Saturday, April 23, 2011

Singer Stephanie Jeannot


Stephanie Jeannot is a singer and songwriter who grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She had an awesome upbringing and was provided for by excellent parents who did their best to build her up with their Christian values.

It is said that every child is born with a unique gift and her’s is singing. She started singing at the age of six years old when she heard the song “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” by Deniece Williams and has grown to love the art ever since.

Since then, she sung in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School church choir, St. Edmund’s Catholic High School choir, the New Age choir at Temple University, and then went on to become the worship leader at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School church in which she attended during her elementary school days. Upon leaving her role as worship leader, she became the youth choir director at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and also worked as the choir director for the mass choir.

While she grew up and found training in both classical and Gospel music, she also had opportunities working in the studio, on stage with some fabulous bands and doing stage work in a few off-Broadway plays including “Rock-A-My Soul where she portrayed a role as a Southern Bell.

She has worked with Ma’at the Band, Nineteen South the Band, Organic the Band, The Renegade Band and Jamaikit Funky Band. She has performed at such places as the Riverside Church, The renowned Apollo Theatre, Harvey’s Lounge, Club Essence, Russos on the Bay, The Norfolk Country Club and The Bean Runner Café among many others. If you are interested in having her perform at one of your events which include but is not exclusive to weddings, corporate events, street fairs, bar mitzvah, mother's day celebrations, birthday parties, and more, please feel free to visit her gigmasters page at http://www.gigmasters.com/Variety-Singer/Stephanie-Jeannot/ where you can check out her repertoire, listen to a few clips of her singing live at past events, and book her for your special event.

Stephanie Jeannot is also a producer of music in which she writes and produces many of her original songs. Recently, three of her original songs have been distributed to the public and are available at ITunes. Go to ITUNES and do a search on Stephanie Jeannot to download her tracks for $0.99 or you can visit her tunecore tuneplayer http://widget.tunecore.com/swf/tc_run_h_v2.swf?widget_id=63255
where you can listen to a snippet and download today.

If you are interested in finding out more about Stephanie or keeping up to date with upcoming events, please join her twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/musiqal1 to stay informed. Also, she has a youtube channel where you can see videos from her past performances. You can check them out at http://www.youtube.com/user/sj1and0?feature=mhum
                                                                                                       

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Quote Mile Stretch

A few years back, I was invited by the chief shop steward of my local union to attend a shop stewards seminar.  I am a shop steward for the Local 153 division of OPEIU and it was such a great meeting. Not only was it informative, but it was the way that the proctor conducted it that kept me going.

He used a series of quotes to help people to identify with him. Ever since that day, I have fallen in love with quotes. I have never found myself looking for quotes more than I do now. I think that sometimes the intelligent things that people say can have a direct effect on my life. And because they do, I have chosen to add quotes to the flow of this blog to talk about a few things that have recently entered my mind about the state of being and defining life.

While we can define life, can life really be summarized in just a few paragraphs.  I mean think about this, in 31 in a half years of life, a person lives through one billion seconds of breath.  In one billion seconds, there are so many things to have gone through that I would see it as impossible; even in the simple filling out of an application or just putting together a resume that truly points out who you are or what you know.

“There are only a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and change.” – Darren Hardy

I am starting to agree with this quote. As I grow older, I have found that the only thing that has remained constant in my life was my ability to change my mind. I love doing so many things that my heart seems to switch very easily.

Back in 2005, I set a goal for my year that I was going to start dieting and exercising and decided that I was not going to allow anything to stand in my way.  From that moment on, I gave up eating meat and went to the gym seven days a week.  I even got a trainer to help me work out at my local Ballys.

In just three months, I lost fifty pounds and dropped from a size 14 to a size six. It was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced. My peers could not believe my instant success. Not only did I look great, but I felt great to have been able to accomplish something of that enormity.

I enjoyed the idea of working out so much that I had decided I wanted to do something in my future that involved directing people how to work out.  So I decided to change my major from Psychology to Physical Education.  For one, I loved working with youth, enjoyed the idea of education and was really motivated at the idea of working out.

