Jami Jackson's Music Player

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jami Jackson's Rendition of the classic hit "Greatest Love of All"

At my performance at the Broadway Baby Bistro, I performed "Greatest Love of All", made famous by Whitney Houston. David Berry played the song on the piano and it was a perfect song to perform live because I did not need background vocals or more instruments that a piano. It was a real hit! I first performed the song in high school with my school choir. I remember when the choir director played the song on the piano and I was singing in the big stage of a theater all by myself in front of a huge audience of the parents and teachers. I was betwee 15 and 16 years old. I was so nervous, but the song turned out great! It was nice performing this song again at my own show.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jami Jackson's New Version of "Sista Girl"

For my performance at the Broadway Baby Bistro, I performed a new rendition of "Sista Girl". "Sista Girl" is an original song off of my "Call My Name" album. It was co-written by my mother, Sandra Carr Jackson. My mother was inspired by my sister to write the song and wanted to write something uplifting for all women out there, in addition to the men that support them. I really like the version that is on my album, but it was difficult to recreate that song for a live show with no background vocals. So, we changed the music entirely to fit the show. I really like how it turned out, but it's a work in progress. If you like it, let me know!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Audition for Dreamgirls on Broadway

So on Saturday, November 22nd, I auditiioned for the Dreamgirls Broadway Show. I was soo excited to audition because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me. They were looking for African American females in their twenties for the parts of Effie, Deena, Lorrell, and Michelle. It's an equity broadway show, but they had open auditions for people who were not equity. I'm not an equity actress, so it worked out for me. Equity is a union for actors and actresses, but one hasto do an equity show before they can join. There were a couple auditions for the broadway show, so it worked out with my schedule.
However, I did not know what I was getting myself into! The audition was at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, which I originally thought was cool, until I had to wait outside in the cold for 3 hours! It never got above 30 degrees outside! And the wind was vicious. Of course, silly me, I was trying to be cute for the audition, so I decided that I didn't need gloves or a hat. I did have enough wherewithal to wear a wool coat, but still! What was really funny about the audition was that a girl that I knew from college, who graduated before me, came right in the line after me! It was very unexpected because I hadn't talked to her for about two years, but I was so glad to see her there, and she was glad to see me. Had she not been there, I might have thought really hard about turning around and going home. But I didn't!
Not only was it freezing outside, the line was extremely long! It wrapped around the corner of the building. I was number 376 and I think there were more than 450 people there total! I had no idea that many people were going to show up. I had previously auditioned for the broadway show Rent and I literally walked in and walked out of the audition. As soon as I got there, I was able to audition because there was hardly any line. Apparently, though, the producers of Dreamgirls on Broadway advertised the auditions everywhere!
Now let me tell you about the demographics of the line. The auditions were supposed to be of women in their 20s, but seriously, there were women who were in their 40s and 50s auditioning too. I'm like, really? It was clearly written what ages the producers were looking for, but these women were in denial. It goes to show you that dreams never die! Not only were women way over their 20s, there were a good portion of women singing songs from the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Not that there's anything wrong with singing those songs, but it is too predictable. And the chances of someone else singing the same song is high. There were more "And I am telling you" renditions than I could count!
I ultimately auditioned with the song, "Never loved a man (the way that I love you)" sung by Aretha Franklin. Thankfully, they let us sing 16 bars, so that ended up being the first verse of the song, which was exactly what I wanted to sing. I love that song because it's got a lot of attitude, dynamics, and hits it hard at the end, in a short amount of time. We also had an accompanist which was nice because I didn't have to sing acapella. It was like deja vu because I had auditioned with the same song for the Amateur night and Showtime at the Apollo auditions. It was very cold when I auditioned for that as well and the line was extremely long. But this time felt different from then. The casting directors that I auditioned for seemed to really like me. They said I should definitely hear back from them is a week. Of course, I am to putting that much stock into those words. I definitely felt like I did great in the audition, but you never know about what these people really want. My look or voice may just not be what they are looking for, or it may be exactly what they are looking for. But it's got nothing to do with talent. So we'll see...maybe I'll hear something soon!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jami Jackson is Presented the Rock Star Artist Award by LIFEbeat

For Halloween this year, I tried to dress up as a Dreamgirl. However, everyone swore I looked like Diana Ross, so I decided to tell everyone I dressed up as Diana Ross. A choir member from my church gave me a gold dress that she used to wear back in the day with gold shoes to match, so I thought it would be great to dress it up for Halloween. I had actually auditioned for the Dreamgirls Broadway show in this same outfit, with the wig and everything. It was a lot of fun wearing this outfit, because I would never have another opportunity to wear an outfit like it and not look wacky!

LIFEbeat had their annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on October 27th. I had a great time there! I went to it last year, but I didn't dress up then. When I went last year, a lot of other people were dressed up in really cool outfits. One couple was dressed up as Huggies Kisses, with full aluminum foil outfits. I felt really out of place, so I wanted to make sure that I dressed up this year. There was a really good turnout of people at this event. There must have been a least a hundred people. There were a lot less people who dressed up, but there were a couple of really good outfits. One couple dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and JFK. There was also really great free food served. There were hor d'oeuvres throughout the event: coconut shrimp, pigs in a blanket, and chicken sticks. I made sure to be first in line each time the waiters came out! There was also an open bar of champagne provided by Barefoot Bubbly and dance music provided by DJ Boo. We were all jammin' to Michael Jackson and some people were even breaking out the Thriller dance!

LIFEbeat also presented the Hearts and Voices Rock Star Artist award to me for this year. I was really happy to receive the award. They cited the work that I did with the NY AIDS Walk 2009 and with "Keep Walkin' On" as the reason why I won the award this year. It was nice getting recognized for doing something positive. I hope to continue to help others and make an impact in this way in the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jami Jackson's First Solo Performance at the Broadway Baby Bistro

On November 10th, I had a great performance at the Broadway Baby Bistro!!! It was my first solo live performance at a night club. I have performed in shows all of my life, but this was the first of its kind for me. It was a wonderful experience preparing for the show and coming up with the music. I worked with a talented pianist named David Berry on the set. I originally wanted to do a show that would feature a full band, but I decided to make it simple this first time. David Berry is getting his Ph.D. degree in Classical Piano from Julliard. He is an excellent player. Even though the show only featured my voice with the piano and no background vocals, he was able to full up the songs with his playing. He would play solos for some of the songs and he would pick out some really cool licks to play in the songs. We worked really well together to prepare for the show. I also had to adjust how I sang the songs. Because I had no background vocalists, I had to sing the verses and hooks and ad lib, while still maintaining the chorus. It is definitely a lot harder doing these kinds of shows instead of singing to karaoke tracks! But I LOVED it!!!! I did not even spend a lot of time promoting the show, but I had a great turn-out of people. My friends, coworkers, piano teacher, members from my church, and even people that I never met, came to my show. My parents came up all the way from DC in a bus to see me perform. It is a great thing to be a part of such a great group of people. I realized that I had a real family in NYC. And that evening was beautiful outside. It was a mild night, not too cold, and thankfully, it wasn't raining. The music just filled up the room and my voice was strong all the way to the end. Everything went exactly as planned. I am still putting up the videos, but this video that I have is the opener selection of my show, "Keep Walkin' On". It was nice to sing it stripped down like this. Everyone had great things to say about the show. Some said it was inspirational, moving, some were brought to tears. I am so happy to give a gift that not only touched other people, but touched me as well. I have wanted to do a show like this for a long time; so I was able to release a part of myself to my audience. It was a liberating experience! I plan to do another show around the end of January or beginning of February. These shows are just the beginning!!!

Jami Jackson Performs at the ING NYC Marathon

Performing at the NYC Marathon on November 1st was a lot of fun!! The night before, I went to a Halloween party in Harlem, not too far from where I lived. Although I knew that I had to sing in the morning, I still wanted to take advantage of Halloween being on a Saturday. The Saturday night parties were bountiful! And it was even better to have an extra hour to party, since it was Daylight's Savings Time at 2pm on November 1st. So I had to take advantage. For Halloween this year, I was dressed up as Diana Ross. I had a gold dress and gold shoes and a cute wig. I'll post a picture of me in the next blog.

