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Showing posts from 2013

New Year's Resolutions

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What an eventful year this has been! Every late December I like to reflect upon the previous twelve months in an effort to learn from the past and present. Hopefully, those lessons will inform the future! What can I learn from this past year that could make 2014 that much more efficient, successful, fulfilling and rewarding? Hmm...

First, I need to schedule time to nurture family and friend relationships. All things worth doing require a time commitment, and it is easy for those submerged in more work than they can reasonably accomplish to push more important things aside. Second, I would like to allow for distractions in my day when they involve helping someone else. Our schedules and to-do lists should never trump our generosity and kindness which others desperately need! Third, on a more personal level, I plan to package into my schedule time to unplug. We Americans seem to move so fast from one thing to the next that savoring beautiful things is an activity rarely cultiva…

Syracuse Symphoria

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Next week I will be so pleased to be on tour with the wonderful symphony organization called Symphoria--the former Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Two and a half years ago I was deeply saddened when the SSO filed for bankruptcy and ended their 50th season early, before the long-awaited Yo-Yo Ma concert. Imagine my glee when the successor organization contacted me this past summer to invite me to perform as their Holiday Pops soloist in their inaugural season as they gathered their troops back together for more music-making! What a privilege to help usher in a new era for my hometown cultural institution, our beloved symphony. This said, I am inviting every friend, family member, fan, former student and music-lover in central New York to join us in celebrating and supporting "Symphoria Pops Open the Holidays"--our Holiday Pops tour through Jamestown, Auburn, Herkimer and Syracuse, NY. We kick off the tour at the RegLenna Civic Center in Jamestown on Wednesday, December 4 at…

Finding Balance

How does an active performer/teacher find balance among touring, writing, arranging, teaching, traveling, practicing, booking tours and learning music? Furthermore, how does one balance all that with a healthy home life, mental and emotional health, physical health and spirituality? Any busy artist can tell you it is certainly not easy. I have found prayer and meditation to be critically important in helping me keep my busy life in perspective. Firstly, I strive to do everything for God's glory--after all, He is the one responsible for the gifts I possess, and it is my responsibility to share those gifts with the world to the best of my ability. Reminding myself of this helps me also remember that whatever I am currently facing is possible with His help. That means I must take care of myself when I begin to lose my balance. Too much stress can wreak havoc on physical and emotional health, so it is imperative to find ways to manage and release my stress whenever possible. P…

On Holiday Tour with Syracuse Symphoria

I am very happy to announce that I will be collaborating with my hometown orchestra, Symphoria (formerly the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra) in their Holiday Pops tour throughout Central New York in December. Conductor Sean O'Loughlin graciously invited me to debut my new holiday pops symphony show at three venues (December 4, 5, and 6) in addition to a culminating performance December 20 at the premier concert space in the greater Syracuse area, the Crouse Hinds Concert Hall in downtown Syracuse. The tour includes performances in Jamestown, Auburn, Herkimer and Syracuse (see my website for details) or call 315-299-5598 for ticket information.

This is a particularly special tour for me, as it represents an opportunity to rejoin my friends, family and former colleagues in Syracuse for a celebration most joyous. I last sang with the Syracuse Symphony when I was twelve as a member of the Syracuse Children's Chorus--we sang Mahler's Eighth Symphony (The Symphony of A Thousand…

Symphony Show update

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Plans are underway to select the songs that will comprise my holiday pops show. Grammy-winning arranger Chris Walden and I are working together to come up with a program that will ideally suit my voice and be attractive to symphony orchestra conductors, performing arts center executive directors and concert series presenters. While it may still be a month or so before the final lineup of songs is complete, progress is being made toward the finalizing of these decisions and interest in this show is increasing by the day! I am so thankful for the opportunity to share great music by contemporary arrangers and composers and am greatly looking forward to presenting this symphony show throughout the country. If you are interested in programming this concert in your city's cultural arts series, please do be in touch! We rely on and appreciate the support and interest of listeners and fans of great jazz, cabaret and classical music. As always, thank you for your support of live musi…

"...I Hear a Symphony..."

Several years ago I began to be asked on a regular basis by esteemed executive directors of performing arts centers the following question: "Do you have a symphony show?" Now I can affirmatively answer "I have TWO!"

Many folks may not know that in addition to my combined career as a performing artist, composer/arranger and recording artist, I am also Director of Vocal Studies at University of South Carolina Upstate (I have just completed my first year in this position). This wonderful university has graciously awarded me a grant to develop a touring symphony show which will enable me to meet the needs of concert presenters looking for new, excellent and affordable pops programs while sharing my music with even larger audiences. These concerts will be available for touring as early as December 2013, and are available now for booking 2014-15 and 2015-16 concert seasons.

I have enlisted the help of some wonderful arrangers (and friends of mine) who have earn…

What's in a Name?

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be a musical guest on a local TV show (click to watch). I was there in anticipation of a performance later that same week, so the station was interested in having me there to perform and talk about the upcoming concert. Halfway through the live interview I noticed that my name on the enormous projection screen inside the studio was misspelled. I immediately pointed it out to the host (we happened to be on a commercial break) and it was soon remedied, but the tape had already rolled and the beginning of my interview was to always remain stamped with my incorrectly spelled name. For a former national spelling bee state finalist, mistakes like these can be rather frustrating and difficult to swallow... This experience caused me to empathize with all my favorite singers and artists over the years who likely experienced a similar blunder by the press. But even if Bing Krosby, Frank Sinnatra, Judie Garland and Mel Tormay had been misrepresen…

Divas and Masters of Jazz

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This photograph was taken on the evening I opened my newest show in my collection of touring shows: "Divas and Masters of Jazz!" Spring Island, SC was an ideal spot for this show opening, as my friends and fans there deeply appreciated this tribute performance honoring jazz voices of days gone by... Ella, Sarah, Billie, Bing, Frank, Peggy, Margaret, Dinah, Chet, Mel and Judy were all represented and warmly remembered. What an honor to be able to share their great music with new audiences! So often I am touched to hear "I never knew (s)/he sang that song... but I love it!" from folks of all ages, backgrounds and musical preferences. It seems that the Great American Songbook, once again, proves to be universally accessible to those willing to open their ears and listen. I am greatly looking forward to sharing this new piano/vocal solo show throughout the country, so please keep those concert requests coming! Once again, thank you for your support of live jaz…

The songwriter's process of discovery

In my experience, songs are born, not made. I once wrote a song whose identity I did not discover until after I found myself in the recording studio making the music with my collaborative partner. We learned together that the song had a natural "country" feel, style, groove and affect. Being an experienced jazz singer (with a good deal of both classical and pop singing experience) I was a bit concerned about how my recording of this country song would sound! With a little help from my friends (my guitarist, John Chiodini, and recording engineer, Paul Tavenner) I found the right "voice" to pull it off, and my country single was born. This song has not yet been released, but I expect that it will be commercially available within a few months.

As I teach my songwriting class at USC Upstate, I encourage the students to understand that they cannot always superimpose a style upon a set of lyrics with the intention of forcing a song to become something it is not. …