WRONG CHORD, WRONG PEOPLE


Miles Davis is one of the greatest Jazz  trumpeters-composers of all time, but this blog is not so much about Mile’s transcendent talent as it is his keen insight, intuition and sensitivity.

For me to appreciate Jazz and be so influence by this eclectic and sometimes complicated genre of music, is a true testimony to God’s desire to give good gifts to his children. I had no musicians in my family, but as a young girl, I had an uncanny gift to be able to know harmony. I loved to sing but had no idea I would have such a love of composing, experimenting with chords and playing my guitar quite many years later. So this jazz thing continues to compel me and my appetite for the scrumptious diminished, flatted fifths and major/minor chords teased my ear. My jazz artistry really grew, working with the incredible Calabrese brothers David and Michael.

Jazz became more and more a part of me and even though I was nursed on rock.  As lead vocalist, fronting my first Christian hard rock band, The Promise with lead guitarist, Chris Durante, I wanted to fuse the complex, sophisticated chords of Jazz with the power of Rock. Chris happened to be on the same wavelength as I and we composed many enduring collaborations whcih fused hard rock with Blues and jazz, thanks to jazz drummer. Tom Hill. When I learned the guitar, the sky was the limit for me and I wrote my first jazz song a month after learning the guitar!

God must have created me to be a jazz girl because the more my ear yearned for the gorgeous, unconventionality of Jazz, my appetite was continued quenched by fining jazz artist on the wonderful Christian music network, Indie heaven, founded by Keith Mohr. At Indie heaven, independent Christian artists could network and find a platform for their music.  being  jkazz-0folk female singer-songwriter, I connected with two of Indie heaven’s amazing Jazz ladies, Celeste Talley,  a sweet songbird crooner and Kerensa Grey, whose sultry, thick ,molasses voice that set all the dudes at ease. We had our prime star Drew Davidson, making a big name for himself all over the east coast.

Though it’s been hard to find a place for my Joni-Mitchelly voice and guitar style, I expect to find my niche…some day

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And today, I couldn’t stop thinking about Kerensa’s post last year. Out of the blue, I remembered being so struck by Mile’s Davis band member sharing his experience of playing a wrong chord. Amazingly, through the myriads of old posts, I landed on that video.It really blew my mind when the player said Miles didn’t even lose his composure or make a face (like some of my past band mates would yell, belittle and deride our bandmate who played a sour chord, or lost there place in the song)  He improvised his chords,  making them fit with the off chord! That is genus.

Now, isn’t that so like our God, Our heavenly father who is the Jazz King. He never gets disgusted with us if we made a mistake, disrupts His plans or  veer of the road. As we abide in His leadership as our Leader of the band, he somehow works around our wrong chord!

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Miles Davis’ band mate learned not just an astounding music lesson that day, but a life lesson. He was blessed to sit under a gracious leader. May we who are uptight, scrutinizing and demanding of others remember that when we cover each others weaknesses, we make ourselves look gracious. It is guaranteed that everyone of us has been or will do something that looks like an idiot. My desire is to so see people as my brothers and sisters who,  like me, have praiseworthy things to find and focus on and not the bad first impression whcih stays cemented in someone’s mind. I know one thing, I will never forget this video and plan to adapt the gracious, forgiving leadership style of Miles Davis as my musical and life pattern !

A Tailor’s Journey With Her Taylor


private party sparta GOLF CLUB,b

A Tailor’s Journey With Her Taylor

Before I fell in Love with music, I was a skilled tailor by trade. As a young girl, I watched my mother sew with thread and needle. I tried my hand and found I was skilled. By sixth grade, I was designing the medieval costumes for school plays and continued to take fashion and seamstress courses in high school. After graduation, to make ends meet, I tailored for various local seamstress shops and even at Abraham and Strauss.

After several years, I grew restless sitting at a sewing machine all day. I hoped for an out and got one a few months after my new job at a fine ladies dress shop. I altered very expensive clothing and was very stressed. One day, a month into my stint at a fine ladies dress shop, I was working on a suit. My mind drifted. I wasn’t paying attention to the heat of my iron. To my horror, the iron touched the lining of the suit’s sleeve and melted a noticeable hole. My supervisor discovered it the next day and I was fired.

