Over two weeks ago I celebrated a major milestone in my music career….the one year anniversary of the release of my sophomore album “Colors of Life” on June 24, 2015. Anyone who has followed my music journey the last few years is well aware of the long process to bring “Colors of Life” from concept to reality. I still reflect on various steps in the process including my unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. LOL It’s important for me to remember everything, positive and negative, because I’m reminded to appreciate the end result and give myself some credit when I grow doubtful about my place in this crazy music industry.
This past year after releasing the album has been a rewarding, eye opening one. My new music has taken me on a beautiful trip around the country from Durham, NC and New York City to Orlando, FL. One key performance for me occurred early this year at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, CA. I actually paused briefly when I first stepped behind the mic at the CJC just to savor the moment. I experienced a quick flashback to orientation when I entered the California Jazz Conservatory in 2009 as an inaugural year student. I sat in orientation staring at the stage trying to calm my rising anxiety about having to eventually prove myself on that very spot. Now fast forward to January 3, 2015, and I was standing on stage with musicians who I greatly respected preparing to perform music from my new album. Life could get no better for me in that moment! Talk about coming full circle. Then how perfect was it that I started the show with an original tuned entitled “Finally”?! For those who own “Colors of Life”, you can definitely understand what I mean.
One of the best blessings that I’ve received as a result of my CD Release shows has been sharing the stage with phenomenal musicians who understood my creative vision and infused their individual talents/sounds into my music. There is nothing more fulfilling than hearing musicians play your music and elevate it to other levels! I’m not at the point where I have a dedicated band that travels with me so I’m always worried about hiring the right musicians when I’m on the road. Thankfully that has not been a problem this past year promoting “Colors of Life”. In fact, I’ve been able to hire top musicians who normally play for other artists/vocalists I respect and are killing every time I see them perform including on stage with me!
I can’t even begin to express how blown away I’ve been by all the love I’ve received from people, whether online or at one of my live concerts. When the album was first released a lot of folks took pictures holding a copy of “Colors of Life” and shared with their followers on Facebook. I’ve even had people share pictures with me of them proudly wearing JUA T-shirts. Several people have reached out to me on one of my social media sites telling me about their favorite songs on “Colors of Life”! I’ve spoken to a range of people at my live shows offering me positive words and encouragement. I still think about my conversation with a family at the California Jazz Conservatory whose son was doing a report on my concert for school. He was a young musician and told me how much he enjoyed the show. Speaking to him made my night because I knew he’d leave the concert with some inspiration that would help him on his own path.
Another exciting result of the release of “Colors of Life”’ has been radio play on a multitude of radio stations ranging from Miami, FL to South Africa! I was ecstatic to have my music being played on terrestrial AND online stations. I owe a debt of gratitude to SO many DJ’s for giving a new, independent jazz artist like myself a chance on their shows. One of the most supportive radio stations has been a local station, WNCU 90.7 FM in Durham, NC. I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of the DJ’s who’ve played my music on their shows and do an in-studio interview. It feels good to have the support of such a wonderful radio station in my backyard!
Additionally, “Colors of Life” caught the attention of several jazz historians, bloggers, writers, etc. which resulted in it being named to several notable “Best of 2014” Lists and some great album reviews:
- Ted Gioia’s “Top 100 Albums of 2014” – http://tedgioia.com/bestalbumsof2014.html
- WDEE-TV’s “Best Jazz CD’s of 2014” – http://wdee-tv.com/relaunch2/2014/12/04/best-jazz-cds-of-2014/
- AXS’ “Top 15 Jazzy Vocal Albums” – http://www.axs.com/top-15-jazzy-vocal-albums-of-2014-get-em-while-they-re-hot-35355
- W. Royal Stokes’ “Best and Notable New Releases 2014” – http://www.wroyalstokes.com/2014/12/31/best-notable-new-releases-2014/
- 36th Annual Jazz Station Awards/The Best Jazz of 2014 – http://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com.br/2014/12/the-best-jazz-of-2014.html )
- The Jazz Chill Corner Review – http://jazzchill.blogspot.com/2014_05_01_archive.html
- Midwest Record Review – http://midwestrecord.com/MWR824.html
- The Examiner Review – http://www.examiner.com/review/jua-howard-feels-his-way-from-neo-soul-to-jazz
- Liner Notes Lounge Review – http://linernoteslounge.com/2014/07/01/artist-jua-releases-sophomore-album-colors-of-life/comment-page-1/#comment-215
- KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine, CA Review – http://www.kuci.org/show_feature.cgi?id=1339
- The Jazz Page Review – http://thejazzpage.com/raves/2014/08/12/jua-colors-of-life.html/
- Jazz Weekly Review – http://www.jazzweekly.com/2014/09/xy-voices-paul-jost-breaking-through-jua-colors-of-life/
- Jazz Station Review – http://jazzstation-oblogdearnaldodesouteiros.blogspot.com.br/2014/08/vocal-jazz-cd-of-month-jua-colors-of.html
- Durham Skywriter Review – http://www.durhamskywriter.com/now-hear-this.html
Overall the time since the release of “Colors of Life” has been a period of growth and enlightenment. I am grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned, good and bad. Each one has taken me a step further in my artistry and this industry. In addition, I remain thrilled about what else is in store for “Colors of Life” and me as an artist! Finally, if you have yet to pick up a copy of “Colors of Life” or just want an extra copy for a friend you can grab one at www.myiesstore.com/jua. THANKS for your continued support.