Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Battle of the grind vs. Sleep

On Friday, February 19, 2010, I was faced with a battle that I've been fighting for years...the battle of sleep and performing. You see I do alot of things and  I tire quickly at times.  I'll admit that since I resigned from my full time job that that I've gotten a little better. My energy had definitely increased. I don't know how to tell you this, but I AB-SO-LUTE-LY love SLEEPING!!! I take pride in having a good nap. I can practically fall asleep anywhere and at a drop of a hat (this has gotten me into mounds of trouble might I add) and sometimes my love for sleep gets in the way of my grind. 

You see I'm what you call a morning person. I wake up at the butt crack of dawn..around 6 am or so to get the day going.  I've tried to sleep in but that I don't know; my body just is up and goingmost. I'm just a morning person and  and I'm the most productive in the morning as well. As the day wanes and night falls instead of going out sometimes, I'm trucking it home to make it to my bed (not mention, I live a good distance away from the city).

Isn't ironic that that the profession I've chosen requires me to be a night owl, when I'm a morning person? LOL! Well the test came on Friday when I got a text for me to come out an sing couple of songs. I was nestled comfortably under the covers, with Georgie (my cat) curled under my feet when the text came. I mean clothes off in the bed. I wrestled with the idea for an hour and then decided that now was the time to train my body and not have my body be in control of me. I got up took the hour drive to DC and did a couple of songs. After the impromptu gig, I chilled with another indie artist and promoter and gained some musical nuggets that would've otherwise been missed had I still been sleeping.

I'm learning more and more each day that I have to take control over my body and not let it control me. I will win this battle of sleep and the grind. After all, no one can push me like I can push me and I have to be out there as most gigs are at night. Also, its important to be in the right place at the right time...the very moment you're sleeping can be the very moment that someone was there who was supposed to be instrumental in helping you achieve your dream....and so it means I must sacrifice my love of must be done though.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Most difficult Song......

I guess one of the most difficult songs to record on my mix-tape, Beautiful Weirdo, was the song, Touched A Prayer. Every other song on the mix-tape came pretty easy for the most part. I don't know why this song was so difficult...I guess for me it was the most emotionally charged song for me.

The concept of the song came so easy, well at least easier then recording it. I got the concept from hugging superman and then it came to me, as clear as day, that I was physically touching my prayer. A prayer that I had said over 6 years ago. I thought further about this idea of touching a prayer, and I thought about my girlfriends who I dreamed and prayed about, my Godfather  that I prayed about, and a host of other things. It was like an epiphany that I literally talk and touch my prayers every day. So I wondered did people realize that they also talked to and touched some of their prayers as well..and so I wrote about it.

I wrote about my Godfather who is my father and the only father I've truly known and I wrote about superman, the only man who can actually stand next to my father. The writing was easy, it was just the delivery of the song that was the problem. I was utterly and completely terrified of the song.

Though I wrote and arranged it...the song was in a high register..and it was very personal. I was scared to be free and be vulnerable and so I kept holding back. I didn't want to cry on the song I was trying to scale back. Each time I scaled back, the song died a little each time. I was so frustrated that I was to the point where I was going to just scratch the song from the album, but I didn't. I put it on there because of this message. We touch prayers everyday and sometimes we just need to stop to take notice. In fact, we ourselves are someone's prayers. I admit, I still held back, but I put it on there...the original take.

It was a learning process...I'm still learning to be free even in vulnerability. It's hard work:)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We interrupt this blog---to give you SOng-A-Grams by Green Tea

Yes, I must interrupt my blog on dissecting my current mix-tape, Beautiful Weirdo, to talk about a recent event that was just wonderful, Valentine's Day. Yes, I know some of you are salty about Valentines, but please indugle in my happiness just for a sec:) okay, not a sec, but a couple of minutes:).

