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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Importance of Open Mic Jam Sessions and the Proper Cafe

“The atmosphere of the night club lends itself to more creativity
on the part of the audience as well as the musician”
(Dizzy Gillespie).



I find it a transforming thing, to explore the harmonic imagination you get at an open mic or a jam session.

I adore the idea that even before I was born, centenarians like Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie were hosting and frequenting places where musicians would gather with attentiveness and acceptance for the love of music. It was a pleasure ground for them as well as a place where they could learn from each other what to play, how to play it and what not to play.  

Miles Davis went to Julliard but learned most of his skills from going to Minton’s and pleasurably watching Dizzy toot his horn. John Coltrane was an exceptionally talented saxophonist, but he learned a wealth of knowledge from playing with and watching Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot work magic on those keys. And the scores of musicians who used to stomp the grounds of 52nd street in Manhattan going to all those different jam sessions learned from each other. What a great way for musicians to connect and come together to embrace what they do!


Why Open Mic



As a musician or music lover, we all have varied repertoires. I think I have about 800 songs on mine and all in different genres. But we do not know every dark-toned ballad, folk song or brisk tempo song that Is out there. And so, I appreciate the idea of checking out open mics and jam sessions where I can broaden my musical palette just a little bit more; especially since you never know who will be there and how another musician or singer might bring such fierceness to a familiar groove you usually sing or play that might spark inspiration in you.

A jam session caters more to instrumentalists, but I like to go and vibe with them every now and again and be stimulated by the experimentation. I always find it to be an atmosphere of pleasure and appreciation with no strings attached. You get to hear the trumpets pecking, the crooning trombones, the moaning reeds, and add your unique sense of melodicism to the exchange.  And you never know how vibing with an instrumentalist might create a future collaboration of some sort. You might learn the bustles and tromps of the khachaturian scale. You might learn to flutter your tongue differently.  It is kind of cool.

Open mics are more for the singers and it is a great place to go and gain acceptance of where you are as a singer when you try out a song with the Top-40 band that is hosting the event. The unpredictability of how it will resonate with you is pretty cool; especially if you are trying the song for the first time and are testing your memory of lyrics and melody before a crowd. It is also a great place to develop a stage personality. Then there are karaoke nights where you can practice a song you have never done and might want to sing, where the lyrics are there and readily available for you to read and wail away.

I feel that karaoke events are a good practice ground to learn a song that you might want to do and open mics and jam session are a good way to practice performing what you might want to sing at your own event, in a live setting. What I love is that you find people with totally different social, economic and cultural disparities coming together with a similar mindset; to embrace music. In a sense, for me these places of musical exchange can be as pleasant as a seeing a sunset on a beach. Though there are times that I cannot make it to as many open mics and jam sessions as I would like, it is a part of my life that probably will never not be. And to know that these events are unanimously favorable across the country and around the world is kind of cool to know.

So if you are an aspiring singer or musician and want to get out into the world doing music, karaoke, open mics and jam sessions are definitely a good place for you to start.

Some Things That Might Get In The Way

·         Fear
It definitely is a daring thing to get on the stage because some fear that they will not do well.

I will never forget the first time I tried to open mic and my friend Juanita introduced me to this quaint, little musical collective in Brooklyn, NY. I was nervous but it was definitely time. At least I thought it was until I got on the stage, started singing a selection, forgot the words and left the stage embarrassed without finishing what I'd started.  Thank God that I am not a person who is scared away easily though because otherwise, I probably never would have gotten back on the stage again. 

How do you know how you will do if you never get on the stage and test your own strength? It is best to take your fear head on and go ahead and let it rip.

·         Unfamiliar Location
It might be far and you might not drive or want to take public transportation late night to get to where you want to go, but don’t let the idea of doing something that is different for you prevent you from doing what you want to do. Go ahead and do it. 

I once entered into a competition that was in a totally different state and did not know anybody who would be there. All I know was that I was prepared to drive and embrace it. After driving the two hours, I realized at first that nobody else was doing the genre of music that I was. My song was original but I was going to be singing and my lyrics were Gospel-based. Everybody else was rapping and using obscenities. I went ahead with the competition anyway and not only did I win and leave with extra cash in my pockets that I did not have, but I made some new friends and it was cool.

