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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.


5 responses to “Community

  1. Jua, That sounded like such fun! And yes, one day soon I KNOW you will be a featured artist at the Winter Jazzfest! I just have one thing to say in response to this post…Why you ain’t tell me you were coming to NY??? Just kidding! 😉 Peace and blessings always Jua!

    • juasmusic

      I appreciate your faith in my talent. I can’t wait to my next interview with you when my album drops. I also apologize for not letting you know about my trip. I’ve got you covered next time! We can do lunch or catch a concert!!! Many blessings to you and your family. 🙂

  2. Allison ⋅

    I felt like I was right there hearing every note, feeling every beat. Very well written & eloquently expressed.

  3. How delightful! I am glad that you enjoyed yourself. It seems as if you had a great networking experience above all. Were you able to see Onaje while there?

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