Valentines Day 2010 was marked with a lot of singing and a lot of glee:) Not just because it was Valentines Day (though I must confess, I'm a hopeful romantic), but more so because I got to do what I love--->share in the joy and the happiness of others. You see, in addition to recording albums, etc, I'm also a traveling Hallmark Card:)... Yes, a traveling Hallmark Card! On special holidays, I sing song-a-grams:) to people's loved ones and I AB-SO-LUTE-LY love it! Its something about hearing smiles over the phone or seeing them in person that just touches my inner core:) Also, I love hearing people communicate their feelings via songs. There were so many good songs that people selected for there loved ones: Brandy's Best Friend, Sarah Vaughn's Misty, Stevie Wonder's I Just called to say I love you, Diana Ross's Missing you, etc. It was pure fun:)

Pardon me, but I just had to just share how much fun I had on V-Day. After all the song-a-grams were done (gotta work, then I can play), I got a chance to have a date with first Valentines Day in 6 years:) I mean 7 wow! I must say, it was pure bliss minus the hour or so wait, but then again, who's counting time when your with the one you love:).

Check out one of the live Song-A-Grams, I did on V-Day:)

Don't worry, I'll be back to my regular scheduled broadcast lol!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Okay so your going to release a mix-tape....Now What?

It's official, I'm gonna record my first mixtape:), Beautiful Weirdo,woo hoo!! Ha! that was my first exclamation...and then came the pauses: how am I gonna finance this while resigning from my job...pause...what am I going to write about....pause... will people like it..pause... what singer  does a mixtape to old outkast beats...pause...and the list of insecurities and doubts went on and on. Well, I didn't wait to be eatin alive about the pauses and the questions...I just went to work. I found someone who believed in me:) or he found me and he made the recording process a it was just the writing and vocal performance that was up to me...

 I scheduled my first session. I was still working my full time job and had managed to change my hours so I could work 10 hour days and be off every Tuesday to prepare for the phase out (Thank God for an awesome director). I think it was my 2nd Tues:) and I was so amped. I left the house at 7:30 am to get to the studio in baltimore at 9:30 am. Fighting b-more traffic ain't a game..I ain't lyin. I had 2 songs ready to go...or so I thought. Well, I had solid outlines for them:) as I had written them in the summer.

I won't lie...I was a bit nervous. I hadn't recorded a studio album since ummm August 2008....but the flow came right back. It definitely helps to have an easy going Engineer as well. In fact, thats a must have, you want to be comfortable where your recording. Sorry, I digress. Now,  the first song I recorded was the title track, Beautiful Weirdo.

I remember when I wrote this song. It was at a time where I just was feeling no love and unaccepted in the industry. Two events had happened that led me to believe that I wasn't fit for the music industry.

First incident.
I was trying to get a Publicist/Marketing team to stir some buzz about "Green Tea." I had devised the plan that I would take my income tax money and invest in me. I was ready to spend 7 grand. Well, I went there with my Sweet Georgia Brown Weave blowin in the wind and with a fully beat face (I.e. had on make-up).  I was  feelin good and looking good until they started chewing me a new butt hole. "How many supporters do you have, if you called a show today, how many people would come, what kind of video is this (talking of sweet georgia brown), why is there a duck in it and where is sweet georgia brown, what kind of look do you have, why do you have crinkly hair in one video and long Beyonce hair in the other, you would do better in atlanta, you need to make an image decision, etc., and so on and so on. I was so ill prepared. I thought i would be asking them questions and not them drilling me. I felt naked with just my Beyonce weave blowing in the wind all the while holding back the tears that welled in my eyes. At that point, I just wanted to give up and take what was left of my pride and walk on. I remember calling one of my besties in tears. She gave the pep talk and reminded me of God's word and was who are these people and who are their other clients. "Never even heard of these folks, lets google em."   Then I called superman (yes, my boyfriend will here in be referred to as superman) sounding like a weather beaten cat...not my usually bubbly self. I was down.

