BLOG: On the learning curve to Like A Bridge, our new recording project
I’m a member of the 99%. Most of us are. I’m just (just J) trying to fulfill my potential, make a living, have a life.
Spiritually speaking, I was raised Liberal-New-York-Jewish and now would consider myself a Buddhist and a Pantheist. What that means to me is that I believe in a great spirit of the Universe that is in all of us and in all things. My grandmother, a contradiction in herself as a Jewish-Christian Scientist-Nurse, taught me so.
Humankind has found many ways to call that Spirit and has built structures such as religions around it, but I believe that the Spirit existed before Humankind, and gave birth to it. It is the energy of the Universe. As such, we are ALL members of the 99%, EVEN that last 1%.
I also believe in our own power to use that Spirit. As an Indie-Performer-Producer, I’m noticing that about every 3 years, I have something to say that feels and sounds different from before, and I’ve been percolating that feeling for about a year now. I feel like somehow, as a human, I’ve come of age. Maybe it is because I have been teaching so much in the last year. Or because of the inevitable – and non-inevitable – losses of loved ones that come in The Middle Third of life, as I’ve euphemistically been calling middle age for some years, now; since 2005.
I started feeling like I was in The Middle Third when my Mom passed away in July of 2004; she was preceded by my older brother, and by my father before that. She was the last.
Psychologists tell us that the loss of one’s parents creates the awareness of our own mortality and also “promotes us” (my quotes) to being the reigning generation. Youth in their 20’s are now the younger generation of adults. We in The Middle Third (say, age 35-65, for example) are the ones with the bulk of the responsibility for the moving and shaking of the world; and a responsibility to mentor the next generation, both by direct instruction and by our own example.
I note that it is 7 years since my mother’s passing, and I feel as if all my cells have rearranged themselves inside my body. So much so that I got my hair cut last June. It was a big deal to feel like I wanted to do that. Perhaps it is because all my cells have rearranged that I have something to say, which means it is time to create a new music and performance project, because that is my language of expression.
This is my belief and this is a concept I want to articulate: Since Humankind is all One, and since the World was born without borders, all humans have the RIGHT to equality and to the fulfillment of the same basic needs: food, shelter, healthcare, safety, liberty, self-expression. I truly believe that if ALL humans were treated that way, we would pass into a new era, without the need for war or terrorism.
Hence the birthing over the last few months, of a new project. Since these things seem to happen every 3 years, I am getting wise and CONCIEVING of it AS a 3-year project, and it is more complex than before, so I think it will TAKE 3 years.
In the time since my last CD project, I’ve also birthed my teaching studio and a broadening cultural exchange with France; they will be woven into the new project, because they are now an important part of me.
The 3-year Bridges Project will have as its centerpiece our upcoming CD and DVD recording project, Like a Bridge. I just got a release date for the CD in New York City on April 14, 2012. We will release the DVD on the West Coast after that. Now we have to record. Ha ha
Ha ha because as I write I have not finalized a venue in which to record, nor booked the band for the specific date because I have no specific date yet, I have not done the fundraising, I do not know all the songs and some of them are in new languages for me, I am not sure of the set list, the charts have to be done, I do not have a publicist and the concept just became clear to me today. And it’s the holiday season.
On the other hand, I have amazing musicians, interesting arrangements in the making, a music director whom I revere, a producer with a rolodex to die for, and somehow, by the grace of the Universe, the video director who’s worked with Mariah Carey, Sting and Tony Bennett.
Like A Bridge is, like all my recordings, both a snapshot of where my ‘head’ is right now and also a sum total of who I am as a result of all that has come before this, personally as well as musically. Influencing me very strongly at this point in my life is the awareness of mortality and the need to make something of value that can effect change. The sum total of my many years of life experience includes creating projects with people from other countries, teaching students from age 3 to age 80, making music with music director Jason Martineau since 2005, becoming a Buddhist, realizing my innate abilities, learning many new skills; like all of us; we live, we learn and we become who we are.
Before I became verbal about the theme of this recording, all I could do when I explained it to people was to hold my arms out, as if embracing the world, and cry. If I could do something, anything, to help to heal the fundamental darkness in the world, I would like to try. To me, it involves helping people to see the bigger picture, the zoomed out shot of the world in which it is one world, with no borders, everyone descending from common ancestors, and realizing that we all deserve a decent life, safe from strife. Hmm – song lyric.
What people hear and sing, they remember, and maybe can live by. So I want there to be as many languages on this CD as I can muster, songs from as many countries and origins as I can manage, and stories of bridges between it all. Why is this song a bridge, and to what? The songs are bridges simply by virtue of the fact that they come from other countries; some songs, like Bridge Over Troubled Water, talk about bridges between people; about the bridge I want to be.
The inspirational quote came from the family that hosted us in Lille, France, for last year’s cultural exchange – here’s an excerpt from the larger passage, written by Séverine Suffys:
Lua et Candace savent chanter. Lua and Candace know how to sing.
Elles savent la langue des autres. They know the language of others.