That Sunday morning, I had to wake up semi-early to get ready. I needed to be at the location at 125th and 1st avenue at 9:30am, but it wasn't far from where I lived. There was a forecast of rain in the morning, so the coodinators of the marathon said that we could come out after the rain ended to avoid destroying our equipment. I arrived at the location around 10am. However, it was so hard to get there! A lot of the streets were blocked off and as a result, there was a lot of traffic. We finally got on the FDR to the location. Once we got there, it was relatively easy to find parking and access the location. I had my volunteer badge and permit ready in case there was any trouble!

The location was basically the street where the runners were going to pass me. It wasn't a sectioned off area or nook. I set my equipment, an amplifier, microphone, and ipod, up behind where the onlookers were going to be. When I started performing, the people waiting for the runners started to get interested in me. One man who was part of the FDNY asked if I had auditioned for American Idol. I can't count the number of times people have asked me that!! It's a compliment though because they believe in my talent enough to make it on that show. A couple other people were interested in who I was as an artist, and some people were dancing to my music. I kept the show short, to about 30 minutes at a time. I would sing a couple of songs, and then pause, then a couple more. In the beginning of the marathon, a few people would run by at a time, so I sang when they were close to us. I decided not to sing for an extended period of time in the beginning. I was able to see the professional women and men athletes run in the morning. They were surrounded by cops and media. It was interesting seeing them and then seeing who actually won. There were so many runners who came after them! It seemed like a neverending number of runners. It was amazing seeing so many people run the 26.2 miles! I could never run that many miles at one time!

It was a great experience being at the marathon and being able to say that I performed for so many hardworking people. Running the marathon is a real feat, but performing there was even better for me!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rehearsal for My First Show on November 10

David Berry and I have been working really hard to prepare for my show on November 10th! We've been rehearsing since October and have met for hours at a time preparing. David Berry is a talented pianist who will be accompanying me during the show. He is actually getting his Ph.D. in Classical Piano at Julliard. He has a great musical ear and he is very patient. He is also the musical director at All Angels Church in Manhattan. He has been a real blessing for me in this whole process. I actually found him through Craigslist (big-up to Craigslist! :) Although there are a lot of spam and crazies on Craigslists, sometimes you will find a real gem. David is exactly that.

I decided to do a show because I really wanted to have a chance to perform solo at a club. I have been performing all of my life and throughout NYC, but I have never performed my own set at a night club. I have mostly performed for other venues who were putting on their own productions and shows. I originally wanted to pull a whole band together to perform shows in the city, but it was too cumbersome to have a full band. Summer of 2007, I had tried to pull together a small band with a guitar player, bass player, and drummer, but even that fell through eventually. The bass player moved back to Israel and it was hard to replace him. I was trying to find band members who would play for me for free and split show money. However, when musicians are not getting paid, they are not as dedicated to the group and they have their own agenda and ideas for the group. It just got really messy and eventually I scrapped the idea.

The coordinator of LIFEbeat, Erika Banks, told me that she did a solo show with a pianist over the Summer. I wasn't even aware that there were many shows in NYC with solely piano and voice....I had just assumed that most shows consisted of a full band. Once I heard how successful her show was with just her singing and a pianist playing, I was convinced that I could do the same. So far, it has been a wonderful process. David is such a great player and in the spots where I am not singing, he makes up for it with the music. I picked songs that I could sing well without background vocals. I must say, that is the most difficult part of the process, singing songs with no background support. It really helps to take some of the work off the lead singer and have the background vocals pick up some of the slack. However, it is great practice to entertain a crowd with just my voice.

The picture above is the chord chart of my song, "I'll let you go" that we are going to perform on Tuesday. So that you can get a taste of what my show is going to sound like, I have uploaded the song "Greatest Love of All" from our rehearsal last week. I recorded the song on my mini recorder, so the quality is not the best, but you should be able to get a good idea of the song. I'm also going to post pictures and videos of the show after the show next week. If you're in NYC, I hope you can make it. If not, definitely look for pictures and videos next week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Battle is the Lords Solo

On Sunday, October 25, I sang "The Battle is the Lords", made famous by Yolanda Adams. I was actually singing the song in the place of another lead singer of our church. The other lead singer called out sick that morning with vocal issues and no one else in the choir knew how to sing the song. The speaker of the service had their whole sermon based on "The Battle is the Lords". So, I volunteered to sing the song and cover for the other singer. It turned out to be a really great selection! I didn't have a chance to practice the song, so I was hoping that I would be able to successfully deliver it. A lot of the church members came up to me after and said they enjoyed the song. I am glad that I was able to make a difference after such a short notice. My church makes CDs of the service, so I have an mp3 of the song.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon Boy Story of the Day and Choir Rehearsal

The story of the day today was the 6 year old boy who was thought to be caught in a homemade balloon flying craft earlier this afternoon. It was such a bizarre story to hear about! I was very surprised to hear that a family had built this large aircraft from scratch - it was a 5 foot high and 20 foot long object. There was footage online of the balloon flying 50 miles in the air because everyone thought the boy was still in it. The sibling of the boy said that the boy took off inside the balloon in their house. Longmont, Colorado had to shut down one of their busiest airports to help save the boy and even the military got involved. The Colorado Army National Guard sent a UH-58 Kiowa helicopter and was going to send a Black Hawk UH-60 to try to rescue the boy. They also were working with pilots of ultralight aircraft on the possibility of putting weights on the homemade craft to weigh it down. An operation of this sort is not free; apparently the the Black Hawk helicopter was in the air for nearly three hours and the Kiowa helicopter was airborne for about one hour. The Black Hawk costs about $4,600 an hour to fly, and the Kiowa is $700 an hour. All of this media attention and cost came down to the boy being home the whole time. I was very relieved to find out that he was alive and safe. He ended up hiding in a cardboard box in the garage because his father had yelled at him earlier and for getting in the compartment earlier. It was such a wacky story, but I'm glad it ended well.

I also had choir rehearsal today at First Presbyterian Church. We sang "Jordan's Angels", "The Clouds' Mist", and "Halleluyah". We also sang Kirk Franklin's "My Life, My Love, My All". "My Life, My Love, My All" is one of my favorite songs of Kirk Franklin's. I especially love singing the alto part. I am a soprano, but the alto part of this song is particularly beautiful. It adds such nice harmony to the song. The words are also very simple, but easy to relate to. I love a lot of Kirk Franklin's music because of his choir and the words of his songs. My favorite song of his song, "Now Behold The Lamb". It's a Christmas song, but I can hear it any time of the year. I love the piano in the beginning of the song and the lead singer who begins sings with so much feeling. It quickly gets me into the Christmas spirit!

Overall, choir rehearsal was good tonight. We got through a lot of the music that we wanted to do. We are planning to go out for karaoke tomorrow at Duets. I'm going to take pictures because it's going to be a lot of fun! I'll post pictures in the next blog post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FPC Choir and the Pastoral Installation Service in Connecticut

On Sunday, September 20, I performed with the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn Choir at First Congregation Church in Stamford, Connecticut. Reverend Dr. Cari Jackson, a previous interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church, was being installed as the Senior Pastor at First Congregation Church. It meant a lot for our choir to sing at her installation in Connecticut because she had been at our church for over 2 years and we all had a special bond with her. Pastor Cari has a way with words. Her sermons are so easy to relate to, you would think she was speaking to you personally. All kinds of people, young and old, all from diverse backgrounds, could relate to her words. It's amazing, actually, how well she could speak about God and his existence in our life. One phrase that she always closed with us was, "God is as close as your very breath. Breathe deeply and know that God's presence is with you".

Pastor Cari is not your typical pastor. She is a black, female, lesbian reverend who holds not only a Ph.D., but also a law degree. She is a lover of words and she writes poems when she is not preaching. The choir rode in a bus to the church in Connecticut and it took a little over an hour to get there. It was fun riding together in anticipation of the service. We really didn't know what we were getting into; we didn't know how the other church would be or how they would react to us. The First Congregation Church was established 365 years ago, in 1635. They had years and years of white pastors at the church. This service would be the first time that they had a Black, female, and gay pastor installed as Senior Pastor. It was truly a historic service. Read the press release.

