Monday, September 24, 2018

O is For Once You Know

Once you know what you want, getting it requires perseverance
- Vanessa Van Edwards

I felt sharp with excitement to be able to sit down and have a conversation about the beautiful culture of jazz with award winning NY-based jazz saxophonist, Carl Bartlett Jr.

He took the time to describe what changed the script for him to submit himself to the art of jazz that became a way of life for him which lead to his becoming a finely crafted jazz musician. Just by listening, you can hear the amount of confidence that this brilliant architect of music has, as he graced my radio show Jazz on the JNote with his time, music and thoughts.

Once I knew I wanted to find out the answer to what is Jazz, I used it as a basis for writing my college thesis which through the process, my radio show Jazz on the JNote was born at Medgar Evers College and I used it along the way as I set out to write 30 pages on jazz, identity and racism. Through writing it, I came across many books where this question is posed and no two people respond the same. I have interviewed several different artists and have received some interesting responses. And so, as I continue on with this show and am blessed with more opportunities to feature guests on the show, I will continue to pose the question because it leads to interesting thoughts worth considering; especially for me who is also a vocalists who sings jazz as well. 

As I asked Bartlett Jr the question "what is jazz?,"  he made a concerted effort to answer. He also shared his story on how he broke through in the breakthrough initiative segment and shared his thoughts on why he feels it is important for musicians to practice repeatedly, on purpose.

Bartlett Jr is a NY-Based musician who is making a difference with his music.  Jazz seeps through is pores. Everyone who listens to his music, loves what they hear. 

He has achieved great heights because once he knew what he wanted to be, he became a creature of habit and worked to the point of exhaustion to breakthrough. 

I am thankful that he was willing to share about his lifetime of experience as a jazz musician. If you are interested in listening to our interview, please click on the link:

This episode was originally aired on Sunday, August 19, 2018 on at 7PM and is definitely an inspirational treat for young musicians looking for motivation. Hope you'll check it out 

Thank you for reading my blog post. <3

Friday, September 14, 2018

N is for Nature of My Culture

The nature of my culture exercises influence in me.

The nature of my culture gives me the security of knowing my own beauty.
The nature of my culture makes me know that I am a fine work of art.
The nature of my culture gives me enough confidence and strength to be myself.

I feel at ease in my own skin.
I am glowing in melanin.
The Haitian in me is woven in the script.
I have all this culture, music and creativity built within.

The nature of my culture makes me want to be bold in the face of a blank sheet.
The nature of my culture makes me want to share my identity brusque authority.
The nature of my culture takes you on a journey over land and sea.
The nature of my culture makes me want to share a piece of my beauty.

I want to make you see why I have romantic gestures about the land.
I want to ease out the stigmas of this culture if I can.
And psyched that Chokarella gave me the opportunity
To share a piece of my cultural identity.

Thank you Prrrl for helping me out with this interview/performance.
Thank you Tadia for the call
and for having me on this Chokarella New York Takeover.
Such a dope event.
Thank you for checking out my blogpost!

Monday, September 3, 2018

M is for Mighty Good Time

I can’t believe that it is the unofficial end of summer. 

Someone said to me that there is no more wearing white after today. Already? School is back in session in just a few days and in a few weeks, the autumn equinox will make its way into the days of our lives. But to think of the fact that I took full advantage of the summer makes me happy. 

I was surrounded by warm, genuine and kind people, and I was able to seize every opportunity of enjoyment that I could possibly have. And though summer is about to part ways with us, I can honestly say that I had a mighty good time and the positive memories of it will remain.

The love that lingers is like a souvenir. My heart still skips a beat for every sunset that I captured and for the day when I was sitting on the bus and saw the actual glimpse of the sunrise with my own eyes for the first time.  

And I still feel so blessed for seeing the result of the hard work of my friend who uses her beautifully landscaped garden for planting and shared a bit of her plentiful harvest with me.  And I can’t help but have this look of delight I have on my face from meeting the smiles of my family in person as opposed to on Facebook or Instagram, and being liberated by every second spent in conversations  and good times during our reunions. Getting together with family always leaves a good feeling in my heart. 

And I still get butterflies when I think of the touch of God’s ocean water on my skin as I took a dip in his ocean all the many times I went to the beach and washed away the weariness of the first half of the year that I was carrying on my back. Nothing like the beach to get me in a somber mood. Something about just letting your foot touch the sand that changes everything. 

