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Saturday, August 11, 2018

I is for In Times of Great Stress, Be Inspired

In times of great stress or adversity,
it’s always best to keep busy,
to plow your anger and your energy
into something positive
(Lee Iacocca)

Yesterday, I heard some really, horrible news. A musical mentor of mine whom I loved dearly has left the earth to be with the Lord.

I can’t tell you how sad I am to know that someone I was so dramatically interconnected
with as Wayne Holmes has lived out all the days that had been ordained for him on this earth. He meant a lot to me and I am definitely experiencing a valley today that I didn’t expect to be sinking into.

His Life

He always attacked everything on his plate with grace, enthusiasm and joy.  He always had a big smile on his face whether he was playing his organ at church on Sunday mornings or at various musical venues playing jazz and other genres of music. 


He always seemed to brighten the lives of others with his cheerful demeanor as he applied love and wisdom to everything that he did. I would call him a positive influencer because he served as a positive role model in my life and won my respect and admiration. Who knew that he would fall into a heavy sleep that he would never again awaken from; so suddenly and unexpected at that.

His Death

Last night, I tried not to take captive every thought about the reality of Wayne Holmes no longer being with us. But instead, my mind ran a million miles through the dead of night all the way up until the morning with good memories and sorrowful thoughts about the world ahead without him. A story of woe I guess as I find myself adjusting to the circumstance of the end of a life.

A sad reality it is indeed that in his present plight, all who were affected will now weed in the silence in between the threads of what used to be his voice of valiance speaking wisdom. 

He was such a giving person that every hat that he wore that I loved, he would let me go home with. No more cool hats. :/ 

No more phenomenal chords or great solos by this musical genius. No more worthy advice or words that he'd share that made me happy to hear. 

But nonetheless, I am thankful for having ever crossed paths with him because I learned a few things from him.


His Legacy

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
since you know that you will receive
an inheritance from the Lord as a reward;
it is the Lord Christ you are serving
(Colossians 3:24)


It never took too much for him to get in gear. He sacrificed his time to do what he could to help people and if he decided to brave a situation, he gave all that he had to give. He was always on time and worked with pride and showed he cared about others concerns. He approached life like a warrior in battle and fought a good fight to the end.

I can saturate my mind with good thoughts about him because he was such a humble being. He was a friend. He was a mentor. He was someone who encouraged me to be more because he had so much faith in me. He pushed me into singing jazz and helped me to articulate myself better as an artist. He inspired me to believe in my own talent because he knew that there was so much greater out there for me. 

 And he played musical sets at his gigs that were so irresistible, you could not help but want to watch; especially when he did his tributes to Ray Charles and portrayed the role like none else could with professionalism and gracefulness. He taught me that simply adding a smile to what you do invites people in and has the power to transform someone’s day. The brightness on his face that he was so willing to share with everyone will definitely be missed. 


I smile with pure joy at the fact that he was in my life even though he has left me behind. He took the world by storm, remained in focus of doing his due diligence to make the work that he was on this earth to complete, a meaningful experience. Please smile with me as I pay tribute to his life covering Charlie Chapman’s tune “Smile” performed live with the recently deceased Wayne Holmes on piano and Donald Nicks on bass here: https://youtu.be/neI_I0zgkJ8







I guess I’m rattling off a bit but, now that he is not here with us to receive the flowers he deserved when he was alive, put a damper on my weekend; more than the dampness of the torrential rains hitting New York. 

The death of my good friend has affected my thinking and I can’t help but wrestle with the idea that this musical mentor of mine who would tell everyone that I was like his daughter is gone. It is sad to think we will never again share the musical stage together. He trusted me so much to add me to his musical experiences and got me into singing outside of my comfort zone. 

If it were not for him, I would not sing jazz. If it were not for him, I probably would not have pursued musical pedagogies so that I could know more. His death is a true loss to this world and to my life.  

Today I sit here reflecting and smiling at the good old times of a man who was a like a father figure to me. Thank you for everything. 

Well done Wayne Holmes! RIP!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

H is for Help!

Not everyone likes to ask for help. We often think we can take on the world and do everything on our own. That is, if you are stubborn and hard headed like me who thinks that I can make 36 hours out of 24 and do 50,000,000 tasks at the same time, all by myself. 

The answer is always no until you ask and who knows, there may be a willing soul out there who will say yes and help you accomplish something good. 

HELP


I need your help everybody! 

Every year, Indaba Music hosts a number of different music competitions and this year, once again hosts the 7th annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and so I decided to enter into the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. 