During the service, we sang "Come, Let Us Worship the Lord", "No Ways Tired", "Order My Steps", and a few other hymns. I co-lead "Order My Steps" with Bertilla Baker, a great singer and actress. Bertilla has been a lead singer for the choir for many years and is a beloved member of the church. LaChanze FordJour was at the service and performed a song. She was the winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a musical for her role of Celie in the Broadway Musical, The Color Purple. She performed, "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me" and it was excellent! Her voice was so full and dynamic and she really connected to the song. Also, after the service, LaChanze and her husband, Derek Fordjour, both complimented me on my performance of "Order My Steps". They were both really impressed at my delivery of the song. It was nice to get such a compliment from LaChanze.

Overall, the service was a real success. Pastor Cari got the recognition and celebration that she deserved. First Congregation Church is entering a new chaptor by installing Pastor Cari and are headed towards real change. In the history books of First Congregation Church, installing Pastor Cari was like the inauguration for President Obama. I am glad that I was able to witness such a great historic event.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Final Summer Concert Series Show at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn

On August 20, I performed a mini concert at FPC to conclude their summer concert series for the year. The concert series included hymn sings, where the choir would sing songs from the hymn, an art show, guitar band, brass band, and a mini orchestra. All of these concerts took place outside on the steps of the church in Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Heights is a quiet and quaint area of Brooklyn, so our music series was very conspicuous. They were a lot of fun, however! The weather was really nice for most of the series. We also had wine served and sweets like brownies and ice cream. It was a nice way to fellowship outside and enjoy the summer nights.

My concert was particularly interesting. We had started about half an hour late because of technical difficulties. When I arrived to perform, I was surprised to see already a full house! All of the rest of the summer series started 10-15 minutes late because we were waiting for a crowd, but at my concert everyone was ready to see me! I was really excited to see all of the support. After we had the music ready for the show, I started rockin' and rollin'. I sang original songs, cover songs, and some gospel songs. I opened with "Keep Walkin' On" and everyone loved it. I also sang "You Gotta be" by Des' Re and "Shackles" by Mary Mary. I also sang "Sista Girl", a song that I wrote. People in the neighborhood who walked by the church stopped and listened to me. There was one group that stopped and listened to my entire concert! I was very happy to draw such an audience. A blogger for Brooklyn took a picture of me and mentioned me in their blog. You can check out the blog here: http://mcbrooklyn.blogspot.com/2009/08/final-music-concert-at-first...
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. People were still talking about the concert weeks later.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

National Anthem at the USTA Eastern Family Day Grassroot's Challenge

I had such a great time singing for the USTA Eastern's Father's Day Family Grassroots Challenge!! I had to get up really early in the morning to prepare. I got up at 5:30am in order to get ready to sing later. I was planning to sing around 8am, but it ended up being around 9am. Everything was so hectic; the tech crew was still looking for the mic around 8:30am, the players were still gathering together to meet for the opening ceremony, and everything had to be in place to start the opening ceremony.

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis center, where tennis greats such as Venus and Serena have played, is such a huge place that the coordinators had to have walkie-talkies just to get around. Even with these devices, it was still hard to communicate. I had been practicing the National Anthem for the past few weeks before the event. I practiced for so long because I forgot about how difficult the song is!! I had sang the National Anthem at other sporting events in the past felt very comfortable with the song, however, I needed to brush up on a few parts of the song. I decided to sing the song in the Key of G, which gets up to a high D. I'm a belter, so I had to belt out that high D multiple times and that takes practice!! However, on Saturday, it went well and there were no issues. Everyone loved my rendition of the song. I don't think people were expecting such a strong voice from someone like me that early in the morning - I blew them away!! The event coordinators recorded the whole ceremony! See the video here:

I was a little nervous that the whole event was going to be cancelled because on Thursday night, the weather had forecast rain all weekend long and the event coordinators were starting to think about cancelling. However, on Friday they decided to go forward with the event and see what happens. It was clear that morning when I sang the National Anthem, but later that afternoon, it did start to rain. It's too bad it rained because it was an outdoor event where parents and children played against each other in tennis. I hope that they had enough time to enjoy the tournament before the rain started.

It was also really nice to see Michelle Paterson, the Governor David Paterson's wife, speak during the opening ceremony. She spoke about her platform on the importance of leading healthy lives through physical activity. She had her bodyguards there of course, but her demeaner was very approachable and sincere. It was nice being able to share the stage with someone like her!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jami Jackson Supports the AIDS Walk NY 2009 Campaign

The AIDS Walk NY event in May turned out great!! There were so many people there! The AIDS Walk said that there were 45,000 people walking and it definitely looked like that many. The people came in heaps and walked along Central Park. It was amazing seeing so many people in 1 location walking. And everyone was so happy to be there! The people were very diverse, all colors, ages, sexual orientation, etc. Most importantly, everyone seemed happy to be there. I also saw a lot of old friends there, some of whom I haven't spoken to in years. There was rain at first that started in the early morning, but it cleared up by the time the walk started at 10am, thankfully! I didn't have to worry about the rain cutting my performance short. It was also really cold outside. It was only in the 60s, but the wind was whipping and the sun peeked beyond the clouds. Even still, I had a wonderful time performing. Everyone really enjoyed the music and some were even dancing in the street. "Keep Walkin' On" was especially fun to perform. Although most of the walkers had never heard of the song, almost everyone immediately started to dance and sing to it. It was really a perfect song for the event. I ended up raising $535 for the campaign and my team, LIFEbeat, raised $16,795.79! The total 2009 funds raised to date for the AIDS Walk NY were $5,603,409!! It was such a positive experience raising money for the AIDS Walk. I'm so glad that we were able to raise this much money, especially in these economic times. With these funds, we will be able to help someone living with HIV/AIDS in the city and hopefully, be one step closer to a cure.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Are You Living Your Purpose? Learn How Volunteerism Is The New "Green" show

I had a really great radio interview for the BlogTalk Internet Radio Show (the fastest growing internet audience) called, "Caviar and Chitterling" tonight at 8pm (EST). Caviar & Chitterling, a spin-off from TaylorMade Media's critically acclaimed "As Powerful As You Want To Be" PR Boot Camp, hosted by PR Expert, Karen Taylor Bass. Caviar & Chitterling empowers African-American entrepreneurs, small biz owners and individuals to implement real PR strategies to grow their biz, revenue and contact base and at the same time get involved with the issues that impact their communities.

Last night's show was entitled, "The Are You Living Your Purpose? Learn How Volunteerism Is The New "Green" and we talked about my professional singing career, the motivation for "Keep Walkin' On", and my message to others to stay motivated in life. It was a great show! I had so many things to say about working in the business of music and social media tips. I also had great questions from the audience. I really hope that my interview helped someone else become more motivated to work toward their goals. Here is the podcast of the show to listen:



The Are You Living Your Purpose? Learn How Volunteerism Is The New "Green" show

I had a really great radio interview for the BlogTalk Internet Radio Show (the fastest growing internet audience) called, "Caviar and Chitterling" tonight at 8pm (EST). Caviar & Chitterling, a spin-off from TaylorMade Media's critically acclaimed "As Powerful As You Want To Be" PR Boot Camp, hosted by PR Expert, Karen Taylor Bass. Caviar & Chitterling empowers African-American entrepreneurs, small biz owners and individuals to implement real PR strategies to grow their biz, revenue and contact base and at the same time get involved with the issues that impact their communities.