Just because it is a place where you might not see a familiar face does not mean that the faces will become familiar to you. Everybody must start somewhere and you might be starting as a newbie in a place but later become familiar. Go ahead and test the new stomping ground and make the new connections. It is so worth it.

·         Waiting For Perfection
There is no person or thing perfect. Even the perfect setting has an imperfection that might not be visible to the naked eye. I could tell you stories about a restaurant I used to be the hostess at but it might gross you out and make you never want to eat outside of your home again; and these were things not visible to a normal person walking in and wanting to eat a good meal. 

But since this is not about food and about open mics, I will save that for a separate post. Back to open mics. To wait until things are perfect or when you feel that you have perfected your craft or a song might be good in a sense, but it is also good to test the waters and see where you are at in your skill because, you never know. Tests prepare you for the future. If performing with a band in your own professional setting is a goal, go and see what is out there and get yourself ready by embracing the music scene. 


The Proper Café
Speaking of open mics, I used to frequent the Proper Café a lot. I found out about it years ago and thought it would be a great place to visit and share my talent. 

First it was a great night with Debbie Knapper and the Knappertime band flexing their skills and allowing singers and instrumentalists to share their stage and do what they do. I knew it as an R&B open mic stomping ground and I enjoyed it especially because my style is definitely R&B soaked. 


Debbie Knapper has to be one of the best guitar players in New York City and she plucks them strings with such style and skill.  You should definitely check out her open mics on Sunday nights at Cafe Oasis located at 779 Brooklyn Avenue in Baldwin, NY. It is such a great night of music and tons of musicians and signers gather there and it is awesome. No matter when I would venture to her open mic at the Proper Cafe though, I would always have a fantastic time.

Then I heard that the Proper had an open mic jam session there hosted by saxophonist Jeff Sheloff and organist Wayne Holmes. Many local musicians in the Jamaica area would frequent it. I am from Brooklyn and though it is a good way from my home, I embraced it and not shortly after, it became a part of my weekly regimen as I became the featured vocalist at their Wednesday night weekly jazz event and it was awesome. 

I was not as familiar with singing jazz then as I am now but it built me up to know more about music and test my skills in a different genre as well as learn something new that I was not really familiar with as a musician. I furthered my knowledge of it since then by taking various classes and workshops on music which included a year of Jazz Mobile that somebody who thought my talent was worth flourishing,  sponsored for me. The Proper Cafe holds a deep memory for me because it was where I first started singing jazz. 

If I give anyone credit to starting me into singing in this amazing genre of jazz, I will say that organist,  Wayne Holmes conceived the idea in me and until today I will call him my musical father. How wonderful to have been introduced into this culture and to have had a reason to have ever taken part in it. He had so much faith in me and he had a good hand in helping me to be more of who I am becoming as a singer. What a blessing to have had him in my corner! 


The Proper was my resident home for a little less than two years until I started embracing other aspects of music and moved on in my journey as a vocalist. If it wasn't for the Proper Cafe, I most likely would not love jazz as much as I do now. I still every now and then frequent the venue and sometimes Wayne features me on his R&B open mic night with Debbie Knapper and Wayne Holmes. I also, often go back and enjoy the ambiance of the jazz with attitude open mic jam session because in an essence, you never forget where you started crawling before you learned to walk.  

I heard some sad news recently that the Proper Cafe would be closing. Sadly, the doors of the Proper Café will close forever to the good times, music and the family that was established there on October 31st of this year. Though I am sad to know that we will not be able to enjoy the vicinity as we did, I am so thrilled at all the good times, music, foundation and people that I got to know being present at these open mics and jam session. Not to mention, the best macaroni and cheese that you can find in New York that will no longer be available to the public from this establishment. But it was good while it lasted. And just when  you start to think that these things will last forever, reality kicks in. 


              
Please check one of the last performances that I was afforded the opportunity to do at their open mic night at the Proper Cafe. It was Wayne Holmes's birthday and it was a great night of musical fun and celebration. As usual the night was magical and the people all around were there with joy to fill the room and with a positive vibe that made everyone feel right at home. The song being performed was a cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan's "You Got the Love" and featured Richie Johnson on drums, me, Stephanie Jeannot on vocals, Dave Jones on bass, Debbie Knapper on guitar,  and Traviso Milner on keys. 




You definitely got the love Proper Cafe and you will never by forgotten. Much love to all the wonderful musicians I met there and much love to the people who ran the establishment. You are a part of my life that will forever remain in my heart! 

