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Monday, April 23, 2018

Love and Appreciation For the XYZ of Jazz

It is always a pleasure for me when I can indulge in the sweetness of jazz. It captivates me like no other genre and I joyfully indulge in it when presented with the opportunity to embrace the pomp and pageantry of it.


I remember the day when my good friend presented the thought to me of being the featured vocalist at his weekly jazz event. Imagine how filled with curiosity the Roman Catholic church raised choir girl that I was who was more accustomed to singing R&B than any other genre was. How could I not look at him with a quizzical gaze? The idea made me take a hard look at myself, but I decided to try my best to handle the weight of the idea and I did it.

If for nothing, my good friend affected my life like none other because from that point on, I
have been on this non-stop journey of discovery, research and mind-blowing experiences to remember. If it were not for him, I would have never decided to approach jazz with more intentionality or accumulate knowledge of its history to base my 30-paged college thesis on jazz and racism. Or, I may not have ever decided to become more indulged in studying music theory and practicing my craft. And if it were not for him, I would have never started my radio show on jazz. And so, whenever I am afforded with the opportunity to sing in this beautiful genre of music, I simply rejoice because I love how jazz has truly made a personal connection with me.  


Jazz Appreciation Month


Every April is Jazz Appreciation Month. The Smithsonian Institute started this cultural celebration in 2001 and since, it has been a way to honor those influential innovators who have come before us in history and jazzed up the world with their beautiful music.  

And so, it was with great zeal to have joined in the plethora of performers in Eric Frazier’s 2018 Fort Greene Park Spring Jazz Festival which happened in the midst of Jazz Appreciation Month in Brooklyn, NY. Jazz is not a fossilized genre of music; it is very much alive. So, with that in mind, I must say that the afternoon was filled with a full swath of emotions.

What makes jazz so appealing to me is that no matter who is playing their instrument or vocalizing, each comes with their own individual expression and create very genuine reactions. Each comes with their own spunk of character with their difference in method based on culture and environment, and the joy of the company and the spirit of the music is what is felt in the air.

And so, it was a pretty nice event from the music, to the musicians, to the beautiful spring day that it was, to the people and everything that made the afternoon a splendid occasion.

To my delight, I felt enchanted to sing one of my favorite jazz standards. It is by Harry Warren and Al Dublin and what makes me like it so much is for one simple reason. I am a big English nerd and there is a play-on-words in the song. Its title, September in the Rain, would suggest it is a song for the fall season but in the song, the lyrics say, "though spring is here." I think it is the way the writers wrote these tunes that give me butterflies the most. They truly had a way with words and I just love that. In that particular Brooklyn environment and in the warmth of that spring day, it felt right to sing this song.


I invite you to check out the performance from the festival here: https://youtu.be/BK8faET7Nn4 




Today’s blog post was prompted by love and I threw myself into writing mode with that in mind and come to this point with a roar of satisfaction. I hope that I sparked in you, even a small bit of interest n my story. 

The warm feeling in my heart can’t even truly define my gratitude. You richly bless me by taking the time out the routine of your day to read my thoughts and I thank you for your continued support.


Monday, April 16, 2018

James Weldon Johnson's Masterpiece Takes Beyonce


“Life is nothing but a dream, and if we are artists, then we can create our life with love, and our dream becomes a masterpiece of art”
(Don Miguel Ruiz)



I remember reading James Weldon Johnson’s “The Diary of an Ex-Black Man” and in it he spoke about an experience where he realized he was black and ran home to ask his mother if he really was black because he did not know until a teacher told him.

The innocence in that amazes me. The beauty of his writing thrilled me. The masterpiece of his song that came to be known as “The Black National Anthem” moves me.


He showed people of color that we can lift our voices to be heard because we have identities and we can own our own ambitions to march on being perfectly black even though we labor to open eyes to a vision of being not so different and lovable though we are different simply because our skin colors are not the same.



Beyonce and the fierce fighting woman that she is, proved how the hope that this song has always built in people of color and also provides a a sense of empowerment in using our voices to daily renew the fire within. 

