Jan 26, 2012
As I sat with my guitar and notebook, putting ideas on paper while crafting my new album, the words I had just written jumped off the page:
‘I wouldn’t mind for his eyes only, but I fear for digital memory’
The song idea I was working on involved a camera, a beautiful man, and too much wine. You can probably guess where this story was headed.
I had already decided that my record had a foothold in the past. I was conceiving it as a concept album based on the idea of secret identities, and I planned to use vintage spy-movie soundtracks of the ‘60s as my inspiration jump-off. I thought I could have a lot of fun with espionage motifs on a musical level (bring on the horns and that famous 007 tremolo guitar sound!), and the glamour of guns, girls, world travel, and dangerous missions was a stylish angle to work from. But on a deeper level, I was interested in drawing a metaphor between the secret life of a Spy, and the secret lives everyone leads, the darker parts of ourselves that we rarely expose, that we choose to keep hidden.
But back to the song about the camera. The story came to life quickly as my pencil flew across the page. ‘Click! Flash! Click! Pose! Off came my clothes!’
And those words jumped at me again:
‘I fear for digital memory’
That is a modern problem. If Ian Fleming had written this same episode in a Bond novel, it would probably involve a camera hidden inside a rare African artifact on the nightstand, images that would be transferred from film to microchip in a secret lab, and smuggled away to some devious villain’s headquarters to be used in a private blackmail scheme. But in my life, in our modern-day reality, this camera is digital… and within seconds the incriminating shots could be viewed by the entire world.
It’s absolutely mind-blowing how quickly the progress of technology has altered everything about privacy. It seems like every day there’s another political scandal of some high-powered upstanding public figure exposed with their pants down; or another starlet’s cell phone gets hacked and nude photos surface online. Not even government secrets are sacred thanks to websites like Wikileaks. This is 2012 and there are no rules safeguarding our privacy, no boundaries, walls have come down- for better or for worse (I’m inclined to think, worse).
This realization was the key moment in putting my album together: I shouldn’t be writing songs as if it were actually 1963… I could express my life experiences through a retro-fitted lens; but I had to commit to my modern-day truth.
And that’s what I’m most proud of about my album: exposing all of your secrets with absolute honesty can be extremely frightening… but that’s ultimately our job as artists; to share our humanity, flaws and all, and connect via these shared experiences. I would write fantastical adventures of jet-setting through danger, but still be true to myself.
So when you listen to my songs, I invite you to look deeper. When I sing about death-defying missions (‘You’re a ticking time bomb, I’m the spark that lights the fuse’), I’m also confessing my knack for sabotaging relationships. A song about a forbidden seduction in a secret lair is really a fantasy of being able to expose our true desires for one hushed moment (‘We are like vines that bloom in the dark, but hide from the light of day’). The tale of a glamorous high-stakes poker game is a lament of not being able to discern a lover’s feelings (‘My cards are on the table but you won’t tip your hand’). Whether or not I am ACTUALLY a Fearsome International Jet-setting Superspy I am not at liberty to say… but the stories I tell through my music are all 100% true.
As for the song about the Camera- here's the fully realized end result:
Nov 7, 2011
Myself and Roger Wingfield checked into the McKittrick Hotel where I performed last week at The Darkest Shadow Masquerade. Absinthe makes us make crazy faces.
We ambled along a desolate street in West Chelsea, on a cold October evening, into an anonymous warehouse. We walked through several dark hallways and up a dimly lit stairwell, and emerged into... an impossibly glamourous scene right out of 1939. A boisterous crowd of black-clad bon vivants held court on antique chaise lounges and art-deco settees, surrounded by endless sprays of black lillies and flickering candelelight, sipping absinthe and champagne while jazz filled the air. The happenings of the lobby of the McKittrick Hotel hit me like a surreal ghost- and you'll forgive me if I was having a 'Midnight In Paris' moment... an era I have always idealized had come alive before my eyes. I scooped up the satin train of my long black evening gown to take the stage and became the mysterious film noir siren I had idolized from countless noir films and hard-boiled novels that had fascinated me since I was a teenager... the music began and I crooned into the vintage microphone in front of me and let the songs cast their spell over the crowd.
