Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Intentions and declarations

"Maybe it's much too early in the game
Ooh, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's eve?"

– What are you doing New Year's eve?, Sung by Ella Fitzgerald, written by Frank Loesser

Well, at least so far, I won't be working. For the 2nd year in a row, I'm left without a New Year's Eve gig. Weird. Oh well! Maybe I'll get a last minute phone call...or maybe I'll bring in the new year with my family. Either way, it'll be a beautiful night...'s been a great year! Well, not for my blogging habit. I've missed entire seasons of notable events that I should have documented. But the prevailing realisation for me is that I do need a full time assistant. Many of my musical peers are also realizing that although an online presence is imperative in this information age, it can easy snow-ball into an experience that's seriously overwhelming. I used to pride myself on timely responses to both email and phone messages. 2010 has seen me turn into a regular non-responder. And let's not even mention the email I get from Facebook, myspace, Linked-In, and all of the other social networking sites I so smartly joined (early adopter that I am). In a phrase, I'm in information overload!

So here's my quick summation of 2010, with a few highlights:


Legendary bassist Nathan Watts asked me to perform with him at the ceremony hosted by Samson honoring Nate with the 2010 International Bassist Award. Nate asked me to play some classical, so I prepared a couple of pieces from the Davidsbündlertänze by R. Schumann, and Rachmaninoff Etude #5 from the Études-Tableaux. Not exactly the crowd for classical, and I had to play them on a keyboard, but I did my best and Nate appreciated it : >


I was invited to do a master class and lecture for the Keep Music Rockin' Foundation. It was fun and the kids seemed to enjoy my presentation.

A friend invited me to Skywalker Ranch to observe a recording session. At lunch, apparently George Lucas sat directly behind me, but no one at my table decided to tell me until he'd left, so I didn't get a chance to meet him. But, oh, was I inspired to be on the grounds. So much creativity in the air! Just the beauty of the place is inspiring. I can't wait to return...

MARCH 2010

I accompanied several artists in the Jazz Camp West music competition, and was truly impressed by the variety of talent. Including my own sister! She's not a trained singer, but was determined to perform a song that touched her heart, Sade's "It's only love". She brought the entire room to tears with her emotional rendition.

APRIL 2010

As you may recall, my niece Naomi is a leukemia survivor. While she was in chemotherapy treatment, she was granted a wish to visit Disney World by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I was invited to go along with the family and enjoy a few days of watching Naomi being given a trip of a lifetime. Thank you to the good people at Make-A-Wish Foundation, Disney World, Universal Studios and Give Kids the World Village for making Naomi's dream of meeting Tinkerbell come true!

I flew home from Florida, and performed with soprano Candace Johnson the very next day. I had taken the music with me to Florida so I could study the piano accompaniment. We performed a series of pieces composed by American composers, including some which were challenging, especially given my short amount of practice time. But we pulled it off! I just love playing challenging classical music. I get so much satisfaction from the combination of beauty and cerebral stimulation; focusing on executing the notes correctly, while lending the proper interpretation, while listening to the singer and supporting her interpretation and character in the music, and projecting all of that to an audience. Ah... the thrill of it all!

A few days later, I flew to Nashville as the guest composer for the Fisk University Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert. Dr. Gary Nash had invited me to compose a few pieces for the ensemble a few months prior to the performance. I composed and arranged 3 pieces, and Dr. Nash worked with the students to prepare for the Spring concert performance. The concert went great! The students were so kind and seemed to enjoy my music, as did the audience. Thank you to Dr. Nash and all of the students for their hospitality and hard work in preparing my music!

MAY 2010

I was invited to perform a Mother's Day concert for a private club, and decided to use the occasion to write a song in honor of mothers...that same morning! I love the song and look forward to recording it ... soon! : >

Stevie Wonder had a couple of fundraiser performances. He was the headliner for the Robin Hood Foundation Annual fundraiser in New York City. The room was packed with millionaires, billionaires and celebrities, and the foundation raised $87 million in just a few hours. Breathtaking...

Later in the month, Stevie was the headliner for an event honoring Washington DC area teachers. Another great show...

JUNE / JULY 2010

Stevie performed at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee, and for the first time since I've been in the band, he wasn't the closing act. That position went to Jay-Z, who put on a great show! I had no idea that I know so many of his songs. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga were standing on the opposite side of the stage from me, but I didn't get the chance to meet either of them.

About a week later, Stevie started his European Tour! We travelled all over Europe, including cities I'd never visited before. My favorites included Paris (of course, as it's my favorite city in the world), London, Copenhagen, Verona and Berlin. There were too many cities to track in this abbreviated blog, but one of these day, my assistant will compile the awesome photos I took and upload them. Sigh... Hightlights:

• First time in Ireland, but no time to research family history (yes, Irish ancestry in my bloodline)
Hard Rock Calling - amazing crowd, great weather, getting used to performing the skit with Stevie (check out the YouTube videos!)
Glastonbury Festival - 250,000 people so they say. Who knows? A huge crowd indeed. Got to meet Corinne Bailey Rae and Slash!
• Performing in ancient arenas in Niemes, France and Verona, Italy. Stunning. Not only was the architecture breathtakingly beautiful, but the people were absolutely lovely! I'd never encountered my own "fans" like I did in Italy! They knew all of the bands members by name! Talk about an humbling experience. Wow...
• Monte Carlo, where the Bentley is just a commonplace car. You have a Bentley? Oh...Yawn... I am a serious foodie, and decided that I had to (I just HAD TO) grant myself the experience of dining at a fancy restaurant in Monte Carlo. I couldn't convince any of my comrades to accompany me on my culinary adventure, so I got all dolled up and went on by myself. I wanted to dine at Alain Ducasse's world famous Le Louis XV, but apparently my last minute decision was inadequate notice to reserve a table. So, I ventured to the top of the Hôtel de Paris and had a fantastic meal at Le Grill, complete with my own personal waiter and a stunning view of the French Riviera.
• Berlin - My friend, musician and composer René Decker, treated a few us to a boat tour of Berlin, and then drove us around town. Later, he invited every to come check out his band and for us to sit in on the gig. Several band members went, played a few songs and had a great time. Berlin is AWESOME!
• Copenhagen! This is the best tour story yet! And you'll have to wait to hear the details because this is the short blog. Quick take: I ran into my friend Maya Kronfeld at a piano store. Talk about serendipity!
• Norway, experienced the midnight sun. Wow!


