Saturday, March 31, 2012

Once the Director, Now Being Directed

I remember when I used to rehearse the youth choir I used to direct. Since the reasons we would meet was to sing, we would not only practice the songs but also practice using our vocal cords.I am not trying to bring remnants of the past into the present day, but I’ll never forget how I would sit there and start lecturing them when things weren’t going right and how the kids would stand aside and look at me as if I had two heads.

I figured if they had the anointing, that the instrument God gave them to use should also be trained. I didn’t always leave them smiling when I would stop the singing to give my lengthy feedback. But when the sincerity of their voices would hit the back walls of the church and reverberate in the ears of the congregation as they honored God’s love and kindness, you could hear the beauty in it. They actually listened. You could tell in the way they approached the music which means my talking a lot was successful. Those experiences are ones I will always treasure and never forget.

I have been rehearsing with my mentor for the past couple of weeks. He doesn’t just rehearse with me, he gives me lessons that are helpful to me as a singer. He trains my voice and I appreciate his feedback, but not always because I am somewhat like those kids.  

I'd start a song, they were all smiles.  They were singing, we were cool. I stoppped to talk, they rolled their eyes. They even said once, "Miss Stephanie, we don't like it when you start lecturing." That’s why today’s rehearsal immediately reminded me of how the New Generation Youth Choir would get upset with me stopping to talk and talk and talk. I had to though; I was directing them. That was my job.

My mentor is a musician at heart and a quality music teacher. He shows clear and decisive leadership.You can tell he loves what he does because of the way he gives you not just what you want to hear, but the truth. He is more about giving the important aspects of the methods than executing.

Here is my dilemma. I am a ready to go person. I would rather put on the song and sing it than to sit down, study and strengthen my own instrument before diving in. And so, even though I was paying attention, I felt like the kids did when I was lecturing. I have had this voice for years. I never thought someone could actually direct me how to use it. And so, this process is hard for me because it is making me realize how much of a genius I really am not. But it is not my job to be and now I know that it never has been. Everyday is a learning experience and I know that I am not through being ignited with wisdom.

I have to admit, my mentor has given me such good advice, that it has expanded what I have and made it much different than what I’m used to. I was born with a big voice and love to sing. But finally, I have some direction on how to come different with it. I have even noticed that my mentor can get me to do certain things with my voice that I can’t do when attempting it on my own. It’s kind of weird I must say. Especially since, he guides me how to preserve my instrument. But I guess after the lecturing is all said and done, sometimes the lesson leaves me until we meet again and is never practiced, which is not good.

I guess it has been time for me to update my outlook. I mean what is life without change? What is having knowledge if you never find ways to truly apply it? When does it become time to look beyond the obvious? If no other time, now! And I have come to realize that his words are like solutions and when I apply them, everything comes together and makes a lot of sense. I’m learning and it’s a great experience because I’m finally doing exactly what I want to do.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Musical Vibe Live

I always enjoy getting into the studio and putting together new songs. Most of the time, I work in my little studio and try my best to put songs together the best way I can. This was definitely fun times, going into a new environment and working with new people to make some good music.  It was challenging a little bit taking instructions with the stubborn attitude that I have but at the end of the day,  the song was fire. 

Here is just a sample of what Ack, keezhiphop, Melly G and I did. Rapper Keezhiphop was working on this song "Passion" putting his stamp on the lyrical flow and Melly G and I came in with the singing portion of the hook. Ack is an excellent producer putting together beats worth listening to in his studio out in Amityville, NY. Got to love the music that comes out of his heart. Great work! The track is crazy. Check out this YouTube link:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PicPoetry: Spring's March into My Life

I captured a blossom! Means only one thing; spring is definitely in the air. Can you feel it?

