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Friday, July 28, 2017

Things to Consider to Stay Motivated As a Singer

I started singing in the church in grade school and have been a part of every choir that I was able to immerse myself into for most of my life.


I grew up in a Roman Catholic church and I can’t remember ever not loving to hear the pipe organ accompany us as we sang the classical hymns that would get the congregation to join in with us in unity to lift up the holy name of Jesus.  Church was always my thing and back then, there was not one Sunday of service that I would miss, because I loved being in the number.

I may have been young and innocent back then but still, I was just waiting in the wings to fly high into the skyways of singing. Who knew I would have had so many dramatic encounters since then as I sojourned through life!

A JOURNEY

It has been a journey indeed. From messing up on stage, to not being prepared for things I wanted to accomplish as a singer, to getting rejections and also, being accepted, doing well through some performances and having what needed to be on point for many live musical engagements. I have done off-Broadway plays cast as part of chorus lines, directed choirs, won a few contests here and there, played extra roles in movies, lead and been part of bands, produced a radio show and also sung abroad.

The road has had its turbulence but I can honestly say that there have been more smooth cruise control times than traffic and potholes in my story. With that in mind, I have ideas to share with all of you interested in getting yourself out there into the world and doing something with your talent and also for those seeking motivation.

DISCLAIMER

Okay, I know what you are thinking and you might actually be right. No, I am not the best singer in the world and have not had enough formal training to qualify as a pedagogue in this area of expertise. 

However, I do have enough cuts and bruises from experience to be able to relay to you how I got the scars that brought me to where I am today because the road has not been simple and it is very easy to sway from your musical endeavors because of someone or something that did not go the way you expected. Experience is the pedagogy that I speak of. Hopefully these points to consider will stimulate your mind and give you some fuel to keep moving on the road ahead. 

HERE ARE SOME OF THEM:

1. At times we may feel discouraged because of what someone said or how they treated you on the bandstand. It happens especially because the band stage involves the meshing of different ages and  personalities. Consider your source of discouragement and if it is even worth basing your quality of talent on their attitude. 

Who are they? Were they sober? Are they people to take seriously? Are you being open-minded?  What do you believe about yourself? 

Being a musician is not easy, so you must be strong-willed and you must also stay prayed up. Otherwise, you will always have a bruised ego and might give up. 

2. Everyone is a critic. Everyone has an opinion. Some people will love what you have to offer. Some people will not like what you have to offer at all. Some will support everything you do. Some won't support anything you do and then talk about what you are doing and how you are doing it. This includes family. Some people will go out of their way to compliment you. Some people will move out of your way to criticize you in another person's ears. Some people will do everything in their power to help you. Some won't even pat you on the back to wish you well. But, the question is, do you believe in what you are doing? Where do you stand on the topic of faith? Remember, we are our own biggest critic. You are better than you think.

3. One performance is not your entire lifeline. We all have good nights. And sometimes we have bad nights. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone may know you actually made one, so don’t tell them. Remember, Ella Fitzgerald forgot her words and started singing those nonsense words that everyone tries so hard to imitate through scatting nowadays. 


You never know what will happen if you just stay calm and not say, sorry guys, I messed up the song. Or don’t be like the younger Me and decide to run off the stage crying without finishing the song. They may not even know you messed it up. But if they do,  what can you do? Good to be honest with yourself but not good to punish yourself for it. Better to continually find ways to encourage yourself.  

Shit happens! So what? And what better place to intentionally mess up than in performance mode at an open mic. You may never know what you can do if you never try anything new. If you need to pull out your phone to get the lyrics, go and karaoke because the words are there for you. Holding your phone to read lyrics looks tacky on a stage with a band. If you know the lyrics already, open mic with a live band. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And if you mess up in an open mic, It's open mic so just try it again; that is, if you decide not to quit because you messed up. You can always regain yourself next time if you try it again.

4. Just because you came with you’re a game to an audition and did not get a call back does not mean that your talent is not on point. So, don’t waste too many tears on it and don’t beat yourself up over it either. 