2nd incident.
Feelin rejected by the pub firm, I sought a booking agent. I've always thought if I could just gain the platform, I'd win hearts and supporters. I have a passion for singing live, connecting with the audience, and I'm good at it. So I contacted a local booking agent here in the area..there aren't that many in DC to begin with. I submitted my cds  and then came the Door Slam in my face: "You're not marketable." "I can't book any shows for you." I  remembered thinkin, huh? Not when I know the people you've been booking, who perform in the same venues as I do around town. I was like wow ok. I was hurt again.

So in essence, I took  those events and started the song with this question/chorus, Who want this girl, who wants this girl, who wants this girl-->This beautiful Weirdo. The words just flowed. I delved deep into the feelings of tryna fit in...yes i did...tried to be the image people were pressin on me to be "commercial girlie girl" and I hated it. Not being able to really move on stage cuz my dress was too short and I couldn't walk in the heels lol!...there i got the lyrics "I didn't embrace the skin I was in, tryna force the gift, but I didn't fit in"  In the end, the climax of the song, is that I answer my own question... GOD Wants this girl:) this beautiful weirdo:)

There you have it the title cut of the first song--->Beautiful Weirdo
The funny thing is...people love this song..when I recorded it, I thought it was just a self purging and self realization about who I am... but no it has a deeper meaning, its a universal song:) that encourages people to accept who you are:)
Stay tuned for more:)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Planning of the Beautiful Weirdo--->Mix-tape & Show

In honor of my acceptance of my role and purpose in life, I decided to release a mix-tape, called the Beautiful Weirdo. I started this process the later part of 2009 and while recording, I got a call from a venue owner offering me a performance date of January 22, 2010 to perform @ LIV nightclub in DC.  I hadn't done a live full show in DC in eons and so I  thought this was perfect timing. I decided then that, January 22, 2010, would be the launch party of the mix-tape, Beautiful Weirdo, and the celebration of me taking the leap to pursue music full time. Woo hoo sounded simple enough.

Ha, I wish it were that simple. There's a lot of things that go into planning a show and mix-tape for that matter. I had a general outline...just a little sketch, but not as detailed as it could have been. Nonetheless, I dove headfirst into the project to get the job done. All I knew was the end result, my mix-tape and the performance of the mix-tape..that was all I knew. 

So I got busy recording the songs first. I choose for the back drop of the mix-tape all OutKast instrumentals because they exemplified what a beautiful weirdo is...they go against the grain no matter what. OutKast has created their own niche with a disregard for conformity. Not only did they represent Beautiful Weirdo, they have the grittiest tracks and the sound I love. It's funny, I've always considered myself to be a rapper  (lol, though I'm not the best at it) and so I love to sing over hip-hop tracks. So that was settled:)... OutKast it is and OutKast it shall be. But with so many dope tracks, how do you choose.

Hmmm....its simple for me how I choose a track, be it OutKast or just tracks in general. I go with what speaks to my heart. Sometimes, lyrics automatically flow...sometimes I have songs already written that I can merge...sometimes I just love the track and I start from scratch (Cuz I gotta write something), or sometimes I just visualize. I don't know it just depends. Regardless of the track though, I'm a writer that writes from my heart.  Normally, the 1st verse and chorus is easy. I don't normally write down the 1st verse or chorus..I just keep repeating it until memorization..but the 2nd verse...ha ha...normally takes me the longest..and I normally write that one down:)  Or sometimes, I'll just press record and flow off the top and take what works and put it all together. I  don't know if you guys are fans of the movie, Five Heartbeats (its my favorite), but there was a scene in the movie where the little girl and Duck (Robert Townsend's character) put pieces of trashed lyrics together to form one song... I tend to think that I do stuff like that too:). Yup so I do all those things...whatever works or I feel at the time. 