I became very depressed and for over a year, I languished directionless and unmotivated, going to different neighborhoods for garden work and leaf raking. It was a very difficult and uncreative time, but I had to pay my rent. I prayed to God for a miracle and knew that He had something very special for me.

In 1989, I befriended a talented guitar player who asked me to front his Christian heavy metal/hard rock band. Chris liked my voice and I ended up writing lyrics for him and his drummer. We fell in love, soon discovered we had some differences and less than a year later, we broke up. The band also fell apart.

Time healed our wounds. Chris and I resumed our friendship and he has remained my long-time song-writing partner, contributing greatly to my recorded songs. he is one of the most creative lead guitarists I’ve ever worked with.

Fast forward, a few years later, a surprising and unexpected door opened! My friend and spiritual mother and I were enjoying a crisp, fall day at the Collingswood Auction flea market. We were searching the small stores for treasures. At one store, she noticed a handsome, pony-tailed guy eying something in a counter. “Mom” Winnie tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was a guitar player.

“I’m helping my friend find a suitable guitarist to accompany her for her gigs,” she explained.

Jeff was so gracious and asked her if I had any music he could buy. He followed us to my car where I had a copy of my first, recently printed CD, “I’ll Fly High”. Then we exchanged numbers. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home and found his message on my answering machine!

“That voice! That voice” he gloated. I called him.

“With that gorgeous voice you need to be accompanying your own self on guitar,” Jeff urged.

The next week, Jeff came over with his guitar, sat me down and showed me the fingerings of a few basic chords. He urged me to get comfortable with it and play every day.

By the end of the week, I’d fallen in love with his guitar. Two weeks later, I wrote my first song, an acoustic ballad, Receive.” A month later, I felt confident enough to play my own guitar at a church coffeehouse and a woman even accepted the Lord as her Savior at the end of the concert as we prayed together! People responded so well to my voice, that I bought a jazz chord book so I could experiment with different chords. I wrote “Basket Case” a week later!

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Jeff was so impressed that he planned to take me on a shopping spree for my own guitar. We made plans to visit Nothing New Music store, Lakehurst, NJ, Taylor guitars were advertised. When the owner, Ken Sturcke. offered to show his three Taylors he wanted to sell, Jeff’s eyes lit up. He was especially impressed by a certain model because of her rich-bodied tome and cherry wood. After playing a few more leads, Jeff smiled, “Well that settles it, Ken, Anita’s gonna take this Taylor.”

I balked at the list price, but Ken said he would give me a great deal on the Taylor.

“Your angelic voice must be accompanied by this Taylor,” Ken assured me.

I was so excited, I knew this was a God thing! Ken prayed with me that God would bless my artistry and ministry with the Taylor. I knew in my heart that we’d soon be making wonderful history.with her. When I got home, I pondered the sudden timeliness of purchasing such an expensive thing as a guitar, I knew God would make a way for me to pay for her…and He was faithful

Within a month, I had the full thousand dollars. I didn’t even have to pay for the seventy-five dollars tax because I served with a non-profit organization. Our executive director said that my singing/ministering was a part of the organization ministry.

I’ll never forget that day I walked out of Ken’s store with my exquisite Taylor. The following year, I was continually inspired to write new songs, experimenting along the way with the unique jazz chords I’d found in my book. The Taylor kept up her true tuning despite humidity and the cold. My Taylor was so well-crafted that I never suffered the embarrassment of an out-of-tune guitar at the start of my set. My Taylor continued to give me excellent, service for all my gigs as well as funeral/wake service.

Opening for Highway 9, STONE PONY

Fast forward again, a few years later, I had to make an impromptu visit to a friend who was dying of cancer. I’d just came home from grocery shopping and had left my Taylor outside, next to the rear of my car. After dusk, I hurried to start my car and proceeded to back out. Each time I tried to go in reverse, the car would stop. Something was caught by the wheel. As I tried backing out the third time, I suddenly remembered I’d left my Taylor outside. When I got out of my car, I shrieked in horror. The top part of the Taylor’s case was mangled! I almost passed as I bent down to take a closer look. I felt weak with shock as I gingerly opened the case to inspect the damage. The upper neck was in bad shape. Tears fell from my eyes as I ran back to my apartment to call my boyfriend about the terrible news. He calmed me down and then I called my pastor. He prayed with me that the Taylor was not so badly damaged that she couldn’t be played again.