The next 3-and-a-half-hour line that you stand on, or overnight stay you spend on the bleachers in a stadium in the rain to audition, might just have your name written on it without you even knowing. So don't get discouraged from auditioning. Keep doing it. 

5. Not everyone knows the Mahalia Jackson or Peebo Bryson version of a popular song that you believe every musician should know. And not every singer can sing a blues song in the standard F key. Every voice is different. So, at least know your key so the musicians can meet your voice where it is at, appropriately; or carry a chart so this way, there is no mistaking what you are seeking as a performer in that moment. 

This actually is part of the homework. You practice the song. Also know your keys. Add the song and key to the notepad in your phone. You can’t go wrong. That way, you always have that information with you.




6. Learn some hand signals so you can lead the band. If an accompanist really gets into the song while playing, he or she might not see your face gestures telling them to stop. Cue them for where you want to go during the song. There are actual hand signals for Verse, chorus, Top of the song, bridge, vamp, end. Know what they are and use them accordingly. Better to lead them than to get mad at them while on the stage and curse them out in front of everybody because they messed you up. 

7. Keep your voice hydrated and make sure you breathe and keep those coin-sized internal instruments healthy. Remember that the vocal cords are the only instrument that God made by hand. Keep them healthy. Lubricate with water while on the stage. No, I did not say lubricate with a watered down alcoholic drink. It might dry your voice out. You might get drunk. Do you want to perform heavily under the influence? Make Sure to nurture them. 

8. Practice makes better, not perfect. The more you practice, the better you will get than what you were able to output yesterday. 

If you are like me, then you have a favorite singer or artist. I used to spend half my childhood evenings and even some as an adult, singing for countless hours, all the songs of Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Amel Larrieux, Tamia, Brandy, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kim Barrell, Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Carmen McRae and Mariah Carey to the four corners of my walls. 

Don’t limit your genre and artist engagement. Every genre has something to offer and there are more artists than the ones currently on the air waves that might benefit your capabilities as an artist if you embrace their craft as well.




Add songs of different artists and genres to your repertoire. Write your own Shakespearean Sonnet AKA Song and add that to your repertoire as well. Practice songs with a karaoke track. Practice your scales by a keyboard and if you do not have one, download a keyboard app to your phone or tablet. Use YouTube tutorials. Exercise your talent and allow it to flourish. But also rest. Even the best athlete who utilizes their muscles on a daily basis needs to rest. Practice, rest, perform, rest, practice . . .

9. Finally, smile! If you love it enough to practice it and work hard toward becoming better at what you do, smile while you are engaging your audience. Don’t think about all the dilemmas in your life while trying to burst out that tune. Sing and focus on the melody. You can also hear a smile through a song as it is being sung in the tone and texture. Smile and sing. Be focused in the song and sing it. Don’t wander off to la la land thinking about everything else in the world. Sing that song and smile. 


Be centered in the song and let the words flow through your arched-up lips. Let love breathe through that very thing you love to do if you are doing it because you truly love to. Be yourself. Be confident. And be beautiful and smile through your song. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing and relating to the beauty of a bright face delivering a melody? A smile definitely makes a difference.

Those are my thoughts on singing and a few taken from personal experiences as I mentioned my running off the stage crying once. Thank God I grew from that and continued on. Hope my ideas were helpful and I also hope that they motivated you in some way. I appreciate you sharing your time with me to read my blog post. God Bless! 

WHO AM I?

My name is Stephanie Jeannot. I was born and raised in New York City. I have Haitian roots and I am a lover of black coffee because it keeps me doing what I do.

I am a singer and writer. I write more than I sing. I write poetry, songs and music. Recently for the first time ever, I charted out a song before laying out the musical parts into my Sonar Music Suite. I am a lover of music and I love to sing. You can find out more about me by visiting my website at http://www.jnotemusic.com

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME ON:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Warblings of a Meadowlark about Vermont

One of my goals for the year was to discover a place I have never been for each of the 12 months of 2017. Whether it was within my own city or elsewhere, I wanted to be able to see the world with a different viewpoint and so far, my eyes have taken in so much and it has been quite exciting. 

