Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for As Deep as the Zambezi

Music flows like water through me
As deep as the African waters known as the Zambezi
Instrumentation and melody make me want to sing
Vocally climb scrapers like a James Weldon Johnson string
Belt my voice out like the diva, Leontyne Price
Fall into the cadenzas of Blues in the night
Bop to the tunes once played on New York's 98.7 Kiss
Dine to sounds of classical tunes and a glass of Chablis
Dance the night away to the Haitian group Carimi
Pump up the volume and electric slide through Radio City
Jump in the ocean of instrumentation and swim in musical ecstasy
Imitate and sing the trumpet calls of Dizzy Gillespie
I bop to it as if music rings throughout my pores
Even when not listening, it seems to escape my shores
And it echoes without helping just out of the blue stroke
It feels like love when I can jump into the stacked instrumental slopes
Zesty are the tunes that play and rock from Celia Cruz
They amplify out of my Beringher Truths
I get inspired with pen and pad to scribe a lyric or verse
Sometimes I write to the point of tears because my own words hurt
And listen back to hear vocals by Deniece Williams
And scats by Sarah Vaughn and Rachelle Ferrell’s whistles
And oh how inspired by the soulfulness of Stevie Wonder
So many songs I love that make me want to cover
Here as my last AtoZchallenge blog post
On the topic of music which is what I love the most
It was hard, but not harder than a Verdine White bass line
Yet as beautiful as a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra musical incline
Yes, music flows like water through me
As deep as the African waters, known as the Zambezi

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y is for Yes

What a way to propose?

It was my cousin’s baby shower. Pretty soon, she will be blessed with a new baby.

Many family and friends gathered to celebrate her soon-to-be motherhood with her. For me, it was a drive out to Philadelphia from NYC, but it was worth it. She has a wonderful persona and I consider her good people.

Lots of food and drink were spread out for her guests. Games were played and then it came time for the opening of the gifts. 

There were beautifully wrapped presents and cute bags holding items that might be useful for the baby. Finally, it came down to opening the last gift.

As she unwrapped it, the item she held before her looked like a picture frame or something. All of a sudden my cousin screamed and dropped to the floor crying. 

I can only imagine a memory like that of her being proposed to, being something as classical as Beethoven’s Fur Elise; it lives like a song with climactic harmony to the heart that never dies. The wrapped gift was a picture frame with the words "will you marry me" beneath the glass and written over a shirt made for an infant.
It must have been like a moment of disbelief for my cousin to see him slip that ring on her finger. It was as sweet as Quincy Jones's Slow Jams being performed right before our eyes by Babyface and Tamia; we witnessed a display of true romance right there in our faces. It was beautiful to watch.

As tears flowed down her eyes, “yes” spit out her mouth and it was official. They were on their way to marriage-hood. We were happy not only for the baby on its way, but now also for an engagement.

X is for X-tra Shots for 2012

So the band 2012 invited me to do some performances with them. We met up to rehearse for an upcoming event, building on music and learning each other's musical styles. Rehearsals can be really cool if everybody is on the same page and are ready to rock and work.  Plus, the singing part of it is really cool. I can sing and make my mistakes and try to better them there and then for whatever events the future holds.
We then gathered on a different circumstance, to have our pictures taken in a professional photo shoot.  The shoot was conducted at Linda Strobert’s Photo Studio in Brooklyn. We decided to wear black since the backdrop would be white. We took both individual and group shots. Some members of the band did wardrobe changes which was nice to have for a different look.
It wasn’t enough that the band got to take a plethora of professional shots by a great photographer. We still felt it important to take X-tra shots on our Iphones and had a great time capturing them. That is, without the beauty and expertise that photographer Linda Strobert would.

Here are just a few of them.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wings of Blue (A PicPoem)

Wings of blue
Leaning on a thick Manhattan branch
Fashioning a smile
Chirping in pulchritude
Ready to fly into the world
Up into the heavens
From a Central Park tree
Via the New York sky in twirls
What a great thing to be free
Unchained with limited possibilities
Soaring to heights unknown to man
Moving forward and giving life a chance
Like an art piece captured at an angle
Thoughts around its chirping song entangled
What a view - -  a craft of God’s own making
An amazing work of art for acknowledging
Wings of blue
Leaning on a thick Manhattan branch
Fashioning a smile
Chirping in pulchritude

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vision of Love

Vision of Love did it for me.  I think it might have been the first song that I ever heard on the radio by singer, Mariah Carey. It was a tune that showed her strength, range and versatility. And that’s when I fell in love with Mariah's music. I was only in the fifth grade then and felt as if her voice was another voice that I needed to be listening to as much as I could.