I called Ken, told him what had happened with my Taylor. He suggested a friend who owned a luthier shop in Toms River. I brought the Taylor to Paul Unkert and he said the Taylor was repairable. He couldn’t guarantee that she’d stay in tune, but he would do the best he could. It turned out that the truss rod had not been damaged.

My Taylor had another accident again, about three years ago. She was in her case, standing vertical. The case just fell over, slamming violently to the floor. Again, the upper neck came apart. Again, Paul Unkert came to rescue and again, Amazingly, The Taylor still kept her tune!

Soon after the Taylor’s second accident and repair, I fell ill with a mysterious condition which affected my neurological system. Fearful, my husband and I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with Dystonia. He had no idea what caused it nor a cure to give me relief. My neck & throat muscles pulled and twitched violently. I made strange-looking facial grimaces and was exhausted by mid-day. I lost all interest in socializing, my hobbies, eating, song-writing and gigging. The Dystonia also affected my mouth, teeth and tongue. I felt like a freak. I was always anxious that at any moment, my teeth would comp down hard on my tongue and I’d be a bleeding mess.I was miserable!

Anita strummin' fall 2009
I forced myself to leave the house and make something of my life. I ended up visiting the elderly, ailing and handicapped seniors at Buttonwood Hospital. I found when I made the sacrifice, I was so rewarded giving joy and music to those suffering more than me! Amazingly, when I sang with her, my tremors lessened!

Dystonia has been vicious to me, often robbing me of creativity, motivation and joy BUT God…has always provided me with strength and hope each day as I continue to seek a cure and restore my former life. There’s no room for bitterness or resentment when I see people in worse shape. God is my strength and I live moment by moment, one day at a time.

Playing Christmas Hymms on my guitar with Pastor Matt

As I continued struggling with my symptoms, the beautiful Taylor seems to take on her own voice. Often, I’m in such distress I can’t stop crying. I’d suddenly stop as lyrics flowed through my mind. I grabbed my Taylor and wrote beautiful laments-songs, sometimes within 15 minutes! From this painful year came enough material for a my first worship Psalms CD, “The Anointing.”

“I’ve Come Here To Worship” is one such song that unendurable;e pain inspired me to write. Weeping is always followed by praise and worship when I acquiesce to His presence and get out of my self! Many more songs have come from this place of suffering.

My Taylor possesses another special quality: a magnetic attraction to nature and wildlife. One such episode was when I stopped to relax on a park bench in Marine Park, Red Bank, NJ for some solitude.I faced the undulating, peaceful Navesink river, The skies were blue with puffy white clouds. I noticed a school of fish congregating to where I was. At first, I thought it was coincidence that they lingered right there in front of me. Every time I stopped playing to take a short break, they swan away. As soon as they heard the strains of my voice and guitar, they floated back towards me. It was pretty amazing! I felt like the Pied Piper. Birds and dragon flies are also prone to linger whenever I play and sing.

The most transcendent episode with my Taylor though, has been when I had to minister at a funeral service. She accompanied me at the bedside of a my husband’s best friend’s dying father. I sang amazing Grace and my Psalm 91 and encouraged him not to be afraid of where he was going. I felt like Monica of “Touched By an Angel’

“Do you know how much God loves you,” I tenderly whispered to Claude’s father as I held his hand.

He died a few days later and I was asked to sing a song for his memorial service. I sang Psalm 91 again.

When my husband and I arrived at the Catholic church, we were surprised to find out the cantor had not even expected me to sing. Nonetheless, God gave me favor and the cantor told me where I would be in the program. As I walked to the podium to sing my solo. I noticed the sublime ambiance of the stain-glassed surroundings of the church. My pristine soprano reverberated and I felt like an angel singing glory to God. After the service, family and friends met at the banquet hall nearby. When I went to the ladies room, I noticed a woman pulling my husband aside. When I met him at our table, he told me the woman was an old family friend and had to tell him something.

