I hope you’re all enjoying the start of 2017. I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and hugely prosperous year ahead.
One of the projects I will be contributing to this year is ‘Pictures At An African Art Exhibition’ the second album by Darryl Yokley’s Sound Reformation.
The new album is due for release later this year and puts an Afrocentric spin on Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.’’ In addition to Moussorgsky’s work, Darryl’s inspiration comes from an interest in art from the African diaspora and visits to several institutes, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Darryl has been working tirelessly on this work. I’m really looking forward to its completion and I hope to share further news on its release shortly.
In the meantime, the band will be performing music from the upcoming album and some of my original work will be exhibited as part of the show at Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday January 13th from 5:45. For further information please visit the following links.
I’m looking forward to attending the St Lucia Jazz festival. The event is now in its 25th year so I’m excited to be on the island, attending the concerts, being inspired by the arts programme and soaking up the Caribbean sun.
The first St. Lucia Jazz Festival in 1992 was an idea to attract tourists over May and June, apparently seen as relatively quiet period in the calendar. The event was inspired by the launching of the October Jazz Festival in 1991 spearheaded by Luther Francois as Musical Director.
The event now ranks second in the Caribbean after the Trinidad Carnival as an attraction, with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Lauryn Hill, Courtney Pine and India Arie performing over its 25 years. The line up this year includes the legendary George Benson.
In 2013, Saint Lucia Jazz was rebranded as the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. The rebranding included a fashion show branded as Saint Lucia HOT Couture, the Cultural Explosion, Saint Lucia Sound Stage, and Blu Session. Dance, art, theatre and culinary arts now form part of the festival experience.
I love the above quote by Cecil B. DeMille. I look forward to another creative summer full of fun and hopefully a bit of traveling. Part of the fun will no doubt include exhibiting again and working on a new body of work. I’ll be working on a few themes involving live music, musicians and African symbolism.
Music is very important to me; there’s something uniquely wonderful in seeing artists sing or express themselves through the use of a musical instrument. Like me, they get lost, enjoying the process of being creative. They lose connection with the outside world , are at peace with themselves and in their own mental space. I’m also looking forward to attending a few music festivals for further inspiration. There are some great acts to see.
Africa as a continent is awash with symbols. African symbols are “sources of insights into African orientations to life” according to the Ghanaian historian N.K. Dzobo. Whilst signs provide simple information, certain symbols are used to communicate more spiritual and pertinent messages concerning the way of life of people, addressing every situation they are presented with. Given the vastness of the continent and its various existing cultures, it would be a big task to gather a fully comprehensive directory of symbols. Therefore, I will be working on my own interpretation of the West African Adinkra symbols.
In 2012 I wrote a blog about the talented vocalist Nancy Goudinaki aka Nancy G. I’m glad to say one of my treasured recent gifts is a signed copy of her new album entitled ‘I Wanna Be Your Star.’ I’ve been listening to it quite a bit in my studio recently. I was quite excited to get the CD ! In addition to the great music, it has great sleeve artwork, a portrait of Nancy, by the very talented visual artist Gina Nelson.
The CD adds up to be a worthy addition to my ever-growing music collection and certainly lives up to expectations. Listening to the album only reminds me of Nancy’s talent, energy and natural synergy with jazz music; a unique development of moods, ambiances, and phrases. The album showcases her flexibility as an artist, her freedom of expression and the virtuosity of her band featuring Orrin Evans on Piano, Tenor Saxophonist JD Allen, Rudy Royston on drums and the late great Dwayne Burno on bass. The album also features the talents of vocalist Miles Griffith, percussionist Daniel Sadownick and bass player/album producer Richie Goods.
Each track is very different. Some, such as ‘Milonga’, appear to have a more authentically European and folk influenced through their orchestration while others such as Billie Holiday’s ‘Fine and Mellow’ have a rich classic component. Nancy’s vocal tone and style seems reminiscent of notable artists such as Abbey Lincoln or Lena Horne.
‘I Wanna be Your Star’ is template for any female jazz singer/songwriter. I’ve found it an intimate and emotional album that is uncompromising, intense and comforting. For further info on Nancy G visit www.jazzynancyg.com or to buy your own copy please http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nancygoudinaki
Hi peeps! I thought to share a some of my recent drawings and sketches in another short video, this time in collaboration with accomplished keyboard player, producer, arranger, composer and session man James Colah.
