Well, well, well. Here we are at the cusp of a new year. A time for me which has always been very significant. I was married to my ex Italian husband on 12/30 – omigod it was 20 years ago. Exactly. And I chose that date BECAUSE the New Year has always been so important. I remember the year we broke up we found a dead rat on the floor of our upstate New York farmhouse on New Year’s Day, which, according to the Italian superstition/belief would mark the year with it’s metaphoric presence. (the Italian equivalent of a Jewish “kunna hora,”) Well, yes, that was the year of the dead rat. A difficult one. But it feels far away now.
I remember going out to crazy New Year’s Eve parties with my girlfriend Jane back when we were in acting school in New York. It was one of those crowded Soho parties in the years before cellphones (maybe it was even before answering machines) and as midnight struck I was futilely ringing the bell downstairs to get in, while Jane was upstairs going, “where the hell is Lua?”
At the cusp of 2008, overwhelmed by the enormity of what I wanted to accomplish and what I needed to begin to get there, I became a Buddhist chanter. 2008 was a year of massive change and development; I got over the intimidation of performing at a New York jazz club, as we successfully released the new CD at the Iridium. We went to Bangkok and I loved being on the huge stage with a whole crew doing sound and light. I am chanting still. Now on the cusp of 2010 I need it more than ever.
Our band has reached the next chapter of its life: the French Connection. Our “jazz without borders” CD (Lua Hadar with TWIST) has several French/English numbers on it. After an inspiring collaboration with a French bass player here in San Francisco (the dear Albin Suffys) and a very warm reception by the Parisian public last July, we debuted our new show, “French Connection,” to a sold-out Rrazz Room in September 2009. Many people, on both sides of the ocean, have commented that there is something that works with the color of my voice, the French language and French music. I am further encouraged to explore the advice of KRML DJ George Fuller, who called me and said “listen to me, I’ve been in the business a long time: keep singing French jazz.”
But even more than that, I have a burning desire to perform around the world, traveling, interacting with other cultures and other artists. Some of the most fulfilling moments of my life have been when I have had a chance to do that – the years I toured in Italy both in theatre and in music, the theatre exchange with Russia I did in college, the dance lessons I took from a Balinese dance master, the theatre in education presentation I gave in Japan, TWIST’s performance in Bangkok, my show in Paris. These are the moments of my life in which I feel I am closest to my highest purpose.
What does a diverse audience experience when it hears our rather eclectic set list? It is jazz influenced by other genres, and some purists find it hard to call it jazz. I like to think that, like any audience, they get to form a sort of “group soul,” that perceives the diversity among themselves but somehow also thinks, “wow, look at me, I don’t speak French (or whatever language) but she’s singing in French and I get it, and so does the person in the next row, who doesn’t speak either French or my language, and look at all of us here, enjoying Lua Hadar with TWIST, aren’t we a great microcosm of world peace?” Yeah, that’s what I hope my audience feels. I just looked up the word PLURALISM: pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. I guess that is my personal definition of cultural diplomacy. And singing is the way I do it.
My goal this year, to be accomplished with persistence, consistency, faith and joy, is to figure out how to do LOTS MORE of that, oh, and make a living too.
Off we go into the unknown, the New Year, filled with opportunity, promise, and lots of focused work. Happy New Year!