“I must tell you that your wife has a beautiful voice… the voice of an angel My gift is seeing into the supernatural realm. As your wife was singing,I saw cherubim gathered around her shoulder. They were dancing gleefully and celebrating!”

I was very surpassed to hear that from my husband but it made sense in light of the precious way, the Taylor and music entered my life. It was so extra-ordinary, no one could deny God’s hand in this magical and sublime gift. My Taylor and I were a mesmerizing pair! Another amazing thing is that no one in my family was a musician or had a calling for ministry.

Performing at Buttonwood
At present I am without my Taylor. This spring’s unusual humidity caused my Taylor’s neck to come apart again, so she is waiting for a miracle. I’ve been performing and ministering with Jeff’s guitar and though she is wonderful sounding, nothing compares to my Taylor.

I’m praying to continue ministering at the hospitals, finish the recording of my “Anointing” Cd and to be ready when there is a need for people to come into God’s presence. I know I’m called to continue recording and performing the exquisite psalms my heavenly Father inspires me to write. I wait expectantly to see the next miracle with my Taylor!

CHRISTIAN MUSIC, A Part of my Story


DSCN2555As an aspiring, physically-challenged and independent song-writer-worship leader for 28 years, I’ve seen the best and worse from the Christian music industry. When Margaret Becker debuted with her “Never for Nothing” (Heart-tinged spiritual power rock and ballads), I fell in love.
Her heart-felt passion and yearning for her Heavenly Father and “higher things” captured my attention. I wanted to be just like Margaret, fronting a tight band with her electric guitar and sharing the transforming love of Christ with the world

Things did not go as I’d planned, quite the opposite, I was diagnosed with Lyme, Disease, a destructive killer that often maimed and killed its victims. But God had plans for me and despite many years of postponing my recording and not finding the right production for my material, I stayed true to His call.

My years battling immune disorders took me to great depths of despair, but God continually inspired me with poetry and melodies which I kept in my heart for the right time. It was a lonely journey.  Coincidentally, God also put people in my path many who also struggled with life-threatening illnesses and I found I had a heart eager to mentor them through their medical-health crisis with the wisdom God was grooming in me! My battles and trials were amounting to great spiritual successes.

I continued to receive great inspiration to write songs. I continued to record the new material, but it just didn’t portray me or catch the attention of  major label A&R people. I  invited a rapper-preacher to showcase with me at a Bradley beach, NJ outdoor summer concert in 1992.. Reverend Kevin Nunn was amazed watching me lug and set up my heavy PA equipment before the show. He saw my passion and devotion to the Lord and remarked that my voice was lovely and my messages so powerful.

“Girl…with that voice and range, you need better production to hook the listener in!”
Kevin dragged me into his studio to re-mix “Til It Happens To You” and other folk-style recordings. Even though I balked at remixing my white-bread songs to a Christian urban Black audience , (because I felt I was corny)  Kevin said, Brother  Paul reiterated “I am ALL things to all people.”

Since that concert, fast  forward, fifteen years have passed , (and  almost five original and two cover albums later), still disappointed that my audience and fan base hasn’t exploded,  but knowing that God would one day bring much fruit from my  infrequent live performances. Though my present TMJ-Dystonia challenge has halted much of what I’d love to do with my live performing,  I stay focused and disciplined with my voice scales and composing everyday.

I am forever grateful for my song-writer friend who encouraged me to join Indie  Heaven,  online  Christian musician network. There on the forum, I got to network with the finest and aspiring amateurs who sought a platform for their gifts. CEO, Keith Mohr, our seasoned veteran founder had so much to teach us. Every one of us listened and learned all we could from Keith’s wisdom and expertise from the Christian music industry. Though I was often frustrated with my slow  progress, (of pinpointing the niche my eclectic-vintage style fit into) I stood my ground. I was here to stay!

One thing we artist had to learn was to be flexible, (about changing our baby, our songs)  but focused on our artistic growth. Many locked horns with Keith, but he stood his ground. He would say, “Take it or leave it” regarding his counsel. And many disgruntled members did leave with unkind words.  God used Keith to ruffle or feathers and smoothing our rough edges. I’ve seen tough spirits soften and Keith stretching out his neck to fill music and ministry needs. I’m happy to say that I’m staying here because Keith’s wisdom is logical and sound. And he really is a great guy!