Stevie Wonder started his Asia tour! It was a short run, but my first time in Asia! I'd studied Japanese and Korean while in college (yes, I'm a first class nerd...), and relished the opportunity to FINALLY have the chance to visit these countries. My first impression of Japan was negative, unfortunately, as I got stuck in a customs backlog and was the recipient of some extra attention from a customs agent who seemed determined to discover that I was visiting Japan not to perform, but to visit my Japanese "boyfriend". Maybe he was flirting with me? I have no idea. I was so exhausted that all I could do was sit and wait for him to rummage through MY ENTIRE SET OF LUGGAGE as everyone else in the group waited outside for over an hour in the shuttle. Sigh...

After that, my Asia experience was incredible. Once we got to the hotel and I got a taste of the pace and energy of Tokyo, I fell in love! I can't wait to return. I was only there for about 18 hours total, but I have now placed Tokyo just below Paris in my list of favorite cities (sorry Melbourne and NYC). While in Tokyo, I had the chance to finally meet Brenda Vaughn (who also introduced me to Kaleb James...check them both out if you're in Tokyo and want to hear some great music!), and got to catch up with my rock star friend Uriah Duffy! Good times! : >

I left Tokyo (having stayed up all night hanging out with my friends) and flew to Seoul in the early morning. Upon arriving in Seoul, Ryan, Dwight and I went on a day long tour of the city. We met a man who became our defacto tour guide (another amazing story you'll have to wait for), and walked to the top of the Seoul Tower for an incredible view. We were all fatigued beyond explanation after our day, but it was well worth it. The crowd for Stevie's show in Seoul? The most amazingly enthusiastic crowd I've ever seen. They were unbelievable!


My Birthday!!! WooHoo!! I celebrated for the entire month and into October. Hey! I deserve it : > I had some performances too, but the main event was My Birthday!!! WooHoo!!


2 more fundraiser shows with Stevie Wonder: Toronto and New York City again, this time for Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camps.


I gave another lecture for the Keep Music Rockin' Foundation and was an emergency substitute pianist for a Women's Community Orchestra concert. I had fun playing classical music, as usual : >


Stevie Wonder was the artist for Dream Force conference, right here in San Francisco! It was fun to have a local gig, and several of my friends and students were able to procure tickets for the concert.

And the last big show of the year (unless I get a last minute request to perform for New Year's Eve) was Stevie's Annual House Full of Toys concert. This year, most of the band only played for Stevie, so for once I had the chance to sit back and enjoy the other artists. Stevie once again honored me with being his lone accompaniment on "Ave Maria". Accompanying him is definitely one of the greatest joys in my life. I can't wait for more opportunities to play for him : >

Thank you 2010 for being a great year. Welcome 2011! Let's make it the best year yet!

God bless you all, and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Victoria Theodore: December Performances

"It's coming 'round Christmas
they're cutting down trees
they're putting up reindeer and singing songs
of joy and peace
I wish I had a river, I could skate away on..."
– "River", Joni Mitchell

Hello Friends,

Here's a holiday treat for you:

What Child Is This

It's cold. Yes, I'm in California and I'm sayin' it. IT'S COLD!! I don't like the cold weather at all, and the dark dreary days have a muting effect even on me. But, I know how to remove the mute! I just sing songs of joy and peace! Come to a show this lovely holiday season and hear for yourself! Or you could buy a copy of my Christmas CD at one of these online vendors:

Victoria Theodore StoreiTunesCD BabyEmusic

November was a fun month. I had lots of gigs, including giving a lecture for students at San Leandro High School, through the Keep Music Rockin' Foundation (which is holding its annual fundraiser featuring Lenny Williams, this coming Thursday (get your tickets here: Holidays with Lenny Williams - no ticket sales at the door!), performing with soprano Candace Johnson, performing with the Women's Community Orchestra (honestly, I do love playing classical music...), performing with Pee Wee Ellis (of James Brown fame), and even a gig on Thanksgiving night with a lovely family and a couple of VERY talented kids.

I even allotted myself time to have some non-gig related fun! I had the chance to go hear one of my favorite pianists, Hiromi, perform in concert as a solo pianist. She is my favorite young pianist. She plays with such pure joy and abandon, that it's easy to forget that she's one of the most skilled technicians around. Several of my piano students saw her as well, and I hope they were as inspired as I was. I saw a movie: "For Colored Girls", which I loved! - I even cried twice, and that's a rare occurrence for me in a movie theater, and I went to the San Francisco Auto Show...twice! On my first trip, I had a positive and a negative experience. Negative: I visited the booth of my favorite luxury car, and the booth sitter was an arrogant, snide, complete jerk, who was clearly unhappy to be have pulled the short straw and spend his afternoon fending requests from us commoners to sit in the fancy car on the other side of the velvet rope. I was so incensed by his behavior, I wrote a letter to his home dealership.

