Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the Recording Studio


This past month I spent several exciting and rewarding days in a recording studio in L.A. working on my next album. This is a project I decided to pursue with only John Chiodini on guitar to complement my singing--a duo project all the way through. Lest anyone think the result could be monotonous or predictable, John used several different guitars (electric, acoustic, nylon string and steel string) to create different colors for each song and the songs themselves are extremely diverse in style, mood, theme, tempo and genre. We assembled nine of my original songs (which have never been recorded) and five jazz standards that I had arranged to complete this compendium. The project is still very much in production, but I must say it is highly original...I have not heard anything else quite like it. In the words of my trusted musical partner, John: "The world will be a better place with this album than it would be without it!" Words to cherish, those.

I expect to call the album "Sweet Youth," which is the title of one of the original songs. It provides a relatively nice description of the project as a whole, which nods backward in time...several songs had been written years ago but have been awaiting the right time and medium for recording. Others are newer, but recognize a person or feeling that was important in the past... As I am the sole producer of this project, much work still remains, but there is no rush this time around. I will be happy with a spring 2011 release date.

I am thankful that recording and composing are part of my life and work and sincerely hope that those who listen will appreciate and love this new effort! It's very exciting (not to mention vulnerable!) to put one's original work "out there" to be heard, played, talked about, written about and even learned. One of the most thrilling moments for a performing artist happens when (s)he performs an original song and spies an audience member mouthing the words during the performance...another thrilling moment is turning on the radio and hearing your own song being played. Of course those moments are few and far between perhaps, but the journey itself is the most worthwhile part. That journey involves seeing God's direction and guidance through the peaks and valleys and trusting Him with all of it, regardless of the outcome.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Artist Residencies

I am thrilled with the relatively recent news that I have been selected by Ithaca College School of Music faculty to be their 2011-12 Robert G. Boehmler Visiting Artist! Each year this faculty selection committee chooses only one outstanding international performing artist to visit the campus and provide a week or so of workshops, clinics, master classes, lectures and concerts for the Ithaca music community. While the details of this artist residency have not yet been finalized, I look forward to providing this performance/teaching package during the first week of October 2011, and I am greatly pleased and humbled to be the recipient of this distinctive honor!

Having previously served as a voice and vocal jazz professor at several universities and colleges, and now a full-time touring/recording artist, I feel particularly qualified for artist residency work. I have loved teaching music since the first day I attempted it. I also have personally experienced the joy and wonder of being a student in the presence of visiting artists who are not only proven outstanding performers, but intuitive and skillful educators as well. This balance is not to be taken lightly, nor is it to be assumed to be possessed by all great performers. I look forward to opportunities to grow as a performer as well as to grow as a master teacher. Sharing my knowledge, skills and experiences with young gifted artists gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose that performing alone cannot provide. Teaching must be more about investment in the lives of others than anything else... so my objectives in the practice room include both greater mastery of my vocal technique, musicianship and literature and the ability to effectively communicate, demonstrate and exemplify this mastery to others.

I offer Artist Residencies in vocal jazz, classical voice and crossover techniques at schools, universities, conservatories, community outreach concert series events, major performing arts centers and theatres. As mentioned above, these include workshops, clinics, master classes, lectures and concerts in a variety of manifestations. I have worked with choral ensembles and soloists, jazz singers and opera singers, adults and teens, male voices and female voices, singers and instrumentalists. Bringing my art into places in which I can share it while investing in the careers and lives of other artists represents what I feel to be my unique calling. I am blessed to be given these performance and teaching opportunities by various universities and concert venues and I will continue to enjoy investing in future artists!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts about 'Jazz Seasons'



I am blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love, to share my gifts with others, and to have an outlet like music to express what cannot be otherwise expressed... 'Jazz Seasons' is my latest cabaret show which I'm sharing with my friends and fans in New York City this weekend. It encompasses many things--first, a celebration of seasonal songs from a variety of sources--my originals, classic jazz and musical theater. We'll have jazz waltzes, swing tunes, standards delivered in a bebop style, bossa nova and samba, and the classic ballad. There will be songs that guide the listener through life's seasons--youth, pain, joy, grief... and even a tribute to the one and only singer/poet/lyricist/activist Abbey Lincoln, whom we lost in August. Since Autumn is Cabaret Season, I can't think of a better show to attend!