Thank you! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trumpeting the Musically Gratifying Dizzy

When I think of his creative energy, the sparkle and grace in his playing and the volcanic personality he had, I can’t help but smile about Dizzy Gillespie.  



I feel as if the emotion was embedded in me though. No matter what, his name comes up, I start clapping enthusiastically inside and I can’t help it.

Musically Gratifying

I may have been too young to remember him being on Sesame Street though I saw a few images and clips this week as I spent many hours of my week with this audacious interest to watch some old interviews he was a part of, a few concerts he performed in, some podcasts that featured him speaking and many other things that focused on Dizzy.

Yup, that was my station of life this week as I compiled information to put together a centennial celebration show worthy of celebrating, I guess you can say, my favorite jazz artist’s centennial birthday. What I do remember that never left my heart was seeing him on an old episode of “The Cosby Show” as he was featured as Vanessa’s music teacher. That episode always leaves me feeling so happy. Even until today. Perhaps, it is one of the reasons I became a musician myself.

Let me clarify this before I move on. Many will not consider a singer a musician because we sing and when we go to a gig, we do not carry heavy equipment that needs to be set up on the stage. 

We however carry our instruments in our body. Our bodies are our instrument. We use our bodies to produce sound and add our vocal chords to any song, over wailing musicians. Therefore, vocalists certainly are musicians.

 Trumpeting My Excitement with Purpose

This year has been a year full of jazz great’s centennials with this year celebrating the 100 years of the first lady of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne who was the first black person to have a major contract with MGM studios, The genius of modern music better known as Thelonious Monk and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie who was one of the founding fathers of the Afro-Cuban and/or Latin jazz tradition and a major figure of the bebop and modern jazz movement who remained an outgoing and tireless ambassador for bop throughout his life; just to name a few.

Dizzy had this creative edge that was unbeatable. Everything he performed came out of his horn with an outpouring of emotion. He had a keen sense of humor that could make a person laugh until tears fell out of their eyes.
He is most noted for enlivening the world of jazz with his iconic “swollen cheeks” and for blooming those flirtatious, race horse tempos and complex syncopations out of his up-angled trumpet. He is also known for his quirky humorousness on the stage which was one of the reasons why while in his first ever band, the Frankie Fairfax band, he gained his nickname Dizzy. Stanley Crouch called him, “one of the most influential players of his horn in the history of the music.”

“Music is An International Language” (Dizzy Gillespie)

As a jazz musician, Dizzy became a beacon of human possibility with jazz being an integrator of races as well as what gave people of color an identity. I found it amazing how music can bring people together. I experienced it on my first ever musical tour which occurred last year around this time in Russia. 





You do not even have to speak the same language and yet somehow can be on the same stage and music is the language that you and someone with a whole different set of cultures and traditions can speak to bridge the gap. It is one of the most incredible things that I ever experienced and a layer of music that I will always appreciate. 

Dizzy claimed that one of the reasons to be part of the musical exchange is that, “jazz transcends the barriers of political ideologies, of cultural, racial, ethnic and religious differences from Brazil to Senegal, from Denmark to Australia, from Senegal to Czechoslovakia, from the USA to the USSR. Jazz brings people together to smile, to enjoy and be enriched by the beauty and joy of our majestic music that elevates the human spirit. Jazz is a mirror of life and also jazz is a universal language” (Dizzy Gillespie).


Improve Over the Years Adding Layers of Finish,
Polishing and Refining, Your Art’s Sheen
and Subtle Symmetry
(Whitehead).


Dizzy said that as a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and have one foot forward into the future.  In the book Hard Bop by David Rosenthal, Dizzy admitted to learning a lot from “the first Picasso of jazz” better known by the world as Thelonious Monk; another centenarian of jazz. Dizzy was largely influenced by Roy Eldridge. Dizzy claimed that “When coming up, all trumpet players wanted to sound like Roy Eldridge.” But Dizzy certainly developed his own original sound. 

Dizzy said that “he could see somebody copying something because everybody has someone to copy and he didn’t care if he heard a guy say that he got his sound out of the air because that would be a lie. He didn’t care who the individual was and further said that no matter who you are as a musician, you definitely had a standard you studied and went by.”  This is true even for me. I find admiration in different artists and even though I started out trying to mimic what Whitney Houston and Sarah Vaughan may have done, I certainly did start adding who I am into the music and my style started to gain it’s own gossamer wings as I came out of my shell. Music like life is in a constant state of flux and we as musicians who study and practice our craft, are constantly changing.