Positive: The people at the Nissan booth were AWESOME! Super friendly, engaging and enthusiastic about their product. They actually made me want to buy a car. And, I'll tell you a secret: my next car will DEFINITELY be an electric car. I drove the Leaf, and ... mad love! I did return again later in the week with my nephew, an avid auto enthusiastic at age 10. There was a different guy at the luxury car booth, and he was charming, funny and patient with my nephew's litany of questions. He pretty much redeemed the dealership...but they still don't get a free promo in my blog! ; >

What does get free promo are organizations like The One World Futbol Project: an organization devoted to providing a soccer ball (futbol) to children in refugee camps, UN hot spots, conflict zones, and poor villages throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I met the visionary behind the project, Tim Jahnigen, backstage after being mesmerized by Narada Michael Walden's Symphonic Debut with the Oakland / East Bay Symphony. The music was beautiful, and so is the One World Futbol Project. Check out the website, and purchase a ball for a child you know and one will be donated to a child in some part of the world where childhood isn't so easy.

I have a couple of fun shows coming up in the Bay Area. Check out the calendar, and I hope to see you at a show!

Sat, Dec 4
Sausalito Signatures Holiday Celebration and Toy Drive
Featuring Kymberly Jackson - flute, Mark Daniels - guitar, Charles Quinn - bass, Karl Carter - drums
Admission: Bring a wrapped toy for donation
1915 Bridgeway Sausalito, CA 94965 | 415.332.3044 | map

Tue, Dec 7
Stevie Wonder
Dreamforce 2010
Moscone Convention Center
747 Howard Street, 5th Flr. San Francisco, CA 94103 | map
Buy tickets $999 pre-sale; $1,200 on-site (yeah, I know...)

Sat, Dec 11
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Thu, Dec 16
Holiday Jazz and Blues Show
Piedmont Piano Company
Nicolas Bearde's 4th annual holiday party! Featuring Victoria Theodore - piano, Ruth Davies - bass, Deszon Claiborne - drums, and a special appearance by vocalist Clairdee
1728 San Pablo Avenue (at 18th) Oakland, CA 94612 | 510.547.8188 | map
$25 donation requested (includes autographed EP) - please call 510-547-8188 to reserve tickets with your credit card. Nicolas invites you to stay after the concert for wine and chocolate, and to mix and mingle with the artists.

Sat, Dec 18
Stevie Wonder
House Full of Toys
Nokia Theatre L.A. Live
777 Chick Hearn Court Los Angeles, CA 9001 | 213.763.6000 | map

Sun, Dec 26
Mon, Dec 27
Darwin Tillery Orchestra, playing hits from the 70's, 80's, 90's and today
Cache Creek Casino, Club 88
14455 Highway 16 Brooks, CA 95606| 888.772.2243 | map

Please check out my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Victoria Theodore: November Performances

"So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
between alibis and enemies tonight..."
– "Gratitude", Nichole Nordeman

Hello Friends,

Those are the lyrics from a stanza in one of my favorite songs. In this time of political contentiousness, I pray for us all to move past our "alibis" and for "enemies" to overcome their differences and agree to uphold standards of decency, kindness, thoughtfulness and maturity in the political arena. Too many of our political leaders display behavior for which children would be chided. Let's demand a higher standard! I urge everyone to vote. Whether you're a Tea Party activist, an advocate for legalization of marijuana, a Libertarian, a Green Party Member, Republican, Democrat, an independent or some other label, please vote! Respect your right to vote. Tomorrow is the mid-term election. Please please please please VOTE!

And now, back to the music...

In October, I had the chance to do a show with Stevie Wonder in New York City! I was only in town for a couple of days, but it was good to be back in "my" city, to spend some time with friends, to watch my friend Eisa Davis perform (check her out!), and have a couple of trips on the subway. You gotta love the NYC subway system. Whenever I ride the subway in NYC, I think to myself "BART! For real?? We can't do better?" Sigh...

I have a couple of fun shows coming up in the Bay Area. Check out the calendar, and I hope to see you at a show!

Fri, Nov 5
7pm - 9pm
Heart and Soul Jazz Event
Heart and Soul Center
A spectacular concert featuring 3 Bay area artists, Nicolas Bearde and the Right Groove, Branice McKenzie, and Pyhllis Yvonne Stickney celebrating the Center's 1st Anniversary.
959 - 33rd St at San Pablo Oakland, CA 94608 | 925.838.8144 | map
$30 advance / $35 at the door

Sat, Nov 6
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Thu, Nov 11
Candace Johnson, soprano
7th Annual Bay Area Achievers Awards Banquet
Hilton Oakland Airport Hotel
1 Hegenberger Road Oakland, CA 94621 | 510.635.5000 | map

Fri, Nov 12
9pm - 12am
Paragon Restaurant & Bar
At the Claremont Resort & Spa
41 Tunnel Road Berkeley, CA 94705 | 510.549.8585 | map

Sat, Nov 13
Soul Wide World
Enrico’s Restaurant
I'll be sitting in on their Wonder Tribute set!
504 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94133 | 415.982.6223 |

Sat, Nov 20
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Sat, Nov 27
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Please check out my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Being creative...

I've been to Toronto, and back, to NYC and Baltimore, and back, in the past several days. Toronto and NYC were fundraisers with SW, and I had a great time in both cities. The weather in Toronto was chilly, but gorgeous. I had a lovely meal late at night (thank GOD for restaurants that serve REAL food until midnight!), and otherwise, spent my time practicing in my hotel room (NERD!). And NYC? You do know that I love New York! The night before the show, I had the chance to see my friend Eisa perform at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and then hang out with her, meeting some new friends at the cast party. After stuffing myself silly with some delicious Italian food at Fornino Park Slope restaurant in Brooklyn, I headed back to Manhattan for a late night hang with my friends Amy, Marlene, Jonathan and Joel. No performing, but a heap of talent at the table. Good times!