She did it with visual presentations of what reporting to active duty as a soldier in the war for true equality looks like when she levels the playing field and makes black life across the globe know in truth that beauty in identity is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing when she showcases the beauty of the normal physiology of her skin and sings James Weldon Johnson's song live. Her performance on Coachella resonated with me and I tried to capture my thoughts of it in a poem since it is National Poetry Month. I hope you will read it.  

James Weldon Johnson’s Masterpiece 
Takes Beyonce

Black Woman
Strong Woman
Good Woman
I am Woman
I am Daughter
I am Sister
I am Cousin
I, the Writer
I am Blessed
I Confess
I am Set
I am First
I am History
I Have a Ministry
I the American
I the Woman
I the American Woman
I the Black Woman
I the Strong Black Woman
I who Lift My Voice in Sing
‘Til Earth and Heaven Ring
I’m down with the Kings
Because, I the Queen
I Am the First
To show all the Haters
I Did it
Like a Teacher
Schooling us to own our Blackness
To possess Pride
Of being who you are
In your Blackness
In your status
In your number
Because you are a Number
Because you are in the Number
Because you Are
Because you have an Identity.
Rings with the Harmony
Of Liberty
Like a church bell on Sunday Morning
In Brooklyn
High as the glistening Skies
March on Beyonce.
I respect who you are.
You are Cultural!
You are Strong!
You are Fierce!
You are Black!
You are a Soldier in the Army of God!
And you are Shining Your Light!

Now Even the Young, Gifted and Black Youth will be able to Sing the Black National Anthem
Who may not have known there was a
Black National Anthem
Until they saw Coachella in 2018.

______________________________________________________

Hey speaking of culture.
I wrote a song about the beauty of my family’s culture.
The video does a better job of displaying it though and I hope that you will take a minute to watch my video entitled Saut D’eau Song written and produced by Stephanie Jeannot. Though it only shows bits and pieces of beautiful Haiti, I am glad to have been able to see it with mine own eyes. The beauty in culture moves me. 





Thank you so much for stopping by my page and for taking the time to read my blogpost. Be so wonderfully blessed.

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Heart of Love for Culture and Music


I fall into the arms of love every time music fills the air and I am blessed with the opportunity to enjoy it. I am left with a cheerful disposition and a sunny temperament; especially when I can experience the great reward of performing songs that I wrote.


It is not every day that I am bursting in creativity. There are times when I have writer’s block and it kills me in so many ways. I can make up a cacophony of excuses for the days when trying to put words to the paper does not happen in the manner I would like, but at those moments when a flood of good thoughts just doesn’t seem to push through, there is nothing I can do to change that. It just happens. 

But then in that season of your life, someone comes along and inspires you with an idea and boom, there you go with a feeling of empowerment that allows you to once again, regain control of the writing process and productivity happens. I guess such was the case with the song my mom asked me to write. 

She had this confident expectation that a song would come out of her mere request. I guess the intention and hope that I had of being able to fulfill it was all I needed to be able to write Saut D’eau Song, a song about a region in Haiti where one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world lives. 


The words came like an army of love, marching with intention to tear down the mountain that once blocked the free flow of words and at that particular moment, had a burning need to be released. If you are interested, you can check out the original tune here: https://open.spotify.com/track/6OgJmDcNvmBdnQzoNwOkp7?si=bILPJgF3SiObfMI92URzUw



I will admit that it was a bit different for me to write a song like this and I still can’t say why I had never intentionally written about the Haitian culture that was introduced to me as a child and that I grew up coming to know. But this tune gave me a reason to go deeper into my thoughts, share my own experiences about a place I had seen with my own eyes and confidently share a bit of my identity and story. And so, you can say it was a spirited event to actually perform this song live with my band for the first time. 



To grow up in the margins of cross-culturalization is to know a bit of more than one cultural background, practice the mores and behavioral patterns from a bit of each yet to dance to the beat of where you are, because you are there. But to be able to share a piece of what makes you different with people from all walks of life in the atmosphere of a musical gathering, and without fearing being exactly who you are, feels good. 