I loved her lyrics. Perhaps it was the way she assembled her words to sing them to the world. I liked that her voice was strong like Whitney’s, fierce like Michael Jackson’s and light like Minnie Ripperton’s.  But I also appreciated the harmonious soul that was present in her music. She always had great background singing involved that reminded me of church music. It was great to listen to on any given day. Every verse got stronger and at the end, she added an exclamation point to it that made it great.  That seemed to be a recurring theme in all of her songs.
Vision of Love was my favorite song for a long time. Mariah Carey has been one of my favorite singers since then. Her range is ridiculous. She sings with so much emotion. She commands control of her breath and that is not an easy thing to do. Plus, her songs are hot.

I have all of her CDs.  My favorites are Mariah Carey, Butterfly, Charmbracelet and the Emancipation of MiMi. I can almost sing every single song on those four albums word for word. Well, that’s most likely because I play this song list of solely her music sometimes and just sing away at the top of my lungs just because I love to sing and also because her music moves me.  Oddly, my favorite song by her is not on any of those afformentioned albums.
Make it Happen is my favorite song and it is on the Emotions album.  Often times, I do a rendition of it on stage when I do my own performances. I can never compare to the greatness of her sound, but if you are interested in seeing my cover, check it out here: Make It Happen Cover

Other of my favorites by Mariah Carey are Fly Like A Bird which is an awesome song, Anytime You Need a Friend, I Only Wanted, Butterfly, Can’t Take that Away, Hero and I Love her versions of O Come All Ye Faithful and O Holy Night. Her Christmas albums are awesome. This woman sings her ass off in every sense of the word and I just love that about her.

I have yet to see Mariah Carey in concert but maybe someday. I did however see her standing about 100 meters away from me one day in the filming of her movie Glitter. I was a background extra in the part recorded inside of Club Limelight in a dancing scene and she was right there before me. That was pretty cool.

Until this day, I still love her song Vision of Love. I guess you can say when something touches your heart, often times it never leaves your spirit, like love.  I love Mariah Carey. She is a big influence on me today and one of those artists that I can say makes me want to try to be a better vocalist; like her. Maybe it is just because of my love for singing, but she is definitely a great singer to listen to. She is definitely one of my all-time favorites; ever since I had a Vision of Love.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is For Unbreakable Truth

And so, here we are at an unusual letter that is now under the microscope because we are at the U of this unbelievable challenge.  And so, we arrive at the unbreakable.

The love that God gives to us is unbreakable.  It flows like a river and is generous.  It is incomparable because it is unconditional and irreplaceable.

For the goodness that comes in the flow of his truth soothes my doubts and renews my strengths. He has the power and the authority. He gives life even in death.  He makes a way out of no way and even when I do not understand it, he keeps me moving on.

Because of his amazing grace, he has influenced my walk in life. I know that I can expect the great because I know who holds my future. I am determined that I can make it because I know that God’s unbreakable love harbors life. And so, I can step out on faith knowing that God is going to make everything alright because all my battles belong to him.

He has kept me in the land of the living which means only one thing; that I must continue to try to move forward without being discouraged about what went wrong in the past. The past is the past. The present is a gift. Acknowledge that. 

His love and kindness simply transfers into energy in me and enables me to smile. That is the only joy that is unbreakable. The joy we have internal. The knowledge of that is strength enough to evaporate the rain and bring in the sunshine.  

Things of this world can come and go, but the joy that God gives is everlasting. Like for instance, a new day. It is because of his wings of love that we’ve been showered with his grace to see it. Don’t simply ignore it or take it in as just another ordinary day. Enter into it with thanksgiving. Somebody didn’t make it to this day. Acknowledge your blessings of seconds, minutes, hours and days while you have the opportunity to because one day you will not and it will be too late. And while taking it in, show God your gratitude because he gives love but also loves to receive it and to know that you appreciate him.