I've had many crowning moments in my career so far, but this performance was a truly and fantastically memorable one! It's hard to trace back my love of nastalgia to its roots. Was it when I chose to write my 4th grade book report on Billie Holiday? (My father had some of her albums and I was initially drawn to the gardenia she wore in her hair...) Some might say the life of a tragically talented drug-addicted abuse victim would be inappropriate subject matter for a 9-year-old... but, I was in love.
And from there, I discovered Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington; and the films of Bogart and Bacall, and the novels of Raymond Chander and Dashiell Hammett. Darkness and melancholy pervaded these (and murder of course!) but the shadowy glamour always transported me to a more exciting and dangerous world, far from the white picket fences of suburban Chicago where I grew up I also love old movie musicals and the brighter entertainments of the mid-century (romantic comedies of Hepburn and Tracy variety, yes please!), and clearly that extended to the espionage novels and films of the Cold War... Graham Greene, John LeCarre and Ian Fleming being my favorites. I can't help but think of the past as something far more romantic than the present... and there's something to be said for the care and craft that went into music before the digital age. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if a producer got Auto-Tune anywhere NEAR Billie Holiday (Lady Day was an emotive genius, but let's just say tone and feeling trumped pitch accuracy most of the time.) I love electronic music as well, but I hope pop music as a whole is not forever lost to the world of BOOM BOOM POW.
As I create my own cannon of work as an artist, writer, and musician, I've realized that these 'retro' influences are so much a part of me that to not acknowledge that and be inspired by it would be not being true to myself. I've experimented with different musical genres but at a certain point we all must claim our signature stlye and commit to it. So, I try and create a balance with my writing, and create musical statements that speak to contemporary issues and truth of what I'm experiencing in my life- but filtered through I suppose a bit of a nostalgic lens with my arrangements, style, instrumentation, etc. I don't consider my songs to be throwbacks (I do have a song about 'sexting' on my new album after all, and a harrowing tale of a digital camera gone rogue!), but what I am creating with music is no doubt a valentine to those musicians and writers that came before, and whose work continues to resonate with me (and hopefully many of you!) to this day.
Aug 29, 2011
Hello my fellow secret-agent Superspies!
When I last left you, I had just completed the principal weekend of shooting the Official Video for my song 'Camera'; suffering through two full days of trying to appear picture-perfect, sexy and focused on camera while battling horrific, burning, swelling, and painful poison ivy rash...! (See my previous entry for that story!)
We shot the big dance sequence this past Wednesday, and all I can say is some serious evil forces were at work it seems--- first the whole poison ivy debacle, then a couple days later NYC experiences an earthquake, we're preparing for the impending Hurricane Irene- and the day of our dance shoot we not only lost our location at the 11th hour, BUT I came down with a nasty eye infection! I wish I could even make this stuff up- seriously. I emerged from my anti-poison-ivy-swelling Benadryl binge, got up to steel myself for another rigorous shoot, and looked in the mirror to discover my entire left eye red and almost swollen shut.
But apparently it takes more than several natural disasters and disfiguring bodily ailments to stop me on my mission to bring you my music in all its spectacularness! We worked out our location woes- I can now testify that you can absolutely prep hair, makeup, and steam costumes in the middle of a Starbucks; and a dark alley can look more amazing than the most gorgeous studio with the right approach of resourcefulness and creativity! Some trick photography and lighting made my pinkeye undetectible... and voila! We will have a video that looks impeccable, and I will have a story for my 'Behind the Music' special someday :-)
I now write to you all from the safety of my Brooklyn brownstone (aka Superspy Headquarters), after having weathered one of the most potentially deadly storms NYC has ever experienced...IRENE. I knew she was serious because the MTA shut down all weekend for the first time in the history of our city's transit system; also Broadway was dark, AND most ominously--- Cousin John's Bakery in Park Slope was completely sold out of apple pies! Friends, leave it to Brooklynites to not only sell everyone out of batteries, flashlights and bottled water but also artisanal baked goods. Yikes!