All I can say is that if you see a beatific smile across my face, it is because the other evening, under the brilliant sparkle of the moon, I turned the musical focus of interest to Haiti and shared a glamorized view of my ancestor’s home through song and had appreciable results. Drums by Richie Johnson echoed through the room as Kenny Alston plucked his bass with fierceness, Prrrl tickled the ivories with peculiar phraseology and Herb Lewis added a nice shaft of light with his saxophone which made me sing my lyrics with a heart of love. Together we performed this song for the first time at Silvana which is located in the Harlem section of New York and I would so love it if you would check it out here.The song is called Saut D’Eau Song and this is the live version that I was telling you about: https://youtu.be/Lls4VddAe_8



Thank you for allowing me to enthrall your attention to the detailed content of my story for just a bit. I admit that I can be a bit dramatic when reporting the good things that happened to me in my daily life, but such is the art of conversation. 

I hope my words did not meet you with a frozen silence, a blank gaze or find you determined to reach to the end of this post without any interest for what was being discussed but rather, that it reproduced a blossom of joy through your mental boundary in some way or another. Everybody is full of opinions which is something that cannot be avoided, I know. Yet still I hope that yours of me, based on this post was a good one. 

I must thank you for allowing this interlude from your song and dance, to waltz into the seductive tempo that is my life. Much love and respect to you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Can You Relate to This Story of Love?


“When you are totally in the moment, you are showing genuine enthusiasm” (Franzblau)

Sometimes you just happen to come across that someone and for curiosities sake, you want to navigate your way through that individual’s world to see what he or she is all about. Then suddenly, you find your energy is sapped because thoughts about the twinkle in that beautiful person’s eyes creep in and you are lost in the borders of a daydream.

The desire to go beyond the limitations of simply knowing that person’s name and smiling at each other leads to fertilizing knowledge about each other by spending time together and watering your hearts with love and the dream is no longer a possible utopia because you have taken a big leap forward towards that realm of reality.

And then you discover that in each other’s embrace, there is this tremendous reservoir of harmony that uplifts you and makes you feel happiness. At that point, there is no denying your feelings; you know that you have been infected with the emotion of love.

If this story relates to you in some way or another and you have experienced something of this nature, then you might be able to relate to my song that I just added on Soundcloud entitled, “Blindly Into Love.” 

The truth about love is, you may walk blindly into it because it can hit you when you least expect it and then the love story that is conceived, hits the ground running and you take it on with this indomitable courage and it is simply time and nature that become the most brilliant of authors of the irony of love.

All lyrics and vocals by Stephanie Jeannot. Music by Mike LeShore. You can check out the tune on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/stephanay-jnote/blindly-in-to-love

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Happy Birthday to Two of My Favorite Singers: Mariah Carey & Sarah Vaughan

Two of my favorite singers in the world share the same birthday. There has to be some irony in that!

Both put their entire body and soul into everything they sang and made me want to work hard to not only sing songs I love, but to understand some of the methodologies and theories behind music and I am thankful for that.

One of the two is Mariah Carey. She came into my life when I was in the fifth grade and I became mesmerized with her instrument. At one point in my life, my entire repertoire was comprised of Mariah Carey songs. I love her voice and her music. The second is Sarah Vaughan. Her timbre is amazing, and she just has this incredible way with her voice. My Ipod currently has more Sarah Vaughan tunes in it than any other artist and she is who I listen to the most. Happy birthday to Mariah Carey and to Sarah Vaughan.

Stephanie Jeannot as Sarah Vaughan
Earlier this month, I wrote a short one-act play which I entitled “And Then There Were the Ladies of Jazz” which went into production as a women’s History Month tribute at the Roosevelt Public Library in Roosevelt, NY. I played the role of both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan which for me was wonderful because I was happy to be able to honor two jazz vocalist who I absolutely love while also sharing some historical data with the crowd before me that I felt was important for people to know; especially for those who did not know about the identities of these international women in jazz and how their roles in music played a role in the racial order or the time.



I want to share a short video clip from the show, where I rendered a cover of the song that Sarah Vaughan sang which was somewhat of the Genesis to her career entitled "Body & Soul" which she sung and won the Amateur Night at the Apollo contest and became who the world came to know as The Divine One. Hopefully you will watch it and enjoy what you hear as much as I enjoyed embracing it on stage with Charles Bartlett on trumpet, Daniel Dalelio on piano, Herb Lewis on Saxophone, Napoleon Revels-Bey on drums and Rachiim Sahu on bass.  