Last night's show was entitled, "The Are You Living Your Purpose? Learn How Volunteerism Is The New "Green" and we talked about my professional singing career, the motivation for "Keep Walkin' On", and my message to others to stay motivated in life. It was a great show! I had so many things to say about working in the business of music and social media tips. I also had great questions from the audience. I really hope that my interview helped someone else become more motivated to work toward their goals. Here is the podcast of the show to listen:



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Greenevers Annual Fireman's Parade

The Greenevers Parade in April was a blast!! I was really happy to see my family and friends and the actual parade was a lot of fun. I grew up watching the parade as a child and always wished that I could be in one of the cars along the route. I finally got that chance! I was posted up in a really nice and brand new car with a driver and I waved all the way from the beginning to the end. It was interesting looking at all of the faces and expressions. Some people were curious, some were just really excited. There were many other cool participants in the parade. There were the winners of the Miss Greenevers pageant, the Mayor, the actual firemen, men on horses, and other groups of people. They really publicized the event and featured me in their newspaper as the main entertainment. There must have been hundreds of people there. There was a lot of candy being thrown out as well. The day started out a little cool, but then it heated up really fast. Once we got near my performance, it was already really hot and muggy. I also debuted "Keep Walkin' On" for the first time live. It was really a hit! Everybody enjoyed it and started to sing a long! I definitely want to be involved with the community again. They showed me so much love and support!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Show at the Rivington House Facility

The show at the Rivington went really well today! I did a gospel set and sang, "Shackles" by Mary Mary, "The Battle is the Lord's" by Yolanda Adams, "Where I am" by LaChun Pace, "Open Heart" by Yolanda Adams, "God's Fingerprints" by myself and my mother, "Redeemer" by Nicole Mullen, and lastly, "Keep Walkin' On"! There weren't as many people in the audience tonight as there were at my March 31st show, but the audience members were just as into the show. One guy, whom I never saw before, even stood up and danced next to me while I was singing "Shackles". I had such a good time! I was so happy to the audience get into the music and enjoy themselves. I also raffled off a few of my CDs. The lucky winners were so happy to have my CD! Even though I had a full day at work, performing in the show afterwards gave me such a boost of energy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Illegal" Immigrant Children - Should They Be Forced To Choose?

"Citizen children" are being caught in the middle of the illegal immigrant battle in the US. According to a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, close to 4 million children who have at least one parent who entered the U.S. illegally were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens as a result. The study also find that one in three of those children are poor. Not only do many of these children live in poverty, if they are discovered to have illegal immigrant parents, they have to choose whether to go back to their original country or stay in the US without their parents. If they decide to stay in the US, they could be separated from their parents for years. Although illegal immigration is a problem in the US, families are being separated in the process and that is big problem. There are organizations out there that provide support to children who have been separated from their parents from immigration such as Organization to Help Citizen children, but there should also be an overhaul of the immigration laws. The Obama administration supported a pass for citizenship that would mean having an illegal immigrant pay a fine, learn English and then get in line for citizenship. However, more should be done. What do you think? Should we keep the immigration laws as is or should there be reform? Should we have these passes for citizenship for illegal immigrants? Or should we support stricter border control?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Swine Flu Continues to Grow Every Day

Swine flu has now spread to 30 U.S. states and the number of countries with confirmed cases jumped to 19 from two in what was little more than a week. The expansion comes amid signs of a slowing epidemic in Mexico. The swine flu is circulating in virtually all of the US states and the WHO has raised the alert level to 5 on April 29th, 1 level below 6. Level 6 means that we are in a full-on pandemic and level 5 means that a pandemic is imminent. It's amazing how this swine flu outbreak started in Mexico, right after Mexico received such negative press about the drug cartels. New York continues to have the highest number of confirmed cases of swine flu infection. Thankfully, it is not turning out to be a strong virus in America, so people are still able to recover if they receive the proper medication. Since I live in NY, I have to take the subways and be in confined spaces. It will be so much easier for the flu to spread among New Yorkers in this situation. I'm going to continue to wash my hands frequently, but it almost seems impossible to avoid. I have taken the flu shot for 2 years now and I haven't caught the flu, so hopefully the swine flu shot will come out soon! I understand why some people feel like this flu has received too much attention and we shouldn't worry, but I also do think it is smart to protect yourself at all times. It's important to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth from coughing and sneezing. Hopefully we'll get over this flu season sooner than later!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Miss Black NY Monthly Mixer at Zanzibar

Last night, I went to a mixer with Quintina Austin to meet their special guests, learn about Beauty's Ink & the Miss Black New York USA pageant system and network. The special guests were Author of "Pretty Thoughts of a Hot Chick" & Editor-in-Chief of Jolie Magazine - Alicia Marie Rivers and Hip Hostess Bloggers/Event Planners - Amber Cleary & Brandi Lingo. It was at the Zanzibar, a trendy bar/lounge in Times Square. I had a great time! There were a lot of people there. I met a Chef that works at the Cheesecake Factory, I met a fashion stylist, and marketers. It was nice talking to new people and taking cards. I enjoyed talking with the chef in particular because I was asking him how to bake salmon and cook steak. He was telling me some good tips! He suggested that I sauteed the salmon first on top of the stove for 1 min on each side in olive oil and seasonings, then cook it for 15 min in the stove. He suggested for the steak, to leave it on the stove sauteed in seasonings for 5 minutes on each side until I have cooked it to a medium level. I am learning how to cook because it is so much cheaper than going out or even buying frozen dinners. I can cook the regular stuff, like chicken and rice and veggies, but I'm trying to get more fancy. I end up eating the same stuff every day and it gets boring! So I had a great time. I was mad tired though, I fell right into the bed afterwards. The event started at 8pm and I didn't leave until 10:30pm, and that was after having worked for 10 hours earlier that day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday Service

Today I participated in the Easter Sunday service at my church. It was a really great service!! There were so many people! I actually saw Tyra Banks there as well! It was really cool to see her in the pews worshiping at our church. We actually ran out of wine during the communion and so some of the members had to go in the back and get more wine to pass out. I sang 2 solos during the service, the beginning of a song called, "Easter Gloria" and "Redeemer" by Nicole Mullen. Redeemer was a big hit!! A lot of people really enjoyed the song!! I was happy to be able to minister to such a large crowd. The service ran longer than usual, it was about 1.5 hours when usually it is a little over an hour. We ran through a lot of songs, in addition to the "Halelluyah" chorus by Handel. The only thing about today was that it was very cold outside! I had on a bright dress that I wore for Easter, but I didn't dress warm enough and I was just about freezing!

I had dinner with my boyfriend's family and his aunt was saying that during her church service, someone stole a fur coat of one of the members!! And this apparently wasn't the first time! They stole the coat right underneath the seat of the owner. I just couldn't believe someone would stoop so low to steal in a church, let alone on Easter Sunday. That goes to show you just how desperate people are nowadays. You really have to watch your belongings wherever you are. Nothing is safe anymore!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I had so much fun during the photo shoot on March 31st!! I never met Hosea Johnson before that day, but we instantly clicked. He is so down to earth and cool. We were talking about religion, he's a Buddhist, I'm a Christian. He knows someone that went to Columbia University who is also my friend, who also happens to be a Buddhist. We ended up pushing the photo shoot back from 10am to 11am because he was just getting in the night before from traveling from another shoot. I was rushing anyway so I was glad to not have to go in a 10am. I wanted to make sure that I had everything I needed: shoes, nails done, materials for the Lifebeat show after. I didn't get to do my nails though :( I was counting on a nail shop down the street from me, but it was closed! I was so shocked to see it closed on a Tuesday morning at 10am. Aren't nail salons open during the day? Hosea lives in Harlem, so I figured that I would go to a nail salon on 125th street, but I couldn't find one there either! Of all the places NOT to find a nail salon, it was on 125th street. Figures that would happen to me, something would not go right. I tried to pre-plan for the shoot and everything. I went and got my eyebrows done the week before by Eliza's Eyes because I really wanted my eyebrows to be on point. I did get to paint my nails that morning, so I was happy about that. I am a piano player, so I don't ever really wear tips on my nails because my nails have to be short to play. And I hate wearing tips because after about 2 weeks, my nails start to hurt and when I take them off, my natural nails are so weak and damaged. And my nails break enough as it is. So in the end, it's more natural for me to have painted nails, than to go to a salon and get tips. So I guess it worked out. But I was still upset!

The hair/make-up stylist, Trevis Lester, and fashion stylist, Debra Ginyard, were really seasoned professionals. I hadn't had a chance to see what the Debra had in store for me and she never measured me before. I had measured myself and gave her my measurements, but I wasn't sure if I did it right. So I was really happy to see that the clothes fit for the most part and that she had some cute stuff for me to wear. She also brought a lot of extra clothes which was good because some of the stuff she brought was definitely not a go for me. I also liked that she had a lot of assessories and brought extra shoes. So I was really happy with her. She has a way of putting together "cheap" and expensive items to make an outfit really look chic.