I evacuated my apartment not so much out of necessity as for the pure adventurous spirit of it all, plus the chance to lounge guilt-free for two days drinking wine with my girlfriends ;-) I enjoyed the mulitple bottles we consumed, the bad movies we watched, the portobello mole enchicladas I made and my friend Bethany's lime chicken with avocado relish, the pouring rain outside and the good company. At one point we shut off all the lights and lit the many candles we were stocked with; because it seemed a horrible lost opportunity not to just because our power had the audacity to stay on! The cool weather along with the pumpkin-spice scented candles singlehandedly soothed my reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (I'm not a hot-weather girl!) and to make the stormy weekend complete, we spent a couple hours doing tarot card readings. According to my cards, my near future is set to be turbulent and explosive; I'm going to scorch the earth with my sheer power; everything I know might crumble around me ... but when the smoke clears and dust settles I will have completed a journey of competence, wholeness and independence- with the whole world at my fingertips. I'll take it!!!
The reading made me recognize the current status of my life--- which is (ironically) right now like being in the eye of a hurricane. The frenzy of the past year is behind me: I have delivered my album, the art, all the promotional materials, shot 2 videos, and the events have been set in motion for the current cycle of my artistic output. BUT there's an eerie calm this week as I have yet to delve into the serious business of the next phase: releasing the album, promotion, bookings, appearances, tour, etc.
The storm literally forced me to take some time out, and I didn't even realize how much I needed it! So I resolved to make the most of the fleeting calm and today I did just that. Took the time to relax, reset, and prepare for what's next. I went in search of the perfect cheeseburger and fries for lunch (I've been craving that all month!), got an iced coffee, explored streets I had never walked down before in beautiful Brooklyn Heights, listened to Ray Lamontagne in the sunset... it felt amazing just to enjoy the day! I believe my punishing schedule this summer has earned me some long walks...
I hope all of you and your families stayed safe and dry, East Coasters! And for the rest of you- enjoy your week, the fleeting 'dog days' of August; hope you can also take some time to relax for a few days, rebuild, and re-energize...
Tell No One will arrive on 9/27, after all- just in time to cozy up with some pumpkin-spice candles, some fine whiskey, and settle in with some sultry sounds... can't wait to bring it to you :-)
Aug 22, 2011
Monday, August 22nd: I sit with teased hair, sore muscles, multiple cups of coffee in my system, ‘Kill Bill’ on the tele, and reflect in exhausted wonderment on the events of the past 2 weeks! It’s hard to believe that in that time I launched my new website, prepped for and shot 2 videos (!), finalized the CD packaging for my label’s distributor, and did several bangin’ gigs with my Girl-Group side project, The Chiclettes. Needless to say these have not been ‘Dog Days’ for me--- very little sleep has been had but it feels great!
We all know that VIDEO has become the music-listening tool of choice in this digital age; and if you want to compete you gotta have the video goods… I’m pleased to announce I will be bringing it to you HARD in the next couple months! I wanted to let you all in on a little of the behind-the-scenes action.
The first video we shot is a very cool little promo teaser for my forthcoming album, ‘Tell No One’. Directed, conceived, and produced by Natalie Berning; styled by Jennifer King, with wardrobe by Kristin Lindbeck and production design by Travis Brownell... a chance to collaborate with great friends is so much fun it never feels like work!
We shot at sunrise, in several mysterious locations, telling the story of some dangerous spy adventures in an experimental and artful way--- yes, this was our ‘avante-garde’ outing for this album cycle! We began on a rooftop surrounded by the urban jungle of Manhattan, and thought it would look amazing to film me climbing up the fire escape on the side of the building onto the roof.
