Thursday, June 22, 2017

Take Time to Enjoy the New Season of Summer

As the quiet hush of evening came on June 20th, it was safe to say that summer had arrived.

Let’s set the agenda for some cool things to do in the sun. If the essence of your work requires you to be indoors, take a break and enjoy the vitamin D outdoors because it is good for the heart. Don’t allow the only thing to raise your interest level be the commercials for upcoming episodes of “Kendra on Top.” Find places to escape where you can enjoy life and appreciate the new season that God has blessed us with and try your best to stay positive and keep your hopes as high as the rising sun.

Perhaps the summertime is a great time to break out of your comfort zone and try something you never have; like an outdoor yoga class or taking photographs of beautiful scenery in a place that is foreign to you where you have never been. 

If you were in a doubtful place during the winter and experienced a spring renewal, then the summertime seems like a great time to press through and reignite the flame of love with life and the world around you. Redefine the landscape of your reality and make life meaningful. The truth is, our lives may never truly fit into a box of perfection. But, so what. Stand firm in the fact that the best is yet to come and allow peace to freely flow like the summer breezes that blow through your hair while lying on the sand.

A smile makes a huge difference in any day. If anything has a representation of valuing the day, it is a smile because it shows that you have found something to be joyous about. This summer, fully commit yourself to finding simple reasons to humbly radiate. Let joy take residence in you and just "Smile". 

(A cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" performed by Stephanie Jeannot
and the Dr Jazz Band at the Irkutsk Philharmonic in Siberia 

It is time to celebrate. It is the summertime. It is barbecue season. It is the season of family reunions and fun in the sun. It is time to be outside and having a good time with the young people in our lives playing basketball, hide and seek, kite flying, or other things that fit the season. It is time to go to the beach, lie on the sand and swim in the ocean. It is time to go to outdoor summer concerts and enjoy the beauty of the summer nights. It is time to enjoy ice cream with family and to sit outside enjoying the evening breezes. It is time to go on vacation and explore the world and see different things. It is time to take on those amusement parks and to spend time with the family doing good things. 

It is the summer time. Make sure that while you are doing all the work that is required in your busy schedule, that you are also taking time out to appreciate the season. Find joy in the beaming rays because once the joyous weather goes cruising by, you lose it. Remember to embrace the summer sun and to find reasons to smile.

Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Dedicated to the Sweet Essence of a Father's Love! Happy Fathers Day!

Some things never leave you. 

Like, if you shoot me a wide smile, I might remember your face forever because you were my shelter from the wind when I needed refuge from the storm. It is like a flower in the rain that stands tall after all the others have lost its petals due to the heavy droplets from the sky; unforgettable! That simply is a gift of the moment. 

Dedicated to the Sweet Essence of a Father's Love!
Happy Fathers Day! 

But can you imagine how much of a froth of inspiration you could actually be to someone else? And then we have our fathers. 

Fathers Day Weekend

This weekend, fathers are being celebrated worldwide. We celebrate those that many of us call dad, who showcase their true strengths by being an active and caring poppa bear to us. 

Through the years, unmatchable friendships may have even blossomed between you two. You may have lived a troubled teenage life that was a bit distracting from the truth. But once you broke up with your childhood, you became even more aware of his importance when you were lured into the direction of adulting.

In truth, we face many responsibilities in life that are demanding yet, it feels good to take time out to celebrate even just one day when we can shower our fathers with accolades. Scatter seeds of kindness into his life so that while he is still here and able to smell the flowers, you can show him how much he is truly loved.

Pops Story

Me and my dad
There is a saying that goes father knows best. (Mon pere connais tou le chose.) My father probably embodies that when he is always giving me some kind of advice to showcase himself as a large influence in my life. He provides emotional strength to carry on and propel to the next level.  Honesty surges through his words when he shows concern for me and my actions that sometimes I would not even bother thinking about myself. He always seems to make an overwhelming effort to show that he cares. Even a thousand miles from home, his words sting and makes me think through things.

Like for instance; my father is always concerned with my physical being. I hardly sleep because I am always out doing something. And when I am home, my focus is entangled in something that keeps me from getting a good nights sleep. I admit that it is important to take some time to decompress but, I rather be whipping around in the sky, doing something beyond exciting.

So when I was in Arkhangelsk, I said to myself, tonight I am going to get some sleep finally. It had been my 7th day in Russia and I felt that I really needed some of that heavenly relief. My father’s words stayed firmly planted in my heart and so I said I would soak in moments of REM when it got dark.

10PM during the white nights season in Arkhangelsk, Russia
As I completed a performance at an Arkhangelsk Pomorya region museum with the musical group, the Art Ensemble, my eyes bulged in astonishment when we walked outside into the 7 degrees Celsius weather at 10PM and the sun was still shining bright. Sure day fused into night but moments of darkness never came. The sun sets at about 11PM during the summer season, but there is a lasting gleam of light in the sky until the 2:30 AM sunrise.

A professor of mine told me about white nights but I had never considered that I would be someone who would experience it. Seeing it with my own eyes made me take on a new perspective of the world. How regal are the works of God when you delve a little deeper into his works and discover more and more, how amazing he is!