No borders! Avec un charme fou, la voix de Lua s’élève, au-dessus des “ponts de Paris”.
No borders! With a crazy charm, Lua’s voice rises above “the bridges of Paris.”
Bien au-delà!Well beyond!
A la rencontre des musiciens français qui inventent les rythmes et les mélodies des golden gates.
To the meeting with French musicians who invent rhythms and melodies of golden gates.
Des ponts à danser sur toutes les musiques du monde.
Bridges on which to dance to all the music of the world.
Yikes I am in the middle of another learning curve and I’m holding on tight. How did this all evolve? What’s happening? Who’s on first?
In the 1990’s I became enamored of a song called Child of Man, by an Israeli-American pop artist; a Swiss friend who came to visit me in San Francisco introduced me to the music of Noa. I was awed by her musicianship and drawn to the energy of the world beat song. I tried teaching it to kids because I loved the message. I’m a strong believer in songs that have meaningful lyrics.
Fast forward 15 years of teaching, cultural exchange, performances, recordings. And living and dying. And schlepping. Do not forget the schlepping.
For the new recording with my band, TWIST, Child of Man re-enters my head. It enters in the spring of 2011 and is performed with music director Jason Martineau at a June Salon Concert at my studio, where the audience was asked to comment on potential songs for the upcoming recording. Child of Man was well received. Somehow it is the anchor piece of the new CD. Yet nobody knows this song.
But when I sought out Global Percussionist Ian Dogle, he knew Child of Man, of course. I met Ian years ago, when I taught at a magnet school for the arts in Redwood City. I booked him to perform for the kids – a global percussion concert for an assembly. He was great and I never forgot him. During 2011, I saw him perform with Ancient Future at Yoshi’s. A friend from the band put us in touch. I wanted my new CD to be more world, more driving; Ian was the musician to help me make it so. I was honored to have a meeting of the minds with this inspiring performer, musical, cultural, philosophical.
Prepping for that Salon Concert, which was in early June 2011, really gave me a kick in the pants, you might say. I learned a bunch of new songs in a short time and really got to remember that I was a singer in addition to being a producer and a teacher. Five of the songs we performed will indeed find their way on to the new recording.
By late June, another stunning influence had appeared in my life: Maxime Le Forestier, whose 1971 French hit pop song, San Francisco, had been a favorite on our set list since 2009. He came to San Francisco for the 40th Anniversary of this famous song about The Blue House, and Jason and I got to sing with him and for him. I had begun to delve into his discography and loved a world beat song called Né Quelque Part (Born Somewhere). He tried to teach me how to say the chorus in the Zulu with the difficult-to-learn mouth click, at which I was shockingly unsuccessful. I listened to his recording, and to the live one on Youtube. I needed a Zulu Choir. And I found one, right here in Oakland. O, bountiful Universe. We have connected at last and they will record with us on Maxime’s song.
Incidentally, I am expecting a learning curve on the acquisition of rights that will need to be obtained for all these songs, mechanical rights for the making of a physical CD, digital rights for online distribution, and probably video rights as well. That’s the new part.
Our original idea was to do this live in concert in front of a live audience. Then the concept of streaming the concert on the Internet was added to the picture because of the capabilities of one of the studios we were considering. Some Irish producers from the BBC came to visit us on Halloween. We started trying to define “broadcast quality” by talking to them, with the idea of making not only a DVD and music videos but creating something with the specs that could go on TV, should we be so lucky.
By now this is sounding immense to me. We establish what the production schedule would look like – tech in on Friday, audience in on Saturday, re-takes on Sunday. We get the quote from this high profile venue. For the venue and the engineering, which will be absolutely top of the line. To that we must add video cameras, and the all-important lighting. Unless you are 20, you need great lighting, at whatever price, because you can throw the whole thing out if you don’t look good, am I right? And this is a huge venue and would require a lot of lighting. Plus, in any venue with a project like this, a Director of Photography, which is what is known in the theatre world as a lighting designer, and then you need the lighting tech. And an Art Director. Which reminds me, you would not THINK of doing this without a makeup artist and a hair stylist. Look, Ma, I’m in the movies. My head is spinning.
The schedule changes with a new scenario, a new way to think about it, proposed by our Director, which would work for the smaller recording venue, the scenario that might result in a more realistic budget. Need to wrap my brain around that. Am I giving up the original reason for doing this?
This is where you need a co-producer who has her feet on the ground, experience under her belt, and your best interests at heart. She is there when the Director comes up with that great idea for using the smaller studio that changes the concept of the project. And you both know that you trust him like crazy and that you’d be nuts to do it in the bigger venue with the budget from hell.
So I haven’t signed on the dotted line yet, but I think we know what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and generally how we’re doing it. Will keep you posted as things evolve. Very quickly.
” …the way to counter the long, historical cycle of hatred and vengeance is to evoke the compassionate and constructive energy inherent in human life and use it to counter the energy of enmity and destruction. Buddhism believes in the Buddha nature—that is, the good—in all people… ” – Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda, from Humane Education: Bridge to Peace
Thanks for reading. Apparently these are never short. 🙂