Thank you so much for checking out my blogpost. Have a phenomenal day!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I Tried Something Different And It Worked. I Labeled It Change!


Neglecting to broaden their view 
has kept some men doing one thing all their lives” 
(Napoleon Hill)



Everything gets labeled on how you want to describe something. You look at a flower peeking it’s face out of the soil and you can easily say, it’s a hyacinth or it’s a rosebud. You listen to a sound of music and you can identify it as R&B, Jazz or Pop music. And so, thinking about this made me think about myself and how I label myself when giving a short description about who I am beyond just the face and name.

When asked to describe myself, usually the first thing I would say is that I am a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, NY which is true. But, I write more than songs.  


Poetry Writing


I have been writing poetry since the fifth grade and recently, I authored two poetry books: The first was titled “Pulchritudinous” and the second “And Then There Was the Music; Poetry & An Essay.” Check out my author page on Amazon Author Central here: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Jeannot/e/B076N7XYC6







Songwriting & Writing Compositions


I write compositions. The first one I ever wrote was quite recently when I found myself with this melody in my brain that I just had to write down on paper but what I wrote was more than just the words, but the chords of the song on paper before even recording the tune into what it came to be. Thankful that I had good friends who helped me to complete the tune entitled “God is Love” which you can check out on Spotify here:  





Blog Writing 


I write blog posts which surprisingly enough has been getting so much love lately and I am so thankful that people actually are interested in what I have to write. Thank you all who take the time to check out my blogsite. If it had not been for my college professor in his teaching of Professional writing, I never would have started writing blogposts at all. But he made us all start a blog site and this was my first one, if you are interested in checkign it out: https://stephanayjnotes.blogspot.com/.

Playwriting


And so, writing has always been my thing. But what I never did was found such an interest in writing something that I researched “how to” do it. It taught me how to place my words on the page, the font face to use, how to space things out and everything. And that is how I wrote my first play and the production of it was performed live this weekend for the first time.



It was nerve wrecking. It tested my faith. It brought tears to my eyes and made me work harder than I ever had at anything before, but I got through it.

For the first time ever, I wrote a little play, “And Then There Were The Ladies of Jazz;” a production that I could have never have been able to see come to life if I had let go of God’s unchanging hand. 

And Then There Were The Ladies of Jazz;

A Women's History Month Celebration
by Stephanie Jeannot

the cast of "And Then There Were the Ladies of Jazz
From left to right: Rachiim Sahu, Stephanie Jeannot. Napoleon Revels-Bey, JAzz E Matt,
Dalthannette Munlin, Danny Dalelio, Stacey Haughton, & Charles Bartlett.

The setting
The first television series by a person of color: The Nat King Cole Show on NBC


The Cast


Host: Nat King Cole  (Jazz E Matt)
Co-host in celebration of Women's History Month: Ella Fitzgerald (Stephanie Jeannot)




All-Star Band

Trumpet: Louis Armstrong (Charles Bartlett) 

Louis Armstrong

Saxophone: John Coltrane (Herb Lewis)

Piano: Bill Evans (Danny Dalelio)

Bass: Charles Mingus (Rachiim Sahu)

Drums: Max Roach (Napoleon Revels-Bey)


Max Roach


Special Guest Appearances

Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae

Billie Holiday (Stacey Haughton)
Carmen McRae (Dalthannette Munlin)
Sarah Vaughan (Stephanie Jeannot)
Ray Charles (Wayne Holmes)


Sarah Vaughan


I wanted to tell a story and I wanted everybody to hear some historical things dealing with racial and gender identities that these women in jazz had to endure to become the iconic individuals that they are. But I wanted to make it fun and give people something to watch that was interesting and fun. 

I can’t believe we did it. Thank you to everybody who came out to support and for laughing and clapping when I was hoping that these things would happen. You all are so blessed and to have this weight of wanting to see it happen as badly as I did, off my shoulder, is so inspiring to me; Especially after the worthless worrying, the setting up of the room, the three wardrobe changes I did which included trying to come out my shell by putting on my tap shoes, and the singing a plethora of songs that left me feeling weary, but good. All that is left to say is... thank you and God is awesome. 

