Monday, June 30, 2008
After returning from my trip to the Cherry Creek area, I went to a great yoga class at Samadhi Yoga. The class, taught by resident instructor Tina Aisner Porter, was tough, yet inspiring. Tina is an excellent instructor, and guided us students to remain focused on our practice, maintain proper breathing and to be kind to ourselves, backing off when needed. On the road, I do practice yoga in my hotel room, but nothing beats having a great teacher to encourage and guide me! I’m so glad that I went!
Finally, a group of us on the tour went and had a great time bowling, and despite my utter ignorance of the game, I managed a LUCKY STRIKE! ; >
Photos: bowling, me & Ed
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Also, I just found this video online of the band solos on Spain at the concert in Boston. My solo begins at around 3:12. Enjoy!
Photos from Chicago, me at my station, the view from the stage, me with Leon
Friday, June 27, 2008
The concert in at the Milwaukee Summerfest went really well, despite my nose running during the entire show. I still managed to sing (thank GOD), and had fun. The response of Stevie’s crowds is always such a beautiful thing to witness and compels me to do my best…NO EXCUSES! I love this job! : >
At my keyboard station, standing at the top of the venue with Lake Michigan behind me, a view of Milwaukee
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
After the show at the Taj Mahal on Saturday, we drove to Boston, and stayed in a beautiful hotel in the North End. The show was held at the Tweeter Center for Performing Arts. Well, I know why it’s called the “Tweeter”! It’s in honor of the little birdies who sit in the breezy ceiling and POOP on the people below!
During sound check, we were all standing in our respective stations, and suddenly I noticed a distinct splash from above. “Ewwwww!! What was that?”, I thought to myself. Well, lo and behold a precious avian friend had relieved itself from above, and it splashed all over my keyboards! Thank GOD I was standing enough to the right that I didn’t get hit (can you imagine? I would have been utterly mortified…I’d have had to wash and restyle my hair, and that’s no small task with my full, long mane)!
The woman in charge of wildlife for the facility was shocked that the birds hadn’t all flown away once we started making noise, as is apparently the norm. I took it as a good omen (especially since I was personally spared), and once everything had been cleaned and sanitized, we went ahead and had a great show. Tweet, tweet…
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tonight we performed at Jones Beach, opening night for the tour! Overall it went pretty well. Of course as we do the show, and nail down a basic set list, it'll only get better. But tonight Stevie pushed me musically! He's quite enamored of two challenging jazz pieces, Spain by Chic Corea, and Giant Steps by John Coltrane. Of course, the band knows these tunes, but Stevie, with that unbelievable ear and musical prowess, enjoys playing them in various other keys. About 2 weeks ago, Stevie decided to start performing Spain in Eb minor (as opposed to the original E minor) so that he could do a more direct segue to and from any number of his tunes in Eb Major or minor. No problem. So, the band learned Spain in Eb minor, performing only the B and C sections of the tune.
Two days ago, Stevie added the A section of the tune. No problem. The band added the A section in Eb minor to the repertoire. Then all of a sudden tonight, during the concert, Stevie asked me to play the rubato introduction to the tune…in front of the crowd…unrehearsed and unannounced…in Eb minor. YIKES!!!!!
Well, thankfully I had been listening to the tune this morning as I got dressed. Something told me that I should listen to it (I'm so grateful for that small voice that speaks to me so often!) today, and thank God I did! Despite not being fully certain of the melody to the introduction (which I'd never played before), I forged ahead with confidence. Though I did make some melodic errors, I managed to get through it for the most part unscathed. But I must say that I'm proud of myself for going for it! Trust me though…tomorrow night I will be ready! I have already been listening to the intro as I've been preparing for sleep and will do some serious shedding on the tune in the morning…in Eb minor! I am extremely grateful for the way that this experience is expanding me as a musician. The musical challenge and adventure are unparalleled and simply beautiful. I am so excited about where this will take me! Wow…
Bass & Music Director: Nate Watts
Drums: Stanley Randolph
Guitars: Errol Cooney and Kyle Bolden
Percussion: Munyungo Jackson and Fausto Cuevas
Keys: Roman Johnson and ME (I'm singing too)!
Vocals: Keith John and Aisha Morris
Horns: Ryan Kilgore and Dwight Adams
After 11 days in Manhattan, we're heading to Wantaugh, where Jones Beach is located. During my stay in Times Square, I only had a small amount of free time (we were in rehearsal everyday with only 1 day off), yet managed to have a little bit of fun! I went dancing with friends, I had the chance to see my friend Eisa Davis in the musical Passing Strange (which won 1 of its 5 Tony nominations, Best Book of a Musical) during Tony week, I went to dinner with Eisa and meet members of the cast, and met my goal to play some of the exquisite pianos at Steinway Hall!
DANCING: One of the band members suggested that a group of us go to SOB's to hear the band "Ocho Y Mas". Several of us took a couple of taxi's to the club and had a great time! The band is awesome! Check out their myspace page and see them perform if you get the chance. I hadn't danced Salsa in ages, and I am very glad that I went.