One thing that will never change for me though is how much I like and respect Dizzy Gillespie. I am still very captivated by his energy and the more I learn about him, the more I am lured in to wanting to know and listen to more of his contributions to this world of music.

Speaking of music . . .

I have a radio show. Jazz on the JNote is a show I started while in college as I was in my final year and trying to complete my thesis which was on the topic of Jazz, Identity & Racism for which I read about 200 books to write 30 pages discussing the cultural aspects of jazz and its history. My first show featured music from my favorite jazz vocalist, Sarah Vaughan. 

Two years later, the show is still running and this week’s episode will celebrate the centennial of Dizzy Gillespie. 

Hope that you'll join me for this very special episode.  

Please visit www.theenglishconnectionmedia.com or http://mixlr.com/the-english-connection-media/  this Sunday evening, October 22 at 7PM EST to tune in. 

Thank you so much for checking out my blog post. Peace & blessings! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Broader Musical Repertoire



Moving right along on this musical journey, 
I have been working hard on applying my streams of consciousness to new songs, 
and am excited to share with you, a broader musical repertoire of my own
that has been in the making all year. 

 “As an artist, you hope to create something everyone can identify with” 
(– Gina Prince-Bythewood)

This year has been a pretty interesting one so far, and with so many things seen and experienced, it truly feels good to have found a source of inspiration welling in me, where I was able to water new seeds for lyrical melodies to blossom. And now that the year is coming to an end, I have some new music that I am excited about and want to share.

My hope is that you will be able to identify with these songs, 
featured on my latest project entitled 
"We Are People United."

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/stephaniejeannot1
Please head on over to CDBaby and take a listen here: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/stephaniejeannot1
And please, if you do listen, please let me know what you think.

The album consists of 13 tracks. 
All lyrics were written by Stephanie Jeannot. 
All soundtracks produced by Paul Garrod. 
Our chemistry has been amazing where the music was concerned 
and we were able to harmonize our uniqueness into this project to make it what it is. 

Please head on over to CDBaby and take a listen here: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/stephaniejeannot1
If you like the tracks, please download it. 
And please, if you do listen, please let me know what you think.
My favorite on this work is "People United." What is yours? Let me know. 


Thank you for your help everyone and thank you so much for supporting independent artists! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Who Inspires Me To Think Of The Endless Possibilites

 “An appearance of prosperity attracts attention always, 
with no exceptions whatsoever” 
(Napoleon Hill)


I grew up with the intense experience of being compared to my older sibling and so my whole life, I tried to be the boisterous audience, watching her and drawing nourishment from her influence.

I wanted to be like her volcanic self. She was cool. She was popular. She was beautiful and she had this supple rhythm to her life that made me want to take a quantum leap away from who I was. Her intelligence was just the tip of the iceberg. She found ways to caress the hearts and minds of our parents and impressed them on every level.

But I came to terms with the idea that we might never be the same because we were so different. She knew how to extend herself individualistically and get things done. I did things in my own customary fashion but never with the concerted effort that she would put into it to get things done in the fashion she did and in the time that she did.

She has always had a great influence on me. With thought and care, she followed through on her goals and made things happen and never seemed to lose that sense of continuity. Nope! She absorbed a nice groove and kept it steady on the beat.

I look up the balance of my life and consider all the intense experiences that I have lived through. She has always been an intrinsic part of my life except my days were spent more with this turbulent sensibility. I lived my life on the brink. I danced to the rhythm of my own songs. I lived with all these emotional struggles which I guess you can call middle-child syndrome.  And the only thing that made my heart flutter was the beauty of nature, books, food and high-voltage music. I was growing up as a future artisan of the world and still with a penetrating influence from the only big sister I would ever have. I can honestly say that of the good things that I planted my feet on, the flurry of activity was often guided by what I thought might gain me a glorious response from her. She was living this model life and I was living with the penchant for getting on the stage and caressing a ballad with a live orchestra. Yet she always had forward momentum and I was battling all the negative energy that would be conjured up in my mind that somehow held me as prisoner in the space and time of the lewdness of my youth where it had happened.