Like Darren Hardy’s quote said, the idea of physical education as a major brought on the death of my previous major of Psychology. Though it had been about seven years since I had been enrolled in a collegiate program to obtain a degree, it had changed my mind and made me want to go back to school again.  And suddenly, I was being taxed over $3000 for enrolling in two classes.  But it was what I wanted to do and so I did it.

“Excellence is a process, not an event.” – Mark Zimmerman

After three months and losing 50 pounds, I should have stuck to what I was doing? The faster you lose it, the faster you gain it back. But as soon as the 50 pounds were eliminated, I stopped doing the exercise and the dieting that had got me there and that was a mistake. 

I lost my ground. I started to lose hope in myself. All the work I had done to get where I was, was for nothing because in a short matter of time, I gained all the weight back. When Mark Zimmerman said excellence is a process, it is true because it was the process of sticking to the plan that got me to the event and once the event happened, the process was eliminated.

I rejoiced in the event as opposed to the process which was more important. My life journey was suddenly changed by my downfall. But how could I have allowed myself to satisfy the skeptics who saw my failure before it even occurred? It was important for me to learn how to find my groove back so instead of letting my gaining the weight back upset me, I found ways to be motivated to find another approach to keep joy flowing in my life; especially since Brad Worthley said, "your smile is your biggest assett."  I couldn't let my shaky ground steal my smile.  

“Be creative and have the tenacity to make lemonade out of sour situations” – John C. Maxwell

 It is true that when you are at the end of your hope, some of the most creative things can come out. I wrote more poems and songs in that short period than I ever had. I started gaining confidence in other areas.

Songwriting seemed to really be calling my name.  I had never felt more inspired to do so.  I started going to this open mic night at Soul Café that kiss FM used to host ever Sunday night and would switch up sometimes doing covers and sometimes doing originals.

I met a few amazing friends there who later on got me into the studio.  With one, we worked on about four songs and with another, we worked on over thirty original tunes. It was then when I decided that I wanted to try producing music on my own.

And so, I started building a studio.  I purchased a little Tascam US 122 soundboard thinking that as a  beginner, I didn’t really need something so sophisticated. I got a Triton LE keyboard with 61 keys and the Sonar Cakewalk software with the hopes that I would be able to produce my own music.

I enjoyed the process of going to my friends’ studios and working together as a team to produce some amazing songs but the experience of sitting at the booth and working on the musical tracks and then laying down the vocals was such a wonderful experience. If you are looking for the perfect keyboard for your studio, check out the  Korg TRITON LE 61 - Key Workstation. It’s a great piece of equipment.

“Visions are God’s ways of communicating things.” – Russell Simmons.

I seen it for myself that when you get a vision, sometimes you cannot just let it go because you might forget it. I remember when I was working in the off-Broadway musical, “Rock-A-My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” a friend of mine was a songwriter and whenever a song idea would come to her, she would run to her cell phone to leave herself a message of the exact melody that she thought of. Even if it was during a short three minute break for costume change, she was ready to record the ideas that flowed through her mind. 

Her responsiveness to her own creativity never left my mind. Until today, I follow her mind set so that when I get home I will be able to go and work on that song idea.  I could be standing at the bus stop with ten thousand people waiting for the B49, but when a song idea comes to me, I just start singing and find a way to record a voice note to make sure I won’t forget it. Listen to some of my orginal songs at www.myspace.com/melodiaz

But there are more things that amp my vision for a song; if I hear a great message, I am constantly writing key words that I hear from it. It is weird how many pages of basic thoughts from inspirers who really speak to me and make me want to write. I think that is when I decided to change my major to English. But perhaps I chose English as a major for the wrong reasons.