And it still knocks me off my feet for all the awesome stage performances that I got to have that were different for me and very much built up my present level of vocal performance expertise a bit more.  

And I still burst into laughter when I think about the medical physician telling me that I am getting old which is not a false statement at all, but something that makes me know that I have to prioritize making it a thing to seize more life events that leave fond memories.

And then I still feel bouts of sadness for the people I have lost to heaven which had me feeling emotionally drained; some even changed my way of thinking about how to approach what is there for me on the road ahead. But, thank God that he always provides shelter from the storm.

And here we are at Labor Day.  It is September; already. Where did the time go? Am I the only one who feels like time is like virtually flying? Did somebody say that the first day of school will be 94 degrees? Can I go to the beach instead of to the class room? 

I guess the change of pace is not a bad thing at all though. But while we have an extra day to let summer out of our system, lets embrace it with our whole hearts. 

Today is the day to take a pause, relax, relate and ease up off work mode for a day to prepare ourselves for all the many tasks that are about to lure us into being buried under piles of things to do. But let's not think about the clutter of the work pile on our desks. It's Labor Day. God bless the child who let’s go for a day and let’s God direct the sails into a moment of rest from the 9-5 environment. 

And God bless the child that can’t get the day off, has to go to work on Labor Day anyway and still has to wake up early in the morning to be to the office at 9AM. And God bless the child who still has not started doing the summer readings and homework that is due when you enter into the class rooms during the first week. Hopefully you will get it together and be prepared for the tests that you might be given based on your summer assignments.  And God bless the child who will enter into the new school year as a teacher or a student with a revivaled interest in participating in the educational process. 

Whatever it is that will be your experience for the rest of 2018, God bless you! 

I dedicate this song to you. It’s a rendition of Billie Holiday’s and Arthur Herzog’s God Bless the Child performed with the New Rochelle Jazz Orchestra at the Hudson Park Band Shell Summer Music Concert Series in New Rochelle and featured me on vocals.  Please check out a clip of our performance here:

The weather forecast had called for rain that day which would have cancelled our performance but luckily, God had a different story to tell and it turned out to be the most beautiful evening with this gorgeous breeze that just made everything great.

And so, under the summer night sky, we got to fill the park with orchestral sounds and I can still feel the excitement that took over me as I got to sing with with this big band again. 

I had a mighty good time starting my Labor Day weekend off performing with them. What are your Labor Day plans? 

Whatever they are, I hope you have a wonderfully blessed day. Thank you so much for reading my blog post. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

L is For Love You Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is the most celebrated female artist in the history of recorded music.

She had uninhibited expression full of beauty, raw power, expressive character, vitality and hope. She was regarded as a legend in the making by the tender age of 16. She always gave all that she had to give when she was on the stage.

Aretha had the greatest impact on the soul sound because folks who heard her would marvel at the wonder of her voice that just grabbed people by the collar. She transcended all musical boundaries starting out in the church with Gospel, then being acknowledged as the next Billie Holiday and the new Queen of the Blues singing jazz and blues, to later move into the R&B and crossing over into the pop sphere, being reigned the Queen of soul for winning the title of Best Female Vocal Soul Performance for eight years in a row and also was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.

I have been listening to her more and more ever since her transition from earth to her new
home in heaven and I am finding more and more reasons to love her voice. The clarity, the rifs, the sheer perfection of what she was able to put out when she sang was nothing short of amazing.

She said, “artists covering her songs was the most sincere form of flattery” (Aretha Franklin). The other night at an event with my band, the JNote Band, I did just that, dedicating her song to her life and everything that she was able to accomplish in this world with the gift that God gave her.

She said that if she could get a young singer to be inspired by her singing then she has done her job. She did just that and more. Job well done Aretha. You have truly inspired a wealth of talented individuals in this world and I truly R-E-S-P-E-C-T who you were as a woman and a vocalist.

The song we covered was “Rocksteady." Please feel free to check it out here:

This cover of her tune was performed at Shrine World Music Venue in Harlem, NY on August 17, 2018. Aretha Franklin died on the 16th of August. It was only right for us to pay tribute to an artist that we all collectively as a band really loved a lot. The band features me, Stephanie Jeannot on vocals, Richie Johnson on drums, Mark Payne on bass, Prrrl on keys and Phil Smith on guitar. The awesome footage was captured by my good friend, William Rivers.