So, I can honestly say that being around my sister is to be in an atmosphere of
tremendous power. She creates ideas in me that opens doors to new life. I can only hope to be like her one day. And then one day out of nowhere, when my parent comes and explores my world while I am on the stage giving all of me into a performance, it leaves me feeling strong and accomplished and that somehow, I used her modally based improvisation in my life to get their hearts propelling towards me with interest. All I know is that having a big sister in my life has definitely made me tweak my design a bit and lately has raised my morale. I guess you can say that you should never let family fall out of your favor because even if it is with a briskness of tempo that it takes them to come around and think that you are more than the equivalent of a tough Monday morning, when they turn their attention towards you, it is like the joie de vivre to feel valued in their presence.


Thankful for my sister. Thankful for her influence on me. And thankful to have a reason to even try; even if the bedrock of my work is to try to impress the people who made me feel at home in my own house when I was growing up all ebullient and innocent. But, even until this moment and seeing her thrive and thrusting through with this ferocious intensity and with this rhythmic acuity, makes me want to push harder with a jolt of urgency to be like her. She gives me a reason to think of the endless possibilities if I never give up. Today, I am clapping enthusiastically for her as she celebrates life. Pardon my outpouring of words but you deserve to know the truth; you inspire me and thank you for the wellspring of influence you provide for me. Hope your day is all that and more.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Melodious From All Angles

I am a music freak. I love music and I think it is my biggest weakness.

Audio Formats

I see a CD and I want it. I see an MP3 track of a song I like and I have to download it to listen on the go. Over time, I have accumulated about 5000 Cds, maybe even more and I have them in books with the cover art and notes still intact; and some of the CDs are still in their cases. And so, as a singer and songwriter, it was without a doubt that I was dying to see a CD with my face on it and my music featured on it and so I created one last year in September entitled, Finally JNote.

I remember the days of the cassette tapes. I used to love cassettes. I had so many different ones and my first days ever trying to create a melody, I used a tape recorder to record them onto ten-minute cassettes which had five minutes on each side. Interesting thing I read the other day was the reason some of the jazz songs from the past were so short, many of them were less than three minutes in the early days of jazz, was because they would record the songs on five-minute cassette tapes which featured two and a half minutes on each side. How clever is that. I find it kind of interesting that I came to this knowledge that I somehow channeled what they used to do and did it myself in my younger days.

Records were the best though. Put a needle to the wax and listen to the sound of the music playing away; and the sound was always unique and beautiful. I used to listen to them on my record player which became somewhat obsolete over time, though you might find some at very expensive prices if you really wanted one now but, I wish I could have had a chance to listen to them play on a Victrola.


Nowadays, not many people have CD players and you might see a record player or a Victrola in someone’s home or maybe at a museum as an art piece. Cars do not even come with CD players anymore and a lot of our young people do not have a CD player at home or on their new computers. Today people download the MP3 tracks or don’t download them and listen on Apple Music, Tidal or Spotify. 

I have about 10,000 MP3 tracks of music of all genres that I am constantly listening to and about 14 GBs of music on my IPOD. One of the albums in MP3 format I was listening to today was Carmen McRae’s album, Carmen Sings Monk, which is a tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk. 



For one, I love Carmen’s voice. When I first started singing jazz, I would turn to Carmen’s versions of songs to learn them.  It was today, listening to her wail away, that I remembered how I learned some of my favorite jazz standards that I cover sometimes. So, it is no surprise that I’d love how Carmen puts some serious pizazz on the tunes featured on this album. Sadly, it wasn’t til I went to a Thelonious Monk Centennial Jazz Jam and heard all the jazz singers and musicians putting their spin on Monk tunes, that I felt obliged to take another listen to this wonderful Carmen cultural contribution.

Thelonious Monk Centennial



Can you believe it? Thelonious Monk would have been 100 years old on October 10th of this year if he were still alive. If you are unaware of who he is, Monk was one of the greatest jazz pianists and composers of all times. He played with great gusto and precision. “His music was a balanced equation, with melody embedded in harmony and overlapping rhythms swimming in agreement” (Ratliff).  Some nicknames Monk was referred to as were Melodious or The High Priest of Bebop. Others called him The Mad Monk and others considered him as The Genius of Modern Music.