PASSING STRANGE: "Eisa Davis" is one of my lifelong friends. I've literally known her since she was a little girl, and she's always been an amazing and inspiring person. Her latest creative venture is playing the role of Mother in "Passing Strange", a musical about the journey of a young black bohemian to find "the real". I saw the musical in Berkeley in 2006, and even then, I loved it. I was moved by the songs, the clever book, the performances of the actors and band. I was hoping they'd win Best Musical, but even though they didn't, I highly recommend you see it! You will be moved emotionally and physically (it's impossible to sit still when the band gets going!).
STEINWAY HALL: One of my favorite activities when I visit any city is to find a local piano store and go play a grand piano, visualizing the day when I'll own one for myself. There are a few wonderful piano stores in Manhattan, but on this trip I only had time to visit one, so I chose the most famous, Steinway Hall. Even walking to Steinway Hall is inspiring: right down the street is Carnegie Hall…what pianist doesn't dream of performing in Carnegie Hall? As is the case every time I visit, the staff at Steinway Hall were gracious and allowed me to spend as much time as I wanted playing the grand piano of my choice. Unfortunately, I only had about 40 minutes this time, but it was 40 minutes of heaven as I wandered through a series of musical meanders, playing piece by composers from Chopin to Bach to Chic Corea to Herbie Hancock to Stevie Wonder, on a beautiful Steinway D….ah… On the way back to my hotel, I ran into the immensely talented Tony Lindsay. Tony is the lead singer for Santana and they were in town briefly on the way to their European Tour. It's so awesome to see legendary acts like Santana and Stevie Wonder still out there performing and bringing musical joy to the world DECADES into their careers!
I didn't have the chance to visit my old stomping grounds in Harlem, or to visit the memorial to the World Trade Towers. I suppose I'll just have to visit the Big Apple again one day…
Photos from the trip:
Jogging through Central Park with Keith John, singer with Stevie Wonder
At my keyboard in the rehearsal studio
Saturday, June 07, 2008
We arrived in London after a loooong direct flight from California (11 hours), and were all excited about performing for the British press. The crowd was beautifully enthusiastic, and gave all of us travel weary musicians the energy to perform Stevie's music with joy and love (as if that's ever a challenge! lol). We all had a great time and are looking forward to doing the European tour.
After the press conference, we had a couple of free hours, so a few of us were given a guided tour by a local friend of one of the musicians. It was brief, but lovely.
I even had the chance to visit the Queen's grocery store, which is quite unlike any grocery store I've ever seen! lol
There are several videos of the press conference on youtube. The quality isn't the best, but you can even see me a little bit! : >
Here are a few:
Stevie Wonder at the Hard Rock Cafe 1
Stevie Wonder at the Hard Rock Cafe 1
Stevie Wonder at the Hard Rock Cafe 1
The BBC interview
Monday, June 02, 2008
As most of you probably know, Stevie Wonder will be touring again this summer and fall, and I'll be onstage playing keys and singing again! If you haven't seen him in concert, I highly encourage you to buy a ticket (if they're still available) and come to a show! He's an amazing performer and I know you're have a great time : >
Also, the Color Splash episode that featured my music room makeover is airing one more time! The episode will be airing again June 9. I hope you get a chance to watch the TV show and to come to a live performance! : >
Sun, Jun 9
RE-BROADCAST: Victoria's music room gets a makeover on HGTV's "Color Splash" Episode HCLRS-313
In June of 2007, my home was selected for a room makeover by celebrity designer David Bromstad. Shortly after, I was hired to tour with Stevie Wonder, so that fact was incorporated into the show. David did a brilliant job with my music room, as you'll see if you watch the show!
Sunday, June 01, 2008
As many of you know, my 5 year old niece Naomi has been receiving chemotherapy treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) since April 28, 2006. ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer, but Naomi is anything but a common child. This petite, yet strong willed, little girl has endured 2 years of regular chemotherapy, blood tests, blood transfusions, spinal taps, toxic medications, hair loss, physical bloating, bracing pain, and a number of other cancer treatment side effects, with grace and patience beyond her years.
We are all extremely grateful for the fact that Naomi is responding well to her cancer treatment (which ends in September 2008!) and is expected to live a normal, healthy life. Naomi's parents realize that they are blessed and want to use their experience as parents of a child with cancer to help other families in the same situation.
Naomi's family has decided to spend the summer of 2008 driving 10,000 miles across the USA in order to raise funds for the Leukemia Research Foundation. Lisa Thompson, a documentary filmmaker noted for her commitment to telling stories of social importance, with emphasis in the area of children's health, will be joining the family and documenting their journey. This fundraiser has the potential to make a huge impact by raising funds for Leukemia research. But it can not happen without YOUR HELP!
Please join Naomi's family in this worthy cause:
1) Visit Naomi's Leukemia Research Foundation web page
2) Make a contribution to the fundraiser TODAY!
3) Forward this information to your friends and family.
Let's help Naomi in her quest to find a cause and cure for Leukemia!
Blessings to you all!
Music, art, education, prosperity, well-being, compassion, peace, joy and love!