The Trevis was also really great. I loved all of the colors that he put on me. He really made my face pop out in the pictures and he made sure to match my clothes. He was very detailed with the application as well. He applied and re-applied and applied again make-up until it was just right. He also used his hands a lot to put the make-up onwhich was nice because it helped with the mixing. He just made a special effort to get it perfect. I wasn't sure what I wanted out of the make-up, but he definitely hit it on the nail. He would also apply make-up while I was waiting to take pictures and re-adjust my hair. Debra would do the same with the clothes. It was just fun being the center of attention!

It was hard for me though to actually take the pictures. Hosea would ask me to keep

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sexting - Should Teens Be Prosecuted?

There is a fast-growing trend among teens called "Sexting" in which they send nude or semi-nude pictures or of themselves or say sexually explicit things to each other. All morals aside, these teens could be prosecuted for a crime because it is technically considered child pornography. Philip Alpert had just turned 18 when he sent a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend to friends and family after an argument. Alpert was arrested and charged with sending child pornography and is now a registered felon and sex offender. Sexting is treated as child pornography in almost every state, yet many teens still send these pictures knowing the risk. However, to many people, it just seems like harmless fun. Many females send it to their boyfriends or to guys they like, and then the guys send them to their friends. These pictures can happen anywhere, even during a sleepover. Marissa Miller was 12 when she was in a sleepover with her friends and were taking pictures of themselves in training bras. The picture surfaced on a student's cellphone years later when the girl was 15. Her mom got a call from the District Attorney's office. The DA gave two options, participate in classes and write a report explaining why what she did was wrong or have charges filed against her. This I think is taking it too far. I can understand why teens sending naked pictures of friends or boyfriends to other people, especially as a way to "get back at them", is wrong. There is also a question of copyright and permission for photos. The person who takes the picture holds the copyright of that photo and can give permission for others to use. If the person didn't give permission, that could also be grounds against the sender. But I don't believe these teenagers should be charged as felons and sex offenders. I think more should be done to educate them about the dangers of a digital record. These days, we cannot do crazy things or act out of character because there is big chance that someone will take a picture or a video. We have to be very careful with what we say or do because it is easy for people to capture it and send it to everyone in the world, if they wanted. And these teens are so young, it would be unfortunate for their record to be affected for such a large part of their lives. A lot of these acts seem to be benign and are so quick and easy to do. I don't think teens realize what they are doing until it's too late and people are talking about it. Even if teens aren't sending explicit messages, they may be receiving explicit messages. Eventually, I think the legal system will catch up to these trends and charge teens who sext differently from adult pedofiles. Until then, we really have to talk to our youth. They are growing up too fast these days!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont Becomes the 4th State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Today marks the day that Vermont legalizes gay marriage. It is the 4th state to do so and is joined by Connecticut, Massachusets, and Iowa. I am not a lesbian, but I believe all people should have equal rights. I believe that if two people love each other, they should be able to marry and enjoy all of the privileges of marriage. I feel that bans on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because the constitution states that all people are created equal. It is our right to be able to marry. There are a lot of people who are proponents of civil-unions instead of marriage, but draws the distinction between a religious marriage and a government marriage. Many religious conservatives believe same-sex marriage goes against the word of the Bible. However, there are many religious people who are also homosexuals and I believe if they are free to practice their faith in God, they should be free to seal their marriage with God as well. I can't wait until every state in America legalizes gay marriage. It may take 10 years or more, but one day, it will happen! What do you think? Are you for civil unions or same-sex marriage? How long do you think it will take for state legalize same-sex marriage? Do you think it's possible?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Buying Music Versus Streaming Music

There is more and more data out there that is showing that people are buying less and less CDs (of course) as well as musical downloads and and are streaming more music. Contrary to popular belief, pirated downloads are down as well. Do you find yourself streaming music more than buying music? I know when I am at work, I can't hardly do a thing without first opening up Pandora and listening. Pandora has opened me up to so many new artists and that I wouldn't have been exposed to had I not used it. The only thing is, I wish I had more control over what music I hear instead of it being like a radio station. There are other services out there which give control, like choosing the song, playing it repeatedly, etc, but then that would require me to purchase a subscription (which I may look into doing since a music subscription can be cheaper than actually buying individual songs). Rhapsody is one example of this. The only reason why I am slow at using a music subscription service is that the music is mostly streamable from an internet connection of a computer. It hasn't always been an on-the-go service, like IPods are. Rhapsody offers music downloads to an mp3 player, but not to an IPod. I dont listen to streams on my cellphone, but there are more applications that allow this, like the Pandora app. However, to combine the use of mobile music streams for on-the-go music, one would have to pay for the internet service and the music subscription service, which can be expensive. Blackberry phone internet services starts around $40 a month! Rhapsody offers a mobile application, but is only in radio format, so it hasn't caught up to the computer-based service yet. There is so much music out there that one would really not need to actually own music anymore, if we can stream it anywhere. As long as I could stream it on my phone anywhere I go, I would not need an IPod. This could also help combat piracy because those people who pirate may pay to stream music from their phone. If you are hosting a party, you could create a playlist from the music subscription service instead of from your mp3 player. What do you think? Do you think you will miss having an actual "download" to your mp3 player or better yet, the physical CD? What about DJs of clubs, would they use a playlist online too, eventually? What situations would cause you to really need the actual mp3 player instead of a phone? Do you need that tangible product of a CD, or less tangible product of a download? Or is the experience of listening to the music anywhere more satisfying? Having music from a cell phone could make the mp3 player one less thing to carry around. Our generation these days is all about having the lightest, smallest, most efficient product.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Video Recording for Keep Walkin' On

I finally finished recording the video for "Keep Walkin' On"!! I originally planned to record last Sunday, but it was rainy and cloudy and I really wanted to be outside where it is sunny and bright. I had also planned to have a friend record me singing and walking, but those plans fell through. This weekend seemed to be a travelling weekend for a lot of people! So, I ended up recording by myself. Today was such a sunny and cloud-free Sunday. And it was warm for a change! I didn't want to pass this opportunity up. So I recorded in my neighborhood in Hamilton Heights. I live near the George Washington Bridge that overlooks the Hudson River. You can also see the skyline of New Jersey. I always loved walking over there because of the view, so I thought it would be perfect for the song. I wore one of my favorite dresses for the shoot and just had a good time singing to myself in the camera! I also did a shot of me sitting in the park. I live near the Riverside Park where there is a basketball court, pool, and other recreational activities. Riverside Park is so beautiful and has a lot of space. So I just set up my video camera in front of me and sang to the music. My plan for the video would be to combine shots of me singing to actual footage from past AIDS walks. I have already received permission from the AIDS walk organizers to use their footage online. I really wanted to have a creative and high quality video, but still be inexpensive.
While I was recording, there were so many onlookers! One person took a picture of me and tried to talk to me, but I was in the middle of the song. I was singing outloud, so people could hear me. I was trying really hard to ignore the stares, though, because it would have really distracted me from my performance. One person in particular started talking to me (I think he wanted to holla :)). He said he was also a videographer and a producer and wanted to work with me. I was polite to him, but I eventually told him that I had to get back to what I needed to do. I don't like to work with people who first start talking to me because they were attracted to me, then start talking about all of what they can do for me later. Right then and there I know there is no real relationship that will come out of it because they will be mixing business with pleasure. I prefer to work with people who were referred to me or who I seek out first. So that was a no! His films are on Youtube, though, Dream2films, if you want to check him out!
I also ran into someone that recognized me from the BET documentary! She knew all about me, that I went to Columbia, that I sing, etc. I was so shocked that she still remembered me and my story, especially since the show was 4 months ago! She said that she really enjoyed the show and that she didn't guess the status of each person correctly. I'm just so glad that she wanted the show and it made an impact on her. And it is nice to be recognized from TV!! People like her help me to keep doing what I do because I know that I am making a difference.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Binghamton, NY Shoot-out

