Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Sounds of Reincarnated Music We Grew with

The other day,  it was styles of fashion that were being born and then dying only to come back again that was being discussed, and now here we come to another favorite topic of mine; music.

Louis Armstrong

So how many people remember growing up and listening to tunes that we heard playing on television sitcoms or even that were being sung that we learned from repetition? 

Who doesn't remember "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," a tune being sung by Ella Fitzgerald which was also a nice nursery rhyme that we would croon when younger, or the popular phrase often said that  Louis Armstrong along with Ella sang with attitude which said, "you say tomato and I say tomato?"

Some songs always seem to ring a bell and if heard, take a seat in the deep pockets of our hearts, because they still are part of who we are, even though time has passed and we have grown older and older and older.

Here are a few of them worth talking about.  

The Sound of Music

When only a young girl, I saw the movie Sound of Music for the first time and perhaps that was one of the things that pushed me to love music.  I’ll never forget watching Julie Andrews sing, “My Favorite Things” and that song always remained a favorite in my heart. From when in high school and my music teacher taught us it to sing as a choir to listening to John Coltrane beautifully play it with his saxophone and now, listening to Betty Carter do her thing with it on the 2010 release of The Audience with Betty Carter; each one with their own interpretation but performing it with beauty and grace.  Great tune and awesome renditions!

Rhyme & Reason

For the Love of Music
Who does not remember the ABC’s?  But who would ever consider adding it into a Gospel performance at church? 

Danielle Kelley did and had the entire church singing along with her.  Kind of cool when you think about it! It is a song that everyone knows that everyone could sing along to. But to get people to harmonize it and sing it like a choir, makes it a really interesting listen. The song “ABC’s” is only an outro on her album Conqueror, but when you hear a voice like hers with the ability she had to take authority over the old nursery rhyme,  you can imagine what the rest of Conqueror is like.

Themes & Melodies 

I’ll never forget watching Lucille Ball on her popular television show, working at a candy factory and stuffing all the chocolate in her pants, or each time her husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) had a live performance with his band that she would try everything she had in her, to get on the stage with him.  Yet, not only was it the comedic episodes that we remember, but the theme song that preceded the funny scenes and the things we used to laugh and rave about. 

Carl Bartlett Jr took the theme song and added his umph to it in his album Hopeful and what a beautiful recreation.  Full of body and soul! All the energy and attitude you could imagine is featured in his rendition. Offers a great listen!

Toon Tune

With Marion Cowings after the
Jazz Vocal Workshop at Smalls
in Greenwich Village, NYC
Today I took a really great music class and I got a lot of useful information from it that hopefully I will earn to apply really soon. It was held at the Jazz Club Smalls located on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, NY.

As I was in my car today coming home from the jazz vocal workshop with Marion Cowings, I popped in his CD Marion Cowings & Kenny Barron and couldn’t help but smile when I heard him singing the words to the theme song “The Flintstones.”

I still remembered all the words from that show about the modern stone-aged family. What a fun listen! Sometimes when you listen to a CD with tones of a good jazz vocalist using that hand-made by God instrument to sing about serious topics, a break from it with something fun like the toon tune is really great; brought back a lot of memories.

Ode to the Listen

Listening to these artists made me realize that music truly never does die. Even when from a cartoon, nursery rhyme or theme song of a television sitcom, they all have their way of coming back and drawing hearts.  Great music played by great artists always does. How pulchritudinous is that!!! 

Porter's Players

Cole Porter wrote one of my favorite tunes, "Just One of Those Things." I first heard it sung by one of my favorite jazz singers Sarah Vaughan. What a beautiful voice that diva had.  Strong and full of attitude and dynamics.  Not surprising with that great range of hers that she could sing opera. 

What I did not know was that, "Just One of Those Things" was first written in 1935 for the play Jubilee which became so popular, that it was and is considered a jazz standard in the American Songbook. 
So intrigued by the song, I decided to use it as the song that I would sing during the jazz vocal workshop today with Marion Cowings.  The following Youtube video is a clip of it. Please watch!