Spring's March into My Life
Poem written by Stephanie Jeannot

You entered the world with this sweet quietness
and infected with love on your first impress.
You carried out the action of living this day;
hit with the target of your arrow that I wouldn’t trade.
Your light so awesome it brightens my memory.
How can I forget the way you have affected me?
I wore my glasses today because of the beam of your smile.
Wasn’t sure I could trust your warmth but I couldn’t resist your style.
You enabled me to feel comfortable wearing my heart out without a jacket.
Feels good to walk in your splendor watching slams of balls into baskets
and to leave my windows rolled down celebrating your touch and kiss.
You’ve conquered my heart almost as if you live in my spirit.
I’ll never forget the way you captured my interest.
So early in the morning, you were born; a new day God made that I never met.
So lovely and handsome that you could magnetize to anyone’s prism;
I’ll never forget your March into my life to the beat of the perfect rhythm.
With my camera and my eye focusing my lens on your beauty;
The first day of spring 2012 was just a breath of fresh peace.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

PoetryCorner: Catching the Strands in the Stitches of Love

It’s not that I desire to roam through the littered streets
in subzero temperatures roaming off into the distance;
It’s just that I had a change of direction
when death came knocking at my door.
It’s not that I desired to showcase the true stories
of what happened at the end’s dramatic transition.
It’s just that I had to aggressively support the paramount issue
and the extraordinary accomplishments that lead me to my plot.
True life did raise a lot of emotion.
The experience rebuilt me from the attached morsel
to the Queen of beautiful buildings
After I realized that Mama was Losing it and I chose a new theme. 

I was told to step lightly
but at the terminal, energy seemed to increase intensity and heaven attracted notice.
It was almost as if I was interested in becoming the owner of the soil.
So I invested the pricelessness of my heart.
The strength and suffering it took to rip me apart
from the corner of self in which I was squandered
to the Sweet intensity of you and me.

Love I tell you has killed me!
And the spirit is so high in the infinite sky
It got me using my wings and catching the air with my fingers as I glide
through love’s delight just because you are by my side;
And I didn’t even have to try.
It was as natural as a musical child
Coming into acquaintance with a guitar
And wanting to strum its heart
without having to use the charts.
I have found my silver shadow.
Can’t you see my smile; it’s all aglow.
And I feel the glitter of it from head to toe
as I float up to my new home.
Love is something that I now know
because it took me out of my body and into this new beginning zone where I now roam;
not alone but with the one who showed that I was worth it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Inspiration Times

I have come to a beautiful reality that is also an ugly truth. It’s inevitable; I’m getting old. There is no dancing around the issue. The unbareable truth stares back at me every time I look in the mirror. I can feel it in my bones and the achiness that takes time to be relieved. But if when I turn 70 and I am dancing like the woman in the picture beside this paragaph, I will be happy. She resembles someone with true joy and truly living. That's how I want to be when I get up there in age.

If it wasn't something I already was aware of, my younger sister makes sure to remind me that I am not young anymore and also a friend let me know of it the other day. I wore my hair in a ponytail and my friend said, wow, you have a gray hair right there, visibly on top. She didn't only reveal something to me that I already knew was there but let me know that I am getting old.

It’s funny. When my sisters started to get gray hair, they cried.  I can’t understand, even until this day why people pluck them if they just come back in bunches. My mother had a full head of grays for a long time before she even started to get old and it looked so beautiful on her then and still does. And she never seemed to try to cover it up. Her hair turned gray and she kept it. Some people do not like the idea of having gray hair though.That was my siblings; crying and plucking.  Crazy enough, when I got my first gray hair, I got happy. 

The Bible says in the book of Proverbs Chapter 16 and the 31st verse that gray hair is a sign of righteousness.  Who am I to doubt the word of the Lord?  I had a choice. I could either cry because gray hair is obviously a sign of age, or rejoice that I actually have goodness in me.  If gray hair is a sign of righteousness, I guess I am not so bad after all.   

Okay, I won’t really call myself old.  I mean, I am only in my twenty-thirteenth year.  I have lived just over about a billion seconds of life but still have an infinite amount to go because I am not done living yet.  But, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do the same things any more. Even if I wanted to, my body won’t let me. 

I used to be able to live life without sleeping. For instance, I would work my 9 – 5, and then go home to get dressed to come back and be a part of an exciting movie shoot as an extra. I was happy just to be a part of things like this, even if I wasn't the starring lead,  I was in a scene in a motion picture.