“The most important relationship in the world is the one you have with yourself because everyone and everything is a direct reflection of the quality of that. So when you invest in your own personal growth, you have an unshakable sense of self.” – Mari Smith

I thought that as an English major, I could become better grounded in saying the right thing so I could apply that into songwriting.  I wanted to familiarize myself with the language so I could use it to my advantage in my songs. Should I have majored in music?  I mean, if it had not been for my high school English teacher's forcing us to memorize and interpret Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech, I would never love English as much as I do now.  I wanted to write like the great William Shakespeare. I wanted to move people like Langston Hughes. I wanted to write amaing articles like NY Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert. But I also wanted to write songs as wonderfully as Carole King. So I thought English was the major that would get me there.

I love to sing, but I also love to write.  Singing is one of those things that I wake up thinking about. I don’t remember a day that I didn’t envision myself one day singing on that Grammy stage.  While that is a dream that might seem a little far fetched, dreaming is healthy. 

I also love to write and am learning to love so many different aspects of it, now that I am pursuing a degree in English. Check out some of the things I have written at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/56521/stephanie_jeannot.html

"You have to be willing to learn new things everyday, every minute." - Russell Simmons

I took this amazing poetry class during my occupation as a college student and it has helped me to use the English language in a different way in my songs, which I love. I never thought it would be so challenging being that I have bins full of notebooks featuring poetry. But it was a great experience learning different forms of it and tapping into my creativity to write what the old me hadn't.

I am really enjoying the idea of writing articles in magazines while taking a course on Magazine article writing which is really great. I used to always receive the greatest remarks on my papers with teachers actually telling me they would write me reference letters based on my writing, but she critiques me in ways that make me want to come up some in my writing. I may not be happy with her comments, but I know it is only to help me to improve on myself.

I also enjoy the idea of perhaps writing grants as I am learning about the process in my Advanced Professional writing class. I have many books on writing grants but I think I like the idea of learning from a live instructor; moreeover, someone who was successful with it, to learn what worked for him. But one class has made me think differently about English as a whole and that is Technical writing.

‘Each person has to be moved individually before the audience can be moved.” – Peter Guber

I was a head counselor at a summer camp one year, and during one of my breaks, I took a walk over to Staples. It must have been my luck because on that day, they had a $10 off anything in the store coupon in the circular. I left Staples with so many free things that day, that from that point on, I have became Staples biggest fan.

While some find their favorite shopping items being purses, shoes, hats or other things, my favorite thing to buy is paper. I love paper. I like pretty paper that I can write poetry on. But I also love stationary that I can do other creative things with like creating business cards, flyers, brochures, posters, press kits, event programs and other technical documents.

I have been creating promotional items for years, but never considered it as a field in the English department to pursue. Even when I worked on my self-published Gospel album, “I Believe,” and was creating posters, flyers and other promotional items, I never considered that I was involved in a field that I might actually be able to pursue. Technical writing is a great field and I am very interested now. "I Believe" is currently available at http://melodiaz.0catch.com/Profile.html 

Sometimes, too much to think about causes us to stop thinking all together and do nothing.” – Darren Hardy

When there are so many interests, which one is the door to success? When you do so many things, which of those things that you are doing are the ones that you choose to stick with?  Am I to pursue a career in health care administration because I have worked in that field for the past decade?  I am more than experienced in that field. Maybe that is the best road? 

What about singing though?  I love to sing. Do I just not pursue it to follow another star?  But I am really good at it.  Do I just let go of something I have been dreaming of for my entire life?

I have been writing poetry since the eighth grade?  I have attempted writing a poetry book in my past.  But then I also enjoy writing freelance articles.  Can I just claim a title as a freelance writer which does not tie me to any particular field? Or do I have to choose to be a grant writer or a technical communicator just to fill out an application? 

Then lately, I have been considering completing my English bachelors degree and going for a masters degree in nutrition to write about nutrition and fitness; especially since these past few days have been submerged in a new lifestyle diet and these great Nintendo Wii Fit games that have changed my exercise habits and have actually been helping me in my fitness quest.

“Whether you like it or not, reality has a good grip on you.” – Glenn Solomon

What if I still don’t know which way to go? How can I look for a job when I don’t know what I want to do?  Does monster.com have job postings for singers? I never had a harder time with an assignment to simply find a job posting and write a resume than I do now. I already have a resume.