The heart of my sunshine is in the simplicities of God’s unconditional love. I can trust in his strength because our bond is unbreakable which makes us united.  It was his love that made me the unique being he specially crafted. I like that because all his works are unbelievable and that is something to be thankful for.  That’s why I choose to sing of the mercies of the Lord until. . . I will lift up mine eyes to the hill and make his praise glorious because he has empowered me to. I can do any and all things because he gives me the power. His love is unquestionable. I know God loves me and that is an undeniable truth.  U are Unbreakable.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for To Jazz With Flowers (A Poem)

I grew up listening to artists that shared
their artistry with love and an energetic flair
and jazz became a love for me and my ear
listening to their styles sometimes brings a tear

I remember planting a garden in my yard
if you know anything about gardening, the work is hard
I planted seeds of sunflowers hoping they would rise
summer came and left and only one rose up high
with its petals beautiful and classy like jazz divas of song
put a smile on my face that lasted the rest of my life long

Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Lady Day
Lena Horne, Nina Simone and Carmen McRae
weaving into the mix of instrumentalists blairing their sounds
and adding to it the effect of a Queen with a crown
with their long fancy dresses, gloves and flowers in their hair
they'd sing and scat and dance and entertain any patronizers there

Flowers and jazz singers, jazz singers and flowers
the love in my heart for them seem to tower
and the blessings of the scent and sounds accentuate my air
that love has lifted its arrow and pinned a flower in my hair

Thursday, April 19, 2012

R is for Ride that Bull

I’ve seen video clips of people who ride bulls and it looks not only interesting, but a little scary.  I can’t imagine being the one on a fast and frantically moving bull, but the idea of it has not escaped me. I mean, I’m that daring type so who knows, maybe one day.

Earlier in the year,  I got a taste of what it might be like to ride a real bull.  If you or someone you know, are interested in going in on the excitement, why not head over to Johnny Utah’s located at 25 W 51st Street in Manhattan. It is a good restaurant with a full sized bar that offers after work specials where in the middle of the establishment, you will find a mechanical bull.

Prior to riding this bull, the friendly staff requires any and all interested participants to sign a waiver just in case you should get hurt.  The bull is mechanical, but it does moves similar to that of a live bull. Surrounding the bull is an inflated airbag so that when you fall off the bull, you will fall on something comfortable and be safe from any hard surfaces or harm.

At first I didn’t want to get on. I’m short. For me to get on, I have to do some serious climbing. But also, I saw my friends get on it and thought to myself that the idea of getting on was not my cup of tea. But I was convinced and got on.

I thought I was doing good; holding my balance and riding that bull for a good amount of time.  But when the controller of the mechanical bull sees you getting too comfortable, he increases the speed.  That’s when I started to slip off.  Even with my screams and slipping off a bit, I held on halfway on the bull’s back and halfway off.  My arms were wrapped around the bull tight, but finally, I fell off.

It is a cool place to gather friends to go and have a good time laughing, eating good food, drinking and riding that bull. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Q is for Queens and Kings in the Making

There is warm peace
when I think about the
future Queens and Kings
of the world.

Here are wings of love
to soar into the hearts
of every promising boy and girl.
They orbit tightly
around the things they see
that make their hearts twirl.
Mere words of empowerment
Is what they deserve
to be watered with
like seeds in the big garden of life,
so that when they stand alone
they face the sun
with strength in their backs
to know that that they are
individually beautiful.

And when the sun
smiles back at them
each and every day,
that they may know that
anything is possible in this world
and to never be afraid
to try.

For all their hopes and dreams
are attainable
and that they should exercise their liberties
and know that they are free
to grow with their own individuality
because the truth about them all
is that they are today’s tomorrow;
our future.

So continue to water them with love;
enough to fill their cups

and to build them up to trust in themselves
so they understand

that they have the upper hand
and that they are more than

their images

or the clothes on their backs

or the peers that they can attract

but Kings and Queens
who were born to inherit a kingdom

and to gain a quality education

so they can educate future generations

because they are that special someone

who can truly make a difference.

Monday, April 16, 2012

O is for OMG, Do I really weigh that much on a star?

There are so many cool features in the Planetarium, the Science exhibit located inside of the American Museum of Natural History located at West 81st Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.

Friends had told me about it before but I never experienced it until I decided to take one of my favorite little baby cousins there as part of his 13th birthday celebration outing. Besides the short film narrated by Whoopi Goldberg called, ""Journey to The Stars," there are many other displays and walk throughs to be discovered.