The sets would last all night. I’d get home at 4:30 just to get an hour of sleep and go back to work and work all day. I was able to endure it. But now, once it starts getting late, I am ready to sleep.  If I choose not to sleep, I become like a narcoleptic unable to keep my eyes open.

Mother Mitchell
Getting older doesn't mean anything but the fact that one is not young anymore. One has matured as they were intended to. Every seed when watered blossoms and stands tall and pulchritudinously towards the sun until it is ready to wilt. Even with that knowledge, I have come to that beautiful reality I spoke about earlier that  I have a few things to look forward to. 

 The mother of my church, Mother Mitchell, was 107 years young before she was lifted up on eagle’s wings and carried home to the Savior. You would think a person with that many years under their belt would be slow in movement and not as classy and witty as she was.  She was full of life, attitude and pep in that step. She could share stories about life before most of us were even a thought. She was someone any average person could learn something fascinating about the world from.

Just maybe, it might be me living until 107 and being able to tell young kids about what happened a century ago.  Can you imagine telling someone in a hundred years about the first black president of the United States? That would not only be awesome, but will also be an interesting thing and if that is something that is in the cards for me, I definitely look forward to it. 

I know that even then at 107, I will be singing because how can I be silent and not share my anointing.  I plan to be doing exactly what Psalm 30 says in which I will sing until the end and will honor my father who anointed me.  I love to sing. Why not? I want people to remember me as the girl who loved to sing, just because; even if there is no further rising with it. I am happy just to be able to hum a tune and find total comfort and joy there; wherever I am and whenever I can. 

Why deny ourselves of the joys of life because we are not young anymore?  We are still in the land of the living. If not now, when?  Getting older is not being diagnosed with the end. There is still life to be lived. So live.

I aspire to be just like Mother Mitchell, my grandmother, my mother and all the inspiring older woman who show the world that the Lord has built them strong; full of life, energy, joy and never denying to live life to the fullest, no matter what age I am. And I plan to dance into each era full of pep and with acknowledgement of the new day God created just for me.

All that is to say, I may have grays, but that doesn’t truly mean I am old.  I am however older.  I have many experiences and gained wisdom over the years and I am grateful for all of it; the good and the bad.  God has been excellent to me in every way and I am just thankful for all he has done. And when that day comes when I am up there, I pray I have a wonderful story to share just like the empowering mentors who have blessed my life with theirs.

Face The Music

The following is a video of a song that I originally wrote for a friend of the family. It was her birthday and she was turning 70 years old.  The song was a song of inspiration I call "Face the Music."  Life is the music and not matter what the day brings, life dictates that we must face it; like age.  I pray you take the time to watch it. 

Thank you for checking out my blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

PicPoetry: An Enjambment on Enhancements

My cousin asked me to dry her hair and because we were already there I told her that I would make it nice to give it just a little spice. She said why, "I'm not going nowehere;"  and that's where I came up with this poem here; about beaing beautiful for yourself to honor the blessings of your temple wealth. An enjambment of the little things to ehance your mood and your feelings.

A sexy move to change your groove. Sometimes you just want to be relieved of the same old routine. Think about the idea that it doesn't have to be for someone else because sometimes you just want to look beautiful for yourself. I can see it already; you're a girly girl. So why not for one day, just bounce around in curls?  There's nothing wrong with showing your stuff.  Have you ever thought about dolling up your face with makeup?

Day by day we live this way from sunrise to sunset with direction we only know as best but a shift of the mind is about time because it has been in need and came to find me. Beautiful is the beautiful features on the beautiful face with style and grace. Have you ever tried to accessorize the softness of your skin with some bling? Costume jewelry for the day and a smile to lead the way and some polish on those nails and a new scent you  never used that turns heads and leaves a trail.  You know what I mean; some base cream to go under the shadows and liners and blush or maybe just some color to touch your hair up. Or how about a barrel curl to give you a Farrah Fawcette look? Or maybe an image on Pinterest you saw or in one of those hair photo books.