The first sign of danger was when my slingback heel fell off and dropped 7 stories to the ground. Travis was a valiant and brave soul, scaled down to retrieve it- and the decaying metal of the fire escape gave way! He was able to grasp the railing just in time and pull himself to safety--- he could have honestly been seriously injured or worse! But, being professionals, we continued our work in several other locations and had a lot of fun with a fog machine, a mailbox, a chandelier and and some black face-paint along the way. This art piece is currently in the editing stages and I can’t wait to share it!
Here’s me and the crew--- ‘avante-garde’ style haha:
The danger of the fire escape scene came back to haunt me again 5 days later. Having warmed up with the promo teaser, I was all set to KILL in my full-length Official Music Video for my song ‘CAMERA’ the following weekend: helmed by director Jim Glaub, producer Ian Weiss, art director Robyn Roberts, wardrobe designer Kimberly Cauti, stylist Jennifer King, choreographer Ryan Greer, and shot by Eric Billman. This was a much bigger production, with dozens of people involved, an actual budget (shocking!), and months and months of planning- of course I knew I needed to absolutely ROCK IT on every level. I had spent weeks slaving at the gym, pilates sessions, countless wardrobe fittings, dance rehearsals, hair highlights, facial, pedicure, custom spray-tan- you NAME it, I was prepared to outshine Beyonce and J Lo in the ‘video vixen’ category (or at least try!). Two days before the big shoot- I was feeling great and ready to roll.
Then, my legs started itching. At first I thought I had been attacked by a mosquito. I found a couple tiny red bumps and I feared bedbugs. And then, my entire left leg was covered with a swollen, red, scaly, itchy, burning rash. Soon my right leg was covered. As it turns out, the mysterious vines on that fire escape that looked so gorgeous on film ended up being…. POISON IVY.
Dum dum dummmmm…..!!!! Was the fire escape sabotaged by the evil super-villains determined to de-rail my quest for musical glory???
It needs to be stated at this point that the subject matter for the song ‘CAMERA’ involves me taking off my clothes. Part commentary on the digital age, part cautionary tale, part winkingly naughty memoir- the key episode of the story concerns some risqué photos that ended up being taken, and what ended up happening to the ‘CAMERA’ of the song’s title. MANY TIMES during the conceiving of the video I wished that I had written an album about sitting on the sofa eating pizza! Sadly, it was never option to shoot the video in a snuggie. And now, I was covered with hideous swollen red scales! Horrors!
Sorry to tell the Evil Supervillians--- but thanks to the ace styling team, the video footage that I have seen so far looks truly incredible! What most people will never know is that I was wearing several pairs of hose to conceal the horrific lesions all over my legs in our lingerie scenes, and suffering through shots with burning, swelling, and hellish itching underneath vinyl leggings and leather boots! Loading up on Benadryl to relieve the symptoms wasn’t really an option (I didn’t want to be a zombie-eyed groggy mess for the 20-hour shoot). But, what’s another challenge at this point, considering all we have been through making this album happen? Robyn, heading up the art department and just all-around troubleshooting, got struck with the flu, and my makeup and hair maven Jenn was also ill for most of the shoot- our fog machine was temperamental to say the least- our main location wasn’t air-conditioned on this hot August NYC weekend leaving us needing a full-time powder blotter… but all things considered it’s going to look amazing!
Here’s a sneak peek of one of the risqué photos captured on the famed ‘CAMERA’:
BIG HUGS and kisses to the crew for bringing it home… I’m so proud to be working with such an awesome team.
We still have our dance sequence to shoot Wednesday--- as long as neither I nor my dancers Eva and Tabitha sprain our ankles before then, we’re good to go!
Evil Supervillians…. don’t even think about it…
Aug 9, 2011
Hello Citizens of the World,
If you have located this intel, you are part of an elite group. So sophisticated, sexy, intelligent, and gorgeous you must be to have clicked through to this very page! And obviously you have EXCELLENT taste in music...
All my thanks to you for joining me on my Superspy Adventures! (If you're confused about what all this 'spy' stuff is about- just go here.)
In the past year, I have completed many missions that I would have thought IMPOSSIBLE--- until I decided to shrug off any traces of doubt or fear and just throw myself FULL FORCE into the daunting task of making my dreams happen.
