There are a few things I’ve learned about myself this week: small things, big things, subtle things, pivotal things. Lots of things. While entering a potentially life-changing experience, we focus on the desired outcome, seeing it as the next step: give me one moment in time. What I’d never expected was to feel triumphant, content, propelled onto the next plateau after blowing that one moment in time. To feel that you’ve actually reached that next step by not getting what you thought you wanted. It’s hard to explain, but I’m going to try.
One of the reasons I feel so content is that I’ve learned things about myself. New things and things I always knew, but had to learn again, in this new setting and stage in my life. I’ve learned that I need to take control. I’ve learned that I know what works for me, and I know best. I’ve learned that I need time for and with myself before any grand undertaking, I need to align with my core, I need my cocoon. I’ve learned that other people’s opinions of me don’t matter to me as much as I thought they would. I’ve learned that the genuine love of those willing to give it to me matters most. I’ve learned that I truly know who I am and what my strengths are. I’ve learned that I can make mistakes, I’m allowed to make mistakes, I will make mistakes. I’ve learned that I love to learn.
My voice is the score to my spirit. The same way everyone can’t be your closest friend, some people will resonate with your voice and some won’t. The same way Marvin Gaye sings “I want you, the right way… I want you, but I want you to want me too…“, I’ve always been the kind of person to thrive when I give and get love, but truly lose interest when I’m not wanted in return, or games are being played. I don’t fight for someone’s love, it should be given freely.
In this corner of the artistic world -or should I say business-, the biggest and fastest way to launch yourself is by competing with others. Another thing I’ve learned. I don’t compete. I’m me. I’m not interested in showing anyone, least of all myself, that I am better than anyone else. I’m not better than anyone else, but I may have more or less people resonating with my music, my voice, my persona and my lyrics. Still doesn’t make me better or less. Makes me… me. Which makes it difficult to decide whether to enter that type of platform anyway, to get more people to hear you so they can resonate with you. You do resonate with me and it is beautiful. You are all I need.
I blew it and I won. Not by competing with anyone, but by learning more about myself and what I need than I would have by staying in my comfort zone. I vowed to do things I’ve never done to get to places I’ve never been. I feel an unwavering faith in the goodness of my path. If I blew it by marching down my path, while drenching it with all my love, it must have been a good thing. I’m truly looking forward to overseeing this picture I’m painting. The brights, the shadows, the pastels will all make sense some day. For now, I’m simply enjoying the colors.
It’s been quite a year for me. Last August, I lost my apartment, not being able to afford it anymore with all the temp jobs I’ve been doing for years to have enough freedom and time to give music a real chance. I’ve hibernated most of winter, popping vitamin D to give my body some artificial sunshine, reading four books at a time and starting a fifth and sixth then changing my mind, watching entire seasons of tv shows on my laptop. During this time, I’ve been writing a lot, songs about losing my place, losing faith, that glimmer of hope at the horizon, loving me and loving you, finding me and losing you.
I thought it was about time to talk to you, even though I’ve written some blog posts about this and have kept you in the loop on facebook and twitter. YouTube has been a wonderful place to share my art, with full autonomy and whenever I wanted, whimsical as I can be. Throughout the year, I kept getting comments and messages from you, sometimes right at the point where I wanted to give up and disappear into the core of the earth (yes, I got a little dramatic sometimes, bless my friends). These messages truly kept me going, it reminded me that you were still listening, you still cared. Thank you so much for reaching out to me during these times. Your words of encouragement -knowing what I was going through or not at all- were the glue to mend my wings and make me fly again.
I have never been more inspired in my life, words, concepts, stories, ideas pour out like a waterfall and I feel blessed to be able to ride these waves of creativity with you, whether you’re the one I write my songs with, the one I write my songs for or the one I share my songs with. Here’s to you! Hear, hear! And hear me, you do. I hear you, too.
Some of my favorite moments with my homies working on a song for my upcoming EP: Close to Gold. This song is about losing my apartment and finding myself, the storm before the silence, being broke but not broken: almost there, hanging on just a little bit longer, believing in that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This footage shows the part of the process where I share the lyrics I’ve written with my musical team and we sculpt the song, throw ideas back and forth and get closer and closer to gold.
When I was 5, I started entering talent shows with Jackson 5 songs and when I felt like a “big girl” (around the age of 10) I added Whitney and Mariah songs to my repertoire. Every wedding, every school dance, every audition… I remember watching Whitney’s performances at the Grammy’s, in complete awe. So this is what a lady singer was supposed to sound like, that is what she was supposed to wear, I was looking at the prototype, she was It! Her refined beauty, her regal air, singing soft notes that sounded like sweet cotton candy at first, then stacked on top of each other to reach a climax unlike anything I’d ever heard: passionate, raw but very smooth. Her voice sounded like it was made of gold, warm and clear, delicate yet powerful… there was a special gleam about it nobody else had, I was absolutely mesmerized by her tone (I still am, can you tell?).
Listening to my heroes as a kid and learning their songs has helped me find my own vocal identity, which is why I wanted to to use my voice to thank The Voice: Whitney Houston. She has inspired and influenced me so much, and touched my spirit in a very real way. I believe in acknowledging every positive spark you receive from another person, be it a kind stranger on the train or an artist who has showed you the ropes by example, I believe in saying “thank you”. So, therefore: Thank you, Ms Whitney Houston, for sharing your light with all of us.
