Skyping With Joe

Joe hasn’t had much sleep. We just talked for over thirty minutes via Skype. They performed in Paris last night to a packed house, two shows and after press release, autograph signing and CD sales, they tumbled into their respective beds at the hotel. Up three hours later and took a taxi  bus to the train. Two of the band members were late and the driver got a call and then pulled over to the side of the city street and told them they needed to get out of the vehicle. What! He had to go to his next client. Shabby French businessman! Not only had they prepaid but they had a train to catch to Rennes, France!

They walked around lugging all of their equipment and suitcases, bags and computers for ten minutes or so, before they got another ride in a big taxi bus. $200.00 later, they just made their train, and in four hours they arrived at the next city. Rennes is west of Paris and near the Atlantic coast. Joe and the guys went to the club for sound check and checked into their rooms. He phoned me and then we Skyped.

He did get a couple of hours rest before it was time to return to the club to a sit down dinner prepared by the chef and then to perform to another packed house. Same after performance curriculum and back to shower, dress, pack up and stay awake in the hotel’s lobby until the driver appears to take them to the train. Back to Paris, another taxi bus ride to another train station and then on to Hannover, Germany. Sheesh! My baby’s tired! It was nice to chat three times on our Wedding Anniversary. Joe is a Prince among men!

When A Lady Sings The Blues

I’m one of those vocalists who loves a good torch song and today the song, “Good Morning Heartache” runs through my head. Outside it is bright and the birds are singing. Jazz music is playing, our kitties are fed and content. I’m getting ready to make breakfast for me and Joe. For some reason I’m obliged to sing this song in my mind. I virtually run through the nuances and heart-throbbing musical changes, enjoying specific, dedicated moments of poignancy. Wow … this sax player is right in my ear and his quartet is right there with him. Inside (being myself an instrument), I’m moving to the beat and my musical center soars. I’m a lady of song and always have been. Alert … she’s ready to burst into song … to express herself.

“There was a lot of fun to be had! Hard work because it is all physical labor, 

but as I look back, I admit that while there were many triumphant moments,

there were few true instances of sheer joy.” 

There was a time when I sang constantly and for two decades, I belted out tune after tune, with the rhythm section pounding behind and beside me. There was a lot of fun to be had! Hard work because it is all physical labor, but as I look back I admit that while there were many triumphant moments, there were few true instances of sheer joy. (The song has changed) I listen as the bassist walks the strings of his standup, and sweet harmonic guitar strings are being plied with experienced fingers, both of them sharing their talents. This drummer has sensitivity and great timing. All of these musicians I am listening to, spent hours and hours, years, learning their instruments. I, too, did the same. I practiced for years, hours on end from the age of seven, when I closeted myself in my Parents bedroom and played Johnny Mathis records, leaving the ‘Mark of Zita’ across the surfaces. When one attends a function or a nightclub, most people don’t consider the blood and sweat that is poured into the performance. All those rehearsals! Um … pardon me while I listen to the sweetness of the saxophone. The piano sounds crystal clear and this percussion instrument is being played with such grace. These songs move my sensibilities and lately and I have found myself singing out loud just for the sheer pleasure of hearing the sound of my own voice.

Gee, that sounded pompous, but rest assured that is not my intention, nor am I this way in truth. You stopped by and this blog supports the quirks of my personality and little private moments of my life. I thank God and acknowledge the gifts He bestowed upon me. In order to cure this growing need, I have begun shopping original music for my debut CD,  I’ll record and most likely release next summer. Truthfully I don’t want to go on the road … I travelled for years, but certainly I might do a few private concerts. I’m past the age of wanting to show-off and I am not about to compete with a band of musicians to see who can be the loudest. That can be disheartening and I don’t have that kind of stamina in me anymore, but I do have the desire and the passion to get this thing done. It takes a lot of courage for me to step out of my comfort zone (I’m a bit bashful) to share these private matters with whomever might be reading (I appreciate you all), but sometimes this lady must sing the blues, or whatever else moves her.

Most of us are well acquainted with the rendition of the hit song from the movie, “Lady Sings The Blues Soundtrack”, but this 2009 live performance by Diana Ross, is equally good, if not better than her original recording. You decide. Good Morning Heartache 

In The Groove – My Self-Revolution

I am downstairs savoring my second cup of coffee (normally I only partake of one) doing some research for an article I am writing. I will publish a very cool interview with an forward-thinking Australian Author this Monday, on BlogCatalog. Presently, I can hear three different jazz songs being played at the same time. I have Comcast Channel 436 Jazz playing on the little television in my kitchen window, the iTunes on my iMac is playing John Coltrane “Giant Steps” w/Joe scatting along, while Joe is mixing-down our vocals on one of his tunes in his upstairs studio. The fan that blows cool air at the back of the computer is whirling. I’m keeping the beat with the tap-tap-tap of my keyboard. My head is appreciating all of the musical nuances as I easily follow along with everything being sent my way. At the same time I’m thinking about a part of a song I need to master before recording it. I’m also waiting for Lillian (our ‘tortie’ cat) to come and brush gently against my legs. She is ultra bunny rabbit-fur soft and so timid, even after all these years. It’s unconditional love we share.

