Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Dinner

I hosted both sides of my huge family in my home for Christmas dinner this year. Over 40 people arrived, laughed, ate, played games, and had a great time! Over the past few years, I've pretty much stopped cooking. A serious gourmand, I used to cook elaborate meals at least every 2 months for friends and family, but hadn't cooked a major meal in just over 2 years. I hadn't made a holiday dinner in nearly a decade!

This year, I volunteered to make the Christmas turkey, and despite my lack of practice, I broke out my trusty old "Maple Lemon Roast Turkey" recipe. I was a bit nervous that I'd lost my culinary touch, but much to my glee, I hadn't! The turkeys (I cooked 2) turned out juicy, fragrant, and most of all DELICIOUS! I did not have many leftovers. Even the non-turkey-lovers thought it was tasty. Phew! Good to know that when my schedule allows me a bit more free time, I'll be able to get back into making my gourmet meals and start entertaining friends again. I really miss my dinner parties...

Opening a gift: A cool Obama tee-shirt!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Dearest friends,

This holiday, it is my goal to exemplify the spirit of the season. I am striving to be more grateful, empathetic, gracious, considerate, friendly, loving, generous and peaceful. I am daily striving to contribute to at least one person's day in a positive way, to be an impetus for a genuine smile, and to infuse a small dose of joy through reminding myself and others that even in the toughest of times, there is always much to be grateful for. Whether or not 2008 might have been challenging for you (and it certainly has been challenging in many ways for me), I encourage you to look back, review the year and realize all the ways in which it was perfect. It was a great year! : >

I wish you a beautiful holiday season, and a new year full of expectation for and manifestation of all things GOOD!

Be well, dream big, smile freely and enjoy the holidays!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!!! : >



Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I was interviewed for the first time on live Radio this past Monday! It was a fun experience, and I believe (I hope) that I did a good job! : >

Listen to Victoria's live interview with ArtistFirst radio host Susan Stackpole, on her weekly broadcast "Younique!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


A friend sent me this quote by Thelonious Monk. I love it so much, I had to share it. See the handwritten text here:


Here's what is says:

Just because you're not a drummer, doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time.
Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.
Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
Make the drummer sound good.
Discrimination is important.
You've got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
All reet!
Always know....(monk)
It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn't need the lights.
Let's lift the band stand!!
I want to avoid the hecklers.
Don't play the piano part, i'm playing that. Don't listen to me. I'm supposed to be accompaning you!
The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
Don't play everything (or everytime); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do.
A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes, he's out of shape and can't make it.
When you're swinging, swing some more!
(what should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!)
Always leave them wanting more.
Don't sound anybody for a gig, just be on the scene.
These pieces were written so as to have something to play and to get cats interested enough to come to rehearsal.
You've got it! If you don't want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case. You got it! (to a drummer who didn't want to solo.)
Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

House Full of Toys

Yesterday was the annual Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys benefit. This year, Stevie asked Rickey Minor to serve as music director for the guest artists, so I was thrilled to have my first opportunity to work with Rickey as a music director! Last year, at the Hollywood Bowl concert, Rickey conducted the string section, but I hadn’t worked with him directly…until now!
The guest artists were all wonderful:
Lauren Smith, a classical Soprano;
Fior, a singer/pianist/songwriter;
Leigh Jones , a singer/pianist/songwriter;
Shelea Frazier, a singer/pianist/songwriter;
Boney James, the saxophonist;
Esperanza Spalding, a singer/bassist/songwriter, and
Maysa Leak, singer/songwriter from the heralded group Incognito.

I arrived in LA Friday morning, and was taken to rehearsal at the Nokia at 3pm. It was lovely to see everyone again. All of the band, staff and crew were present, and I made sure to go around and give hugs to everyone. After a brief lunch, we headed to the stage to rehearse for the show. By Friday afternoon, we still hadn’t received charts (sheet music) to use for rehearsal, so we focused on Stevie’s music, knowing we’d have to work hard the next day to prepare for the guest artists. The stage had to be clear by 11pm, so we finished and said goodnight. I managed to go to sleep before 1am! A miracle! Saturday morning, I woke up at 8:30am, and tried to make a few charts on my own. I finished 2 charts, but ran out of time before needing to head to reception for the shuttle back to the Nokia. Once we arrived at the Nokia, Rickey was ready to get to work. I grabbed a veggie wrap, went to my keyboard station, and was more than a little delighted to find that Rickey had prepared charts of all of the music for us. Hallelujah!!! The show would have been so much more difficult without charts.

We rehearsed most of the music without the artists for a couple of hours, took a short 10-minute break, and then started rehearsing with the artists. Everything went very well, and relatively easily. However, there was one song that required a solo piano while Esperanza sang. I hadn’t had time to examine, much less practice, her song, and I’d only heard it once, but it was time for me to rehearse accompanying her. That was the most frustrating moment of the day. I am a perfectionist, and, being familiar with her astonishing talent, I wanted to do the music justice. I sight read it decently, and she complimented me, but I just wish I’d had a chance to really work the tune before having had to play it with her. Oh well! In the end, Stevie played and sang the song with her, but it was a pleasure to have accompanied her, even if only in rehearsal.

We finally stopped rehearsing at 7:15pm, and I had to rush to get some food, get dressed and head to the stage. We had a make up artist to work for us, but because of the long rehearsal, he didn’t have time to get to everyone. I’d been excited about having a professional make my face, but alas, it wasn’t to be!

Stevie opened the show with some fun Christmas sing-a-longs, and then sang a solo while accompanying himself on the piano. The first guest artist was Lauren, who sang a gorgeous rendition of Summertime, with her accompanist, Manuel Arellano, at the piano. She then sang “O Holy Night”. Nate and I accompanied she and Manuel, while Stevie took a harmonica solo during the piece. Next up, Fior sang 2 of her own compositions, both very heart felt and evocative with compelling piano motifs. After her performance, Stevie had the band join him onstage for a rendition of “My Cherie Amour”, and we stayed onstage to accompany Leigh Jones’ soulful rendition of her catchy tune “Free Fall”. After more songs with Stevie, Shelea Frazier came on stage and accompanied herself on the piano singing “Who Could Imagine A King”. What a beautiful performance! I loved everything about it! Next, she sang a song that she composed in honor of Barack Obama’s election, and after she started the song on the piano, the band came in, and I took over the piano part.

The next artist, Boney James, was a lot of fun! He’s a vibrant performer, and chose two popular songs he’s recorded “The Christmas Song” and “I’m Gonna Love You” (on his upcoming CD). The next scheduled guest artist was Esperanza Spalding. Esperanza is nothing short of amazing. She epitomizes musicality, is utterly brilliant on the bass and has the voice of an angel. I was astonished at her musical knowledge and prowess. Her music was challenging, but invigorating. She sang her compositions “Fall In” (which I ended up not playing – but the boss did a beautiful job…of course! lol) and “I Know You Know”, which are both great tunes.

At this point, we moved into Wonder music, playing songs from the tour set list. In the midst of the set list, Stevie announced a surprise guest, Tyrese. Tyrese performed several songs (much to the delight of we female observers!), and joined us for the remainder of Stevie’s set. Maysa Leak, performed a great rendition of her version of “Don’t You Worry About a Thing”.

Despite the stress of learning so much music, it was a great show! Everyone performed well, I was happy with my performance, and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. Best of all, everyone involved with the show was pleasant, friendly, talented, and genuinely happy to be there! What a way to celebrate the season. Happy holidays to everyone!