And to all the people who gave me advice or had their hands in it. So very thankful. And for every circumstance that helped me with getting the costumes together or to printout some stationaries for my guest audience to take home and the putting together of props that seemed weirdly placed into my zine, just for me, at the most awkward time and in such unique ways. And for all the musicians and singers who had to see me get into my crazy... thank you for bearing with me. 

It was fun. It was a delight. It was a pleasure. It was a vision I had as a way of celebrating women’s history month and I am glad to have seen it come to light. And now I am happy to say, I am a singer and writer from Brooklyn, NY.

Thank you so much for checking out my blogpost. God bless! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Power of Faith


I am no warrioress with musket 
and sword 
on my waist and my hair cut close to the scalp in a role to defend my king. But I am a fighter and I am royalty. 

I like to indulge in my passions as I roam through my kingdom, unapologetically and push doggedly on. I will admit that I live a dotty lifestyle and sometimes when you look at me, you might see wildness underneath my crown, in your eyes. It may even drive you mad, if you yourself do not have your own little strange way of being that makes you uniquely you. But I have been blessed with God’s amazing grace who created this unforgettable world around me and I am powerful in my own right.

I will not say that life has been easy to navigate. I will however admit that every moment that I existed in belonged to me. Sometimes I have to break out into applause at all the life-changing experiences that God kept me from experiencing the downward spiral of destruction, which gives me reason to stay in a positive frame of mind. I could sing about this truth forever. 

As knee deep into life that I am, I am far from the point of my origin and so very thankful for that. It has been like a sonic boom and sometimes I still feel the trumpeting vibrations of my stupendously loud childhood, but my attraction to visions of the future are all the reason to ruffle my feathers with confidence for that possible utopia. I know that the possibilities are boundless and I am totally worth it and to know that empowers me. This is the reason why I am able to awaken with a grateful heart every day.



God kept me from destruction in my decrepitude and I am still here to speak of his mercies, even though I am not perfect. How awesome is that? His amazing grace enables me to have a renewed sense of purpose each day and it gives me reason to dance for joy every morning when I see the red glow of sunrise.


Know that You Are Not Alone


We all have at one time or another, come into a difficult trial. We all have experienced hurt or pain. We all find ourselves in a valley of tears every now and then. We all vie for a better life and to enjoy peace of mind. 

Time to face the reality of life. Time to forgive yourself for your falls. Time to accept yourself for who you are where you are. Time to get more out of life. Time to rejoice in the truth of how blessed you truly are.

No need to allow restless thoughts to keep me up at night. There is still courage to be faithful even when disagreeable things come and toy with my spirit. And no need to take anger and frustration out on myself for situations that come into my life that I cannot change; even if the situation is of my own doing. And no need to feel as if you are so alone in this world that the only thing left in your heart is the desire to not live and to commit suicide. Even in moments of distress, never give up. Don’t let doubt blindside you from seeing the truth about the amazingly, wonderful person that you are.

You should know that you are a very important character in this world and the warm sunshine in someone else’s heart. Never forget that; even while bemoaning your own circumstances and while experiencing the severe pressures and demands that comes with the life we are given. You can still find a source of joy to keep your head to the sky. The most important thing is to not let go of it.

If any reason to hold steadily on the course, let it be the splendor of the dawn. Look skyward and be thankful for the blessing of time to fall into a torpor to be still in its refreshing embrace after hustling all day with the wonderful strength you have been built with and for the grace that wakes you up with in the morning.

I am no warrioress with musket and sword on my waist and my hair cut close to the scalp to play the role as bodyguard for the king but instead, I have a king who is my bodyguard who saved my life on countless occasions. For him to see so many reasons to love me regardless of all my imperfections, who am I not to love myself in the same way. I am blessed to see another day and grateful for every day that I can say that I have been kept. And with that in mind, perhaps my original song entitled, "You Loved Me" by Stephanie Jeannot and Mike LeShore might add a little bit more inspiration to your day.  




Hope it does. Thank you for stopping by my blog!