Once I have had my coffee my mind goes a mile a minute. Even though I wake-up feeling dazed from deep slumber and convoluted, sometimes exhausting dreams; a bit like Mr. Magoo … whilst I stumble out from the covers wrapped about my person. I heard the weatherman say the day will be cooler and yes, the other television is on as well. My eyes land upon one of my paintings (mine because I own it) and my fingers itch to take up my paint brushes. We have a tiny designated spot for my art table and while the easels are still locked away, I want to begin painting outside on the deck, once the weather is in the seventies. I no longer care for the heat and humidity, much preferring the air-conditioning. Alas, painting inside the townhouse means my felines will want to help me. Aren’t they sweet?

This afternoon Sirius/XM Radio Host Willie Jolley‘s interview with The Blackbyrds will air. Keith and Orville are in the photo with Willie in the center. Joe called in for this spot so he isn’t in the shot. It will air again two other times and the show is on HUR Station, The Willie Jolley Wealthy Ways Show. I can’t wait to hear it. Talk about a power house of talent brought together.

I’m taking time out to sing along with Corrine Bailey Rae … “Seasons Change”. I enjoyed that so much I’m gonna sing it again. I have been exercising my vocal chords because I promised myself to record my own CD by the end of the year. I’m coming out of hiding folks! I’m going to sing, write, promote, socialize, draw, paint, cook and write for what I believe in. Teesa Zita Theresa is emerging from her self-imposed cocoon. And for those of you who really know me, you understand that I’m serious.

Here’s to you to enjoy your weekend and please do stop back Monday morning for the link to my latest interview.

Lovely Ladies Singing

I am glad I stopped by Borders bookstore this evening before I went to the grocery store. These ladies have unique styles and tremendous talent. I am glad they have shared themselves with the world. They bring us happiness, joy, a sense of beauty and exceptional vocal abilities. I am going to listen to them for a few days to get to know the songs and let them sink in. What a listening experience I shall have and believe me, I will really enjoy it.

Back In The Day

When we were going through the boxes in the basement, I found that this album cover, along with many family photographs, books and other albums, had been salvaged from the fiasco of the water under the door, flood back in February 2003. Even my high school prom photos were messed up. Oh well. I spilt tears back then but I am glad for what was saved.

This album was recorded at Power Station, in Manhattan, New York City, NY. I performed with Big Al Downing, Don’s brother, Don Downing and the twins. Ann and Marie worked with them for years, and I stepped in after Ann had borne her beautiful baby son. We traveled a lot and did five to six nights a week in night clubs and usually, one floor show per night, too. We covered mostly top forty tunes (dance music) and sang the originals from the brothers’ respective albums. We rehearsed more than any other group I had been involved with and we performed as a tight-knit unit. We had a blast.

I stayed with this act for a year just prior to meeting my husband. His partner had come to see the show and invited me to record with him and Joe. Sure thing! That’s how it was back in the day, when everyone wore tall shoes and even though I looked sort of tallish it was because I was wearing five inch-heels. It was very hot under the lights and our faces were a tad shiny, not to mention the orange light. My nephew (also a musician and recording artist) found this link I didn’t even know about.

I Wish Everything Was Uncomplicated

I’m listening to music my husband has been recording for some time now. He has a fair number of tunes for his upcoming CD. Back in the day, before recording studios got so technical, before ear monitors were ever thought of, recording a record was pretty uncomplicated. A huge percentage of the music from the 60’s through the mid 80’s was jumbled, stumbled, and sometimes thrown together, because there was a beginning, a middle, a chorus, a bridge, and an ending. It was pressed and released.

The listeners or audience were so glad that the process was fast, because they had new hits every week. It was hard for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand or Soul Train to keep up with the stars and hits. Playing Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Gardens back then was the pinnacle of performance groove. And when I was on the road singing backup for Candi Staton, we played Richmond’s Mosque, with Teddy Pendergrass and his Teddy Bears. I remember my sister bringing Matthew, my nephew, to see the show. Our Mother also made the trip and I took them backstage to meet Teddy. Matthew was shy and hid his face, much as I did when my Daddy took me to meet a Native American television star named, Cocheese, in Manhattan. But Matthew’s Father was an entertainer, his brother plays Las Vegas, and he is a recording artist in his own right. This music thing runs in our families from all sides.

Now though, it seems with the computer gizmos and CD’s and digital process that no one seems as satisfied. They need it to be perfect. And perfect isn’t what matters. The music and lyrics is the important part. The artists interpretation and sound is more valid than making certain every single note is sung right on pitch. My favorite artist was and still is Johnny Mathis. When he couldn’t hear himself clearly, he went off pitch, but that didn’t stop him from becoming phenomenal. It didn’t stop millions of his listeners to throw out his albums because, oh no, Johnny sang a note or two sharp or flat. Yeah it bothers me some, too, but the interpretation is part of the charm.

I wish we could just go into the studio, jam and press it. Fast and great. That’s how The Beatles and most of the others did it and when hit after hit after hit shows the will of the people, then that should speak volumes. I wish everything was uncomplicated.