My aspirations seemed SO far-flung on paper. Write and produce a full length album based on Cold War era espionage-themed musical motifs--- with heart, humor, emotional truth, and present-day reach? Sounds pretty impossible. Record said album at one of the most legendary vintage & analogue gear-stuffed studios in the world? Impossible. Nail down the best musicians in New York to record in that incredible studio LIVE, amidst their conflicting schedules of being on the road with the likes of Rihanna, Rosanne Cash, Brandon Flowers and Sia? YEAH, good luck with that! Shooting accompanying album art photo session decked out in a wardrobe from Givenchy, Dior, Vera Wang, and Gucci? Pulling off this marathon photo session from sunset to sunrise in an unauthorized location without getting evicted from the premises- while smuggling in 5 enormous suitcases of wardrobe, full lighting gear, a cast of 12 and a crew of 6? STAYING INDEPENDENT and achieving ALL of the above on a shoestring budget (no major-label money here folks)… you must be delusional and insane! If I had looked at my goals and thought them through logically, I would have said all of this would be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.
And, yet---- look what I (and my incredibly dedicated team) was able to pull off!
The main lesson I have taken from this whole crazy process of creating and releasing an album is this: the only limits are the limits you put on yourself.
Or, as someone really wise once said: Just Do It.
I’m about to now transition full-speed-ahead from creating all of this to promoting it and trying to give it the best chance it has to fly. Right now I have two videos shooting in the next 2 weeks with 2 amazing creative teams, a media outreach strategy to lay out with my lovely publicist, an album release spectacular to plan… and it goes on and on… the hustle has no end in sight.
But, now I’m taking an hour to live in THIS moment and let myself be proud of what I’ve been able to achieve- and thankful for the blessings and opportunities that have allowed me to do it. It's so hard to let yourself savor your acomplishments and give yourself credit for a job well done!
I’m feeling so much stronger than I ever have before. And somehow, the struggles I’ve gone through to bring all of this to fruition seem worthwhile because they have given me perspective, and made me understand every molecule of blood, sweat and tears that goes into a project like this. I’m incredibly proud- and I hope you all enjoy the music, the images, and the soon-to-be unveiled video projects- as much as I loved creating them.
And the next time I’m feeling discouraged, I resolve to make myself a nice martini, zip on my slinkiest leather catsuit, and just remember- NOTHING is impossible, as long as you dream big, laugh in the face of fear, and never tell yourself you can’t.
Jan 14, 2011
I may be one of the only people in the UNIVERSE that absolutely loves the dead of winter. Late January through March is often when I feel the most creative... maybe it's because there are so very few distractions? No summer weekends away, constantly shuttling from city to country to beach and back. It's not the holidays, with all the socializing, shopping and travelling... no spring fever, beckoning me to go troll the city for the best sangria with my girlfriends on beautiful weekday afternoons in May. All of which are wonderful things!!! But, in the dead of winter I read, I write, I go catch up on all the movies I haven't seen. I dream!
SO now that we are putting the finishing touches on my new album, my epic photo portfolio is in the editor's hands, and my new website design underway.... My next project will be a music video. It's early in the planning stages right now, and hopefully will be fully conceived and shot within the next 6-8 weeks. It will be helmed by much of the same team behind the still photos we recently did and I am very very excited about it. Keep an eye on this space for the latest updates! Lots of fun exciting happenings coming your way from me.
In the meantime- dream, read, movie-hop, drink some brandy- and stay warm out there!
Jan 6, 2011
Always one of my favorite months- I really savor the time to appreciate the past year and welcome in the new... I had a wonderful holiday this year, and feel AMAZINGLY grateful for all the blessings in my life at the moment! Friends, family, the opportunity to be here in the greatest city in the world, making my dreams happen... I truly realize how lucky I am.
I have been quiet over the past couple months... because I have been an extraordinarily busy girl! Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, with all the party-going, entertaining, and travelling, we also recorded my new record at Sear Sound here in NYC!
