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 !

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!

http://www.indieheaven.com/artist_main.php?id=6487

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.