Friday, I heard the dreadful news of 13 killed by a suspected gunman named Jiverly Wong. The 13 worked at the American Civic Association, an immigration services organization. Jiverly Wong then turned the gun on himself and died. When I first heard about the incident, I thought it might have been a hate crime. However, the story is exactly the opposite. Jiverly Wong was from Vietnam and had been taking English classes at the organization. Apparently, he changed his last name to Woong and was upset that people were picking at his inability to speak English. The workers at the organization said it wasn't a total shock that he did this crime, which tells me that he must have had erratic or suspicious behavior before. My question is, did they try to get him help? Did they report him? I was a Psychology major in school and I was interested in even attending medical school to study psychiatry. It really interests me to understand people. However, time and time again, people do not take psychiatric illnesses seriously. People just say that someone is "crazy" and just goes on with their lives and not deal with the problem more. A lot of people do not pay attention to the tell-tell signs of mental illnesses. Instead, we get the stories after the fact of these people killing other innocent people. Then all of a sudden it's a shock to everyone. No one would think that person could "do that". I really wish that our mental system could be updated to help people report unstable people. If someone is unstable or shows signs of violent, irrational behavior, others should be alerted about it. I don't know how logistical it would be, but more definitely has to be done with our mental system. I am reading more and more stories of people killing people. I read a story in NC where a former worker killed like 4 people at a nursing home. That person was unstable. Violent, mentally ill people do not need to have guns, but they do because of our gun laws. More really needs to be done about this. Especially now when people are losing their jobs, their homes, not able to take care of their families, people who may have had a few issues now have magnified issues. Stressors can really put people over the edge and do crazy things.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Free Downloads in China - Is It Fair?

So, it's the moment we have all been waiting for....FREE and LEGAL DOWNLOADS!!! But wait, it's only happening in China, darn it! Well, that is true folks, the music industry has ekked out a deal with Google to offer free, legal music downloads in China, but China alone. How have they been able to do this? Isn't the music industry the first industry to fight this kind of deal? I mean, look at PRS and Germany....Youtube had to pull videos of their website that is related to PRS and Germany because they haven't been able to negotiate the rates. Ruckus and other ad-supported models have failed because the cost to stream outweighs the ad revenue. But now we see that the music industry will take what they can get. In China, 99% of music is pirated. 99%! Can you believe that? Less that 1% of the population actually buy music. And China's legitimate music market accounts less that 1% of the global market. Not only will the music be free, but it will be of higher quality. China has a illegitimate download service already with a search engine called China Baidu but the music wasn't high quality. Google's market share in China as a search engine is much smaller than China Baidu. China Baidu has 60% of the market share in China. This partnership will help Google as well because Google will become more of a dominant force in China, as it is in the rest of the world. I just find it interesting because the music industry always seems to stress the importance of pay per stream models and royalties, yet, it will take ad-revenue money from free downloads in China. I also think that the more sales begin to decline in other parts of the world, the more the industry will begin to make deals like this one elsewhere. It won't happen in the US for awhile because our legitimate music market is much larger, but it may happen eventually if the market share gets smaller and smaller. Do you think this is fair though? Why should Americans be expected to pay when there is a deal such as this in China? Even me, as an artist, I believe artists should be compensated, but I also understand the consumer's needs as well. And I am reasonable when it comes to these kinds of things. I just find it very interesting that this model is out there. I think we will see more of this in the future.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Time or Lack Thereof

Time is of the essence. I don't know how often people think about time and whether or not they are using it efficiently, but I think about it everyday. I think about whether or not I am wasting time when I sleep an extra hour. I think about whether or not I am wasting time by not reading on the train on my way to work. I think about my time when I decide whether or not I should cook because cooking takes away 2 hours out of my day (preparation, cooking, eating, then clean-up). Time is really important to me because I juggle so many different things at once. I juggle a full-time job as well as performing, singing, songwriting, playing the piano, marketing, the list goes on and on. I am always kicking myself when I don't do something, like practice playing the piano when I should, or practice singing when I should. But then I try to congratulate myself when I do accomplish big tasks, like an 8 hour photo shoot in Harlem during the day, then going straight from the shoot to a show in the Lower East Side with no vocal warm-up, no practice whatsover, and giving it my all for an hour, while singing power songs like "I will always love you", "Greatest love of all", "Nobody's supposed to be here", etc. I try to give myself a pat on my back and say "Good job Jami!" because I have to appreciate what I do accomplish. But I never feel like I am doing enough. How do other people manage their time wisely? I try to organize myself with my Blackberry, but then my calendar gets muddled with 30 15 minute appointments everyday that I definitely can't accomplish all at once. I try to do at least 1 thing, so that I can say I did something. But the time just keeps marching on. Do you feel like you are using your time wisely? As the saying goes, life is short. It's important to try to take advantage of it while we can.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Variable Pricing with ITunes....Get Ready!

ITunes will begin varying their prices for digital tracks in April 7th. Many hit singles and classic tracks will cost $1.29. This new pricing plan could be the first real test to see how much consumers are willinng to buy for music. Psychologically, a new song may cause someone want to spend more for that song in order to have it to listen to. However, consumers have gotten so used to spending $0.99 on a song, that it could also be a detterent to charge more money. This pricing strategy will also lower the price of selected songs. The music industry has been pushing for a variable-pricing strategy to try to gain more revenue from digital downloads in the wake of declining CD sales.
But is it the right time for variable pricing? Much of the world is going through a recession and slow-down in growth, so will consumers be willing to spend more for this discretionary expense? Would it make more people want to pirate music, if they can't afford the downloads? $1.29 seems like it's not that much more, but if you are like me and buy 10, 20 songs at a time sometimes, then it can add up. Would it cause more people to move in the opposite direction?
Apple is planning to sell music at 3 prices, 69cents, 99cents, and $1.29. The tracks would be DRM-free and could play on unlimited computers. The prices would be geared to artist popularity. Newly released tracks by new artists would receive the lower prices, while popular acts would get the higher price. Classic tracks would also get the higher price. Most of the songs are expected to stay at 99cents. There could also be the option of bundling a more expensive track with a less expensive track in order to boost sales. These value packages could make customers want to buy more.
I think variable pricing is a smart way to sell music in order to take advantage of artist popularity, but I feel like it should have started in the beginning. Now, I think people have gotten used to how music was priced before and will have to get over the hurdle of the higher price now. People will definitely still buy music, but music purchases may decline from the change in price. The more expensive music purchases are, the more alternate options people begin to seek. Personally, I am a fan of streaming services. Although ad-supported download services haven't quite worked out, ad-supported streaming services have faired pretty well. I like to listen to a lot of music, so economically, it doesn't make sense for me to buy every single download. I would be spending thousands of dollars on music. I think eventually, music will move toward streaming services instead of downloading services because of the ability to listen to more music at a time and not pay for each song individually.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drummer Josh Freeze's Solo Album - Is He a Marketing Genius or Is Just Plain Crazy?