Sear is a truly incredible old gem of a studio, with such a warm and eclectic vibe. Unlike other studios that wow you the second you walk through the door with walls of gold records, sparkling modern digital consoles, and every kind of cutting-edge technology, Sear Sound is overflowing with incredible tube and analog gear, about 250 vintage microphones, Studer tape machines rebuilt from Abbey Road, Hammond B3 organs and Moog synths... its just an incredible space, a step back in time almost- there just aren't studios like it around anymore. It was PERFECT for what we were trying to create with the recordings! It was really important to me that we achieve a real vintage sound.
My producer Eshy Gazit helped shape the truly A-List ensemble that played the sessions: Adam Christgau on drums, Chris Morrissey on bass, Rich Hinman on guitar, and Richard Maheux on the keys. Chemistry was fantastic between all of us, and everyone at the studio was wonderful. Nothing can really come close to the thrill of hearing a song fully realized for the first time, with each musician contributing their talent, energy, and inspiration... each song takes such an enormous journey from its humble beginnings on the piano in my living room to the final mastered track. It's amazing to watch it come to life.
I look forward to bringing it to you very soon! Finishing touches are being put on the promo photos and artwork, the design is coming together, and pretty soon I suppose I'll be thinking about a video to accompany the album release. Thank you all for hanging in there and I can promise that all will be worth the wait.
Wishing you all the health and wealth in the universe for 2011!
I'm so excited for you all to hear. I hope to announce a release date very soon :-)
Nov 2, 2010
Hello, and welcome to my new blog! It's like the feeling of cracking open a shiny new notebook full of fresh pages, inviting imagination, expression, confession... I'll try to spill secrets here frequently!
You can read my 'official' bio here on this site, or you can check out some press blurbs if you want to know what others are saying- but in this space I will tell you about what I love, what inspires me, I'll talk a little about my music, and a little about life...
So, what could I share with you here that you can't learn anywhere else?
Well, to begin with, I overuse ellipses compulsively... I am somehow both a party girl and a bookworm... I funded my first record almost entirely with homemade baked goods (you'd be surprised how many of NYC's best musicians will lower their session fees if you offer to throw in fresh baked brownies and cheesecakes!). I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago, went to school in lovely Boston, and continue to grow up in Brooklyn where I currently live and bake. I read tarot cards and I have a very cute sparkly red beach-cruiser bicycle I like to ride around on. Aside from my skills with sugar and butter, my primary talent is storytelling.
I've had some wild and wonderful musical experiences in the past several years. Rather than just rattling off a list of the many clubs, cabarets, dive bars and theaters I have played all over NYC and beyond- it's much more fun to tell you some stories. Pretend we are sitting in front of a roaring fire, sharing a nice bottle of Syrah, with Nina Simone records filling the room... and here we go...
My first ever gig in NYC was at midnight, every Saturday, as the opening act for a magician. The venue was an underground speakeasy below an old Colonial mansion that had once been home to Aaron Burr and later served as a sort of unofficial Democratic Headquarters during Prohibition- the Tammany Hall machine and NY Mayor Jimmy Walker held court there every night to indulge his fondness for jazz, liquor, chorus girls, and corrupt politics. I believe the magician is still there- if you should stumble upon a midnight magic show hidden underneath an old haunted historical landmark, buy him a drink for me, won't you?
I have been a professional Doo-Wop Girl, and from that gig had the opportunity to tour all over the US, from Maine to Alabama, supporting such legendary groups as The Drifters, The Coasters, Gene 'The Duke Of Earl' Chandler... it was a truly otherworldly experience to have a late-night hotel cocktail with Ronnie, the bass from The Coasters, who you could always coax to say 'why is everybody always pickin on me?' (from their hit "Charlie Brown") in that famous voice after a couple drinks. I was once stuck in an airport for hours with Bobby Lewis, who had a #1 hit in 1961 ('Tossin and Turnin'), who is now blind but wears 3-piece suits and plumed fedoras to match his hand-carved walking stick and is only too happy to share his memories of touring with Ray Charles back in the day. According to Bobby, there were plenty of wild women hanging around the scene in the 50s and 60s! And so I found myself singing backup for living legends and always dressed in head-to-toe sequins, which would have been enough for me. But my big moment truly arrived when I was chosen to do a duet with Ed 'Kookie' Burns--- those of you in a certain generation know what I'm talking about--- called 'Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb'. Being unfamiliar with this song, its appeal was TOTALLY inexplicable to be, but apparently it was HUGE (what they used to call a 'novelty song'... it truly defines description so here you go, see for yourself)... Truly, all I could think about was how I was actually performing with Vince Fontaine from the movie 'Grease'. I think my parents were more impressed that I had done a duet with 'Kookie' than when I headlined my first Manhattan club. The crowd would always go wild for Kookie.