You know when you take a dive, and you can feel the arch of your body is just right, the sun is burning on your back, you take a good breath and
feel know this is going to be such an uplifting swim? No? Yes? Well, that is what it felt like when I dived into 2012, performing at Holland Got Soul in Rotterdam. I was asked to do an original song and a Motown cover and decided to do my own song Nightlight and a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Our Nightlight shone bright, my co-writer Rory Ronde (on guitar!) and I were so happy to perform our song with a band for the first time! Take a look at our faces in the very first frame of the video, that pretty much says it all! :o)
The most incredible feeling, hearing your song come to life and sharing it with a beautiful audience!
When I decided to do Let’s Get It On, I really wanted to pay tribute by replying to the original. What would the seductress, the lady, say to that man, wanting to get it on? Well, yes we can get it on! Let me tell you how I’m feeling, sir! Something I have a hard time doing in real life, but a stage, a band, lights and a loving crowd can give you that extra push. Euphoria! I was really feeling it, the band was feeling it, the crowd was feeling it, it was glorious! We were getting it in and getting it on!
Huge shoes to fill, so I decided to respect and admire the man’s shoes and give you my high heeled, feminine interpretation of this classic!
Two weeks after my last post, I lost my apartment, lost hope, lost a lot of tears and my beloved Tinkerbell figurine lost a hand and broke her wings. How
silly symbolic. Well, I see your lesson and raise you an epiphany, solidified faith in my dreams, more helping hands than I can count (you!) and an even deeper appreciation for the love surrounding me.
This is the tale of how Tinkerbell took her broken wings and learned to fly again.
Exactly one year ago, while I was having the time of my life in LA, something stirred in my spirit whenever we passed Laurel Canyon Boulevard and I knew it was a significant place for me. The winding road, the trees, the rocks, the energy!! It was like driving into a magical forest then exiting into the blinding lights of Sunset. ["What just happened? Did anyone else feel that??"] I believed I was supposed to be there and would eventually return, but my dreams and hopes of ever returning to that enchanting place diminished for a moment when I lost my place a couple of months ago and moved back in with my mother. And while the flame of hope for a musical future was being washed away by tears and years of disappointment, I received a big, heavy package all the way from Canada, sent by my friend Erika last month (also known as the Blue Monster, keeping my Facebook “like” page). A book about Laurel Canyon and all the artists who have lived there. I had no idea! Musicians lived there? Generations of them?? Wow… I started believing again, if only a little bit.
A few days after, I had a profound and cathartic interview with the Grown Folks Music blog and spoke candidly about my woes and hopes, the dance of my undying faith in my passion and this dramatic feeling of dying imagining giving the dream up. I’ve received many heart warming messages from you all (some of you I already knew, some of you were new), telling me you enjoy the songs I sing and write, not to give up and how touched you were by the interview and related to certain aspects of my story: being vulnerable as a woman, the struggles of “making it” as an artist or simply daring to dream… with everything you have, foolish as it may be. You made me realize we all need to smile in the face of disappointment and it becomes a lesson, to smile in the face of darkness and thus become the light. You have rekindled my flame with your energy, I am incredibly grateful to you. Thank you!
Mundane is merely magic in disguise. That’s the title of this blog (top left, see it?), one of the lines in my song “High on Life” and my soul’s motto. Every day is (supposed to be) special, but some days seem to shout: “Hey that line you wrote? It’s true! Magic is everywhere! Keep believing! Don’t give up!”. Today was another one of those magically mundane days. Two presents presented themselves to me on this seemingly ordinary Thursday. The pure joy of receiving a package, times two! One: I received these gorgeous Nadine Calor earrings I won two weeks ago on facebook, inspired by the magical night’s sky. Just the kind of thing a nocturnal nymph would wear. Oh yes!
And the big surprise, an early birthday present from the UK: the reincarnation of my special Tinkerbell figurine, which my mom originally bought for me years ago to inspire me while pursuing my passion for music. It had an important place in my apartment and I looked at it daily for hope, it inspired me to keep pushing for my dream. The original one lost her wings and hand while my belongings got shipped from there to here and silly as this may sound, that upset me quite a bit.
I remember telling my friend Michael (from Manchester, like the guy from Big Fish and the Bee Gees, but I digress..) about these “bastards” breaking Tinkerbell’s wings, but I never expected him to send me a brand new version of the fairy I’ve owned for years for my birthday (which is in November, and I suppose… today!), wings and hand intact, bearing the message that’s been propelling my wings for years: “Let Your Dreams Blossom”. I will. I promise. Promise me you will too?
Three November babies in a room, one holding the camera, one strumming the strings and one behind the mic, for a tribute to one of my favorite singer/songwriters, also born in the 11th month: Minnie Riperton.
Guitarist Rory Ronde (aka Kofi Anonymous) and I adore Minnie’s work, and we’d been talking about doing a cover for a while. In my personal little storybook, Inside My Love (by Minnie and Leon Ware) is jotted down as one of the best songs ever written: so layered and intricate, so delicately light yet filled to the brim with divine sensuality… We were both delighted to play this song together, I hope you can hear and feel our deepest respect and admiration in this tribute to one of our favorite Fleurs of the musical Garden.
We heard about Amy Winehouse’s tragic demise right before recording this take, and Rory dedicated it both to her and Minnie: two unique songstresses who have graced us with their extraordinary talent before passing on to the next Garden. May they bloom in love and light.