I started my “Growing Up Jazz” series to share stories and honor some of the great masters of Jazz I had the good fortune to know while growing up. It was an unusual yet exciting childhood; climbing inside instrument cases to take naps during rehearsals, dancing around during my parents concerts, going on tour and playing “Go Fish” with legendary musicians on trains and planes throughout Europe.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home where everyone was welcome and there was enough love for everyone. We often hosted exchange students from other countries and for both my brother and I, our house was the house that our friends always came to to hang out… or came to eat since my Mom is such a great cook. But one exchange student in particular was very special – a girl from Japan named Saori. Saori and I would stay up late talking about boys, play music together and just really enjoyed each others company. I was sad when she went back to Japan but we always kept in touch.
I grew up in NYC where Fashion Week is basically a “national holiday”. Since I was a child I have loved fashion because I consider it to be another way I can express myself creatively – how I get dressed every morning tells the world how I am feeling on any given day.
Winters in New York have always been chilly, but this year was especially crisp. We were knee deep in snow when our power went out for the third time – and I’m not talking about a little flicker, the previous time we didn’t have power for 10 days.
It all started with my song Alive, then Pennies From Heaven decided to tag along and Smells Like Teen Spirit jumped in and came along for the ride. At this point I realized I had something bigger on my hands than just recording a couple of videos for Youtube. A quick google search to ask how many songs are on an EP (four) and I knew I needed to create one more song.
Like most kids my age during middle school and high school, Nirvana was my favorite band. I had those old school CD subscriptions and when a new album would arrive in the mail I would listen to it on repeat at full volume. Needless to say, my parents were less than happy about my submersion into the grunge rock movement.
If you read my “Coming Alive at Home” post you know how my LIVE EP got its start. Pennies from Heaven was the second song chosen, and in the cutest of ways.
I wrote Alive last year in 2017 when I hit a very low point. I felt stuck in a rut musically and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I felt hopeless, like I would never be able to achieve my dreams and didn’t even know where to begin with setting out to try and make those dreams come true.
Some of my first memories as a child are of jazz festivals: hanging out backstage, dancing around in the audience, being mesmerized by the incredible legends on the stage. To me it all seemed as normal as going to summer camp or eating ice cream on a hot day. I loved the festival life – meeting new people, hearing new songs, trying new foods, sleeping in fancy hotels. Getting to do this every summer with my family was really a dream because it combined my two favorite things: music and family. Both of my parents worked with such talented and interesting people, the world of jazz and festival lifestyle feels like home.
They say your friends are the family you choose and I was blessed that my parents chose incredible people to be their friends and therefore “Aunts” and “Uncles” to me. A very special part of my extended family belongs to Mulgrew Miller and his lovely wife Tanya.