The day of the show, I headed to Steinway Hall and had a triste with a Steinway Grand, and then headed back to hang out with my friends Michael and Elaine. Then off to the fundraiser, where I got to meet Hillary Hahn, Renée Zellweger, Bette Midler, John Mellencamp, Keb' Mo, Lyle Lovett. I didn't actually get to meet Meryl Streep, but she was there too. Unfortunately, my camera has died, and I'm too cheap to go buy a new one, since my phone contract expires in December - I mean, I'm going to get a new phone that has a camera built in it, so, why buy another camera??? Thankfully, my friend Katherine was there to take a photo of me with John Mellencamp.

I have no gigs scheduled (at the moment) in the next two weeks. This is a perfect opportunity for me to move past my habits, procrastinations, distractions, excuses, etc., and GET TO WORK ON MY PROJECT!! I set a goal back in late August of having a project finished by the end of December. I've done some writing, but have I finished anything? Nooooo! So, please send me your encouragement and support as I get focused, stop being distracted by EVERYTHING in life, and get this thing done! I will not be coming online in the next two weeks. After that, hopefully, I'll be able to get back to regular blogging (as I've been derelict since early spring). Until then, Blessings & Music, to you all!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Victoria Theodore: October Performances

"Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
for my unconquerable soul..."
– W. E. Henley

Hello Friends,

That poem ("Invictus") is as close to a Halloween poem as I dare venture. It's dark, yet empowering, intense, yet hopeful.

September has come and gone, and although my birthday has passed, I'm still celebrating. One the the highlights was having the opportunity to hear Dr. Cornel West speak in San Francisco. It was a blessing to be able to listen to someone with such a great mind speak of humility, service, freedom and love. Wow! What a way to celebrate my birthday!

A friend of mine recently told me that she taught her kids to celebrate their birthday by one extra day per year of life. So, ahem, I'll be celebrating a while longer yet! You can read about my celebratory adventures in the blog entry below.

You can read my latest blogs here:

Birthday girl!!

More birthday celebrating!

Remember Them: Champions for Humanity


Sat, Oct 2
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Sun, Oct 10
9pm - 10pm
Keno Mapp & Heart Touch Rock / Funk
The 11th Annual SF Decompression HEAT THE STREET FAIRE

You gotta come see this! I don't get to rock out that often...
Victoria Theodore, Keys; Angelo Moore, Sax & Therimin; Bill Beninghof, Electric Violin; Uriah Duffy, Bass; Erik Bleyle, Bass; Uncle Funky, Guitar; Nicholas Massaro, Guitar; Zachary Krakov, Drums

Cafe Cocomo • 650 Indiana St. San Francisco, CA 94107 | 415.824.6910
Public Entrance: 19th St. & Minnesota St. San Francisco, CA 94612 | 510.547.8188 | map

Sat, Oct 23
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Please check out my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

More birthday celebrating!

Wednesday night, I was taken to San Francisco to hear Cornel West speak. Of course, I've been aware of Brother West for many years, but am embarrassed to admit I've never read his books and had never seen him speak in person. That egregious mistake has been righted. I must say that he is truly one of the most brilliant people I've ever encountered and one of the most masterful teachers I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. His command of information and language and philosophy and history and music., etc., is astonishing. He has become my icon of erudition. He recited lines from poets and philosophers, from Socrates to Sly Stone; he imparted pithy observations about the nature of human choice in the context of fighting for freedom and basic rights (my favorite quote of the night: "Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself!" WOW! So I bought one of his books, "Living and Loving Out Loud". And will be buying more, I'm certain.

Following the conversation between moderator Belvie Rooks and Professor West, several poets graced us with their art, including Drew Dellinger, Scorpio Blue, Danielle Drake-Burnett, and Seasunz. I was truly blessed and inspired by these brilliant minds and am ever more fired up to further enhance my own education and artistic expression. Live long learning. Yes!

After the night's events, I was treated to dinner at a Persian restaurant. It was late when we arrived, so they had already run out of Tabuleh (one of my favorite salads), but the other food was delicious. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, sorry!

And the party continues! More details later... YAY!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Birthday girl!!

Friday, September 24, was my birthday. Yay!!! But I started celebrating on Wednesday night. Yay!!! A college friend was in town, and since his wife wasn't able to attend (2 month old and 2 year old in tow), he offered me a ticket to see the Black Eyed Peas! That was a fun show! Lots of great, danceable tunes, Fergie sang great, and the dancers were off the hook!

Thursday night, Brian McKnight in a musical, "It's Cheaper to Keep Her". Unbelievable voice, and funny script.

Friday night, I gathered with a large group of family and friends for dinner at a Nepalese restaurant (ever, the foodie, I love having new food experiences and am a big fan of ethnic cuisine) in Berkeley called Taste of the Himalayas. Delicious!

After dinner, we all went dancing. No, not the typical "go to the club, get a drink and groove to the latest Hot 100 hits" type of dancing: we went to learn to FOXTROT! As you know, I'm a professional dancer in my dreams, and I've been crazy for dance classes lately. In my search for the right school (read: cheap with convenient class times), I came across the Linden Dance School. They offer free (YES! FREE) dance classes and social dancing afterwards. So, I dragged my friends and family to the studio, and we all learned the dance. It was so much fun! Even the non-dancers (ahem...I mean novices) had a great time.