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Jazzy Headdress of Yesterday, Today and Marra

They say that fashion comes and makes its mark, and even after the craze dies down, comes back and makes an appearance again and the craze starts back and the story goes on.

I can agree with some of it. I mean, it was years ago when I remember high top sneakers were a big thing and the kids in the yard had to have them and all of a sudden, we see these high tops right back again.  I also remember all the polka dots, shear and leather that folks used to wear and now that is all you see at the stores. But that was only a short while ago when they appeared made a mark and started a fashion trend that died only to resurface. Sometimes keeping what we have is good because once they reappear, we can just pull them right back out of the closet and wear them all over again as if new.
One of my many headdresses

One of the styles that always intrigued me was the gear that women of jazz used to wear in their hair. The fashion of the twenties was awesome. I loved the big beautiful dresses that divas back then were wearing and all the nice headdress that they used to accessorize with. Billie Holliday with her begonias and other jazz greats with fancy hats or other head gear that used to add to their beautiful appearance and make their stage presence even more appealing to look at.
I love it and often find myself imitating their styles with different hair pieces that I come across including hats with flowers in it, flowers in my hair or fancy hair pieces that you do not see often worn. You can still find them at different shops making an appearance on a shelf near you and that is when they making their way into my basket, because they are definitely unique.
Dora Marra, Designer
The other day, a friend and I were walking up West Broadway and came across a table display of headdress accessories made by Dora Marra; all which were hand-made and very nice. It was almost as if being in a candy store to me.  Eye candy right at my fingertips.
I was totally blown away by all the different pieces that she had because they are so me. Flowers and feathers and other materials used to make the jazziest headdress pieces ever.
One of Dora Marra's Pieces
Marra has a store in Greenwich Village and also does art festivals, crafts shows and more.  I have to say that it was a little easier and okay for my own self to wear them before cutting my hair, but since transitioning from long to short hair I haven't been and wore more hats instead. Now though, I am not so self-conscious with the short hair about wearing headdresses anymore after trying on a couple of Marra's displayed items. 
Perhaps it was her warm and welcoming spirit that lead me to this point or possibly all the eye candy I saw peaking at me from the table.  Quite possibly at one of my next events, I might have one of her head pieces on and look forward to that.

If you are interested in seeing Marra’s work, visit her shop at 159 Bleecker Street in NYC, NY or email for a list of her upcoming arts and crafts shows.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Poettues:We Have Entered Into a New Season

It is Poettues and while it is early and time is on my side, I felt like writing. So here is a poem to celebrate the passing of the old season and entering the new. Like Summer and Fall or like our old beings into our new characters. I guess in truth, the one thing that never changes is change.

Poettues: We Have Entered Into a New Season

Whenever we go to the ends of the road
Seems like we are left with a heavy load
Full of woe and weeping only for the moment
A heart full of hurt needing consolement
But then we move away from the then time
Because there still is this truth inside
That life was before and still is now
And there is still straight ahead to continue on route
And then the day turns to nigh and new is born
And you realize that you survived the storm
And that God was there to help you through
And that yesterday did not break you
And you carry on to the next
With attitude and HD effects
Never allowing time to not believe
Because those faithful moments we seem to achieve
And the music speaks to our song and dance
Not the same old but ones of circumstance
And we chance the rhythm and melody
And we harmonize to the flow and to the new beat
And life seems better a the day goes by
Because of the soulfulness it leaves on the inside
For better than the day goes by with reason
We have entered into a new season

(c) Stephanie Jeannot

Monday, September 23, 2013

Music Monday: Happy Birthday John Coltrane

Music never seems to grow old. There is always a song being played that even if a thousand and eighty five years old claims somebody's heart. I guess that is what is so special about the music that we listen to. Beautiful in every way and flows as peaceful as a river through our ears and into our hearts and souls.

John Coltrane has one of those effects on me. Exciting music in every way.  Sounds so sweet they taste like red velvet cake to the ears.  Music so calming, you could listen to it and forget about all your worries for a moment.  Tones so deep that you feel like expressing yourself through songwriting or poetry. Riffs so rich you want to harmonize with them, singing. Music so inspiring that children all over the world find interest in instruments like the saxophone, learn to play and then never put their instruments down for the rest of their lives. He definitely was a great in my heart and I totally appreciate all the music that he has allowed people like you and me to listen to. 