I had been dying to visit the green mountain state. I had been looking for vacation information for Vermont for a little while so that I would visit it sometime this summer, but never expected to find my way there so soon until this week while visiting beautiful Lake George which is just about a little over an hour south of Vermont. Very happy I decided to take the trek up there. I now know why they call this the greenest state in America. 


Vermont has to be one of the loveliest places I have been. It was easy to get to. Little traffic and not many cars on the road made the ride very peaceful. I drove there and it is not that far. From NYC, it is about a five-hour drive. It is said to be the seventh coldest state in the United states but luckily, it was not so bad in July. I didn’t even need my jacket to keep warm for even a little bit. 

One thing I noticed driving through Vermont was that there were barely any traffic lights. You simply drive through while ascending and descending the natural inclines of the mountains and experiencing the calmness of the green mountains.


How nice was it to breathe in the natural aroma of mountain breeze, not in a can. And cool to see the many maple farms while making our way through the different cities.  Vermont is said to be the leading producer of maple syrup.

Vermont borders Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Canada and New York. The 6th largest body of fresh water known as Lake Champlain, separates Vermont from New York. Its name, Vermont, is a French term, Les Ver Monts, named for the 15,000 feet tall green mountains that run most of the 159 miles length of the state.

My quest was to visit Bromley Mountains. It is a resort there with a cool little theme park located in Peru, VT which I was interested in visiting. And so, I did. One of the best parts of the park was a trampoline, bungee jump ride. You get on and jump about two minutes which is fun, and great exercise. 



The other is the ski lift which brings you about 1100 meters above ground and gives you a gorgeous view of the mountains while ascending. The view is even better going down. However, I chose to be a bit more adventurous and slide down the slope on the alpine slide that brings you 2/3 miles down the slope at about 35 mph +/- depending on your maneuvering ability, which I though was really cool.



Okay, I will admit it. The real reason I was so interested in seeing Vermont was to see what was so amazing about the state that caught my attention in the the unofficial state song; the haiku -like tune,  “Moonlight in Vermont,” which was written by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf in 1944. I wanted to experience the moonlight there so I could actually sing the song with meaning and conviction of having seen it. Vermont is such a beautiful place. I made myself at home in this very quiet oasis and Vermont became part of my heart; beautiful in so many ways. Definitely worth the visit and worth visiting again.

Traveling by Car

Knowing that the drive would be long, I made sure to carry a few snacks and drinks that we could all enjoy on the road. I know there are rest areas along the way but it is not such a bad idea to make good tasting home-made sandwiches to pack and keep fresh in a cooler that you can enjoy instead of the foods at “high way robbery” prices found at the rest stops. And so, I was pretty happy to have my 60-quart Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler. 



It is very spacious. I was able to put a good number of things in it and did not have to worry about it being too full or the foods going sour. The cooler fit snuggly in my car and I could easily roll it out to where we would settle for the moments when we needed a break from cruising down the Vermont 7 highway. If you are interested in getting one for your next road trip, get it at Amazon today:


Keeping the cooler cool is easy. You can simply fill it with ice and voila, your foods that need frigid temperatures are kept at a healthy temperature for a good amount of time. I however chose a different way of keeping my foods cold other than the ice. 


I decided to go with 3X Lg. Zero°F Cooler Freeze Packs 10"x14. The cooler shock replaces the ice. You simply add water to the bags, seal them and put them in the freezer. 

They take up less room and keep the contents of the cooler cold. It felt good to not have to load, empty and reload ice trays all day. The freeze packs were easy to fill, light to carry and the best part about it is that they are reusable. 

There is not too much thinking or worry involved in this which made my travels even better. These ice packs might be just the thing you need to make your next road or camping trip that much easier. Here is the link if you are interested: 




Don't worry, I will share with you about Lake George in a future post because that part of 

upstate New York is worth talking about also. I just thought it as a nice thing to have met a 

travel destination goal for this summer and to have really loved it more than I thought. 