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The music industry (especially) the Christian music industry must be navigated with excellence and caution. Indie heaven is the place where you learn about great producing, recording technique, song-writing artistry, common-sense wisdom about networking and  self-confidence. Here is where you come as you are and get groomed and  polished for the industry. It’s also the place to learn about and understand the industry and most importantly, learn and become true ministry.

An added blessing is Sue Ross-Mohr,  music consultant and Keith’s amazing wife , who brings  to Indie Heaven her intuition about people’s hidden and unique gifts. Sue has spotted my artistry in writing, saying that I need to write a 5-book series because I have so much to say.. Her insight and expertise has been invaluable and I’m deeply grateful and humbled that she has given of herself to assist me in my difficult journey.

Keith often reminds us that there is no higher calling than serving. Serving in the spirit of deep Christ-like sacrificial love brings true joy and fulfillment. Indie heaven is a good place to sharpen your people skills and fine-tune your artistry. Margaret Becker and Keith Mohr have been my greatest music influences. May my Heavenly Father  continue to bless their  callings.

WHAT’S In A NAME?


Burqa-clad women walk around like silent ghosts without voices.  To us women in the developed countries , especially America,  they languish quietly as second class citizens with few choices. I’m grateful to live in such a wonderful country and that my beloved father brought me over to America as a young baby from Stuttgart, Germany. I couldn’t imagine traveling through life with a stifled voice, intellect and ability to contribute to my world.

We American women have ample opportunity to aspire to and reach the highest pinnacles of expression, education and spiritual enlightenment.  I’m also blessed to have had a father who instilled in me the virtues of independence, resourcefulness, high intellect and resilience in the face of great hardships. These are the staples of my character and integrity.

Papito was born on the island of  Puerto Rico in 1929. Though, the Depression held America in its grip, my grandmother would not allow poverty to affect her family.  She was fiercely independent. When my grandfather fell ill with  a lung ailment and had to be separate from the rest of the family, she fired her shotgun into the air each night to let prospective suitors know that she was not a pushover, didn’t need their assistance and had her family under control!

As a youngster, Papito was a very special and aspiring boy who sold enough produce from their farm to support his mother and 8 brothers and sisters.  Even at that age, he was an entrepreneur and his great skill at painting and lettering earned him a prestigious position with a local business man also surnamed Ferrer.

When Papito came to America, he joined the army and ended up stationed in Germany, where he met a beautiful, engaging blond. I was born nine months later followed by my younger sister, a year and a half later.  Papito was a serious and very disciplined man and decided to move to a more suburban area in New Jersey. He didn’t want to raise his girls in an urban environment like Paterson where most of his siblings settled.

Papito ended up buying a starter home in Long Branch. When I was six, another sister was added to the family and when I was ten, my last and youngest sister was born.  Papito stayed true to his religious roots and we were enrolled at Star of the Sea Catholic School.  He wanted us to have a quality education and  marry doctors and lawyers.

Catholic school was a fertile place for me to develop confidence in myself.  The nuns recognized my special talents in illustration, poetry and speaking and I was often chosen to read to the class. When Papito could no longer afford tuition, we were transferred to public schools. There, I retained my passion for the arts and discovered I also had a great creativity for fashion design and seamstressing.  I was asked to design and sew all the costumes for our medieval plays. By the time I was in seventh grade, I knew I was going to be a rock ck star/fashion designer when I grew up.

Eventually my parents irreconcilable different forced our family apart and I ended up in foster care. My world crashed, but somehow, I maintained a fierce dignity to survive. Papito’s  mentoring brought me through the storms.

After flailing and struggling for several years, a friend invited me to his church and I ended up committing my life to Jesus Christ.  A supernatural change came over me. I was told that God had a wonderful plan for my life and I was a new person. I couldn’t wait to finally explore my life.  Storms once again, interrupted my forward momentum in the guise of financial hardship, sickness and being hit by a car.