I approached James after hearing a number of his tracks. He has an impressive resumé in the music industry, starting his music studies at the age of four with classical training that progressed to a dynamic, creative flare for composition and performance. He has composed, performed, recorded and produced music for over 300 artists of various genres.
His achievements and experience spans many diverse areas of the music business including co-writing and performing the title music for Terry Wogan’s ‘Friday Night Show’ on the BBC. He was signed to CBS ( Sony / BMG Records ) with his two identical triplet brothers at an early age, resulting in a European tour. His resume included touring with many high profile acts including supporting ‘Tears For Fears’ in America and Canada and the classic soul band, ‘The Foundations’ throughout Europe.
In a three decade career , he has worked as a musical director or session man with a range of high profile international artists which include: Edwin Starr, Ballet Rambert Dance Company, Sheena Easton and Haysi Fantaysi.
James has continued to maintain his standard of excellence by developing as a musician/composer/producer and has recently steered his talents into the genre of ‘ Smooth Jazz. ‘ His talent was recently recognised , winning the 2011 Coffee Talk Jazz Radio – International Songwriter Award.
He’s currently working on a smooth jazz album release under the name of ‘The James Colah Project’ and to date has released eight highly successful singles including ‘To be with you’ featured on my latest video. Enjoy the video and music and have a great day!
Looking forward to the holiday season as it provides time to be with loved ones plus be creative. One of my favourite artists and tracks at present is Gregory Porter’s Painted on Canvas. It inspires me plus I like the lyrics. A nice track to listen to whilst painting!
It’s great feeling being inspired, motivated and encouraged when you discover friends and fellow artists making advances with their careers. Nancy G is an amazing up and coming jazz vocalist and guitarist, currently making her mark on the New York jazz scene. Hailing from Greece she now lives and performs throughout the New York City area. At the very early age of eight Nancy knew she wanted to pursue music, learning to play classical guitar. She studied with Costas Cotsiolis, the master classical guitarist, receiving her degree in classical guitar.
Her singing career began when Lakis Tzimkas, an accomplished Greek bassist, invited her to feature as a vocalist in his band. While in Greece, Nancy performed as a vocalist in Athens and Thessaloniki, her hometown at various jazz venues, restaurants, hotels and private functions.
After receiving her B.A. in Music/Fine Arts in 2007 from Aristotle University, she moved to New York City, ready to pursue her dream of performing whilst continuing her study of jazz vocals. She has studied with many accomplished vocalists including JD Walter, Miles Griffith, Cynthia Scott (member of the legendary Ray Charles vocal group “The Raelettes”), Barry Harris and many more.
Her debut album entitled “I want to be your star” (the English translation of Nancy’s first original song written in Greek) with pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Dwayne Burno, saxophonist JD Allen, and drummer Rudy Royston, with special guests, vocalist Miles Griffith, bassist Richie Goods and percussionist Daniel Sadownick is released this year. In customary fashion I share a conversation I had with her about her career to date.
You are talented in both singing and song writing but which do you prefer ?
Well I’ m doing my first steps in song writing. I can’t compare these two things because they are so different. Of course you give your soul to both of them. Maybe in song writing you add a little more from your personal experiences. At least the 2 tunes featured on my album which I composed came from my personal canvas… When you have two ingredients, love and a broken heart, the results are good songs. I think myself more a singer who occasionally composes when inspiration strikes.
Q:To date, what’s your biggest achievement as an artist?
The life of an artist is a constant fight to improve his or her art. In my personal path there have been good and bad days. Some of the small victories are I’ve become a better musician, I still continue to grow as an artist, collaborate with great musicians and perform at well-known jazz clubs. And as I referred to jazz clubs, I’m thrilled to announce that on November 18th I’m invited to perform at John Hart’s Jazz party with vocalist Cyrille Aimee and guest vocalist myself, at the legendary “BIRDLAND”, the Charlie Parker’s jazz corner. This day is very special for me because I am celebrating my 5 year anniversary in NYC. It was November 18th, 5 years ago, when I first landed in this city and I am excited to celebrate in Birdland.
Q:How does the New York/ Philly scene compare to your experience of learning your art in Greece?