Next stop: my house for karaoke...or something like that. By the time everyone came to my house, it was getting late, people were still slightly full from dinner, and worn out by the foxtrot, hustle, salsa, merengue, and bachata (yes, we did all of that in the social dancing segment), and only a few had the energy to sing while I played. But we had cake and good conversation, which made up for the lack of musical inspiration.

On Saturday, I drove up to the Lake Tahoe area with a few family members. One of my friends has a cabin (really, a beautiful contemporary house, decorated in a rustic style) in the mountains. This was just what I needed: a few hours of solitude, serenity and nature. I actually did not do any work for 2 full days! Full confession...I actually did some poetry writing for about 3 hours, but come on! That's pretty good down time for me!

I watched a few movies: "Why Did I Get Married Too" - UGH! Awful; "The Departed" - Pretty good, but more violent than I prefer; and "Billy Elliot" - OMG!!! Now on my list of favorite movies!!! WOW! Of course, it's about a kid who's passionate about dance. I love movies about kids overcoming obstacles and I love dance. Perfect combo!

Tuesday night, I was treated to dinner at Bocanova in Oakland. Yummy!!! The highlights of the meals were the delicious quinoa salad with avocado and corn, and the seared scallops with green curry sauce. Both were rapturous and caused our eyes to roll back in our heads. But the big surprise of the night? The chocolate bread pudding. Scratching your head, thinking "well, of course that was good"? Here's the rub: I've never liked bread pudding, and despite being a girly-girl, am not all that great a chocolate fan. I enjoy a nice, dark chocolate from time to time, but a box of chocolates will last 6 months in my refrigerator - and no, I'm not exaggerating. But this was bread pudding made with a croissant (one of my favorite guilty pleasures) and Mexican dark chocolate. This dish should be on the list of mortal sins; right alongside lust and gluttony in the lexicon should be a photo of this dish. Deeevine!

And the party continues! More details later... YAY!!!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Victoria Theodore: September Performances

September....It's amazing how I can have the best of intentions, and still not do what I planned to do. Alas, still no blog update on the fabulous tour I just completed. I have so many stories to tell, so much joy to impart...but getting to it. Wow! I need a world where I only need 2 hours of sleep and have 30 hours in a day. But alas, I will have to find a way to make it work! Yes! Always positive and optimistic...

Here are a few upcoming gigs. I hope to see you!

Sat, Sept 11
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Fri, Sept 17
Come hear me play and sing!
It's also open mic! Sing with me! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me! Any style!
1366 Powell Street Emeryville, CA 94608-2506 | 510.428.9334 | map

Sun, Sep 12
2pm - 5pm
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me and the band!
2500 San Pablo Avenue Berkeley , CA 94702 | 510.548.5198 | map

Sat, Sept 18
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Open mic! Come sing! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 |

Please check out my web site to see a full, up-to-date listing of when and where I'm performing. I'd love to see you at one of my performances. Please come say hello!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Remember Them: Champions for Humanity

Last week, I was invited by my friends Sean and Stephanie at Good News in Oakland to meet local artist Mario Chiodo. Sean and Stephanie had been telling me about an art installation that Mario was creating, a monument to honor humanitarians that would be installed in Oakland. However, they insisted that I come to Mario's studio, because I needed to see it for myself to gain a sense of the scale of the project. After delaying several times (thanks to my hectic performance schedule and summer tour), I finally was able to make an appointment to visit Mario's studio, meet the artist and see his work in progress.

When I first arrived at the studio, Mario, some of the people who work in his studio and a representative from the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, greeted me and proceeded to share their enthusiasm and excitement about the project; with particular pride that it will inhabit an area in downtown Oakland. I watched a short video, which featured the always eloquent Maya Angelou expressing her impression of Mario's work (Ms. Angelou is one of the featured humanitarians in the monument).

After watching the video, I was lead to the back where all of the work was being done. The monument is massive; bronze, over 21 feet high, honoring 25 humanitarians from around the world. There is also a component for the visually impaired. Mario's own father lost his vision, and providing an opportunity for the visually impaired to experience his work was of great importance to Mario. I was able to touch the work with my hands, a tactile and infinitely detailed exploration of each of the people honored in the monument, simulating the experience that visually impaired people would have. Mario's work is beautiful: the massive size of the sculpted art structures nearly overwhelms; the faces, arms, hands and gestures that embody the essence of the honorees' spirits, are rendered in a form that, although static, has breath, movement and a powerful energy that was undeniable when I stood before them. I struggled to hold back the tears in my eyes.

The monument will be unveiled in Oakland on September 11, 2011. Read more about it on Mario's website:

Remember Them: Champions for Humanity

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Music, She Wrote - Concert on Friday, July 30

Hello friends,

Please pardon my last minute notice! I have a concert on Friday and I'd love for you to attend! I'm on a short break from touring with Stevie (leaving next week for Japan!!), and am participating in this awesome concert for a worthy cause. Come support! : >

Music, She Wrote
A Concert Honoring Women Composers
A benefit concert for the Youth Programs at the Oakland Public Conservatory (OPC)
Friday, July 30, 2010
Piedmont Piano Company
1728 San Pablo Ave (at 18th
Oakland, CA 94612
India Cooke-violin
Karen Horner-bass
Branice McKenzie-vocal
Sandy Poindexter-violin
Jaz Sawyer-drums
Victoria Theodore-piano
Angela Wellman-trombone
OPC's Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble
Steven Turner-director

To purchase tickets, call: 510.836.4649
or purchase online

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stevie Wonder Soul Traveling Tour 2010: London, England

We returned to England with nearly a full day's worth of sight-seeing and shopping time in a major city. Excited, I set forth with my erudite shopping companions into the fashion meccas of Oxford and Regent streets, determined to find irresistible bargains, inspirational once-in-a-lifetime finds, and can't pass it up sales!

