Thursday, October 30, 2014

Booking Season!

A working artist always seems to be adding dates to their concert calendar, regardless of the time of year, but the late summer and fall seem to be crucial times each year to make contact with concert presenters who are preparing their concert seasons more than a year in advance. Currently my DTG Productions intern and I are busily preparing press kits, demo recordings, print materials and more to send to interested concert presenters for consideration. My career in performing a variety of different types of shows makes this process complicated, as I am sending out information regarding my symphony pops concerts (both holiday pops and jazz pops), my jazz trio shows and my solo cabaret shows all at the same time to both large and small venues. I am currently planning a big band show in Spartanburg next spring, a solo piano/vocal cabaret in California next summer, and symphony shows for the following 2015-16 season (among other concerts in the works). Concert presenters interested in my shows are invited to contact me through my website, If you would like to see one of my symphony concerts in your city, please ask your local symphony organization to get in touch with me! Thank you, as always, for your support of live music!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Large Ensemble Work

This photo captured a special moment this past July when I was invited to sing at The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head with the wonderful Bobby Ryder Quartet and proprietor/fluegelhorn player Bob Masteller. This intimate jazz setting--singing in a small club with an attentive audience-- has always been a charming way to share my music. Lately, however, I have increasingly been offered opportunities to share performances with much larger ensembles and larger audiences in larger venues. How does a performing artist traverse the wide pathway of musical demands when challenged by very different types of concerts to perform? First, understanding the differences between both large and small ensemble concerts is the first major challenge. For a jazz improviser like myself, much more freedom is generally available when performing in a small combo setting on a smaller stage (although I have successfully played highly improvised concerts with my combo on a large stage... as long as we are placed close together we can improvise as much as we like). In a large ensemble setting, however, improvisation must be carefully planned and rarely, if ever, extended. Also, in a concert with a small ensemble I can adjust the microphone to my heart's content. The sound check can take as long as necessary for me to be satisfied with the acoustical adjustments that optimize our group's blend, balance, and tone. In a large ensemble setting, this luxury is virtually non-existent. The time allotted for the vocalist's sound check is generally short and more about setting a volume level so that I can be heard over the ensemble rather than about fine-tuning the EQ for an optimal tone quality in the room. When leading my small combo or playing a solo show, I am free to select whatever tempo and "feel" I like for each song (and I do!). Obviously, the symphony or big band conductor sets the tempo in a large ensemble setting, which forces me to sing the piece with an abundance of energy and expression at whatever tempo we are given. Communicating with the audience seems to be more difficult when performing with a large ensemble than with a small group because interpretation of the text is permitted more latitude in the small group setting--phrasing and timing can be tweaked to stretch or move the music extemporaneously. Facing such a wide variety of musical challenges sharpens an artist's skills and requires precise, mindful preparation for each new concert opportunity that presents itself!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Tuesday I premiere my Jazz Seasons show in South Carolina... an iteration of this show appeared twice at New York's Metropolitan Room a few years back and was one of my first forays into solo cabaret. I have found that I enjoy playing and singing in this context--the freedom of performing all by oneself is radically liberating somehow. Don't get me wrong--I love performing with great artists! But the cabaret world seems to welcome a person alone onstage. One of the greatest freedoms of performing in this context is the permission to improvise aspects I would ordinarily leave predictable... meter, feel, texture, tempo, rubato... and for a true improviser like myself, that lack of knowing what will happen is particularly gratifying.

This year alone I have premiered four distinct shows: Divas and Masters of Jazz (my latest version of this), The Great American Songbook (with Greenville Jazz Collective), Tish Oney Swings Into Spring, and Jazz Seasons. Last winter I premiered my new holiday pops symphony show with Symphoria on a four-city tour throughout New York State. None of the repertoire for any of these five shows has repeated itself! Having a large body of performing material going at the same time gets pretty demanding, but I have always loved a good challenge. Or twenty. Bring it!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Down Time

How does one define "down time?" Why is it necessary? How can one maximize its benefits? Coming off an incredibly busy and intense school year, I am greatly looking forward to exploring these questions over my intentionally not-busy summer ahead... Sure, I have a couple of selected performances scheduled, but overall I am planning to take some time and genuinely REST for a change. For the artist, restfulness needs to happen if one is to remain creative. While we can (and often do) create art under pressure, our creativity lags when we are overly stressed, tired, burned out or generally overloaded for too many months/years at a time. Taking time to get away, ease the stress and place mental energies onto more creative pathways will nourish an overwhelmed artist.

What can I do this summer to recharge my creative batteries? For one, I long to creep back into my dedicated practice time untouched by other encroaching commitments. Giving myself two hours to lose myself in music is like a spa treatment for my creative mind! The never-ending to-do list must be placed aside if I am to truly experience the "zone" into which creativity pours like a fountain. For some reason, to-do lists and the "zone" are incompatible in my life. But when I grant myself permission to put the list aside, the "zone" is thankfully not far away.

Spending time with loved ones is another important re-charging activity to which I am looking forward! This means saying "no" to various entities that request (or demand) my sacred vacation time. This very powerful word may yet be the key to my sanity... I look forward to trying it out!

Prayer and meditation work wonders when needing a balm from the often traumatic events of everyday life. I look forward to dedicating more time each day to these spiritual practices and watching God transform my stress into peace...

