“Women of Jazz” Celebrate the Holidays at Yoshi’s San Francisco

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 by

Last night was the big show!
Tuesday December 13

Leading up to the show, I spent countless hours preparing the set list, arranging the traditional Christmas carols so that they’d be inventive and fresh, working on my vocal technique (I’m still a relatively new singer, so that’s always on my mind) and memorizing lyrics.  I had a rehearsal with my band (Daniel Parenti on bass and Billy Johnson on drums) and guest artist, Kymberly Jackson on flute, on Monday December 12.  For this show I was only able to hold 1 rehearsal, but I made sure that the band had sheet music and mp3 demo of the tunes, and they clearly did their homework.  I tend to write music using complex chords and time changes (3/4 to 4/4, 5/4 to 8/8, etc.), so I knew the music wasn’t necessarily easy, but the band pulled it off.  After rehearsal, I was a bit concerned about my lyric retention.  I was fumbling quite a bit, but maybe it was because I was thinking about so many other factors.  An unsigned artist, such as myself, has to rely on the kindness of family and friends, as there’s no budget for staff to handle the other details.  C’est la vie!
Then it was Tuesday morning.  I actually slept solidly Monday, and woke up feeling refreshed.  After a long walk with the dogs, I did some yoga at home and followed that with several hours of slow, gentle, low stress vocal exercises and piano technique work.  I played through a few tunes, but didn’t actually run the show.  It was either going to work or not at that point.  Too late to make any changes, and certainly too late to allow worry to take over.
Around 3pm, as I was packing my wardrobe to go, I noticed that an anti-theft device was left on my chosen dress!  Panic!  Sound check in San Francisco was to start at 4:30pm and I didn’t have an alternative dress.  Thankfully, my dear sister rushed to the mall and was able to convince the clerk that someone had accidentally left the device on my dress.  With a HUGE sigh of relief, we all piled into the mini-van and headed to San Francisco.  I arrived just minutes before sound check was supposed to start.
Unfortunately, the piano bench had been broken and originally a drum throne had been placed for me to sit on.  Um, yuck!  We pianists are very particular about the height at which we sit to play, and since I’m rather tiny, the throne was not going to work.  Thanks to Yoshi’s sound man Eric for finding another bench and adjusting it to the perfect height.  Another huge sigh of relief.  Sound check went well, everyone hearing each other perfectly.
After a light dinner (I can never eat too much before a show…especially if I have to sing), Destiny Muhammed and her trio took to the stage.  Unfortunately, though I could watch her performance backstage on the television, there was no sound, so I couldn’t hear a thing.  During her show, I began my stage prep: make up – I’ve become a semi-pro thanks to my years of doing my own make up for Stevie’s shows, hair, placing my hair flower (my favorite hair accessory), choosing the right jewelry, and warming up my voice.  Finally, the time arrived, and I headed to the stage.  People had been asking me all day “are you nervous”, “are you scared”?  I have an usual response, which is “I don’t get nervous”.  I do get excited, but whenever I go onstage, a sense of calm takes me over.  It’s a good thing, especially given my job, but I honestly can’t explain it.
My name was announced, applause and cheering rose up, and I entered the stage.  I saw so many beautiful faces, family, friends, peers, fans, all manner of people of different ages, races, backgrounds.  It was everything I could have hoped for!  I sat at the piano and invited Destiny Muhammed to join me onstage for the first tune.
I had been a bit worried about the banter between songs. I enjoy concerts where the artist speaks to the audience, sharing their thought process, the motivation for writing a song, making a joke, telling a story, etc., so I just relaxed and let myself enjoy the conversation with the crowd.
My set list was as follows:

1 Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (with Destiny Muhammed as guest artist)
2 What Child Is This
3 Away in a Manger
4 Original composition
5 Original composition
6 Silent Night (with Kymberly Jackson as guest artist)
7 Original composition
8 Original composition
9 Deck The Halls

Everyone seemed to love my original compositions, and I’m looking forward to doing more writing so that I can release a product in 2012.  I loved having the guest artists perform with me as well.  I’ve been an accompanist all of my life, so I truly enjoy creating a musical environment for other musicians and working with them in creating a beautiful experience for ourselves and an audience.  Destiny and Kymberly both rocked the house!

After the last piece, I left the stage, and crossed my fingers that I’d get a response asking for an encore.  I was not disappointed.  The crowd went wild, so I quickly changed into another outfit (a really sexy lilac strapless cocktail dress) and sauntered back onto the stage to sing “Santa Baby”, which went over very well!

I left the stage with a lovely feeling of accomplishment, relief, joy and gratitude.  I did my best to offer a great show, and everyone seemed to enjoy my performance.

I managed to remember to thank several people before leaving the stage, but I can never thank everyone enough for the support, tough love (when I get distracted by – I must admit – Facebook, email and busy work), encouragement, cleaning house, running errands, making meals, shopping for food, wardrobe and whatever else.  Rodney, mom, Nina, kids, Amy, Sundra, Brad, Maisha, Debra, William, Carla, dad, Brieana, DeWayne, Cecil, Jan, Siana, Jasmine, Sabrina, Clinton, Linda, Randy, Eric, Roz, Tony, Teri, my coaches Raz, Janice, Mr. Bell, Reggie, my hair guru, Joi, my entire family and all of my beautiful friends and fabulous students: what would I do without you???  I love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart.  If I left out a name, please forgive me, and know that I love you!

Thank you to my band: Daniel Parenti and Billy Johnson!  I loved the way everything worked out!

Thank you to Destiny Muhammed and her lovely trio, Myron and Elliot, and to Kymberly Jackson for sharing the stage.  It was a magical night.

Thank you again to Stephanie Dalton / Urban Music Presents for booking the gig, to Yoshi’s for approving the gig, to Keith, Eric and Valentine for making me sound good, and all of the Yoshi’s staff for taking care of us.

Until the next time…

Happy holidays everyone!

Blessings & Music,


This entry was posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 12:11 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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