"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...
2010...it'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...
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.
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!
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 Salesforce.com 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!!!