And then there was the moment where I made my Atlantic City debut at Caesar's Palace which was something of a milestone... singing mostly soul and Motown hits from Aretha, Gladys Knight, Etta James, Diana Ross, and Ronnie Spector. I think I fulfilled a childhood dream of my Mom's, who I suspect spent many hours as a little girl singing 'Heatwave' into her hairbrush (right, Mom?) I fulfilled a dream of my own as casinos to me have always felt like the height of glamour... I even made it out of there with my earnings from the gig intact (!) which surprised no one more than me. I do enjoy a good cocktail and a good card game which has been the downfall of many.
Among all the theaters, halls, casinos, county fairs, and subway platforms I've gotten to sing in- my favorite performances are the intimate little clubs where I have truly cut my songwriting teeth. I have fallen in love with the craft of songwriting and these little rooms that are hidden around the city have become my place where I can share my own stories, tumbler of Jameson always in hand for my grandfather, who taught me everything I know about discipline, dedication, the craft of music, poetry, Shakespeare, ballet, art, life, confidence, passion and to follow my dreams no matter what. When I'm on that stage, and when it's so still you can hear a pin drop, and the notes cast a spell over the whole room- I can always feel him there with me.
Probably my most moving performance experience was when I got to sing at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, singing in the Verdi Requiem with the Interschool Orchestra of New York. ISO is an amazing organization that gives kids on public schools the resources and opportunity to play in a first-rate orchestra, regardless of whether their own school has funding for a music program. Music education has always been close to my heart, but the feeling of being up there with these prodigiously talented high schoolers, in the one of the premiere concert halls in the world, as they played their hearts out for their proud families- that experience brought home the value and necessity for keeping arts in our schools. Of course, the Lincoln Center 'Cinderella Moment' turned into a pumpkin very quickly, as the next night I was booked for an acoustic soul showcase back downtown at a short-lived club called Mo Pitkins House of Satisfaction. You can take the girl out of the downtown dive but.... you know ;)
I could never forget being invited to sing the National Anthem in Central Park, for 10,000 people at the NY Colon Cancer Challenge. It was a big day and a real honor- plus performing right next to a giant inflatable replica of a colon made the experience an especially memorable one. And when I was invited to perform in a burlesque show this year, how could I say no? I did not take off any clothing, but left that to the professionals. I sang while they doffed their dresses to my songs, and it was a total thrill (I believe we will be capturing one super-luscious performance on video soon, keep an eye on this space!)
One of the more challenging but fun performances this past year was doing a set exclusively in French, honoring a Tribeca Film Festival entry based on the life of Serge Gainsbourg, titled 'Gainsbourg... Je T'aime, Moi Non Plus'. We all drank French wines, presented by French winemakers, while I did my best renditions of Piaf, Yves Montand, and a few Gainsbourg tunes of course.* It was such a kick to imagine myself as a French screen siren a la Deneuve, Birkin, or Bardot- if I could choose any other life to live it might have been that.
*Quick tip: the more French wine you drink while singing French chansons, the more French you sound ;-)
Now, as I get ready to release a new album of original songs, I can't wait for what's next. The new record will be out later this winter and I'm excited to hear what you all think of the new songs! My next post will talk a little about the new album, the process of making it so far, and the influences behind it.
Until then- bonne journee.