Friday, April 29, 2011

"Up Close and Personal with Marsha Ambrosius" (moderator: Beverly Bond of Black Girls Rock)

Last night I had the pleasure of being at a very intimate performance of Marsha Ambrosius. Thanks to The Recording Academy, we were invited to hear her perform, and also tell us a bit of her story.

Marsha performing "Far Away"

She is quite soft-spoken and seems like a really sweet, humble person. She talked about a few of the songs on her new album "Late Nights and Early Mornings", and how originally she was going to title it "Doing It All Night Long" (lol)...but since that seemed like too much of a cliche, she opted for the current title.
Marsha (on left) and Beverly (on right) during the Q&A portion

The event was moderated by Beverly Bond, of Black Girls Rock! What I did not know was that Marsha "beatboxed" and sang the theme song for Black Girls Rock! and Beverly said she has received countless requests for Marsha to finish that song. Marsha gave us a snippet right then and there.

Marsha Ambrosius

M&M :)

Beverly Bond and I

"You never have writer's block, you just sit down and be still" ~ Marsha Ambrosius

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals

I first heard Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on "Ellen" and I loved the group immediately. I felt like they were a well-kept secret (at least from me) and it was a pleasure to be introduced to their music.
Recently I found a video of the group (on Billboard) performing one of Beyonce's songs "Why Don't You Love Me?" and they did a great rendition of it.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

R.I.P. Phoebe Snow

I was saddened to hear that Phoebe Snow passed away yesterday. I saw her perform once, at Birdland, and I was lucky to bear witness to that because she wasn't scheduled to perform. They announced that she was in the room (at Birdland) and the audience went wild! "Who was this woman?" I thought to myself. I'd never heard of her before, and yet people were cheering and clapping and practically begging her to perform!
She walked towards the stage, very simple, even a little timid it seemed...but when she opened her mouth? AH-MAY-ZING!! She totally blew me away with her beautiful powerful voice, her range...her presence. She sang a soulful rendition of "You Send Me" and since the audience was going absolutely insane for an encore, she then sang Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" and she KILLED IT!!!! Her friend, Skip Brevis (piano), David Buskin (guitar) and Steve Doyle (bass) was her impromptu band that night and they were phenomenal! (According to Ann Ruckert, "no rehearsal, no band practice...they were on and they hit it!")

Image from

Although I didn't know her personally, I was particularly touched when I heard about her story: how she decided to care for her daughter who was born "severely brain-damaged", and did not institutionalize her (which was common at the time); how her husband left her and yet she devoted herself to her disabled daughter until the day she (her daughter) died; how she never fully recovered from her daughter's passing, or really revive her music career. As I watched her sing her heart out at Birdland, I knew she was singing from a place where only pleasant memories and pain could both reside.

I sang on that same stage that very night, and I was honored to sing on that stage where Phoebe and countless other talented musicians performed. Ervin Drake (living legend who co-wrote the Billie Holiday classic "Good Morning Heartache" and numerous other hits) also performed that night.

It is always sad when someone dies, but it is also a reminder of just how precious life really is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Talking to the Moon" (Bruno Mars)

I LOVE this Bruno Mars song "Talking to the Moon". I recently bought the album "Doo-wops & Hooligans" and I'm loving it.
He is such a good songwriter/ musician (the seven-time Grammy nominated artist plays guitar, drums, bass and piano) with a soothing voice, and his music is easy going and relatable. I love it!
My fave songs on the album besides "Talking to the Moon" of course:
"The Lazy Song" - which describes EXACTLY how I feel sometimes
"Count on Me" - which has a really pretty melody and beautiful vocals
"The Other Side" with Cee-Lo and B.o.b.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

AKeys new album FINALLY pre-ordered!

Ok amidst all the Easter festivities, I ALMOST forgot to pre-order my girl's COLLECTOR'S EDITION album dropping on June 28th!
Now, I'm waiting IMpatiently for delivery... it here yet? UGH!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who ARE "The People in the Picture"?

Last night I saw the Broadway musical "The People in the Picture" and let me tell you: YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!!!!!!

There's a brief synopsis on the play's site and the playbill certainly didn't give anything away. You have to experience this musical from beginning to end!
It grabs your attention from the very beginning with the most beautiful music (thank you Mike Stoller and Artie Butler!) and it is rich with history and culture and tradition.

After the show, we had the privilege of chatting with the creator of the play, Iris Rainer Dart (author of "Beaches" which later became the classic movie with Bette Midler), Mike Stoller and Artie Butler (who wrote and arranged the music) and some members of the cast.

Here's a little insight into how this play came to fruition:

Iris was born to a Russian mother and Lithuanian father (she was also the first female writer on "The Sonny and Cher Show"). One day she saw a show based in the 1935-1939 era, and although it was all in Yiddish, she was able to understand the language without using the subtitles. This reminded her of her childhood, but what was really poignant to her, was that despite everything Jews had been through (especially during that period of the show) they were still doing it with comedy and music...and so the concept of her play was born.

Years later, as the play was manifesting, a friend of Iris' told her she should contact Mike Stoller, half of the dynamic duo Lieber & Stoller. Mike and Iris began working on music for the play, and that same friend (who suggested Mike) recommended the one and only, Artie Butler.

Artie regaled his family story, about his father coming to America in 1917 from Poland, with his wife and his 9 brothers and sisters. He told us how they marked the boat where his parents and family, and other immigrants, were allowed to walk and were restricted to bathroom duty only 3 times a day. He became a little choked up as he said "they kissed the ground when they got to Ellis Island".