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP



We are supposed to submit three selections, which I did. Can you please click on the link to listen and vote for one or more of my submissions?

This is my Ballad entry: "Tenderly - Stephanie Jeannot" 

This is my Midtempo Blues entry: "Route 66 - Stephanie Jeannot"  https://www.indabamusic.com/opportunities/7th-annual-sarah-vaughan-international-jazz-vocal-competition/submissions/6aa870be-74fa-11e8-ac47-0ecda187fe01


This is my Uptemo entry: "Caravan - Stephanie Jeannot" https://www.indabamusic.com/opportunities/7th-annual-sarah-vaughan-international-jazz-vocal-competition/submissions/3c68820e-74fd-11e8-8615-0ecda187fe01



Thank you so much for your help <3
God bless!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

G Is for Getting Gowns On-Line




When I go to a clothing store, most of the time, I go with a purpose of buying that certain item I need and then keep it moving. I call it shopping with a purpose. 

So many things about shopping at a physical store that I appreciate. I love being able to touch the fabric and to look at the material and try things on to make sure they are perfect for my body. And interactions with people who are willing to give their opinion is kind of nice too because you can have human interaction and a different point of view than yours. 

And then when I am homeward bound I feel satisfied because I got exactly what I went out for and I do not have to look no further.

But then, while on my computer and I see ads for gorgeous dresses at an on-line shop and I am like, "oh! I want that dress." The look of it seems so promising and so does the ridiculously cheap price. 

Just seeing the beautiful image makes me want to trust that it is the right dress for me and I am driven to go through the motions of buying it; only to receive it in the mail and it turns out to be  an awful experience that makes me want to not shop on-line at all; for clothes anyway.


Has this ever happened to you?

Getting Your Gear On-Line
If you are shopping in the virtual reality realm, there are a lot of things to consider.

To shop on-line for clothes requires lots of patience. For one, you cannot touch the fabric like you are used to  and have to wait until you get it. You can’t try it on until it is delivered to your mailbox and sometimes those size charts are off the mark. I mean, how can a dress for woman who normally wears a size 8 dress also be a 2XL based on an on-line designers configuration? 

I call this kind of shopping experience, "organized chaos.

Another example of this is when you see a style and the beauty of the clothing item seems like it would be perfect for an up-coming event you have in four weeks and you order it. 

Then, you wait and wait and wait only for  the clothing item to come eight weeks later because it got "lost in transit," and boom, an experience you weren’t hoping for happened.



And so, the biggest mystery when buying clothes on-line is if you will be left feeling satisfied. But sometimes, it is worth taking a chance.  

I have had my fair share of disappointments when trying to get gowns to wear for my musical events so that I can strut across the room or stage feeling fabulous and beautiful. I can't tell you how many times I have returned a dress because it didn't look like the photo that represented it at all, the material was awful or it didn't fit nice. But to try again and get a dress that I just love made everything better. 

Glossing Over Glamour 

When I look at the beautiful men and women who used to gather into speakeasies and jazz clubs in the best of silks, satins, ermines and pearls to show that people of color are beautiful, I sometimes feel impelled by them to follow their example; especially when I sing jazz.



And so, there are times when I find myself exploring different websites and experimenting with their gown options and deals because I do not always have time to be inside an actual store. Amazon has been one of those stores I tend to shop for clothes at and I will admit, I have had good experiences and bad experiences; but more good than bad. Thank God for good return policies. 

But the best shopping experiences were the dresses that I did not have to return for any reason, that fit right, and that were being sold via Prime where two days later, my dress was in my closet and ready for me to strut in. If you are not a member of Prime and want to take advantage of some of the exclusive deals they have and the free two day shipping, click on this link to find out more about it here: 


I will say this, I have not always dressed my best and sometimes have not looked like I was the artist on the stage, but I know that I am clothed with power from on high even without the perfect dress or outfit on because I was fearfully and wonderfully made. Adding a splash of color to my environment by being dressed correctly for the shift makes me feel empowered, royal and sexy.



Gown Shopping On-Line

Perhaps you are like me and are looking for a gown for an event. Don’t be afraid to shop on-line for one, even if you are not used to it. 

If you have never shopped on-line for clothes before,  I would advise you to look at the sizing charts, the ratings and comments from previous buyers who shared their honest opinions about the look, the fit and the actual item that they purchased that you might want to get. Some shoppers even rate the sellers and their experience with the amount of time it took between buying and receiving their products. 

Ask questions if you feel like you need to and capture the happiness of a satisfying experience on-line, if it is for you.