This presentation also marks my first one-woman cabaret show. I'll be singing from behind the piano (on most songs). I have performed this way several times in jazz clubs and for more formal concerts, but never in a themed cabaret setting. I have found that I enjoy playing while I sing--it is quite a bit different than fronting a band (which I also love) and I like the way it pushes me out further on the limb in front of the audience...I've always loved a challenge and I've found my match in this show!

'Jazz Seasons' has something for everyone--I sincerely hope to see you at one of these shows before the run is finished! Concert presenters are welcome to book this show throughout 2010-2012 in addition to my Peggy Lee Project, my holiday jazz show, and my Evening With Tish Oney concert which allows you to choose some of the content! For more information see www.tishoney.com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inspiration


Where does it come from? How does one channel it? My bursts of writing "inspiration" have been sporadic in recent years due to the fact that I just haven't made myself available to do it as often as I would like to. Last night I was bitten by the writing bug and wrote out three new original songs in their entirety, and nearly finished a fourth which still needs a bit more work. Granted, it all happened in the middle of the night, which is when Mozart (and many other composers) historically found the best time to work--no distractions, everyone else is asleep, and being slightly tired can be a major help in finding the "zone"... Yes, songwriters may be sacrificing their sleep but if that's when the music comes, who are we to argue? I am thankful to have something to create and contribute as I plod or skip along my pathway in life (whichever mode of locomotion it may be on a given day).

Now that I have all these new songs (I already had several others in line to record on my next album) the question becomes what to do with them? I have too many to put onto one album, so I clearly will have some material left over for my next album after this one...it's great to have a fount of songs, but I also find myself strongly desiring to record everything as soon as possible and put it out onto the airwaves...after all, we never really know how much time we have and one's own songs are every musician's legacy. Then comes the problem of financing the recording projects--not an easy task in this economy, but necessary to remain current and competitive in today's market.

So, Inspiration--let's please make a plan to meet on a regular basis (nighttime is fine) providing you can find me some wealthy financial backers to support the subsequent recording costs required to give the public the new music they expect from me... :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Challenging Life of the Performer


Jazz Seasons is my newest show compiled of my original songs and others from the Great American Songbook, musical theatre repertoire and contemporary jazz. Woven throughout the selection of music one finds a seasonal theme--not just that of the four seasons, but also of life's seasons. From time to time we discover we are passing through a season of joy or perhaps a season of grief. We are blessed to accept a season of growth, but often loath to face a season of pain. This show gently and joyfully takes us through a variety of seasons and helps to show how the songwriters and lyricists of past and present wrote songs reflective of those inevitable passages we all face.

While preparing this show I found myself suddenly thrust into an unexpected season of grief and pain, so several of the songs originally planned had to be replaced by others as an act of consideration for myself. Instead of grieving I had to perform, so given that there was a limit to my ability to compartmentalize my feelings often elicited by certain emotionally-charged songs, the only responsible thing to do was to substitute songs that challenged my composure with those that did not.

This performing business is sometimes a very cruel world. Certain venue managers become totally insensitive, cold and unfeeling when faced with a booked performer wanting to cancel an appearance due to a death in the family, illness or funeral. The unfortunate adage "the show must go on" has been abused and misunderstood in circumstances that warrant a performer taking a bit of time off. Nobody questions a businessperson taking some personal time or leave in a similar situation--why does the world unfairly judge a professional performer and demand their money's worth for a scheduled show when the artist they want to see rightly deserves mourning and healing time like everyone else? Similarly, the harsh reality is that audiences can be rather unsympathetic toward a performer's illness or any situation that requires an absence from the stage instead of following through with the performance.