If you walk through the exhibit, you see a display of the planets, discussions and a movie on the big bang theory, information about the elements and more Science oriented stuff.

Another cool interactive display inside of the Planetarium is a scale where you can measure yourself to see how much you will weigh if you were on one of the stars.  At first when you look at it and it stops calculating at the number one or two and you start to think, hey I wish I could weigh that little on earth.  That is until you notice the little description on the bottom of the numbers that says the measurements are in billions.

On a star, most of us will weigh anywhere between one to two billion pounds. Ain’t that something interesting? 

N is for No More Hooptie Sagas

I thought that because I still considered myself a new driver that driving my hooptie was the right thing to do. I still was not ready to consider myself someone who had to be more aware of my driving as opposed to bumping into things accidentally and adding new bruises to my Nissan Altima. That was me, ready to cruise on down the road to anywhere even with a vehicle that was not in the best driving condition.

I mean, he was 13 years old and I still loved him but was not so happy with the fact that he had more tares on him than I wanted to deal with. I mean, all the repairs I did on it amounted more to what I purchased the car for. I have been left on the side of the road waiting for AAA too many times. You know how It can be late on a Saturday night sometimes? You might be left waiting for over an hour in a place where you rather not be standing. I refused to add any more expenses on trying to repair him and was simply driving my Altima in the bad condition it was.

But then I decided that it was time for something new. I mean, I work hard. I deserve to be able to do something good for myself; and I did.  I went from a Nissan Altima to a Honda Accord.

Now it is not just the car that thrills me but the idea that everything works.  His name is Shimmer. His windshield wipers actually move.  His air conditioner works. That is a plus.  There are no leaks.  And he drives smooth.  What more could I have asked for? He just keeps driving me wild!!! ;)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

M is for My Pregnant Brothers

Yesterday was my sister’s baby shower and during the course of the afternoon, we decided to play a game to involve the men who were present. We played the pregnant men game. 

Some of the men volunteered to be pregnant for a few minutes. We blew up a few balloons which the men would use as their pregnant bellies. 

The men were to race down the aisle to their seats to attempt sitting down, putting their sneakers on and tying their shoes without moving their bellies.

It was great fun to watch especially when we observed one man not sit at all, pick up a show with his toes and tie his sneaker standing up. LOL! Though he was first, he was disqualified because he did not sit down.  
We gave the men a chance to see just some of the things my sister has to go through in the course of her nine months; even just for a minute. Laughter poured into the room.  The game turned out to be a success.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

L is for Lil Something Different

My sister’s baby shower is slowly approaching. When my older sibling had hers, crocheted booties  were used as a boutonniere and guests seemed to like it. It was a nice ornament and luckily, I got a friend of mine to help me do the needlework, so the work load seemed easier.
Now my younger sibling is having hers.  The same friend that helped me before offered to help me again, but I procrastinated and was left with a little bit of time to try to make something happen.

Michael’s is a crafts store that has a plethora of things you can use when you want to be creative. Luckily there is one not too far from my house. I found things there that could really assist me in making something but with an odd twist to it. I still was not even sure what I was going to actually make until my eyes touched upon a few key ingredients.

 I saw ribbons and my mind turned to ribbons and petals as flowers  and sewing it all together. Now even though the idea was in my mind, it still took some sorting and trying to actually come up with a concept that seemed odd at first, but not so bad for a last minute project.  And though I am so not a sewing fan, today, I had a ton of sewing to do and still do. 

But do I love putting my heart into the things I make.  I appreciate the idea of adding your own special touch to things.  Here is just a sample of the final product:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is For Jamming

I am always jamming. My IPOD is packed with a plethora of great music because I love to listen; a lot.  I am constantly adding music to it from my large collection of music that I have. I was always a music lover and so my CD collection is huge.

So what are the top seven artists I listen to on my IPOD

1.       Amel Larrieux

Ø  I love her music. She sings like an angel, her songs are hot. Her music is really intriguing. I listened to her since she was a member of Groove Theory, saw her in concert four times and have all her albums. Yet, out of all of them, my favorite is still her first one which is “Infinite Possibilities.”  There is some really awesome singing on there. I have a concert for the walls of my basement every time I listen to her music. Good stuff.

2.       Whitney Houston

Ø  I grew up listening to her so there is no way that her music can leave my spirit. It has been there since she started sharing it with the world. I love most of her music but my favorite songs by her will always be “Saving All My Love” and "I Go To The Rock." She does a great job with those. I never heard any singer sing as wonderfully as she. Whitney to me is an example of what good singing is supposed to sound like.