Since the photos on-line do not always do the dresses justice, some even misrepresent the look of the dress, I wanted to share some that worked well for me. Here are a few gowns I found on Amazon Prime that you might be interested in getting for a special event that you might want to try for yourself. 


Langstar Sequins Maxi Dress


 Click to see dress details


Plush Zone Floral Print Maxi Dress


Click to see dress details


Huiyuzhi Womens African Print Maxi 

A Line Skirt 



Click here to see dress details



Kate Kasin Women Black Sequin Dress 



Click here to see dress details


I loved these dresses. Each one different in their own way but beautiful and came right on time. They fit accurately. They worked for the situation they were being worn for. And, they made me feel good, dressing for the occasion.  Hopefully you will find the right one for you.

Thanks for stopping by my blogpost. Hope you found it interesting, helpful or even entertaining in some way. Sending harmony, love and blessings your way. Peace!

Monday, August 6, 2018

F is for Fresh Perspective

The more you are able to understand and
appreciate someone else's perspective,
the more dimension, depth, and texture you ultimately add to your own
- Rania Al Abdullah

 When the thought of trying to finally complete my college education started to dominate my life, I started to shape my view around the idea of being a radio show host and producer of a jazz program at Medgar Evers College. It unlocked the door to a new world to me as I delved into the histories of jazz to make the show include many aspects about the culture of this American cultural contribution to the world.

I can’t believe it has been three years since I walked into the studio and sat in front of the switchboard with a vision board on Sarah Vaughan’s life and music for my first hour long radio broadcast. Nothing like a fresh perspective that pushes you to embark on a new, wild adventure. Being vocal more than just in a song was the wild part about it because it definitely stretched me beyond my capacity in every way.

I decided to try something new within this non-stop jazz radio show where I will feature an individual whose story has struck a chord with me as they share their breakthrough story and their why.


I tried it out for the first time this past Sunday on my show and interviewed NY-based drummer, King Beat who helped me celebrate Louis Armstrong and shared different aspects of his musical journey. 

Please check out a snippet of our hour-long conversation where he also blessed our ears with his original sounds flowing through the airwaves. You can see the clip from our interview here: https://youtu.be/Xm9hRmQn9p8





I feel built up and am glowing with satisfaction not only at this show but also the fact that A to Z challenges such as these have helped me to triumph over daily writing and has also helped me to delve more into writing scripts and vision boards again. The inspiration to write is so much more than a whisper now and it has given me a fresh perspective.  Thankful! 


E is for Everybody

E is for “Everybody screws up, including me” (Ken Burns)

But 

Everybody is given 24 hours in a day and 525600 minutes in a year. 
Everybody has access to oxygen to keep them going. 
Everybody decides for themselves if they forgive themselves for their past, love themselves where they are and if they can hold on to the mustard seed of faith.
And so, everybody needs a word of encouragement sometimes.  

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence” (Helen Keller).




Even though we fall and make mistakes, God is such a gentleman and still opens doors for us and loves us with a love that has no borders. We never have to labor too hard for God to gain the result of love because God is love and everything that comes from him is love.

If that is true, then we know that we can go to him and have dialogue with him and lay your burdens in his ear and know that there is nothing too hard for God to handle. And so while we are here within the confines of the melting pot of people of this earth, let us remember the cries from the sea in the face of their struggles. 

I am moved by the force of their fight. I get lit up when I see people in hopeless situations walking around with more faith in God’s grace. I am encouraged by my culture. I get moved by all the many vision of the sun sinking and the plethora of sunrises that God kept me. And I feel bittersweet happiness because I can paint a better picture of what I am talking about. So even though I may screw up, there is hope for tomorrow. 

A family member of mine always says, “I am better than the day before, and worse than the day tomorrow.” Makes sense to have faith in every step of the way. And I am definitely ready for my Breakthrough that is on the way! I hope this song lends some positive energy into your day. 