Thankful for every moment and even more grateful to be able to share my experience. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Haitian Culture Falls Fresh On Me Like Waters From the Saut

“When you have unity. Nothing is heavy” – dad

It is weird how things come into play. Somebody says, hey try this and you do or you don’t. That’s the way it goes. You might have your own way of doing things and choose your own path. But there are times you think, hey why not and the results are amazing.

So I tried something completely different. I was Ushered into a transformative moment by my folks to write a song about Saut D’Eau (Sodo), which is located about 60 miles north of Port au Prince. Saut D’Eau is also the French word for waterfall, with this area in the Mirabalais province of Haiti being known for the most beautiful and peaceful waterfall you could find in the world.


Every year in July, there is a wonderful feast celebrated on the 16th of July known as the feast of Mount Carmel where hundreds gather to celebrate this wonderful day together. This is part of my culture. I am Haitian and was raised with knowledge of my background, traditions and the peoples from whom we came. I have been to the feast once while I was in high school and it was such a beautiful celebration. So many people. Such a great gathering of like-minded beautiful people that left me with such an amazing feeling.

I was asked to write a song about this very place. Usually, I am not one who needs direction. I write songs based on what is in my heart and that is it. But when my family asked me to do it, I did. Who knew that going with someone else’s inspiration would let the words and music shed out of me like water weight while on the treadmill at the gym.  A few hours later, the song, Saut D’Eau Song was born. I guess you can say the weight of the mission I was tasked with was not heavy because it was with my folks in mind.


I hope that you’ll check it out. It is mostly in English as my Haitian Kreyol is not the best, though I did add a few words of Kreyol here and there because I am Haitian and this song is about Haiti. Saut D’Eau Song was written and produced by Stephanie Jeannot. All lyrics, music and vocals are by Stephanie Jeannot.

  
Anyway, here is the link to the song: https://soundcloud.com/stephanay-jnote/saut-deau-song 


Thank you so much for checking out my blogpost. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Help Me Win This Year's International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition.

Help me to spread the word and to win this year's International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition.

I had the unique audacity of entering into this competition with the hopes that maybe I would maybe advance to the next round and possibly win this thing. So here is me putting feet to my faith.

Would you be so kind as to ponder the concept of clicking on any one of the three of my submissions, listening to my cover and clicking vote on it? I realize that every selection might not appeal to every ear and so, I added all three and am asking that you choose at least one and help me to level the playing field.

I am thinking through my fingers as I write this post with humble honesty. I have cruised through practically the entirety of my span of time here on this earth with a voice and a heart to use it. I have even tackled the world of music and slipped into the scene as myself, doing what I love to do the most with everything that I have in me to give. And realizing that I have the explosive potential to rise against the wind, I am hoping that you will float through these melodies with me in mind, and help me to hammer home the idea.

I must say, just by reading this post, you are playing an active role in my life and I thank you
for that. I am won over when I see some of the most inspiring comments to ever touch my eyes on every social platform I share. I enter into a world of optimism just by reading about your lives and the things that you do and all for a great reason; to motivate each other to keep on keeping on.

Thank you for it all and thank you for considering my contest submissions in this year’s 8th Annual Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition as one worthy of a win.
And here they are:




Thank you for reading my blogpost and for voting. Have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I Was Inspired to Write A Summer Song

Now that the summer is here, many people will be gathering together with family for their annual get together.


I love them because of all the joy that springs up celebrating life and the good old times with relatives that might have been missing in action for the whole year. Actually it was one of those family get-togethers that inspired me to write the song "Family Reunion."

This particular family has an annual family reunion every year and this year made it their ninth annual. It is good when a family can gather together like that for other than sad times; in my humble opinion.

The family reunion I was honored to be at, was well planned out and organized with a schedule of events for the entire family to do together as the team that they are.I never felt more inspired by anything in my whole life.

Lyrics started to storm into my life while I was there and this hurricane took over my body. As soon as I reached home, I created musical tracks and added my lyrics to the music. Let's just say that there was no sleeping that night, and a few hours later, the powerful storm that was once wrecking havoc over my brain, died down and I had a song.