We stopped at Harrod’s and imagined being celebrities who can actually afford to shop there (YIKES at the prices!). Top Shop was particularly wallet friendly, in an environment that was highly averse to the American Dollar. Even parsimonious me found a couple of items that I loved too much and were priced low enough that I couldn’t pass them up.

Yet, Hélas!! Shopping is my Kryptonite. I am no shopper. After about 90 minutes of shopping, my shopping companions agreed that the spark had gone from my eyes and I'd entered a state of overwhelm. Despite my desire to partake in this activity which so many women the world over indulge in, bond through, and spend endless hours joyfully rummaging the racks and tables of shops from couture to consignment discovering items which elicit surges of euphoria, I came to this sad conclusion: I hate shopping. Can't stand it. Never have enjoyed it. I keep thinking “if I try, maybe I’ll like it”. Nope. Oh well!

The architecture in London is gorgeous. I love walking along the avenues, taking in the variety within the structures that still manage to have unique features among the cohesive facades. The hustle and bustle is nostalgic and familiar for any big city dweller (I lived in Harlem for years – once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker), with the rush of the taxis, the crowds of people with their destination (and not necessarily your personal space) in mind, shops, eateries, the ever present cacophony signaling urbanity – in both senses of the word! I love it!

Later that night, a group of us went out to dinner and sit in on a jam session. What fun! The band was hot, the crowd enthusiastic, the food delicious. That’s my kind of party!

The next day, we had our performance at the Hard Rock Calling concert in Hyde Park. The venue was not far from our hotel, but I suppose for security purposes, we were required to ride the bus together to get there. Unfortunately, our bus driver didn’t know where he was going (or wasn’t given explicit instructions), and we ended up being on that bus for 90 minutes!!! We had all hoped to arrive early enough to hear other artists perform (especially Corinne Bailey-Rae for me, as I’m a big fan), but that wasn’t to be. By the time we got back stage, we barely had enough time to grab a to-go box from catering, throw on our makeup and cloths, and hit the stage. The crowd was estimated to be around 80,000. Lovely. Good times!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stevie Wonder Soul Traveling Tour 2010: Dublin, Ireland

All of my life, I'd heard that relatives on my maternal grandfather's side were from Ireland. I really don't know much about them, but the stereotypical ethnic markers of freckles and reddish hair greet me each morning (well, not so much the reddish hair anymore...though I occasionally still find a stray red strand that hasn't yet grayed). We flew from London to Dublin and were dispatched to small hotel on the waterfront, close to the venue. The day was cloudy and overcast, but not too cold.

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for me to investigate my genealogy, but I did manage a leisurely walk along the waterfront with some of my bandmates, taking in the scenery of bridges, boats and a memorial to the Irish Great Potato Famine. After our walk, Lanesha, Ryan and I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant (in Irelend!) that served delicious food. I had spied a sign offering a yoga class in the hotel later that evening, so I didn't eat much, saving my appetite for after the yoga class.

And what a lovely yoga class it was! Taught by Gillian, the class was exactly what my body needed. The class was full of regulars, myself and one of the crew guys. It was tough enough to make me feel like I had a good workout, yet focused enough on breathing and meditative centering that I felt peaceful and revitalized afterwards. Many thanks to Gillian for being an excellent teacher! Believe me, after class, I went back to the Italian restaurant and had a delicious, full meal!

The next day we had the show. The venue was huge (the O2 in Dublin), the show went well and the crowd was great. Much love to Dublin!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

European Tour Rehearsals

Again, I’ve allowed weeks to pass without correspondence. Today, I’m in Monte Carlo, relaxing a few hours before show time. So far, the tour has been amazing (as if it could be anything less)! I will try to catch up over the next few days:

I arrived in England on June 19, in a little town best known for its being the location of the original British television show “The Office”. We settled into the hotel, and spent most of the next few days rehearsing on a movie set (likely the only space available for the expanded group of performers now touring with Stevie – including the usual 13 piece band, a group of guest percussionists from a variety of ethic musical traditions and a revolving gospel choir, a different one for each city). Rehearsals were long, but always musically fulfilling. The sound of the additional musicians is awesome!

In my down time, I went once with the rest of the band to try the requisite fish & chips (I’m famous for my tendency towards healthy food): the fish & chips were tasty if rather greasy.

I was also treated to a tour of nearby Windsor by my dear friend Marc. We went to lunch at the aptly named “House on the Bridge” and took photos in front of Windsor Castle (no time for touring, but the Queen was home – as indicated by the hoisted flag).

Next stop: flight to Dublin for the first concert!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Victoria Theodore June Performances

"summer, summer, summertime
time to sit back and unwind"
- Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Ok, given, we Californians are a weather spoiled bunch, but is anyone else as tired of the rain as I am?? Enough already! Wow... Summer is approaching and this summer, like the past 3, will be filled with traveling the world with Stevie Wonder. I can't wait! Keep your eyes open for updates from the road : >

I have several great performances coming up. I hope to see you soon!