Well my first steps in Greece were excellent. My career as a vocalist began when Lakis Tzimkas, an accomplished Greek bassist, discovered me and chose me as a featured vocalist in his new jazz band. Lakis gave me the opportunity to perform on stage with the best musicians in town; saxophonist Charis Kapetanakis, guitarist Makis Stefanidis and drummer Nikos Variamidis. I owe these musicians a lot because I learned a lot from them. It ‘s very important to collaborate with good musicians. Then the next step was to move on. Where else but New York the “The Mecca of Arts”! All the talented people from all around the world come to NYC to expose their talents. The competition is huge. “If you can make it in NY you can make it everywhere…” But the learning that takes place here is tremendous too! Of course, Philly is producing mighty musicians. I’m very fortunate to have musicians from Philadelphia on my record. So all of this “traveling” helped me to grow musically.
I can appreciate what you mean. NY is definitely a Mecca of the arts and I’ve met some wonderfully talented people in this city from various corners of the globe. Equally, I’m coming across a number of rising stars from Philly. I’m always keen to see artists pursue their dreams whilst overcoming obstacles.
Q: What have been the biggest obstacles if any in your career to date?
Hmmm… lots of things… First of all the city itself. NYC is one of the sweetest and also toughest cities in the world. The competition is fierce. Some of the best musicians and singers are here. And in my case, as a jazz singer, I have to compete with many good singers, some of them were born in to this jazz tradition. You have to bring something different and something special in order to stand out and of course to love deeply and respect your art. Being able to perform in some of the legendary scenes and receive positive feedback gives me strength to go on. Sometimes I think it’s hard to be a woman in this city, all by yourself, and especially a woman in music business. On the other hand, there are obstacles that come from my own self. Research – concerns to be the best I can be in my art. And of course not to lose Nancy, myself, in the process. All the obstacles that crossed my path in my personal life, affected my musical development, sometimes in a good and sometimes in a bad way. I am however, blessed and very lucky that my music family here opened its arms and gave a huge hug to a Greek girl …
Q:You are originally from Detroit? What is the story behind your hometown and do you miss it?
Haha.. That was an inside joke with my producer Richie Goods that I m originally from Detroit!!! The story? Dreams and goals to improve and grow as a musician. Of course I miss my country Greece but I love my new home, New York, and of course DETROIT!!! 🙂
Q:How would you summarise the experience of producing your first album?
My first album… It sounds and it feels good! Since I was a little girl I was dreaming that one day I will have my own record! 🙂 This album was created in a difficult period of personal and professional transformation. Having completed it and listening to the result is very rewarding. The experience of collaborating with these fabulous musicians in the studio is unique! Working with Richie Goods who is producing the record is a huge school! And not only with Richie but with all the musicians who played in the record… Orrin Evans, Dwayne Burno, JD Allen, Rudy Royston, Miles Griffith, Daniel Sadownick, thank you all for your love and support.
Q: Is it fair to say you’re a musician working within a genre that isn’t the most commercially rewarding? Will you explore a variance of music styles or is jazz exclusively your field of music?
It is fair to say that I am a musician – vocalist who sings and plays in guitar the music that she truly likes and adores. But it is true that being a musician and trying to make ends meet solely from music is very difficult. Thank God I have partially solved “the survival” problem. I’m a music educator. I’ve been teaching classical guitar for 15 years and voice for the last 5 years to kids, an experience I have benefited a lot from. Sure I am open to expand my musical horizons. I have already done it and I will always strive for more. I have a classical background. I have a diploma in classical guitar and a BA in Musicology but for me Jazz is the style of music that I m in love so far… I can t predict what is going to happen after 5-10 years.
Q:Are there any artists in particular who inspire you?
All I can say is that I listen to a lot of music and it is difficult to say who inspires me the most… Good music inspires me. If you check my iPod you’ll find a lot of musicians and different styles…
Q: Who ideally would you like to collaborate with?
Hm… There is lots of people I admire and I would love to collaborate with but ideally, if I had to pick one, I would go with Mr Wynton Marsalis for now.
Q: So what are you plans for the next year?
My plans for the next year… Uhm.. I’m not a person who’s planning ahead. Not so good in this business though… Well, it is going to be great to have a new record and of course touring with my band and presenting my work…
I congratulate Nancy on her forthcoming performance at Birdland and wish her the very best for a rich and rewarding career. For further information please visit the Nancy G. official Facebook webpage or Birdland for details on the weekend performance