Today I was reading about a drummer named Josh Freeze and how he is marketing his first album as a solo artist. Josh Freeze has played with numerous bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Devo and A Perfect Circle and has recorded on hundred of albums. He is releasing his newest record, Since 1972, on March 31st. As a way to market the album, he is selling limited-edition packages along with the music. He is offering a free download of 1 song, or the entire album for $7, which is not too extraordinary. But he is also offering a lunch date with Freeze at P.F. Chang's or The Cheesecake Factory for $250, that is limited to 25 people, or for $2500 you can take 3 things from his closet, limited to 5 people, or for $75,000 people, you can take shrooms and cruise in Hollywood in Tool drummer Danny Carrey's Lamborghini.
However, this idea is not new. Nine Inch Nails did a similar marketing strategy in which they released their album, Ghosts, by either offering the album the first 9 digital tracks free on their album, or selling the entire digital album for $5, or a limited edition package for $300 would include the vinyl edition of the album in a fabric slipcase with 3 hardcover books containing the session files from the studio, a slideshow of the music, photographs, and other goodies. The limited edition package was only available for 2500 and they sold out!! What's interesting to me is that with all of the talk about internet piracy and digital downloads, artists still manage to sell records.
This goes to show us that some consumers are still willing to buy records if they find value in the music. For Nine Inch Nails to sell out of their $300 package tells us something. No one has to pay that kind of money and it is not usual for that kind of package to be offered for an album release in the first place. If piracy was so rampant that most people felt no real value for music other than free, then the $300 album package would not have been sold. These bundled packages seem to be a great way to add value to music. Die hard fans could especially appreciate the bells and whistles of an album and would pay for more. And those are the people that should be marketed to in the first place. Music is at most an intangible asset. It can easily be transferred, especially now with mp3 players, and can almost feel like it is and should be free. If it is bundled with other goods, it could be easier to market and profit from while also avoiding piracy. Some people are always going to try to get music for free no matter what. This happens in any industry, not just the music and film industry. There will always be a black market because every industry is affected by price and value of products. What I see as a new trend in selling music is finding ways to bundle the music with a medium that cannot be copied or transferred. This could include lunch date with Freeze, but it could also mean a vinyl album, or session files from the studio, or anything that is limited and therefore could assign more value to the music and give the fan more bang for their buck.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Should There Be An Internet Music Fee?

The Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) came up with a proposal recently for a Internet music fee of $5 per month which would allow users to swap as much music as they like. A fee such as this would mirror the fees that other music venues pay, such as radio stations, bars and restaurants, etc. A venue that uses music for entertainment is required to at least pay a blanket fee to cover the cost of playing copyrighted music. There are many business models floating around that is toying with the idea of making internet consumers pay a fee for music, whether they actually download music or not. It would be an automatic fee that the would have to pay to use the internet. However, this business model is less popular. The proposal by the SAC is actually asking for voluntary participation by artists and consumers. If consumers decide not to participate, it requires them to sign a sworn statement saying that they will not share copyrighted material. Artists can decide not to participate and not do anything further.
One of the issues of the proposal by the SAC is that the music fee may not be the end of the fees for using the internet. Will the fees just be getting started? The movie industry has also been losing money from illegal digital downloads and bootlegging. Will they also require a fee for the use of the internet? What about books and newspapers? Newspapers are going out of business and are desperately in need for more cash. When will the fees stop? Why is it that music seems to take precedence and attention? Should the fees stop with music?
If Canada implements a monthly fee for music on the internet, I believe other fees would soon crop up. Once the plan has worked through the kinks and other companies see iys importance, they would want the same treatment as the music companies. I believe that the current model of radio stations and bars/lounges paying a blanket fee for music is fair. Their whole business is based on music, so naturally, they will be playing music at their venues. There is no way around that and these venues would be out of business if they could not play copyrighted music.. However, the internet consists of more than just music. It covers everything and anything that you can think of. If you try to make a fee for the use of a small part of it, other companies will crop up and want a fee as well. The fees would become too great and defeat the purpose of the internet. The internet has mainly been about information. There is no tangible product, just transfers of ideas. Therefore, it will be difficult to regulate it. Music is basically a transferable product. It is heard, not touched. There will be many different ideas on how to get a handle of the music and internet, but I think the music industry is missing the point. The business model for music has changed since the advent of the internet and the mp3 player. Music is not used or heard the same way that it was used to. I think the music industry should take advantage of the new ways that music is heard and spread. There are other opportunities, such as streaming and mobile appliciations, that can take the place of the mp3. It also allows for a greater audience for the music and prevents a physical copy of the music from being spread. I hope that the music industry moves away from going after the consumer and instead tries to work with the consumer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Final Recording Studio Session for Keep Walkin' On

Today was a great day because I finally finished recording the vocals for "Keep Walkin' On", my newest song. I am so excited about that because recording in the studio can be a grueling process! Vocal takes have to be done and re-done until its perfect. Even the littlest imperfection sticks out on a recording. Thankfully, I prepared ahead of time for the recording and I had my vocal teacher, Carey Yaruss there. Her website is www.careyyaruss.com. Carey has been a great addition to my life. I just started working with her, but she has really helped me hone my vocal technique. She has a great ear and is able to pick out the littlest thing. It was nice having her in the studio today because this day was for my lead vocals and adlibs. Those parts of a song is the most difficult part of a recording because they have to be not only technically correct, but delivered correctly. The passion has to come through. Having Carey there helped take off some of the stress because I had other ears to hear what I was doing. I didn't have to concentrate on the technique, I could just sing. I'm really excited about this song and I hope that it touches somebody. It is a very inspirational, uplifting song and I believe in times like these, when people are losing their jobs and homes, we need something to touch us on a more deeper level. Once I finish mixing and mastering the song, I'll be able to start promoting it! More to come....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Church in Brooklyn

I am a professional singer for a really nice church in Brooklyn. I have been there since February 2008. It's a great church, not only because of the music, but because of the people that attend. The congregation is REALLY diverse; there are gay and straight couples, different races of people, mixed socioeconomic classes, you name it! What I love about it is that everyone has a unique story and a unique way about themselves. And lately, we've been drawing a crowd wider than our own vicinity. We recently had a talk about the transition team with President Obama that a few of our members talked about and participated in. We also had a dinner that celebrated the police in our neighborhoods. We drew a lot of press for those events.
Not only do I sing for their services in our choir, I also participate in the children's church. Children's Church is a service within a service; a service for the children that starts out with music and breaks out into groups for talking about the bible and reflection. I help with the music part in the beginning. For someone that has absolutely NO experience with children, it was hard at first for me to get used to it. Children's attention spans are so short, you really have to do a lot to keep them interested! And what I think they might enjoy ends up being too complicated or too boring. But it has been fun figuring out how to make them interested. They have gotten more warmed up to me and now get really excited to see me! Children can be so fun to be around. I think what's fun about it is that in order to please them, you have to put yourself in their shoes. They can't be put in your shoes. You really have to think back to when you were a child and what made you happy. Then, you can come up with interesting things. Otherwise, they will zone out. It definitely has been a learning experience.
Singing in the choir has also been an amazing time for me. Before, I was looking for a church home the entire time I was in NYC, ever since the beginning of college, and I never found one until now. That was for about 5 years! I mostly missed being in a choir. I grew up in the church in Durham NC. I had been singing in a church choir since I was 5 years old. So to not be singing in a choir during college was really difficult for me. I had no real outlet for church and I LOVE singing gospel music. When I learned that my church was looking for more singers, I immediately jumped to the occasion. Once I visited the church and listened to the choir, I felt at home. They were singing the kind of music that I like to hear. And they were singing very diverse kinds of music, some classical, some gospel, some in between. I hadn't found another gospel choir in NYC that really sang gospel. NYC gospel choirs to me are more stoic and opera-like. My choir can SANG! So it truly has been a blessing for me to not only be able to sing gospel, but to be a part of such a loving church family. And they love me there too, which is great!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LIFEBEAT Hearts and Voices Show

Today, I performed for the Lifebeat Hearts and Voices show at Terrence Cardinal Cooke Center (TCC). It was a great show! I was super pumped today because I had another great recording session with Tommy the day before. I was listening to my new song all day and was just so excited about it. Performing in front of the residents really made me feel more alive that I ever had felt. I really felt like I was connecting with them and I was singing, "in the moment". I had also dressed nicely for the show to give it an extra kick. Every time I performed at TCC, the residents would ask over and over if I brought CDs. A lot of the times, I simply forgot to bring them! This time, though, I auctioned off 3 CDs for the residents. It was SOO much fun!! They were so excited to win the CDs!! I know how much it means to them and I can only imagine how much fun it will be for the winners to open the package and listen to the music on their own time. I truly love performing for the residents. It gives me an opportunity to take risks and try new things as an artist, but I am also able to make an impact with the audience. My next show is on March 31st and I can't wait! Here is a picture of Erika Banks, the coordinator of the Hearts and Voices program and myself after the show.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Studio Session with Tommy Faragher