Luckily, the impact of the cold temperatures and the heat that the hotel I stayed in provided, helped me to cozy up and do just what my father told me I should. Believe me though, I had to muster the courage to not run outside and let the sun sparkle through my hair in the still of the night, because all I saw was daylight during the day and the fascinating midnight sun during the night. Who wants to sleep when there is sun to enjoy? 

White nights of Russia
Song for My Father

Who would have thought that seeing something like this could forge a measure of confidence in me? To think that while I pondered on the unlimited nature of time, while I dreamt the night away, the sun was pointing my dreams into the direction of possibility. And it made me figure out a few things about life. 

I guess it is always scary to let go of the hand of your father and to forge your own path. Panic wells inside of both you and your father. But there is also joy that sparks when you can say you are confident because he instilled a sense of faith in you. You are staying on the course because of the impact he made. You can move along paths with drive and intelligence because he helped you to develop tough skin. In truth, while he was nurturing and loving you, his eyes were always fixed on the long journey of future ahead.

Check out my live performance with the Tim Dorofeev Art Ensemble in Arkhangelsk, Russia as in the midst of the night, we did a cover of Horace Silver's "Song For My Father." The blending of American jazz and Russian folk made me consider my upbringing, my culture and all the wisdom my father shared with me. He told me that there is more to the world than just what we know. To see and be part of the sharing of art within another culture, as I blended a part of what I knew with what I came to know just a bit of, made what he said ring even more true in me. Thankful to have been able to duet in such a way with Russian folk singer Nadezda Mironova. 

Thank you, dad, for using your pillars to protect me from every blow that might have stymied me from resetting in a new set of 24. And thank you for being the cushion on this bumpy ride through all the phases of this life that I have lived and am living. And thank you for going to the extremes of standing by me even when I have my character flaws that are not very agreeable to yours. It is because of you that I maintain a certain degree of optimism. You deserve moments of celebration. You are the epitome of love and I love you very much! 

Dedicated to the Fathers

Check out the father's day special for my radio show Jazz on the JNote which will air this Sunday evening 6/18/2017 at 7PM EST and can be accessed by logging onto or by going to MixLR using the following link:

Happy Fathers Day to all the loving and caring fathers out there. We love you! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I Got Misty When I Found Out I Didn't Have Superpowers

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Siberia and to sing in three different cities in that region of the world. Something happened to me though that I did not expect. 

The first night I was there, I performed at a philharmonic hall in the city of Irkutsk. I returned to my room and as I was gathering my things and trying to sort out my suitcase, I fell and hurt myself. 

I am clumsy on a normal day, but I had never fallen in such a way where I'd hit my head so hard that it left me bleeding and with a big knot on my forehead that left me in tears. If I had hit any lower, I would have broken my nose. 

No one ever expects these things to happen, though sometimes it is good to be prepared. Something as simple as a safety kit with bandages, cotton balls, alcohol pads and ibuprofen can benefit you when something like this occurs; especially when traveling. But for some reason, I did not have that with me. 

I am very weary of sharing problems with people. I rather share good information and seem happy than to admit that there may be something wrong. I rather appear as someone who is invincible than someone with truly human weaknesses, such as an injury that could leave you with tears in your eyes and confusion. But it did. 

Sadly, I came to a realization that being in the tight corner where I was, a million miles away from home and somewhat feeling helpless, I had to break down and confess it to someone who might be able to help me in my situation. And I did.

Being the strong and stubborn person that I am, that was hard for me. But, I found out that there are people who actually care about my position who will come to my aid if something is not so swell. I found out that even in my weakness, it took strength to call out and admit that I needed help. I found out that God is always there no matter what and his voice can move you in your desperation to take action and to change your situation. And he did? 

Though there was a minor salvaging to help correct what was wrong in the moment, I was left with a scar that I tried to hide with my bangs. I could see my own facial disfigurement and it was a little upsetting for me. However, I find that there is nothing like getting on stage in front of a crowd of people to change my mood.

I could be depleted of all my energy and inspiration but then once the mic is in my hand and I am on stage, I become a totally different person. 

So it was a great thing for me to be able to cry out my miseries the next night as the Doctor Jazz Band & I took route to the city of Angarsk in Siberia. We were set to perform that night at this beautiful theater that was decorated in blue and with its fascinating architecture that made me bubble inside. 

It took me a while to get into the soundcheck I'll admit. We were in the midst of rehearsing songs but my mind was in a distant place trying not to think so much about how I had hurt myself and to instead focus on the music. Even the band members seemed worried about me because I am usually a charge of energy but at that particular moment while rehearsing, I was not 100% there.

But then the performance came and everything changed. Somehow, the music and the crowd made me feel better. And what better way to alleviate your stresses than to cry out your woes by singing a song about being misty.  

I was too much in love with the idea of being super and not down. I had been misty about not being invincible. My mind was drifting on the unbelief of not having superhuman strength. But when you realize that you are only human and that things do happen while life is happening, it kind of settles in and humbles you just a little bit.

Please check out the live performance of Erroll Garner's "Misty" performed by me, vocalist Stephanie Jeannot and guitarist Sergey Rushkovskii during my concert with the Doctor Jazz Band at that beautiful theater in Angarsk, Russia. 

I think this excited me just a bit more because it reminded me of something that the late and wonderful Ella Fitzgerald might have done with Joe Pass. Made me feel just a little bit more enthused to somewhat experience the jazz culture in this meaningful way.

Thank you for reading my blogpost. Have a lovely day!