The Monk Influence

A wealth of musicians learned from Monk because he was such an unconventional genius. Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane who used to be part of the house band with him at the Five Spot when it was originally located at the Bowery: south of Astor Place in the East Village said, “working with Monk brought him close to a musical architect of the highest order and felt that he learned from Monk in every way; through the senses, theoretically and technically” (Coltrane).  Mal Waldron found his own style by listening to Monk. Nat Wolfe called Monk a major formative influence on jazz men - not only pianists and writers, but players on all instruments. George Russell claimed Monk as being the main reason he came to NY from Chicago. But sadly, many of the critics did not recognize his talent. “It wasn’t til Monk died in 1982, that he was universally recognized as a genius, and many musicians started playing his largely ignored tunes” (Whitehead). 

Melodious From All Angles
_   
Monk’s band played as the house band at The Five Spot and also at Minton’s Playhouse in
Harlem in 1940, where some of the greatest musicians in time would gather to sit in and jam together. In the book Coltrane: The Story of Sound, Ratcliff quoted John Coltrane speaking about his experience playing in the house band with Monk at the Five Spot. He said, “Monk would get up from his piano and walked away from it and moved around in a circle to hear the music from all angles.” I found this to be quite a peculiar thought. 

From all angles for me is more than just him walking around in circles on a stage but somewhat of a metaphor. It could also mean, trying songs in different keys which is from a different angle. Which means learning songs in every key would be a thing to do for mastery. It could mean writing or sharing your music at unusual times of the day like 2AM at a late-night jam session when most people are cozy and in bed. In truth, at any hour of the day, there is someone who may do the same thing as you that has something you can benefit from by just being present. 


Taking in things from a different angle could also mean listening to music from different vantage points or seeing the world from a different perspective, as you would when traveling. The things you see and internalize change you as a person and adds meaning to your life. As does listening to different genres of music. 


Folk music of all regions of the world have something unique in them that makes them special. Classical music breathes with pulchritude. Cultural sounds embody life. All from different vantage points and all saying something meaningful but in similar ways. 
Even something as simple as adding your own words to Thelonious Monk’s compositions like John Hendricks, and singing these vocalese tunes make a difference. And so does listening to music on different listening devices. 

Somehow, I wish I could have heard Thelonious Monk records on one of those beautiful
Victrola’s. But I will not complain, we still have access to recordings that have been around decades before many of us were even born and it’s great to listen to them in any format.  

The influence of Thelonious Monk and the late night sessions still exist, where you can catch musicians gathered together, still covering some of Monk’s greatest tunes like “Straight, No Chaser” and “Rhythm-A-Ning;” tunes that I think will live and breathe on forever even though its composer is in the heavenly skies. 

Suddenly, In Walked Bud

I was literally running to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem because I heard that they were doing a jazz jam at 2PM in Harlem and dedicating the three hours to the life and music of Monk. And so, I had planned on going for a while.

I went with lightning flash speed there because though I know many of Monk’s tunes, I only know the lyrics in its entirety to like two or three of them; but one really well. And so, my intent was to get there to try to get my name on the list first before anyone else who wanted to sing the same tune, would put their name on the list of jammers.

So, I arrived at 129th Street in Harlem and found a park just a few minutes before the jam’s start time thinking I had time, walked  in and asked to put my name down on the list and boom, somebody already called the tune I wanted to sing. LOL! 

But, luckily, the other person, a very talented and wonderful singer named Karen Maynard, with an amazing CD that you have got to hear, and all prepared and together with charts for like every Monk song you could think of, had decided to sing something else. Please check out a snippet of my live rendition performed at this really cool jazz jam which happens every first Saturday at the Jazz Museum of Harlem and is run by pianist David Durrah. https://youtu.be/Ef_NqLBUvQI


What was kind of cool was meeting so many incredible musicians and singers, especially the house singer Vea, all with the same thought in mind to play these tunes and share what they uniquely had to bring to them. This particular jam session was dedicated to Thelonious Monk, as is this post which is in celebration of the 100 years of the jazz master. 

I only hope that 100 years from now, people will still be sharing one of the only cultural contributions that comes from America known as jazz.  Celebrating Monk. Celebrating music. Celebrating jazz culture. Celebrating a live and kicking art. 

Thank you for checking out my blog post! If you are interested in checking out more of what I do, I have a website. Please visit it at http://www.jnotemusic.com 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Stage Fright Happens . . . Why Faith is a Singer's Most Important Weapon!