A break came through receiving a brochure in the mail from  Brookdale Community College and I welcomed the though of dreaming again.  I enrolled for fall semester and that began my upward climb to normality. Through malnutrition and poverty, I received grants and a full scholarship offer to Boston University. I managed to stay on the Deans list with a 3.85 GPA, graduating four years later with my Associates degree. My identity was now fully established and I was elated to  soar in my aspirations.

Several more storms assailed me, (including a violent and abusive failed marriage) and later an immune system breakdown from  a LYME Disease diagnosis.  The stress of my husband’s  emotional abuse and deportment threats caused me to break down physically and I was so weak I couldn’t work  I fell into a deep depression, but clung to my faith, knowing that I would ride out the latest storm in God’s strength. My recovery was very slow, but I gradually regained my strength and vision.

God opened up a door of opportunity through a childhood girlfriend who had been praying for me for many years. Diana called me, urging me to apply for a Christian non-profit organization, Love in the Name of Christ, that she worked for part-time.

Though I had no professional clothing for an interview, I made a strong impression on the executive Director, Carolyn Eyerman and Operations manager, John Hodem. Joan was a warm, yet professional woman with decades of experience in the social and healing services.  She saw something in me that I thought I had lost so long ago.  I was hired as program coordinator of my own business clothing and mentoring program!

Only God could have  orchestrated such an event and I was exhilarated that I was called to network with such inflectional professionals. My six-year tenure with Love Inc turned out to be the most supportive and joyous time of my life with me helping disconnected women, domestic violence victims and welfare women entering the work force for the first time! Many wonderful relationships were established because of Joan’s belief in me and I learned much from these professionals in the areas of ministry/outreach, education  and the social services. My confidence grew as other opportunities continued to present themselves.

My talent in singing and music also came to fruition with recording projects and performing in very upscale restaurants. I met many influential business people, pastors and CEOs as well as an MTV CEO, who hired me to do a private event at his mansion in Belmar.

Storms have continued to assail me with greater intensity. My faith has been stretched and God continues to give me glimpses of higher spiritual intuition and His  miraculous workings through me.  I’m continually inspired to chronicle my life and faith journey through new songs, books  and my photography. Most passionately though, is my desire to see broken people from all over the globe healed and transformed whether through personal or via my internet connections.

When God brought a wonderful man into my life, I was yet to experience an ever more relevant journey balancing two different perspectives, traditions, habits and decisions. I married my wonderful husband, Mark and we talked about my desire to be called by my family name. He had  no problem at all.

Strangely, the ones who adamantly refused to honor my request to be addressed at Anita Ferrer, were family members, Marks male friends and our church family!

Times have changed, people. In 2011, many women are keeping their family names, or hyphenating. It’s a personal choice now and some of us just don’t believe in a rigid, thoughtless tradition  borne in the 1800’s when women were their husband’s possession.  To each woman her own,  but I proudly wear my family name like a badge of honor. The name Ferrer is synonymous with my many weighty struggles, blood, sweat and tear lessons and victories. I’m a  phoenix who God himself has reconstructed and sculpted from the funeral pyre, a once almost disintegrated tangled mass scattered to the winds of tragedy.

This name, Ferrer was borne out of a great legacy, the struggle and the fruits of my grandmothers, father’s and my life skills,skills, history, successes and creativity. The jewels of my spiritual crown continue to bring forth fruits of creativity, deep intellect and empathetic passion and compassion for my fellow-man. Teofilo Cepeda Ferrer, Papito’s legacy encompass every part of me, the musical, literary artistry and intimate communication and friendships to a subliminal level.

I wear my father’s name with honor and will not cancel it out because tradition says I must. It epitomizes the extent of my commitment and faithfulness to an extra-ordinary life of leadership, civic and social contributions and also a lifestyle that is excellent and pleasing to my Heavenly Father.

I hope you all now understand my deep and personal reasons to be addressed and known by my family name.

I also hope younger women all over the world will think deeply about what their family name means to them as they prepare to unite with their soul mates. May they ponder the contributions and inheritances of their relatives, fathers or grandparents as I have pondered and cherished the depth and beauty of what my father and grandmother have passed down through me.

Wear your family  name proudly, young woman. It’s a brave new world! !