This post all came about for two reasons. I heard that today, September 23, was John Coltrane's birthday and also, it is Music Monday. What a great day to listen and let it sink in?  And what a day to write something special that is on your heart and set it to song? And what a great day to listen to some great tunes and dance to the end of love with it blaring in the background? What a day to celebrate and pay respect to his beautiful talent?

God bless you John Coltrane. You were truly a great. And your melodies still linger on.


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Zumba Fitness 2 For Nintendo Wii

The Saga of Pinot

Review of Hopeful


Stephanay JNote Official Site

Toni Morrison's Jazz

John Coltrane Official Site

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tales from a Disgruntled Singer

"Having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart,
endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire" (1 Thessalonians 2:17)
Photo courtesy of David A Powell
The most awful thing happened to me. I lost my voice. Who would have thought years of people telling me not to scream or to overdo it would come and put a blockade in my journey forward? I guess they were right huh! Sometimes you have to take advice from people coming and saying a word or two that might actually be helpful with a grain of salt. So here are some of the things I have learned in the past few days:
1. Like any other muscle, the vocal cords need to be stretched and warmed-up before putting heavy strain on it; as in performance mode.
2. After a good workout in the gym, we need a decent amount of sleep. Eight hours is preferred but definitely more than three.  In order for the body to repair itself, it needs to be rested, relaxed and must not be neglected.
3. The microphone is a singers best friend. Because it amplifies the voice, it is not necessary for the singer to scream into it. I'm not saying don't sing with force but not necessarily holler. Just sing.
4. Humming and hissing are great vocal exercises to do to increase breath control and range. Humming is great to help to repair some of the damage that might have been done and hissing could help bring the flow of oxygen back into that upper register, if it has been compromised.
Collage courtesy of Jason Murphee
5. Practicing by a keyboard is really great. Helpful to the ear. But that's only the half. Rehearse, even on your own, with the lyrics because you might find out you have been singing the wrong lyrics all along if your ear did not grasp exactly what was being vocalized. Practice, practice, practice is so important.
6. Listening is good too. You do not have to sing along to every song. Listen to what the greats like Melonie Daniels, Sarah Vaughn and Diana Krall do, let it sink in and then sing.
7. There is so much more to music than what we hear on the radio today. My friend just advised me to listen to Dianne Reeves and another said to listen to Anastasia. Pretty good I must say. I have been coming across so much beautiful music in the past few days it is crazy. But I am loving it and also enjoying it.
8. Lastly, music is universal. I recently saw a video a friend posted on my facebook wall entitled, "What Are You Listening To" from the Berklee School of Music and what a range of songs from all different genres. Here is the link: It was wonderful. I've learned from that (even though I was already, very minimally though) that sometimes stepping out the box to do something different than our signature is not such a bad thing. Like for me now, with my voice being compromised and all, I am suffering some woes. Definitely a great time to start crooning some of them old Ida Cox or Bessie Smith blues tunes. Never thought I'd enjoy listening to the blues and for the first time, I've downloaded and am listening and enjoying what I hear. Who knew? Definitely making me snicker for some of them there lyrics being sung while also making me feel a whole lot better. Looking forward to trying something new.

I am definitely eager to see the full range of my voice return back so that I can again use it in the way that God intended.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Harmony (A Poem & A Song)

The Soul Original Flow
I know!
The soul holds the know of the core zone
And in it, these melodies it unfolds
That for years been created but unknown
A singer with a writing hand on a roll
All relaxed after a nice and well deserved vacation
I had this mere musical sensation
To get on board and do what's only right
To sing those songs that I claim as mine
For I have the ability to pen and rhyme
And breathe a tune into this mere life
So why not let the world know
That I am more than a cover but an original show
And to see the responses I get from them
Is so encouraging, I want to do it again and again.
So here is just one of the many that I've written
I hope into your heart, my song will be fitting
Introducing to you,
Harmony, my song I shared on Youtube.