I have often taught my music theatre and vocal jazz students about this harsh reality--to pursue this line of work, one has to accept these emotional injustices--we are expected to work when everyone else is grieving, sing when everyone else is allowed to cry, smile when we are suffering and perform regardless of whether or not our heart is in it. This represents a massive and extraordinarily difficult responsibility. I suppose artists deliver a ministry of distraction--we must rise to the challenge of creating beauty for others to enjoy, even when it involves sacrifice on the part of the artist.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

July/August Tour 2010


It was a wonderful whirlwind of singing and traveling...exhausting perhaps, but very worthwhile. I began on July 25 at Feinstein's in New York--superstar Michael Feinstein's elite Park Avenue nightclub where every singer in the world (it seems) dreams of performing. This experience was all it was cracked up to be! I was there in an absolutely gorgeous Kay Unger gown performing with Grammy-winning jazz pianist, Bill Cunliffe. We were premiering "The Peggy Lee Songbook," a celebration of the songwriting talents of iconic singer Peggy Lee. The audience was very receptive and appreciative and I will treasure the memory always... The best part? Getting asked back by the club's manager before the gig, after only hearing our sound check! Here is what fellow cabaret singer and writer Jenna Esposito had to say about the show on BroadwayWorld.com...

Far too early the next morning I boarded a plane for Los Angeles where I spent two sunny days in Redondo Beach. I adore walking on the sand and spending a little time at the oceanside, so I fit it in whenever possible... On the 27th I performed a return engagement at the classic jazz hangout Charlie O's with my "Charlie O's band," John Chiodini on guitar, Chris Conner on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums. There are never any worries when performing with these guys...whatever comes out is how the tune was meant to be played at that moment! Being "in the moment" is very easy with performers of this caliber and I always cherish the opportunity to share music with them. Roy was my drumset instructor at USC, so I especially love watching him play! It's a bit more challenging to watch him when I'm fronting the band, though...I digress...

The following morning (again, FAR too early) I boarded another plane--this time to Honolulu where I was a guest performer at the Hawai'i Convention Center. My Friday performances there (at the International Music Festival where I was honored to represent the indigenous music from the United States--none other than America's classical music, JAZZ!) were a highlight of my trip--we had 4500 people in attendance from 105 countries around the world during my mainstage show and they were all LISTENING! What a blessing this was--I am still thanking God for this opportunity...

A few days later I performed a "crossover" concert of baroque, contemporary sacred and jazz music at First Baptist Church of Honolulu. I began with three soprano arias by J.S. Bach (in German and Latin) featuring oboe and organ accompaniment (provided by Roy and Carolyn Yanagida). I then moved to the piano where I remained for the rest of the program, playing and singing my original compositions and my arrangements of hymns. The second half of the show consisted of straight-ahead jazz--some new original songs as well as my arrangements of standards. We had a record-setting audience at this venue and I am very grateful to all who attended, enjoyed the concert and showed their support! Thanks to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for the generous writeup they published to advertise this performance! (click to read)

Following this concert I finally allowed myself to have a few days of vacation time in Hawai'i with my family. We enjoyed the mountains, ocean, scenery, culture and the people so much that we are already looking forward to returning as soon as possible! Because I have a new show opening in less than a month, there is not a lot of time for R&R though, so it's already back to work...

