It has been some time since my last blog entry so I am well overdue for this one. I hope everyone’s year has started on a great note and you’re making the most out of it already. 2014 has been a great year so far. I kind of figured it would be based on how I brought it in with family and friends watching the illustrious acorn drop in downtown Raleigh, NC. I had such a warm feeling of contentment on New Year’s Eve that I was ready to take 2014 by storm.
Despite the horrendous weather conditions, I found myself moving to my “home away from home” in Harlem, NY less than a week after NYE. It pays to have great musician friends who travel and offer you the chance to sublet their spot while they are gone. Luckily, I was in the perfect place in my life to take full advantage of the offer. I basically hit the ground running once I arrived in NYC. My first week consisted of my attending the Jazz Connect Conference which is connected to the huge APAP Conference. Once again, I took copious notes at the breakout sessions I attended and handed out my business cards like a fiend. A brotha has to network, right? LOL I’ve kept in contact with a few awesome individuals I met at last year’s conference so I’m hoping the same this year. I was quite humbled when some people remembered me from last year or recognized me from my music. Those moments always remind you that you are on the right path.
As the conference concluded, I prepared myself to attend two full nights of the Winter Jazz Festival in the East Village. Man…I fell in love with this festival last year and it was no different this year. I will admit it seemed harder to get into certain venues this year like at Groove, but I still navigated successfully so I was able to catch a multitude of performances ranging from Somi, Gretchen Parlato and Rene Marie to Rudy Royston 303 and the Next Collective. As usual I spent the majority of that time with my eyes closed and head shaking as I digested all the amazing music hitting my ears. What made this year even better was the addition of a new set of friends I made on the first night of the festival while hanging at the Zinc Bar. I ran into a good friend and amazing vocalist, Whitney James, who I met while living in the Bay area who introduced me to two other extraordinary singers, Emily Braden and Michelle Walker. We ended up sharing a lot of laughs and music! Plus I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of musicians/artist whose music I own and highly enjoy. To say I was in heaven would be an understatement. One funny moment for me occurred when met an extremely popular pianist/producer who I successfully handed one of my business cards. I try to be calm and collected when meeting anyone, but some people’s sheer talent just throws me. I truly hope I didn’t look like a “deer caught in the headlights”. Oh well….hopefully I didn’t look crazy. LOL
Over the next week I found myself making the rounds at several venues checking out local/international talent and soaking in the NYC music scene. I think my average time getting home was 4 am and I could not be happier. Hey…this is a city that never sleeps and I am a jazz artist.
Then my trip took another positive step forward when I had the opportunity to perform with legendary pianist/arranger/composer Onaje Allan Gumbs and his New Vintage group at the BAM Café in Brooklyn. New Vintage is a collective group consisting of musicians, vocalists, spoken word artists, and dancers. Man…this was a new and rewarding experience for me. The caliber of all the artists involved was extremely high which forced me to be on my “A” game. Plus the venue was packed both nights so I had to bring the heat. The feedback from attendees was extremely positive so I left each night feeling on top of the world.
In the midst of all this I also had my final two sessions in the studio to finalize some vocals on my forthcoming album “Colors of Life.” Both sessions were frustrating at times, but extremely productive. I almost was in tears leaving the final day when it hit me what a monumental moment that was and that the next phase of this project was about to begin. I took some time to reflect on the last couple of years up to that point and had to shake my head in disbelief. So many times I did not think I would get to that point. Not to mention, I learned a lot about myself during the process including my weaknesses and strengths as an artist, but ultimately my fortitude in making this dream a reality. Lord knows it has not been easy!! I will always think long and hard in the future before working with friends of mine in a business capacity again. That can cause some SERIOUS issues. However, I am even more encouraged about releasing “Colors of Life” and letting the world hear what I have to say.
So anyone reading this can tell that I have been busy in 2014! I could not have asked for a better way to start my year and I more than ready to see what the rest of the year holds for me. I know one resolution of mine is to write my blog entries more consistently so I am informing all of you readers so I can be held accountable. Don’t be afraid to call a brotha out if need be. Talk to you soon!