There’s nothing wrong with changing your look sometimes. I mean maybe it’s time for a pedicure and Pinot Grigio wine. Or maybe you want a flowery bubble bath. Or maybe you are the type who just wants to turn on the Wii and do a Michael Jackson dance. Or maybe you work so hard and need some relaxation; some sun, a beach, a pina colada while on a Caribbean vacation. How about putting on some sexy heels instead of the sneakers you usually sport or how about wearing a color other than your norm? Or maybe you just need some flowers to celebrate you because you are wonderful but, you need to acknowledge that about yourself too. I say do whatever makes you feel good and let your sun glow brighter than the sun in Hollywood, because you deserve to be able to add that definition that can only enhance the beauty you already have that out-stands.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Case of the New College Experience Nerves

I attended a musical event at my college one day and saw a young lady and a musical conductor on the stage doing a musical number. It was an awesome show. That image of the two on stage always remains in my mind. I wanted to be a part of something like that and decided that it was something I would one day pursue. I claimed it without even knowing that I would be in front of that grand piano singing soon.

A few months later, I was coming from one of my evening classes and I saw the music conductor. We didn’t really know each other at the time but I decided that it was important for me to introduce myself. Yet, I didn't say hello or give him my name or anything. Instead, I walked up to him and said, “I want to sing.”

He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “what?” I don't blame him. We didn't even know each other. But still, I knew I wanted to sing and so, I responded, “I want to sing.” I didn’t even know his name then, but I told him of some of the things I do, gave him my card and told him to give me a call and he told me that he would, even though he does not really want to do anything musical at the school anymore. Yet, he asked me some of the artists I like to listen to and I told him and he seemed impressed.
He never called and I saw him a few weeks later and he said, he still had my card and would call me soon.  At that point, I figured he would not be calling me but then finally, he did. And that is how I became a member of the Medgar Evers College Jazz Ensemble.
Professor Mitchell has pushed me in a promising way musically and I am so thankful that I decided to take a chance on my own talent. I am even more thankful that someone else decided to take a chance on me. We rehearsed a few times and were scheduled to perform together for the first time at the President’s Club Graduation dinner. 

This post was inspired by a writing prompt featured on Mama's Losin it Blog.  The prompt said to write about a time when I got the case of the nerves and this is just one of the many times. I was very nervous about this event for a few reasons. The only time I ever spend at my school is when I have a class and not much beyond that.   I worried about how my classmates would receive me, because I never sang at my school before, even though I sang at many other places and on many stages.  But the fear just stayed with me.
I have a problem. When I get nervous and I get on stage to sing, I shake a little bit as if I have the shingles. I’ve sang in front of large crowds with over five hundred people before and even still, there are times that the nervousness is just there in me. It happens at church sometimes. Not even sure why when I always sing there, but sometimes it just happens. I was afraid that it would happen in front of my classmates.
A few days before, I went to get an outfit for the event. People always say that a singer should dress in black to look professionally presentable. I tried on a few dresses. But then this sexy blue dress really caught my eye. It is odd that when I tried it on, I felt like a totally different person. And so, I decided that I needed to get that blue dress thinking it would help me to defeat the nervousness. And guess what, it did.
Everyone was dressed in their nice, black, elegant and classy attire and I came out in this bright blue dress and it seemed pretty silly of me. But, it made me warm up to the room because I knew that if I was gonna be the odd ball on stage, I should have the attire to go with it. I got so comfortable with the crowd and it was great. Just as I was about to belt out the dedication song to all the graduates, "since we are like family now let me get comfortable" and I took off my shoes. The crowd loved that idea and started clapping and snickering with me. That action actually helped the words of Etta James’ “At Last” come out not so bad. I'm just glad it didn't include the shaking. LOL!

Since then, the Medgar Evers Jazz Ensemble has performed together a few times as a unit and the experience has been golden. Professor Mitchell has even given me some vocal training which has been so helpful to increasing my range. Sometimes he pushes me so hard to let go of some of the bad singing habits I have and he is a great mentor. The ensemble will soon start recording some original music.  I appreciate working with them and all that I have learned as a member. It’s little things like this in life that make you realize how important taking chances really is. All it took was me to talk about what I want to do to get it. Being nervous and afraid of your own destiny is foolish because God put you on this earth for a reason. I know that I was born to sing.

