First things first – upcoming events!
Women of Substance Radio chose my song “Merry Christmas to You” to be part of their holiday music programming along with music from Idina Menzel and other fabulous artists. I've got all NYC players on the track with me: Ann Klein, Steve Alcott, and Kenny Soule.
Tune in and listen to the show on December 9th, 2015!
Women of Substance Radio
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Noon and 8 p.m. Eastern
The link will give you the option of joining their mailing list, but you can click "No Thanks" if you'd prefer not to.
You can also tune in on Mobile Devices by downloading their free mobile app. Just search for "Women of Substance" in your App Store or use these links to download for free:
iTunes Store (Apple): http://bit.ly/1ELrcau
Google Play Store (Android): http://bit.ly/1E1mDot
On Wednesday, members of the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir (including me!) are joining other fantastic gospel singers at Carnegie Hall for a gospel sing along with Donnie McClurkin and Kim Burrell.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Gospel Sing Along with Donnie McClurkin and Kim Burrell
Tickets range from $16-$62 through the Carnegie Hall website
And tomorrow, my current class of Singin' Seniors is holding its winter concert. You're welcome to join! No need to RSVP.
Singin' Seniors Winter Concert
Friday, December 4, 2015
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 619 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Downstairs in St Peter’s Church
Now, to catch up!
Back in the summer, I spent some time in Brooklyn at Grand Street Studios with my stellar producer, Ken Rich, recording four of my new songs. If you’ve been to a show in the past year, you’ve probably heard one or two of them. As a freelance artist, I am not really sure how to present them. Do I wait until I have enough songs for a new album? Or do I just submit them individually to iTunes? If anyone would like to comment or tell me what they are doing with their own musical project, I am all ears. I can’t wait to share them with you!
For basic tracks, I worked with some of the guys who form the band Poundcake: Jon Graboff, Ethan Eubanks and Jeff Hill. Andrew Carillo came in for guitar overdubs and I sang my old timey murder ballad duet called "Bet on the Horses" with the legendary Hugh Pool.
After all that musical work together, I headed on a very special “bucket list” trip with my childhood friend from Nebraska, Susan Stover -- we've been friends since third grade! We started adventuring together right out of high school. School reunions and mutual friends bring us together from time to time and it turns out, unlike our husbands, we were both crazy enough to want to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! So in late September, we traveled to Peru to begin the journey and I can safely say I had a physical challenge unlike anything else I have ever done!
Besides the fabulously physical challenge of hiking through the Andes, we had a tremendous time and a great education visiting first the colorful town of Cusco and then the mysterious and ancient sacred sites, terraces, and temples in and around the incomparable city of Machu Picchu.
I was left with a head full of images and stories that will stay with me forever. I have been writing a sort of travelogue about it that is nearly done. I still want to add photographs that I took or that others in our group have shared. I will let you know when that “book” is done!
Crawling into my little tent one night, I started repeating a phrase over and over until I had to acknowledge that a song was being born! The phrase was, "Thank you for bringing us to Machu Picchu." I found my phone in my daypack (very important to use it sparingly as there was no re-charging) and stumbled outside into the serious moonlight to record my ideas before they evaporated like the morning dew.
We were camped very close to the rushing Urubamba River and the sound of a crowing rooster kept coming into range somewhere in a nearby valley. All I can say is, it’s a good thing I recorded it then because once I woke up the next day and got going on yet another full-on day of hiking, that song was gone! I would like to think I would have remembered it eventually but it was such a comfort, knowing I had recorded my ideas the night before!
And there is a free tip for songwriters; whenever possible, carry a recording device. You never know when inspiration may hit!
I've shared the song with the fans on my mailing list -- if you'd like to download a free copy, just click the "Join My Mailing List" button on the left side of this page.
When I returned to NYC, the autumn crop of Singin’ Seniors started up again after a three month hiatus. The Singin’ Seniors class is made possible through the non profit organization, Feel the Music. I have Valerie Ghent and Nicolle Bennett to thank for keeping me busy! I teach group ensemble with the illustrious accompaniment of Clare Cooper. The group sings tunes all the way from the 30s to the 2010s! I am very proud of this special group of senior vocalists. We always have such fun working on songs and this latest batch is sure to please.
I continue to rehearse and sing and draw inspiration from the wonderful Middle Church Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir in the East Village, under the directorship of John Del Cueto. We recently had an evening concert for Justice that was inspiring and powerfully beautiful. We sang several songs of Tituss Burgess and some other gifted songwriters. I was given the opportunity to sing the last solo of the evening and lemme tell you people, I sure felt the spirit moving! Last year at the rally, we had Joan Baez, a VIP joining us. But the energy was just as high this year. I am honored to be a member of this talented, kind and inclusive choir.
My dear old Dad celebrated his 95th birthday back in Nebraska on November 14th. I am so lucky to still be someone’s daughter. He has been my father, my coach, my ally, my advisor, my friend my whole life. I can honestly say that Darrel Berg taught me about spirit and soul in such a way that it never left me, no matter what incarnation it manifested in me, throughout my life. I am forever grateful to him and to my mother, for believing in me and for giving me the freedom to create the life I imagined for myself. A life full of artistry, creativity and personal expression.
One last thing – through the Sadie Nash Foundation, another non profit organization that I am getting involved with, I had the great pleasure of meeting the grande dame of American feminists, Gloria Steinem!
Gloria was speaking in late October at the New York Public Library along with civil rights lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who got the DOMA ruling passed. The Sadie Nash Foundation was lucky enough to have Gloria and Roberta join our small group beforehand for an intimate discussion with several young women, or “Nashers,” in the program. What was the core message of the gathering? In speaking out for justice and equality, first find like-minded people who know how to listen and with them, practice finding your own voice until you know who you are and what you stand for.
That’s it for now!
May the holidays be good to you,