So thats briefly how it started.  I got the idea for the mix-tape, selected the instrumentals, and then began to write.  I'm going to continue to take you on this journey that I went thru to arrive at the finished product, the mix-tape and the hopes that you can take nuggets from it:) During the beginning process, I learned its good to have an outline, even better if its a thorough plan...but more than anything, I learned that whats important is that you start can always fine tune plans throughout the process. In fact, you may have to do that anyway even if you have the most detailed plan. Just start!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

1st Task--->Unleash the Beautiful Weirdo

Ok, so I started January with the task of introducing the world to the Beautiful Weirdo, me.  I know, I know, what on earth is a Beautiful Weirdo?!! Well its simple:) It's a person who continues to be who they are despite not fitting in with the norm. They're comfortable being unique and comfortable being an outcast (not doing what's in, according to mainstream). In a nutshell, thats me. It took me a while to be comfortable here, but I've finally got a hang of it.

You see, I'm an artist who takes pride in addressing spiritual matters, relationships, love, and life with no hesitation. So those who attend my shows hear God in the club. They hear me touching on subjects that people dont want to talk about in music.

Like one of my songs, Soul Connection, talks about being in a relationship but realizing the reason that the relationship wasn't working was because of not being on the same page spiritually. Its life and its real, but thats a side of a relationship thats not explored in R&B and soul music. Its almost like a separation of church and state. I get flack from gospel artists/church (why you in the clubs?) and I get flack from r&b/soul folks (did she just say God, in the club)?! Yup, I did and I do...ha ha:). I used to feel weird and like I didn't fit in, but then I realized I don't have to fit anyone's mold.   Rather i fit or not, I'm going to do me:)

So thats my purpose as an artist, to be the Beautiful Weirdo, that I am, no matter the popular trends in music. I will continue to fulfill my purpose and mission on this earth: to encourage people to grow, to heal, to love, and to learn thru music.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm Back:)--->Is A Music Career A Real Job?

Okay, so I'm snowed in and I just finished watching the Julie & Julia movie...a movie about the famous cook book writer, Julia Childs, and a blogger who took the journey through Julia Child's cooking world and I just realized that I've neglected blogging about my own experience. I neglected all the fun and not so fun experiences about my journey  and quest as an independent artist through the music world. There have been so many things happening and time has been moving so fast...I sincerely apologize. So I'm back and I promise I'll do better...after all a promise is a promise:)

So what's life like as a full time artist?!!  Hmmm... its definitely has its perks, but it also has its challenges.  I'll be tellin you about the good and the bad along the way. First things first, I poppa freaks all the just kidding (Biggie Rap)...seriously though, first things first, one of the challenges I've endured thus far is adjusting to others perception of what actually qualifies as a job. You'd be amazed how many people have actually made comments like, "she don't have a real job." Oh, I can't forget my favorite, " hey can you do this, cuz its not like you have a real job." Yeah, it caught me off guard and I will say that it hurt too.

People have in their mind that if you're not working for a company or someone that you don't have a "real job." It seems that people just don't understand what it takes to work for yourself as a full-time artist pursuing music full time. If I listed all the things I do in being a full time artist...hmmm....just to name a few--- I still wake @ 6 am:), searching for gigs, doing publicity (searching for interviews, etc.), following-up on all emails/inquiries, graphic design/etc for emails, shipping cds to people/countries, scheduling photo shoots, negotiating contracts/gigs/etc, writing, arranging, recording music, band rehearsals, vocal rehearsals, selling cds, part-time job (pay for the bills)etc...ok thats enough for now...its alot especially when you're only one person.

So pardon me, but I find it offensive when people belittle my pursuit to pursue what I love when majority of people are comfortable going to work everyday for something they don't love. I definitely take it personally not just because I'm an artist, but because I have musicians and artists that I work with who's grind is so hard. I respect them and I appreciate them so much and I know how hard they work.

So the next time, you ask someone what they do for a living and they reply saying they are a drummer, a vocalist, etc...even if you don't understand it, respect their grind and the heart it takes to pursue your passion in hopes of eating off of it.