Check out the official video for the Breakthrough Remix by Stephanie Jeannot (featuring Jazz E Matt). Here: https://youtu.be/XMd1prZUHrU




Lyrics by Stephanie Jeannot
Produced by Prrrl
Co-produced by Stephanie Jeannot & Jazz E Matt
Charles Bartlett . . . Trumpet
Clyde Bermingham . . . Guitar
Jazz e Matt . . . Vocals
Stephanie Jeannot . . . Vocals
Richie Johnson . . . Drums
Herb Lewis . . Saxophone
Mark Payne . . . Bass


Who knew that trying to write on a daily basis would lead to video editing projects like this one. A Melodiaz Creation. Check out more of my Melodiaz Creations here: https://melodstephie.wixsite.com/melodiazcreations/home

Saturday, August 4, 2018

D is For Discussion with King Beat on his Breakthrough Story, Jazz and Louis Armstrong


I have embarked on a brand-new journey, walking into the day with fresh eyes where I can find a sign of good faith and inspiration to dig deeper into the dark depths of the tornado that I’d been hoping to slowly and hesitantly take control over the block that sat as a parasite eating my creativity alive. The words were there perching on the branches and finally my mind is spinning with ideas to write and today we flow into the verbal lashing of D.  

D is for Discussion

“The Negro can be made proud of his past only by approaching it
scientifically himself and giving his own story to the world”
(Carter G Woodson)


What an amazing quote by the father of Black History Month. We celebrate the history of the black story because of his courageous effort to extend the reach of the histories of people of color and aggrandize the knowledge of it. I started the Radio Show Jazz on the JNote with the hope to discover certain aspects of jazz, identity and racism when I started writing my thesis as a requirement to graduate for college and the idea of sharing the black experience when it comes to jazz music has become a part of my current makeup and present story.

 This week on jazz on the JNote, we approach jazz in a different way as we start a breakthrough initiative with special guest King Beat who discusses with us, his breakthrough story and also delve deep into the definition of jazz, the state of music and celebrate the life of pioneer of jazz and father of modernism, Louis Armstrong. Join us as we engage into an awesome two-way interchange mingled with a flow of jazz and listen to the complexity and context of this very unique music and culture being that jazz is much more than just simply a genre of music.

You will not suffer from a bone-crushing disappointment if you listen. I invite you to tumble into the airwaves of http://theenglishconnectionmedia.com this Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 7PM, for this week’s episode of Jazz on the JNote and celebrate music, jazz, and Louis Armstrong with us.

I look forward to vibing with you then.

Thank you for reading my blogpost. God Bless!

C is for Celebrating 117 Years of Louis Armstrong

I built my life with a pen and a pad, narrating the role and the acts that would play out as I embraced the world with who I am. In this season, it almost seems like I have run out of ink and it has provoked a bit of anxiety because I have not been storming like I want to. It was either burst into tears or frame my mind with a new approach and so came this A to Z writing challenge that started which brings us to C.

C is for Celebrating Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong was an integral part
of the jazz age during the 1920's
in that his music paved the way
for independent performers everywhere.”
- Christopher Faulkner



Louis Armstrong taught the world to swing. He took songs and interpreted them the way that none else could. 

On the 4th of August in 1901, Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, LA and since then he has enthralled the world with his melodic resplendence. 

Joe King Oliver was his mentor who invited him to play with his Creole Jazz Band and so started his professional career playing the cornet, trumpet, bugle, acting and using his voice to do that iconic singing. It led to him being considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. He changed the pace of jazz because he was so beautifully versatile. 

He popularized scat singing and left an indelible mark on the world. 

He was nicknamed Satchelmouth or Satchmo because of how his cheeks, lips and mouth
would blow up when he played his trumpet. He was considered the master of modernism. He had the ability to spread joy to the maximum with his infectious smile. Thunderous claps would fill the room wherever he went!  

Listening to his music comes with delightful benefits. The buzzworthy strum in your ears can generate intelligent conversation; like inspiration to your soul. 

His songs can create a multitude of thoughts; love that music creates, binds people together in places; a perfect example is how music caused integration because people of all walks of life across the firmament loved these expressions of love that was flowing through jazz music. His sounds are like a portrait of delight that you can just drown into.


And with this in mind, he inspired me in a thousand little ways to dip my toes into the experience, tap into his frequency, spread my wings and scream out his lyrics as a tribute to his life and legacy.  


What A Wonderful World is the song I am speaking of which Louis Armstrong used to expose the unique beauty that existed in the young people on his block who would run to him and say, “Uncle Louis! Uncle Louis! ... every time he came home from tours. 

The positive words in this song rise above any tough situation and teach you how to be strong by finding something wonderful in the world you live in to make you smile. Please check out my rendition covered at the National Jazz Museum of Harlem here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6_BZLL89dw 




Thank you so much for checking out my blog. My face is reddened with pleasure at your supporting my thundering in the rain. which brings me to D


Click Here if you are interested in reading "D is For Discussion with King Beat on his Breakthrough Story, Jazz and Louis Armstrong "


And now that I see it really did get the ball rolling anticipation is building up in me. 

Thank God! <3