Questions to Understand My Simple Truths of Life

Today was an interesting day filled with thought and quiet time. 

A coworker saw me walking through the hall at work the other day and asked me an odd question. She said, "why are you always tired; you seem like you have a lot on your plate?" 

I  never heard a question like that asked before and thought to myself that this woman must be nuts. She hardly even knows me to understand who I am or the things I do. But perhaps it is me that is the crazy one. 

I include everything into my life except for the one important thing; sleep. I work, go to school, sing,  write, spend time with family and friends, and then whatever is left is what I dedicate to sleeping.  Maybe that is not enough but has my image been tarnished by not sleeping. I slept for two hours on Friday night and then went on to do a full day of tasks. Could a person simply see me and know that I haven't slept just by looking at me? These were the things I thought about as I tried to replenish on my rest and relaxation time today.

Can a person in your personal space actually know how you are feeling just by looking at you?  Is lack of sleep something that can be visualized by any passerby who sees me?  Yet, what if you do not truly know me at all.  How can one determine whether the way that I approach life is okay by me?  Isn't that the most important thing?  Or maybe it isn't.  Or maybe it never was. 

But the idea of not making room for me in my own life makes me realize that it could possibly be true. I lack sleep. My average amount of sleep a night is about 3 to 4 hours at most. Even when I want to sleep, my body has become so trained from years of doing the same things that I can't even get more sometimes if I tried. That is, unless I am dead tired and have no choice. Your body has a way of telling you that you need rest.

But now that I am getting older, it kind of makes sense that sleep is something I should be dedicating more of my time to. If I love and respect myself, then I deserve it. Also, I have responsibilities. Yet, even with all my responsibilities, I make sure to be fully present in body and in spirit wherever I am; at work, in my classes, while on stage or in my notebook writing, and when I'm with my peoples.

Yet, lack of sleep can be dangerous. Especially for a constant driver. It takes a second for your eyes to close behind the wheel and who knows when something like that can happen; God forbid. He has saved me from episodes like this and I am thankful to be here in the land of the living. But what if every outcome is not always a happily ever after one? And so, I realize it now; I am not superwoman and so must rearrange a few things.

So today, I tried my best to relax and let the rest in.  I closed my eyes and then opened them and found myself enganged in the Soap Opera channel's marathon of General Hospital. I never watched that show before and today for the first time for some reason, I found interest in it. To get my mind off television, I tried to read and study for school but then my eyes fell tired again. Why is it that everytime I try to read, my eyes well up with sleep? Is this part of the lack of sleep thing?

I tried to close my eyes again and then caught myself indulging in games of Angrybirds that I only downloaded for my nephew to play. This also is something that I found myself immersed in for the first time and found comfort in it. There is always something that keeps me from sleeping; even the silliest of things.

Obviously, the sleep never truly kicked in. So then I decided to write. I came across an old notbook as I sat at my desk.  Funny how, this notebook I used to write in back in 2004 still has some of the same ideas that I live with today. 

The notebook like all my notebooks, even today, is full of poems and song lyrics. One of the poems in there spoke to me and made me realize who I am and who I've always been; a woman with a purpose. I retouched it a little to make it more relevant to today. I have learned that with any poem, it is a work in progress, like I am. Like I've always been. Even after years of a poem being written, words may not always be removed, but something can always be added to make it more you, like ideas. Like truths that are revealed from experience.

And so, here is the poem from one of my thousand and fifty-five notebooks; from 2004 and revisited for the first time since then and edited in 2012 entitled Simple Was:

Simple was
Simple was the way
Until my childhood washed away
And bloomed before my life
A woman I became
Stained with memories of past
That reside within for everlast
My hopes and my dreams
They oft do change
My faith, I hold it to the grave
And hope to build
Yes I hope to build
My heart to purpose fill
And be
The strength I need to keep
On the straight path
That shades me from defeat
I’ve grown
And I’m a woman
And God built me strong
Like he intented to
Even when I'm right, even when I'm wrong
I am
A woman with a purpose
And it’s worth it
For me to continue on
enhancing this beautiful song
the God wrote