Sat, June 5
8:30pm - 11:30pm
Marcello's Restaurant & Piano Bar
Come hear me play and sing! Probably your last chance before I head off for a summer of touring with Stevie Wonder!
It's also open mic! Sing with me! Bring your instrument! Play a song or two with me! Any style!
515 San Ramon Valley Boulevard Danville, CA 94526 | 925.838.8144 | map

Sun, Jun 6
Truevine Ministries
Grand Lake Theater
3200 Grand Ave. Oakland, CA 94610-2739 | 510-208-4565 | map

Sun, Jun 6
Independant Holiness Church
605 South 16th Street Richmond, CA 94804-3716 | 510.235.8688 | map

Sat, Jun 12
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Bonnaroo Music Festival 2010
700-acre farm, 60 miles southeast of Nashville & northwest of Chattanooga Manchester, TN | | map
Thu, Jun 24
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour

North Wall Quay, Dublin 1, Republic Of Ireland | map

Sat, Jun 26
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Hard Rock Calling Festival
w/ Jamiroquai, James Morrison and Corinne Bailey Rae
Hyde Park, near Park Lane, London, England | map

Sun, Jun 27
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
Glastonbury Festival, Pyramid Stage
Worthy Farm, Pilton, England | map

Tue, Jun 29
Stevie Wonder
2010 Tour
M.E.N. Arena
Victoria Station Manchester, England M3 1AR | +44 (0)161 950 5000 | map

If you feel so inspired, please take a moment and leave a *positive* review for me on YELP:
Victoria Theodore Piano And Voice Lessons

You can also join my Fan Page on Facebook:
Victoria Theodore Fan Page

And my ReverbNation page (plenty of options!):
Victoria Theodore ReverbNation Page

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

DC & Q!

Last week, I flew to Washington, DC, to perform with Stevie Wonder at a private concert event held in honor of the memory Abe Pollin, former owner of the Washington Wizards and the Verizon Center. The concert (held in the Verizon Center) was free to Pollin's employees as well as public sector workers in the Washington DC area. The arena was packed and the audience happily enthusiastic.

I arrived in DC Tuesday evening, thankfully, with plenty of time to relax and recuperate from the long flight. The next morning, I went for a lovely walk, cut to a shorter time than usual because we had to depart for sound check earlier than usual to accommodate for the terrible DC traffic. At sound check, we did the usual run through of tunes for the engineer’s sake, making sure everyone has proper levels in their ear monitors, but then had an extended wait for concert time. I usually fill this time with – no surprise – practicing! I practice virtually every spare moment when on tour, as I never know where the Maestro will go with the set list. The show on this night was no exception! The set list was all over the place, and required every morsel of my focus – but I love that intensity. It’s so gratifying to be presented with that level of challenge…and to meet the challenge!!

After the concert, a few band members and I joined our friends Frédéric and Carla Yonnet for a late dinner. Fred is an amazing harmonica player (known as the urban jazz harmonicist) who Stevie invites to sit in with the band whenever they're both in town. Stevie usually starts playing “Boogie On Raggae Woman” as the cue for Fred to join us on stage, which he did again for this show. At the harmonica solo, Fred and Stevie take turns in a harmonica “battle”. They both played with ferocity and tremendous energy! It was amazing! Stevie was having such a great time, he extended the song, and then went into a blues. It was a great moment in the show. Fred and Carla are incredibly gracious, beautiful people and it’s always a pleasure to see them.

After the show, we all returned to the hotel to deposit our belongings and then headed off to the restaurant to meet Fred and Carla. To my surprise, there was another face at the table that I instantly recognized: that of Mr. Quincy Jones. Wow. I was speechless. This man is a musical legend, icon, producer, composer, arranger and mentor to several of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever met. I was thrilled to have the chance to meet him. I was able to converse with him for about 20 minutes about music, language, travel and his new artist, Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez. What an honor!

When I was a college student, DC was my favorite region to visit during Spring Break, for the temperate spring weather, the architecture and of course the endless museums. I was not disappointed on this visit, even though I didn't have time to explore museums. Meeting yet another musical icon is a fine substitute!

Back home, I experience my own musical intensity. I had happily agreed to substitute for two of my fabulous pianist friends this past Sunday. Both play keys for beautiful churches in the East Bay, performing mostly contemporary gospel music. If you don’t know this style of music, I’ll tell you: it’s not easy!!! Much of this music is similar to jazz fusion in terms of the chord structures and progressions, full of rhythmic variance and key changes. Of the 10 songs that I needed to learn, I had only heard and performed 2 before – but it had been a while, so I needed to review those as well. Essentially, I had only a day to learn all of this music to performance level. Given that I also had students, gigs and went to hear my friends perform late Saturday night (A Band Called Pain – a metal band that ROCKS!), I found myself in the position of staying up all night (literally) to learn the music. Sleep deprivation combined with my east coast induced jet lag, left me exhausted, but I was energized by the content of the lyrics (such beautiful words of praise to the Almighty), the talent of the band and the voices of the singers. Somehow, I made it through! Hallelujah!

Days later, I still find that I’m not 100% rejuvenated. Can anyone say V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N??? Maybe after the tour…but, I’m not complaining!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another musical weekend

Wow! What a busy weekend! I performed at E-22 Café Friday night, and had fun playing with Robert Temple (performing some of his really nice original songs), my friend and student Chris and her friend Chris (both great singers), and a trio of enthusiastic teenagers with songs I didn't know, but learned quickly by listening briefly to an iPod. I love when kids have the courage to get up and sing what they love in front of a crowd.

Saturday night played for Signatures Salon's Anniversary party. Joi Gayles is the proprietor, and I tried out her services (hair, facial, aromatherapy, etc.) Friday morning. It was all amazing, and my hair is looking beautiful! Maybe that's why I had the energy to make it through the weekend! I was joined in the band at the party Saturday night by Kymberly Jackson, Arlington Houston and Alex Kamages. It's always fun to perform with Kymberly and Arlington, and Alex (usually a drummer for punk rock bands) did a fantastic job keeping up with the mostly jazz, R&B and pop/dance material!