On Saturday, I had the most amazing studio session with Tommy Faragher! Tommy is a Grammy-nominated producer who has worked with artists such as Taylor Dayne, The O'Jays, Al Green and has had publishing deals with Warner Chapell Music and Sony. However, I ran most of the show during the session on Saturday. I was playing some of the piano and synth parts of the song and coming up with the percussion. He definitely helped me to tailor my ideas but he is all about input and feedback. When I have worked with producers in the past, I would give the vocals to the producer and they would come up with the track behind. I had very little input on how the track would sound even though I was a musician as well. This time I had more opportunity to make the track exactly as I heard it. I didn't realize how tedious it was to come up with the track though!! There are so many layers to a song and it's important to keep it interesting to the ears. There are so many instruments and sounds that can go into a track, so it's hard to decide which one works best. But it was a lot of fun developing the track. The song is called, "Keep Walkin' On". I originally wrote it as "Keep Holdin' On", but that line has been used too many times. I hope to have the song finished in time for the AIDS Walk this year. The AIDS walk will be on May 17, 2009. That really only gives me one month to finish the song and one month to promote it. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Miss Black NY Pageant

On January 3rd, I participated in the Miss Black NY pageant at the Helen Mills Theater. It was an interesting and different experience that I was totally unprepared for! I had focused solely on the song and speech. I really thought that those 2 things held the most weight. Turns out, I needed to practice my modeling skills and put more work in my clothing attire. I wore a dress that I thought could work as a gown, but was too short. The pageant said that there were no swimsuits allowed, so I wore a fully clothed Nike outfit, but all of the other girls wore clothes that bore their midrift. The girls also took a lot of time to model their clothes whereas I simply walked in and off stage. I couldn't even try to come up with a way to be creative with it. There were 7 other girls that participated in the pageant. Everyone did really well over all. I had family and friends that attended thankfully, so I still had some support. Another female ended up winning the pageant. She was well-prepared for the event. She had actually done pageants before and does motivational work for a living. She was also an older woman. Most of the girls had already done pageants before, so they knew what they were getting into. I had never participated in a pageant before. I never really even watched a pageant before. I honestly don't know what I was thinking, that I could just roll in there and make it happen like that on the spot. I knew about the speech and talent portion, but I didn't pay much attention to anything else.
I also wasnt practiced enough for the questions. Now granted, I couldn't prepare my answers in advance, but I am not used to answering questions on the spot. I am more of a quiet and introverted person and I need time to think about my responses. I was asked what part of NY would I take tourists and I immediately answered Brooklyn. Not that I know much about Brooklyn, or NY in general for that matter, but because I knew it is the borough with the most people and culturally, there are have been so many changes. But my answers probably came out disjointed and unclear. The next question was who is a good role model for young children, and naturally I said, "Barack Obama!" although I know, it's cliche. But still, enough can't be said about that man!
My song for the pageant was "Greatest Love of All" and my speech was about HIV prevention and awareness. The song turned out really well. I felt like I connected to the audience and even put more into the song than what I practiced. The speech was good too. I hadn't practiced it enough to the point of memorization, but once I was on stage, I actually spoke it from memory. The audience seemed to connect to the message. I was saying all of the facts about HIV infection and NY. Did you know that NYC has the highest rate of HIV infection in the US? NYC's rate of HIV infection is 3 times the national rate. HIV adversely affects the black community and the youth. 1 in 40 African Americans have HIV in NY. HIV infection is the leading cause of death for Black women aged 25-34 years. HIV infection is also the leading cause of death for young people. These statistics are appalling and scary! I truly believe that more has to be done for HIV prevention and awareness. I plan to continue to work with Lifebeat and other HIV activist groups to do more. I will keep you posted on the details!

Christmas fun and New Years Eve disaster

My Christmas was really nice. It got off to a bad start though because my flight was delayed for 2 days! I was supposed to go home on December 20th, but we had a really bad snow storm the day before in NY. Pretty much all of the flights were delayed going to and coming from NY and the next flight for me ended up being Monday morning, December 22nd. I had to miss my Mom's birthday on the 21st and everything! My family had planned to go to church and then have dinner at Ruth Chris's Steakhouse, a really upscale steakhouse in Cary, North Carolina. Had I been there, I would have ordered a medium rare filet mignon. My steaks have to have a lot of flavor! However, I missed all of the festivities :( Oh well, at least the airports were trying to avoid trouble. Did you hear about the miraculous United Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River in NY on Thursday, January 15th? It was such an amazing recovery! All 150 passengers survived! They were heading from LGA to Charlotte, a regular flight that anyone could have been on, but apparently the flight hit a flock of geese and started to falter. The pilot, who ended up being an experienced pilot from the Air Force, brought the plane to safety. It landed in the water, but no one had any major injuries, save hypothermia. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have been on that plane! I am always afraid that something could happen when I board planes. When you are in the air like that, you are at the mercy of the pilots and God. God certainly had mercy on those passengers!
It was nice spending time with my family for Christmas. I was in North Carolina for 8 days. I met up with some friends from high school and saw my Grandmother and my aunts and uncles. I also got exactly what I wanted and needed for gifts. I'm not able to travel home as much as I want since I work and live in NY. I go home usually for the main holidays.
My New Years Eve turned out to be a disaster. I went to a party that was promoted by P. Diddy's Ciroc and it was $50. I was excited at first because I didn't want to spend too much on my New Year's Eve, but I wanted to go out still. $50 seemed like a perfect amount to spend. The promoters claimed that there would be hor d'oervers, 3 hour open bar, party favors, complimentary breakfast, champagne toast, and other perks included. It was at a "new" club called Promenade. Turns out the club was at the old "Nest" club that changed its name to Promenade, probably because of the bad rap. My crew and I got to the club at 10:00pm, later than we wanted, but still a reasonable enough time, and the bouncers made us wait outside in the club for over and hour and a half!!!! Now mind you, it was FREEZING outside. And I definitely had on a dress with no stockings and heels and no hat, trying to be cute for New Years Eve. It was all in vain. We barely made it in for the countdown. Some people didn't even make it in by the countdown, they did the countdown in the cold outside. I have never had a worst time in all of my life. And everything the promoters claimed was included at the party wasn't there. There was nothing inside, no indication that it was even a New Years Eve party at all. I decided that I would never go to a New Year's Eve party below $100 and I probably won't go if we don't get a table. I refuse to go through something like that again!!

BET TV Documentary, "Are You Positive?"

I was so excited to see the BET TV documentary on December 1st!! I have never experienced such joy in my life. I was also really nervous because I was not able to see the special before it aired. I didn't know how I was going to look or sound! I ended up watching it with Cides and a friend from North Carolina, whom I haven't seen in years. He came all the way from North Carolina and called me to meet up in NY. It was perfect timing!
The special turned out to be even better than I thought it was going to be. I wasn't able to see or learn about the other people on the documentary before I saw it. However, all of the stories were so interesting. And I felt like they gave a good amount of time for each person to give the viewers and idea about who they were and what they believe in. They were able to catch me playing the piano on a few different occasions as well as singing original and cover songs. That's exactly how I wanted to look. They had a snippet of my newest song "I will Survive" as well as "Sista Girl". Hopefully, I will release "I will survive" this year. I am in search of a really good producer. If you know of one, let me know!
I was also very surprised at the end. I didn't correctly guess who I thought had HIV and who I thought didn't. But that was the point, that we can always accurately decide who has HIV. We have to continue to use safe practices. I really believe that the special was an excellent way to tackle HIV stigmatism. It was also the perfect day to air, since it aired on World AIDS Day. I really liked how they interweaved facts about HIV in the special as well. Although it was only 30 minutes, I felt like it managed to accomplish its goal. I was also surprised to see all of the publicity it got. It was promoted on 106 and Park before the special aired and multiple commercials were aired for it as well. It was so exciting!
The day of the special, I was actually called to do a radio interview with 103.7 The Beat! I was so surprised to get the request! I was not expecting it at all! It is an FM radio station based in Michigan. I also did a radio interview for BmoreNews on December 2nd. It is a radio station based in Baltimore. I was so happy to continue to promote the show and spread the word of HIV prevention. I was nervous for those interviews though, because I had never done a radio interview before. I wasn't prepared for it or anything. But I wrote down a few points that I wanted to say and I took it from there. It was definitely nervewracking, but a wonderful experience. I was really happy to spread the word!