3.       Deah Harriott & Image

Ø  I recently discovered this Gospel group and I absolutely love them. Deah uses her voice like an instrument and it is beautiful to listen to her use it to praise God. She has a way of letting her voice rip and it makes me want to listen. I enjoy listening to her. My favorite song by her yet is “Til the End”, a song that she not only lets the Lord know she will worship until the end, but also scats and makes her voice be heard. I appreciate the listen each time.

4.       Mariah Carey

Ø  She is one of my absolute favorites. I once had a repertory with my band that involved all Mariah songs. I love her voice a lot and am always listening out for what she has new. I have all her albums but my favorite so far is “Butterfly” and "The Emancipation of MiMi."  I can listen to the songs on both of those albums on a repeat cycle without getting tired.  Both feature truly awesome works.

5.       Kim Burrell

Ø  Another great Gospel singer that I have grown to love over the years. Her lyrics are phenomenal and so is the way that she uses her instrument.  She has a way of letting the words out using minors and it is awesome. You can tell she really loves the Lord when she sings her songs of praise. She has beautiful works. My favorites by her are “Victory”  and "Since He Came In" because they are such powerful tunes and also because of the background singing. The choir she has behind her is phenomenal. Woo! I not only listen and sing along, but also sometimes use her songs as background music when I am doing my step aerobics because her music also has a lot of energy and I love that.

6.       Beres Hammond

Ø  I love Reggae music. It has this crazy cool flow and it feels almost as if I am escaping the world when I listen to his music. He has a nice voice and his grooves are excellent. My favorite song by him is “Groovy Little Thing.” I love the peaceful flow of his music which are also very danceable; especially when you want to get into the romantic groove. Good stuff!

7.       Deniece Williams

Ø  I appreciate the way the Deniece uses her voice. She sings softly and knows how to execute that head voice. She does not have to yell to get her words out. She whispers them. Listening to her is like taking a class in school. I like that.

 I listen practically the entirety of my day and never seem to get bored of it.  Music is part of the joys of my existence.   Jamming is what makes me, me. 

How about you?  What are the top seven artists listened to on your IPOD? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PicPoetry: I is for Investments for New York City Transit

I is for Investments for New York City Transit

for New York City transit
to get with
the ridership.

And what a trip
fully equipped
with a place to sit
a place for bags to sit
while people stand scared to admit
they rather not ask or not get sandwiched
or rather not be in the same empty car with the homeless
and leave him all alone in one car and move into the next.

The crowd is so big - -
Folks tightly packed in
that melting bodies together stick
while kids come on doing flips
busking for tips
and practically kick
their audience 
even though they did some cool dance tricks.

They get off at the next exit
and comes in with another set
of peeps playing instruments
with pairs of singing lips
canting whatever song fits
over the loud school kids
cursing and ranting
before the innocence
of those who never heard words like it.

I tell you, this trip
Is something you ought to witness.
Especially when you have no choice but to take interest
in the cell conversation of those riding pests
who don’t get
the idea of whisper chits
putting fellow rider’s patience to the test.

And tired folks rest
coming from their places of employment
with open books reading them
trying to not miss their stops but sleeping
upon the shoulder of the next
tapping nodders to wake up again

to hear the man with his Bible chanting

telling of the things to be expecting

to riders heavily involved in Sudokoing

device gaming, angrybirds, Twitter and facebooking

to music lovers focusing on  their Ipod mixes

with headphones on actively listening

with volume loud enough to entertain every man

until the train comes to a rest
and it’s their stop and they flex

I’m telling you that you must invest
in this crazy ride by transit
because once you decide to get with it
it will get you from point A to the next
even if and when there is a delay on it
or the price of the token keeps getting more expensive
or the delays are gonna come and you have to expect that
you might be late if you decide to give in
or that you rather take it
because the price of gas and toll keeps rising;
almost as if the people in charge don’t see the wrongs in it
or the people on the trains don’t understand
that there is no point in complaining

or fighting over the bumping from the overcrowding
because NYC transit is for the general public

and not some personal chauffer thing
and we are all in this
together. So please respect

the next man that is on it

because then we truly invest in the NYC transit

making it a better commuter instrument

for the entire ridership.