Until next time, Mahalo!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Crossover

I love being what some refer to as a "crossover artist." All it really means is that you are good at more than one thing: you excel as a singer in multiple genres. Being one such type of performer gives me the opportunity to stretch different vocal mechanism muscles (really!), hone my precision and technique, challenge myself musically and intellectually, and keep from being bored singing in one style. The main thing I keep in mind is that I strive to be an expert in whatever style I'm singing, rather than dwelling on the "C" word ("crossover"). I sing "classical" or "legit" soprano repertoire (baroque and contemporary art music mostly, but also classic and romantic period material in 6 languages) from the standpoint of being a specialist in those genres rather than as a jazz singer dabbling in crossover. Likewise, I sing jazz from the perspective of a specialist in that genre, calling to mind the greats who have gone before me in that field. The result is that when people who have heard my jazz work hear me in a classical recital or oratorio soloist capacity, they hear very little similarity between my "two" voices. There are foundational, technical and physiological differences in how one correctly sings in each genre, and I am fortunate to have studied (and taught) these differences very carefully. That said, let it be known that not everyone can successfully pull off crossover work--one must be committed to purity of the musical art and to years of training in each particular genre to truly succeed. For instance, an opera singer cannot merely sing an album of Gershwin material to call herself a jazz singer, or to even call that project a jazz album. Likewise, a jazz vocalist would require several years of training in classic technique, singer's diction, "legit" repertoire and music history before attempting this difficult body of work. Study and thorough familiarity with both jazz and classical art forms, their histories and their correct deliveries (partly based on understanding how the vocal mechanism is properly used in each style) are of paramount importance to cultivating an artist truly capable of executing masterful performances in both jazz and classical genres.

For information about my jazz career see www.tishoney.com.

For information about my career as a lyric soprano soloist, see www.myspace.com/triciaoney.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dick Robinson's "American Standards By the Sea"

I was honored today to receive an email informing me that my CD will be featured over this weekend (June 25-27) on Dick Robinson's internationally-syndicated radio show, "American Standards By the Sea." I went to their website today and was delighted to hear a show dedicated to my favorite singer, the late Ella Fitzgerald. Ella was featured with Duke Ellington's band, in a duet with Stevie Wonder (which took my breath away) and in a number of other settings. She is always so refreshing and restores to me the wonderful state of mind that excellent music has always brought to me...it's mesmerizing and so very fulfilling to hear that kind of musical and poetic perfection.

Anyhow, I was struck by the reality that I am now one of the torch-bearers for this increasingly-important-to-preserve Great American Songbook. I'm a contemporary musician who has selected this genre in which to grow and develop, both as an artist and a songwriter. I am humbled and thankful to people like Dick Robinson for keeping this music thriving (and it IS thriving!!) and for keeping modern audiences reading about, hearing about and coming to our shows. Thank you, Dick, and thanks to all the Adult Standard and Jazz radio DJs, hosts, Music Directors and fans for your support of this phenomenal music.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jazz Master Class at Syracuse University

April 15 I conducted a master class for jazz students and voice majors
at Syracuse University's Setnor School of Music in conjunction with a
concert I performed on April 18: "Tish Oney--The Peggy Lee Project"
featuring esteemed guitarist John Chiodini. Having directed
collegiate-level vocal jazz ensembles for a number of years, I most
often am asked to provide coaching for an entire collective group at
once. However, since the SU Vocal Jazz Ensemble (directed by pianist Bill DiCosimo) had already completed
its final concert of the school year, I instead offered a soloist's
master class and worked with individual students in the jazz combo
setting (accompanied by piano, bass and drums). We focused on jazz
stylization, interpretation, mic technique, improvisation and whatever
else I felt the students needed in the short twelve minutes I had with
each. Most of these students had almost never worked one-on-one with a
microphone, which was a surprise to me--with shrinking university arts
budgets, this particular ensemble did not have a budget for upgrading
their equipment or PA system, so they seldom
performed with microphones. I was glad to at least provide a bit of
coaching and opportunity to learn about singing with amplification for
these aspiring soloists. The day was well-spent--the students were
well-prepared and excited to learn from me, and it was a bonus to have
members of the voice faculty there as well, attuned to learning about a
style with which they were only slightly familiar. I am thankful that
there are some universities and colleges able to provide these artist
residency learning experiences for their students, even during these
tough economic times.

WSTM-TV interview