It takes baby steps of trust to get on to a stage and to leap forward with a song to share; especially for those who haven’t really performed in front of a crowd much.

I hear it a lot. Miss Stephanie, I’m shy. Miss Stephanie, I can’t sing louder on the stage; my voice might crack. Miss Stephanie, I don’t want to go on the stage by myself. Miss Stephanie I don't want to sing because the guy I like is sitting in the room.

You might not be swimming in agreement with all the things that could happen while you are on stage.  You could fall and embarrass yourself in front of a multitude of people. You could hit a bad note. You could forget your lyrics and melody. You could freeze and be so afraid that you shake the whole time, while you are singing. You could be moving around and your heel breaks. You could not open your mouth enough and fall flat. Your peers could be so displeased with your performance that they start gossiping about you and make you feel so inadequate that you decide you no longer want to do what you were called to do.

But then you could also thrive as you bring life to your music.  You could convey an idea that influences someone in the audience. And you can also be as hot as a blazing fire. You just never know!

It is completely normal to have stage fright. I would even go to the gamut of saying that it might be a little weird if from time to time, you do not experience it. But courage must endure.

Don’t complicate a simple live musical engagement chained to the prison of your doubts. The adventure is a bit more extraordinary when you make an honest effort with an element of self-trust.

Trust that you can do a good job. Trust that you have what it takes. Trust that you can give it your best shot. Trust that you can win and succeed.

Nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. Every day is a learning experience. And if you are someone who has failed to learn new things in your daily lives, you probably are not really living.

To succeed at anything, you must take a chance. Don’t be so afraid of the gift that God gave you that you miss the opportunities to use it in the way that he created you to. Get on the stage, scan the crowd with excitement and don’t allow even a flicker of doubt to discourage you. Use your gossamer wings to take on the daunting task.

Give your audience your most focused attention and don’t let them know your fear. Have a semblance of power. Stay emotionally focused and bring that dramatic fire to them. Promote your cultural diversity as you were meant to; one tiny leap at a time. The first leap: venture out onto the stage and smile with confidence and say hello, my name is . . . You’ll find that it is not really that necessary to wall off your heart because the feeling of sharing your gift is immensely beautiful. Then the conversation will no longer be Miss Stephanie I can't but Miss Stephanie, I did. How exciting is that! 

The fact that you are standing on the shoulders of giants who came way before you might shift your mindset and put you in a more relaxed lifestyle. Every pro was a beginner. Every beginner has to start fresh from somewhere. Every fresh start builds up character. Draw on the decades of accumulated sounds, singers, musicians and music as a whole that you have been influenced by. Being who you are organically doesn’t require that much effort. Get on the stage and be the fabulousness that you are. 

Don’t let anything ever dilute your trust in God. He gave you your gift for a reason and that is an unwavering belief. Make sure you never let go of that truth and include him in everything to understand your role in this by and by; even into your performances. And even after the performances because faith is a great weapon to have in every situation. And knowing how emotionally based sharing your talent really is, you never know how as a person you might be affected by your own strength if you come to a point where your cup was less than full and you couldn't do what you always have been able to do without problems; especially as a singer since your body is your instrument. A cold, tiredness, and mental well-being can change everything. Faith can be the cure. You can have improvisational skills, know every chord backwards and forwards. You can know all the different possible harmonies you could use to make the song pretty. But if you do not have faith, you need to add that to your musical tool kit. 


Regardless if it is your first time or your hundred thousandth, you can still get stage fright so do not feel like you are alone in your experience. It still happens every now and then to almost everybody. The important thing is to take your fears head on and to do what you were designed to do with enthusiasm. You got this! 

Speaking of stage fright., it is crazy to think that even after all this time, sometimes I get those butterflies in my stomach, get on the stage and shake with fright as I start to vocalize into the mic. Such was the case one night at this beautiful venue in Novorossiysk, Russia. We drove from Kransodar to Novorossiysk and after 6 hours on the road, we made it; only for me to have about thirty minutes to compose myself before we had soundcheck and then the show. So I was nervous. And then I looked at all the unfamiliar faces and there came the shaking. SMH! 

Check out footage from that concert. It was a live performance of my original song "Wherever You Are" with the Sergey Koronev Project here:  https://youtu.be/MoW_UmKqUPo

All I can say is, thank God that my fear subsided!  

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