If you have not heard it, hope you will embrace it.

Here is a new original, summer song  entitled "Family Reunion." All lyrics, music and vocals by Stephanie Jeannot Video produced by Stephanie Jeannot.





If you listened/watched, tell me what you think. Alright Beautiful People. 
Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wonder Woman: Find Your Own Inner Amazonian

“‘Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda
for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,’
declared the psychologist and comic book writer William Moulton Marston”
(Foreman).

I have been on a roll lately getting out to the movies to actually see films that were recently released; and finally, I got a chance to sit down, enjoy a small tub of over-buttered popcorn and watch Wonder Woman.

It was a combination of seeing the cartoons as a young child and the very cool trailers that of this feature picture which stimulated my interest to see it.



What I remember about this superhero story was that Wonder Woman was one of the coolest of DC Comics. You did not want to mess with this don't eff with me attitude person. She walked around with sword, shield and her lasso of truth and made me and probably like every little girl want to be a superhero. I guess the latter still remains a bit true, though now watching the movie as an adult might make you want to go out and “find your own inner Amazonian” (Foreman). 

Check out the coolest collection of Wonder Woman Comic Books: the 75th Anniversary box set of it here:


What I didn’t remember about this story was that the heroine was from the race of warrior women known as the Amazons. The Amazons lived in the name of peace and justice. They spent their days readying themselves for the return of Aries, the god of war in a secret world they considered to be paradise known as Themyscira.

Though the story of the Amazonian women is often seen as a mere product of Greek
storytelling, some claim that the Amazons were an actual tribe of women from West Africa. Other historians claim that remains of these historical, ancient warrior  women were discovered near or around the Black Sea and by the Mediterranean Sea, where this race of strong and brave individuals who were skilled in warfare were said to have lived in tribes.  

You can actually get lost in the beauty of the Black Sea. I seen it for myself with my own eyes.  
In Sochi in front of the Black Sea with Lev Shafir

It is tropical. It is beautiful. And it is a calm setting. In the movie, Themyscira was like the most luxurious place you could ever go where you found the most magical of waters in their secret little landscape of the world. When I actually see West Africa for myself, which I hope to someday, I will be able to say which of the two was more like a paradise. 

The story in the comics says that the fiercest among the dwellers of this “paradisiacal” place was the young Princess Diana; Wonder Woman. Her mission in life was to stop the wars and the killing of innocent men, women and children in the barbarian world.

And the story continues with Gal Gadot doing an extraordinary job playing the role of Princess Diana, Chris Pine working his magic in his portrayal of Captain Steve Trevor and a great cast of actors that really played out their parts quite well.

Princess Diana felt that it was her sacred duty to save the world and so the picture brings on a wealth of video game-like action-packed fighting scenes that reminded me of the days when I spent time in front of the tv, clicking the controller of my Sega Genesis playing the game Street Fighter. For me, that made the movie exciting. There are also some comedic scenes which I thought were great to lighten up the intensity of this great movie.


Some Things to Think About from the film


1. Captain Steve Trevor said “everyone is fighting their own battles while you are fighting yours. How true is that? We all have our own battles and you never know what someone else might be going through. So, it is important to not judge someone else based on your own status.

2. War was referred to as a god. I thought about all the hate that goes on and I can honestly see that there are people who actually worship the idea of fighting and destroying as opposed to preserving and keeping a peaceful front.

3. Daily practice in your purpose helps you to navigate the terrain with power and literally transform it. Wonder Woman transformed the world just by being skilled in her practice and was able to stand strong in each and every battle because of it.  

I loved this movie and recommend it to all who are interested in seeing a great film.



Works Cited

Foreman, Amanda. The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the
Myth?. April 2014. Smithsonian Magazine Online. 6.7.17.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/amazon-women-there-any-truth-behind-myth-180950188/

Monday, July 3, 2017

Excellent book worth reading: TD Jake's "When Power Meets Potential"


"When Power Meets Potential: Unlocking God's Purpose in Life" by TD Jakes makes me feel that Lord Byron was right when he said that “a drop of ink may make a million think” (Lord Byron).