The problem is, it does not feature the career experiences; only my jobs. But that is what a resume is supposed to have on it right?  

Eventually one has to choose. The challenge is choosing the right thing. While many know what they want to do in their prime, I am already almost halfway to my Biblical promise of 70 years, and I am still trying to decide.

If it were possible, I would just want to write on my resume, to pursue being a business owner. Maybe I should have majored in business.  Maybe I’ll figure it out one day. Maybe I’ll write the next best novel featured on Success Magazine’s top ten books of the month.  Or maybe I will see that performance on the Grammy stage fulfilled.  While I am left with many questions, the true answer is, wherever God leads me I will follow.  So I know I’ll be okay because my faith has me praying for it. If you are interested, let’s network on twitter with each other. Find me at www.twitter.com/musiqal1

Friday, April 1, 2011

On the Surface of Dreams: A Very Serious Matter

Dreams: A Very Serious Matter
Success is not something that comes over night. Strength is not something you just awaken one morning with. It is something you have to work at to become better. No matter how easy it might seem, there is a background to every story. There is no reaching point B without starting at point A. Some thing brought you down the corridor to get to where you are. And despite how far you think you have not gotten, you are on the next stage of being in that very place.
The dreams that people hold are a very serious matter. Sometimes it is the only thing they desire. And often, it is the making and breaking point of the person. Pushing the envelope a little bit is all about opening up and letting a little more of the uniqueness within be without the shield and protection that your skin provides. There is a different way of thinking that accompanies individuality. You are no longer following the standard; you are creating your own. The plan is no longer laid out for you. You architect your own plan for the temple that you are moving forward to create.
I remember when I was first invited to an open mic. My experiences signing had always been at church or in my basement where I would sing to the audience of my four walls for hours and hours at the top of my lungs. I love to sing so any opportunity was a blessing to me whether it was on stage or in the shower. MY friend had been hosting this event and so I went and my name was called. I never felt more nervous in my entire life. I shook from the moment I got on the stage until the moment I got off it as if I had the Shingles. I started singing this song by the artist Monica. I arrived at the bridge of the song and hit the wrong note. Instead of trying to finish the song, I ran off the stage and never walked back into the room. It was so embarrassing that I swore to myself that I would never sing ever again.
Try & Try Again
When you’re thirsty for more, there is nothing that can stop you from trying to grab hold of the more that you’ve been seeking. If it is readily available to you, cool!  But if it is not, don’t hesitate to put your best foot forward to try to make it happen for yourself. Life is all about trying, failing, and getting up and trying again. If we do not succeed the first time, there is nothing wrong with trying again because when we don’t try, we’ve already failed ourselves and not allowed for the success that could happen, happen. Your values change. You start disregarding the he say, she say and remember that God said to not bury your talents if you want to be ruler over many things.