“Rocksteady” is only one of the many of her songs from her 50-year long career and there are songs I am only now discovering she sang, as I continue to read through a biographical writing about her life by Mark Bego entitled: Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul which features a little under 600 pages about the Queen herself.  

I started reading it a few days ago because I was asked by one of the public libraries, to put on a full-length tribute show dedicated to Aretha that will be about 90 minutes of a tribute to her life and I don’t think it would be appropriate to do something of that magnitude without knowing more in depth about who she was, besides what I already know based on the media and her songs that I like to sing. It is an interesting book so far. I have managed to read about 35% of the book which is good because my song list and everything that happens on the stage for it is going to be based on that and other researched information I come across and though 65% of a book left to read is not that much to read, there is a lot to be done to put on a show like this. But I'm working on it. 

Maybe you are interested in reading this book too. Feel free to check it out here:

All I can say is that I hope I do her justice because she deserves it so please, keep me in your prayers everybody as I embark on this journey that won’t be as easy as it seems. But I was asked, and I am going to do what I was asked to do. 

Thank you for reading my blogpost everybody. Peace and blessings! 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

K is for Keeping Your Sanity

I will admit it. There are times when I am not my best because stress has got me all discombobulated and the best thing for me to do, is take time away from the very things that are causing me to be less than 100% to clear my mind. 

Gotta Go

I was sitting at home at my desk one day and I received a plethora of phone calls, both good and bad. The bad ones seemed to hit a chord that instantly warped me into a dronish mood. The saying goes when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  And so I did!

I needed to relieve the stresses of some of the things that tried to steal my joy and so, I packed my bags and was on the next morning flight out of there to visit one of my favorite places where all I experience there is a wealth of inspiration and recharging for the road ahead. Talk about lemonade. I think it was flavored so well that I could not help but put my words into a song. It is entitled "Gotta Go." 

All lyrics are my lyrics. Music by Paul Garrod. Please check out the full length video here: 

If you are like me, then you might be someone who goes and takes a walk to prevent an outburst or maybe you get into your car and drive two hours away to your favorite park where you can enjoy moments of peacefulness and solitude. 

One of the places that calms me is the beach. Once I am on the sand and the sun kisses my skin all over, I am in this happy zone that feels simply beautiful. And then I dip my body into the ocean and for a moment, all that matters is how refreshing the water really is. 

The other place is the nail salon. These are just some of the few ways that I have found that help me to cope with the world and all that comes with it, so that I can be back at 100% without losing too much of myself while on this journey called life.  What is your favorite place to be refreshed & renewed?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

J is for Jazz on the JNote Features Carl Bartlett Jr Tonight 8/1/18 at 7PM on

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."
- Erich Fromm

You have been given time, energy, talents, money and possessions to fill your storehouses and that is exactly what you get when you see the architectural magic you find in the music of award-winning New York City Jazz Saxophonist, Carl Bartlett Jr.

He uses his creative soul and goes beyond the horizon in his beautiful sounding instrumentation. And it is within his thoroughness of application that he heightens the possibility of a listener falling in love with the sounds that come out of his saxophone; might even have you feeling ethereal heartbeats. 

This week on Jazz on the JNote, we discuss the man behind the sax, his music, education and jazz. 

Some of the things that might fascinate you as you are tuning in listening to the sounds of humble dialogue over our non-stop music flow of jazz is the fact that even though he is considered to be one of NY’s best young jazz saxophonist he still feels that education is a lifelong process and he continues to build on his wonderful gifts. Another is the fact that he does not imitate or copy but has his own voice which comes bursting out the seams of his two albums, “Hopeful” and “Promise,” which in my opinion shows that he is more than just an explorer of this thing called jazz but he is a tourist and will be anchoring in the hearts and minds of many for a long time coming. So please join us to hear why for yourself.

Hopefully this post will heighten the possibility of you tuning in this evening. If you have the time and are sitting on your computer reading this, open up another tab and visit where in just a few minutes, this episode of Jazz on the JNote featuring Carl Bartlett Jr will air tonight, August 19, 2018 at 7PM.

Here are a few other links for the same show airing at the same time, that might work better for you. Also airing on:

Hope to vibe with you then!

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:

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!