Reading, gardening, jogging, singing, writing, swimming, hiking... whatever the activity may be, I challenge my artistic friends to join me in a summer of rejuvenation for art's sake!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Projects and more projects

Jazz concerts, new ventures, recordings, music articles, collaborations... January and February always seem to be the time to plan the "next phase" of projects. I am excited about a concert coming up March first--I will be the first vocalist to ever perform with the Greenville Jazz Collective! This wonderful instrumental ensemble is dedicated to writing and performing new jazz music. As a departure from their norm, we are engaging in a celebration of classic songs from the Great American Songbook programming works by Gershwin, Arlen, Porter, Duke, and Berlin. Our first and only rehearsal hit today--and I already know this performance is going to be a trip! Greenville/Spartanburg folks won't want to wait to get tickets--this ensemble usually sells out this tiny venue fast (The Coffee Underground), so see and order your tickets today!

I have been meaning to release a pop single for several months now... it is fully mastered and ready to go! I am excited to start the buzz about this one in advance--it is an original country song of mine with acoustic guitar accompaniment provided by the guitar master John Chiodini. I'm working on putting the pieces in place to create some awareness about it before its release, so consider yourself informed! Can a jazz singer do a country song justice? You be the judge... :)

I also have some rather exciting collaborations on the horizon which I will only hint at for the moment. They include some potentially active touring and work with some truly outstanding artists... all very exciting stuff which makes me thankful I chose this profession! Or, rather, this profession chose me...

I have re-designed my Tour Archives page on my website, so if you'd like to see where I've been and what I've been doing, that's a great place to find out! Also, please "Like" my Facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter
if you have been to a concert and enjoyed the show! I look forward to seeing you out and about!

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

What an eventful year this has been! Every late December I like to reflect upon the previous twelve months in an effort to learn from the past and present. Hopefully, those lessons will inform the future! What can I learn from this past year that could make 2014 that much more efficient, successful, fulfilling and rewarding? Hmm...

First, I need to schedule time to nurture family and friend relationships. All things worth doing require a time commitment, and it is easy for those submerged in more work than they can reasonably accomplish to push more important things aside. Second, I would like to allow for distractions in my day when they involve helping someone else. Our schedules and to-do lists should never trump our generosity and kindness which others desperately need! Third, on a more personal level, I plan to package into my schedule time to unplug. We Americans seem to move so fast from one thing to the next that savoring beautiful things is an activity rarely cultivated. Artists require time to savor beauty and create something new from it... Fourth, I wish to carve out more dedicated practice time every day. My calendar is filling with wonderful new performance opportunities and as I plan my next recording, my time will be at a premium, so protecting that ever-crucial "personal time with my piano" from other activities encroaching upon it will be absolutely necessary...

These resolutions (or goals, as I prefer to think of them) may portray me as an idealist, but in truth, I would not be where I am today without a commitment to steady, continual, personal growth. Learning from my mistakes and trusting God to take me the rest of the way have fueled attitudes of contentment and thankfulness which are tremendous blessings. May all of us find ways to allow 2013 (and previous years) to positively influence our decisions and pathways to come... Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Syracuse Symphoria

Next week I will be so pleased to be on tour with the wonderful symphony organization called Symphoria--the former Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Two and a half years ago I was deeply saddened when the SSO filed for bankruptcy and ended their 50th season early, before the long-awaited Yo-Yo Ma concert. Imagine my glee when the successor organization contacted me this past summer to invite me to perform as their Holiday Pops soloist in their inaugural season as they gathered their troops back together for more music-making! What a privilege to help usher in a new era for my hometown cultural institution, our beloved symphony. This said, I am inviting every friend, family member, fan, former student and music-lover in central New York to join us in celebrating and supporting "Symphoria Pops Open the Holidays"--our Holiday Pops tour through Jamestown, Auburn, Herkimer and Syracuse, NY. We kick off the tour at the RegLenna Civic Center in Jamestown on Wednesday, December 4 at 8pm. We then move to Auburn High School for a concert Thursday, December 5 at 8pm, and then to Herkimer High School Friday, December 6 at 8pm. The talented teenaged tenor, Nick Ziobro, will be the featured vocalist at three more regional concerts (Oswego, Cortland and Rome) on December 15, 16 and 18, after which Nick and I will join forces with conductor Sean O'Loughlin, The Syracuse Pops Chorus and the Empire State Dance Center for a holiday extravaganza on Friday, December 20 at 7:30 at the Crouse-Hinds Concert Hall in Syracuse's OnCenter on Montgomery Street. Ticket information for each concert is available at the Symphoria box office (315-299-5598) and at For more information, please see my website.

The concert program for each of my four shows with Symphoria will include beautiful holiday arrangements of familiar songs arranged by Grammy-winning arrangers Chris Walden and Bill Cunliffe, as well as Jason Goldman. We will also perform a beautifully-orchestrated "Peter Pan Suite," "It's a Wonderful Life Suite," and a traditional singalong medley of carols. These will be unforgettable evenings--please forward this information to anyone you believe would appreciate knowing, and thank you in advance for supporting the arts! I wish you many blessings for a safe, happy, and musical holiday season!