The play is not just a Russian play or a Jewish play, "it is universal" as someone said to Mike Stoller.

The two young girls in the play, Rachel Resheff and Andie Mechanic, are both grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. This past Summer, Rachel  (who is not only adorable but bursting with talent at 10 YEARS OLD) went to Israel to visit her great-grandmother I think, (I don't remember the Yiddish word she used - sorry - but I'm guessing it was her great-grandma) and she was able to 'interview' her and hear her story. I think we ALL should know our story. This play was especially touching to me because I am now learning more about my OWN family, both on my mom's and dad's side.

It is a phenomenal play and it speaks to the humanity in all of us. I strongly urge you to see it if you're in the NYC area, and also to learn about YOUR heritage. Who are the people in YOUR picture?
Hear the stories of your parents, your grandparents, your families; and pass on your culture and traditions to your children.
I hope it adds to the colors of your life.
*Special Thanks to Candace and Lisa for organizing tickets, and to Elizabeth Healy for the Q&A with the cast.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What in the PIZZLE????

Have you seen the commercial with the walking pizzle (penis)? On the news this past weekend, was a story about young kids being introduced to condoms and safe sex in schools, mainly in Philadelphia.
They were talking about children as young as 11 years old having sex! ELEVEN YEARS OLD!

My family and I watched and listened in awe. As if the headline alone ("How Young is Too Young?") wasn't jarring enough, they panned to a commercial where an animated outline of a penis is walking across the screen, while putting on a condom! My 10 year old son was in the word: awkward!

I certainly have not had that conversation with my son yet, and wasn't planning too quite frankly until maybe he started asking questions, or COLLEGE (if I could help it)...yet this "very touchy" topic (pun intended) met us right in our living room!

Apparently there has been an increased number of young children, not only having sex, but also contracting STD's etc....11 year olds? Really? Where have I been??? What happened to the opposite sex being just cute at that age, and exchanging notes like

...or forming cliques, or being aware (or as it was in my case unnervingly self-concious) that your body is developing. What about sports? Other Interests? EXAMS?
When did SEX become the new fad among our tweens????

It was very disturbing and saddening to me. I looked at my child's "what the..." frowned face, and I was mortified to think that THAT conversation would emerge sooner than later. How do we preserve their innocence, their childhood, their youth, when we are enabling them to become force-ripe?

Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents; where's our village? Are we too buried in our blackberries, our smartphones, our schedules to see what is happening? This is our youth we are talking about. Spend time with your children, talk to them, explain the repercussions of their actions, let them know they'll have their ENTIRE adulthood to "practice" (and by then once you've seen one you've seen 'em all! lol)
I mean I started at 12, but 11???? (just kidding !! -- my family reads my blog, gotta mess with them every once in a while).

Anyway here's one of the reports with the pizzle commercial...smh


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Dance like a white girl" Swizz Beatz HOTTTT off the press!!!

Swiss Beatz was at Webster Hall this past week and gave the crowd a taste of one of his new joints "Dance like a White Girl"
My cousin, Bklyn J'Nell, was on hand to shoot AND edit the video... and you guys are getting it live and direct!
Enjoy...and guess who was there partying it up too: E V E!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fun times at Dolce !


My cousin and I hanging out at Dolce

A friend, Kiran, visiting from London

Sneaker CAKE courtesy Cakes Galore by Sheila.
This was a friend's birthday cake but I just HAD to post here because Sheila's just so talented!

Friday, April 8, 2011

MY sk8er boy!

My son went ice skating for the first time. He was a little skeptical (as was I) but I always tell him to try new things as long as he's not going to endanger himself...and turns out he enjoyed it! He said "a little girl half my height" (lol) made circles around him, and without saying a word, brought him a "walker" to help him out.
I thought that was really sweet of her...and a reminder that there's still hope for the world after all !

Friday, April 1, 2011

Songwriter's Circle at The Red Lion, NYC

The last Monday of every month there's a Songwriter's Circle at The Red Lion in NYC, hosted for the SGA (Songwriter's Guild of America) by music guru Ann Ruckert.
This past Monday was filled with pleasant surprises and reasons to celebrate.

Skip Brevis (on right) with the rest of the gang
Galia Arad (who unleashed her hidden talent as fist-pumper/booty shaker) and Kirsten Thien (hand-clapper extraordinaire) were both on hand to congratulate Markeisha Ensley, fellow recipient of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame Abe Olman Award!

Galia Arad (Abe Olman recipient)

Kirsten Thien (also past winner of the Abe Olman prize)

2011 Abe Olman Recipient, Markeisha Ensley

Congrats Markeisha!

Jake Holmes was in the building and showed us a new interesting & musical way to use an Ipad! Yes, now I want an Ipad!!! He is so funny and uber-talented...and I LOVE the song he dedicated to Japan.

Jake Holmes

We also had a visitor from Nigeria: Ola Fagbola!
Ola now lives in Trinidad and is a physician by day, musician at night. He was checking out the NY music scene while on vacation!

There were so many talented people in the room. Brian Muni, Bruce Gordon and Ellen Kempner (who is only 16 years old and a MAAAAAAJOR talent! She also recently got her driver's license so the roads are definitely not safe!! lol)

Brian Muni

Bruce Gordon

Ellen Kempner

I was invited onstage as well...
Mandy Bennett :)

...and sang "Love Me" (written by yours truly) to a very gracious (a.k.a. intoxicated) crowd, which certainly helps for great applause! ;)