You should definitely get your hands on this book. Oh my goodness. 
Such an empowering read.

I did not know that TD Jakes was a NY Times best selling author. Actually, I probably would have never read one of his books until I heard a podcast with him being interviewed by Success Magazine; one of my favorite magazines to indulge in. I both read the periodical 
publication and subscribe/listen to their wonderful podcast. Check it out for yourself. Success Magazine is one of my favorite magazines to read

        

I can honestly say that it was God orchestrated thing for me to pick up the book "When Power Meets Potential: Unlocking God's Purpose in Life."  Excellent!


My favorite of TD Jake's quotes in the book reads, “It is everyday moments that prepare everyday people for extraordinary exploits” (TD Jakes).


This statements makes me feel that my plowing the field is preparing me for my breakthrough. The extra sweat in these everyday moments is so worth it. I have diligent hands. I drink deeply and delight in overflowing abundance. I have potential to transform the planet. I am inspired! 



Are you ready for your "Breakthrough?" 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

O Canada, Travel; Happy Birthday Canada!

I have found a genuine appreciation for traveling. I really enjoy it and it has become an irresistible art to me.

Seeing new sites has had an adventurous impact on me. I have become insatiably curious in discovering things I have not before seen or maybe I had seen before but was so long ago that the memory of it is no longer fresh in my mind.

So, when the world for me seems to start to spin out of control, it is an indication that I need to experience life in a bigger way to gain back control of my emotions.

Last July, I felt that I was in need of a wind of change and so, I snagged an opportunity to take a trip to Canada. I had been there with my family many times during my childhood. I had seen many parts and enjoyed the lifestyle, but the experience as an adult is much different. And so, I ventured there and what a wonderful experience that was. I can actually say that I love Canada.



When I went there in the past, we had always hopped in a car and drove the eight hours that it took to get to the destination which was set in the plan. This time however, I boarded a plane and to my surprise, it took an hour and ten minutes which I thought was a deep breath of reassurance. Less time traveling. More time enjoying the destination. 

Time away eased my emotional turmoil in so many ways. It sparked joy to once again come to this foreign land and put aesthetic value to trudging off alone and giving experience a chance.

So many new ideas started to brim while seeing Canada more in depth. I was far from the comfort of home but I blew off some steam enjoying cool street festivals. And I flipped the script by leaving my hotel room to visit family members that I had not seen in years. And I captured each moment by being fully present wherever I was while I was there. And I broke down barriers by linking up with a  social media friend of mine who lived there for the first time in person, who had nothing but the best intentions at heart for me, showed me some areas of Canada that I had never seen and that was awesome.




I even seen things with my own eyes that I felt was worthy of serious thought. Like for instance; why do raccoons in some places have a ready to attack state of mind but in others, can be around human beings like house pets? I found that quite interesting. 

Traveling made me see that you can either be bound by anxiety and keep your head stuck in the sand or you can counter life’s effects and engage with the world in different ways. You can stay in the routine and never change the mundanities of it or you can take a short walk on the eastern edge of another world and overlook the mountains in your life.  


I wandered off course on purpose to Montreal. It was the summertime,  so why not. It definitely changed things for me in a positive way. Gave me a great reason to rise up singing and to spread my wings with knowledge that I can actually overcome poignancy by creating my own joy and allowing it to simmer. 

Cover of Summertime performed by the JNote Quintet

I came across so many things I loved like Mount Royal, Old Montreal, Trois Riviers, House of Jazz, A Quebecois museum, a mall that spans about a mile underground and some other really cool things. 

I also discovered the fact that water, even just the smell of it brings peace to your mind. And the best part, there was a Starbucks on every corner; what a treat. 

Every tender moment I spent there was worth it.  I am still captivated by Canada’s energy and I cannot wait to visit there again. This post is in short to say, I love you Canada. Happy 150th birthday!