It is said that elements are the necessary things of the earth. The elements of an individual include who you are and what you are.  If you are a singer, then sing as if you were Leontyne Price singing at Lincoln Center before a crowd of 1,000 people. The video of this fabulous performance is available at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Presents: New York Philharmonic: Zubin Mehta & Leontyne Price [VHS]. If you are a dancer, dance as if dancing were your only means of survival. Your element is what makes you who you are, so don’t be afraid to show the world your true beauty.
Setting a goal is about adding a little bit more of yourself into the things that you do make each situation more suitable to the person you are and are becoming. It is about setting up the environment for the future you that you are laying down the foundation for and building. Each victory is a stepping stone. Whether it was a passing event or a failing event, it was an event that made you stronger to attempt the trial again. If it is a pass, good. But if it is not, get up off your face and edit yourself for the next shot.
My Dangerous Edge
Who would have thought that a person like me could become so afraid of doing that very thing I love to do the most?  But if you love something that much, nothing can keep you from doing it. And so, I tried it again and again and again. I am a singer with a good voice and couldn’t see myself not singing.
A dangerous edge is an edge that seems out of the pocket. If you have a gift and are afraid to use it but find the guts to get out there and share it with the world, you have a dangerous edge. You can do anything because no mountain that stands before you can keep your from reaching your goal. You go for it despite the odds.
But it becomes dangerous when that is all you want to do. It is almost like reckless driving. You are so adamant about getting behind the wheel even when intoxicated only to expose yourself and others to unnecessary accidents that could have been avoided.  I have to admit, it has been an adventure. Even to the point that I started to hate myself for not getting to the point B that I wanted to C.
Catch the Feeling
So what comes next? Yesterday’s today’s tomorrow has come and gone. Stop dwelling in the hurts of the timeless motifs which seem to only digress you in the future. Here’s a fresh idea. Challenge yourself to take shots and have a positive tone about the things you strive for. Jump outside to the total plane and get your feet wet. Do something that is not on the curriculum and take risks. Practice your craft as often as you can and never stop trying to improve yourself so you can become better grounded. Break the circle of experience and grow by learning.
I started practicing as if I were in school. I listened to all kinds of music, did scales, studied theory and so forth. Some of the artists I love to listen to the most are Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Recently, many more have been added to my collection. I believe listening to artists who can really sing is the best thing any singer can do to improve him or herself. I learned so much that I was able to teach others and still often do it now privately or with groups.
The more I listened, the more my ear widened to add bits and pieces of me into what I was doing even when covering another artist’s song. That’s how I found my spirit of adventure. It is about getting out there and doing something about it. It is about being comfortable with who you are and stepping out. It is about being as comfortable in your own skin as Molly Ivins was when she would do her funny video segments on the McNeil Lehrer New Hour, or wherever she would go. It does however become a little dangerous because like a baby learning to walk, they stumble. I stumble. But to get to point B, you must start at point A. And so, though I might not be the Stephanie I want to see when she is me, I know that she will be the promise that has flashed before me; the better version is on her way.
A Flash of Promise
Don’t worry about how long it is taking. It is tiring to watch someone constantly looking at their watch as if the one billion seconds plus, they had the opportunity to breathe was not in their favor. The time sequence is the time that your season opens. Everything has its own time and season so patience is the most important thing to possess when reaching for your goal. The more patience you have, the more likely you are to stay strong and fight for the things you want the most. Showing your true love of yourself b y doing the things that you love to do whether it be singing, writing, dancing, playing softball, building websites, or making crafts. If it is in you, do it and be that adventurous person that you were destined to become.
I would get a bit discouraged seeing all my friends doing things musically. But then a few things happened. I started entering contests and going out there to share my talent. I started meeting people and eventually, was invited to perform in my first band.  I have been blessed in so many ways that it would be hard to say that all my trials were not worth it. I work with some great artists and have seen stages that I never imagined my eyes would see. In so many ways, I aspire to get further and I know if it is in God’s plan for me, that day will come.
On the Surface
On the surface, I always seem fine. I get up like normal people and get through the day doing the things that normal people do. I work, I go to school, I do homework, I have a social life, and I have hobbies that I enjoy. But a few odd things happen to me in the course of my life. The energy of music seems to move through my body and I will either start singing a tune when I am not in a normal place I’m talking walking down the street or sitting on the train. It is not something I try to do. It just erupts like Mt Vesuvius and I do not know how to control it. It just happens. The other; I can be sitting comfortably doing my work and then suddenly tears roll down my face with the thought, “I want to sing.” 
Are my trains of thought abnormal?  Does the fact that in music history, the Grammy song of the year for the year I was born was Fleetwoood Mack’s, “Songbird” which was featured on their Grammy album of the year of the same year, "Rumours" have any significance with who I am today? Is singing all that I have in me? What about the times when I put singing in front of those that I loved and made them see me with an unusual point of view? Will singing cause me to make the same mistakes over and over again?  As amusing and inventive as all these questions are, I have never wanted to do anything more in life than sing. It’s who I am and what I am: a singer. 
Check out my myspace page at www.myspace.com/melodiaz where you can check out some of my original songs. I also have a youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/sj1and0?feature=mhum where you can see live footage of some of the performances I did with various bands around the tri-state area.