This morning, I played at church with Tommie Bradford and Dan Parenti. As usual, the choir at Tommie's church and the band, of course, was on fire! It was a spirit filled morning! After service, I rushed home to change and head out to perform at the Bayview Festival with Adesha & Seven. Unfortunately, the wind was incredibly strong, and detritus, music stands, microphones, and especially, it seemed, my hair was flying EVERYWHERE. I was freezing, so my hands were stiff from cold, and my brain didn't function at full capacity because my body was too busy trying to retain heat. Nonetheless, I had fun playing with the excellent band: Adesha, band leader Aaron Baugh, Brian Braziel, Julian, Toya and Yolanda. Despite the adversity of the weather, the band sounded great. Thanks again to Ken for making me sound good! ; >

After the show, we shared a delicious Italian meal, and, as I'm sure you can tell from the degradation of my writing ability, now I'm sleepy and ready to pass out! It was a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Music, billionaires and inspiration...

Whirlwind. That words sums up the past week of my life. I'll start at the beginning:

A few weeks ago, I was invited to perform as the featured artist for a local music series. I figured I should make this my opportunity to start performing some of my own music? So I spent a few days creating charts of my tunes (including 3 that I performed at Fisk University in April 2010) arranged for a quartet: piano, bass, drums and sax. I didn't sleep much, but was excited about finally (FINALLY) getting the ball rolling on being an artist in my own right. There were several technical issues with the performance, but I did it, and the audience was enthusiastic and appreciative. Now, I just have to figure out how to do my own show (not just the solo piano at a piano bar thing) more often. Hm...

A few days before my show, my phone rang with the special ring tone indicating that the Mr. Genius was requesting my presence. I was to fly to NYC the night after my show. Ah...who needs sleep? Given that I needed to practice as much as possible for my own gig, and now had to practice for SW's gig, I cancelled all of my students so that I could focus. Everything went as expected and I was on an airplane (after waiting for 2+ hours beyond the original flight time thanks to delays) heading to New York, at 1:30am.

I landed at JFK just before 10am, headed to the hotel for a short nap, then boarded the limo for the ride to the Jacob K. Javits Center, for sound check. Stevie had been booked as the entertainment after a massive fundraiser by the Robin Hood Foundation, and he (thankfully!) decided to bring along the entire band.

The Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization targeting poverty in New York City, held it's annual benefit dinner on Monday, May 10, 2010. Hosted by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, approximately 3,800 people, including Hollywood heavy-hitters (Harvey Weinstein, Uma Thurman, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow), athletes (New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan), musicians (Sting and Stevie Wonder), comedians (Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan and Jimmy Fallon), and financial superstars (JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Lee Ainslie of Maverick Capital, Eric Schmidt of Google. and most demonstrably, George Soros - through a 1:1 challenge grant) gathered together to raise over $88 million dollars. Yes, in one night, they raised $88 million dollars.

The venue was stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to mingle with the multi-millionaires and billionaires, but in watching them dance to Stevie's music, they didn't look all that different than we Americans without extraordinary financial wealth. It was sobering to be in a space with people who represent such extreme affluence. One the one hand, I was very impressed with the generosity and overall enthusiastic spirit of the crowd. I didn't perceive any blasé, bored, elitist energy from the crowd of dancers laid out before me. I did get plenty of smiles and waves, and watched the audience watching Stevie with adoration in their eyes. But I couldn't escape the question in the back of my mind: why is there this kind of disparity in the world? It's a beautiful thing to watch people give, and give BIG, but it's painful to think of the vast majority of people in the world who lack for basic shelter, healthy food, clean water, safe health care, etc. I don't know the answer, but I do use this event as a reminder that although I'm no billionaire (at least not yet!), I can do my part through sharing my art, teaching others about the beauty of life through music, make charitable donations and give my time whenever possible. But most of all, to respect the dignity of all people, and to offer kindness to everyone...because we never know what someone is dealing with...

Images from the event

I attended a concert by The Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi on piano, Ruslan Sirota on keys and, Jr. Ronald Bruner on drums. I'm a super fan of all of these excellent musicians, and they did not leave me disappointed. The entire night (I stayed for both shows), I was dancing to the music, waving my arms in the air, nodding my head, and yelling out with immense musical satisfaction at amazing musical feast laid out by this killer band. They played several of the tunes I'd heard before, including Chick Corea's "No Mystery", "Paradigm Shift", "Black Narcissus", each taking solos that were hot like fire. Hiromi is consistently one of the most exciting pianists I've ever encountered. She plays with passion, musicality of the highest order, and pure fun. Ruslan, also an amazing pianist, is also extraordinarily versatile, bringing not only superlative jazz chops to the music, but also his experience as a gospel and R&B pianist. He plays with TONS of flavor and groove and gives flashes of technical prowess that create jaw-drops across the audience. Ronald is a wonder to watch. His hands are lightning, and his flow across various musical genres (straight ahead to swing to rock to funk, etc.) is seamless. It seemed like he was trying to steal the show...and at times he did! Stanley? What can I say. I merely genuflect. Beauty. Power. Vision. Music. That's Stanley. Inspiration. Plain and simple...

The Stanley Clarke Band is performing at Yoshi's SF May 13 and 14, 2010. GO TO THE SHOW!!! Buy your ticket today. Wow...

Speaking of inspiration, today is the 60th birthday of my friend, mentor, musical icon, teacher and band leader: Stevie Wonder!!!! Thank you for sharing your GENIUS with me and the world! I appreciate you and love you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! : >