen when I lived in California. I went out that Saturday night with eager ears ready to catch ever titillating note played or sung. I wasn’t disappointed!!!! I was blessed to witness new artists I’ve never heard before and see artists whose albums I own, but have never had the opportunity to see perform live. My feet were killing me the next day because I rocked, swayed, “two-stepped”, and grooved my way through all of the performances. Sheer bliss!!! I will admit that I said a prayer that night for the opportunity to share my talent one year in the Winter Jazzfest. It would be my honor.
I topped off my trip by attending a record label showcase that I was invited to by an extremely talented vocalist whose album I dig who performed on Sunday. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed everyone who jammed that night. It was an intimate setting which added to the flavor in my opinion.
As I sit here now reflecting on my trip I still possess an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration and contentment. It has taken me a LONG time to become comfortable with the notion of what it means to be a professional music artist versus it just being a passion/hobby. It took even longer for me to consider myself a professional artist though I love my gift. After attending the conference, the Winter Jazzfest, and the showcase; I felt part of a sacred community that is clearly meant for me. I knew my calling to be a jazz artist was not a fluke and that my place in this community was well deserved. Plus I understood that this path I’m on is so much bigger than me which excites me even more because I understand my responsibility to uphold the legacy of this art form. The beautiful part is I get to do it my way which goes to the heart of jazz, individual expression and improvisation. What a life-affirming epiphany.