Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where In The World Is Vivian??

My nephew and his dad in front of the Rockerfeller Center Tree..

As my friend Kevin would say, “where in the world is Vivian Sessoms?” He’s always telling me “You should write about your adventures and keep people posted on what you’re doing, they’re interested in knowing where you are and who you’re working with and all that jazz”.

You know, I get on these tangents sometimes, where I say I’m gonna’ write a blog and I have all these ideas in my head but I don’t sit down right away and put anything down and then I forget what I wanted to write about. My memory has gone to hell..

Anyways, hey you guys! I know it’s been a while, sorry about that. I expect we’re all getting ready as best we can for Christmas what with the snow and all. I, for once, did all my shopping early this year, as I planned to be out of town for Xmas. Actually, I planned to see Rob Thomas for my birthday and then spend the holiday with my nephew and fam, but alas work calls so here I am in snowy Slovakia (formerly Czechoslovakia). It’s a beautiful country, and I’m working very little so I’m getting to see a lot of the city I’m in (Bratislava). It’s only 30 minutes from Vienna (where I used to live some years back), and I’m performing with truly gifted musicians which is a real treat.

For Christmas I will head to London for a few days and spend time with a few of my closest friends and their family. One of the great things about being on the road is making new friends and keeping up with old friends. My buddy Everton Nelson is a brilliant violinist, who plays on practically every movie soundtrack we hear today. His wife Julia is a wonderful artist/graphic designer/singer who can cook her you know what off, so can Everton for that matter, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing them both. They have a beautiful little girl named Sienna who absolutely melts my heart every time I hear her voice with her little British accent. It’s too friggin’ adorable. Must pick up presents before I leave.

Enough with the travelogue for now. Let’s talk about music for a bit shall we? So the new record is, I would say, over half done. Thing is, I’ve been dragging my feet on it because I really want to do some things differently this time around so I’ve been spending time researching and doing my homework. Also, might be moving to LA next year so that might take a little time. In the meantime, for all of you who have been asking when is the record coming out, I’m going to preview some new tracks and pics from the new record in February, so stay tuned for that.
You can also look forward to a few unreleased tracks from the last record even sooner and of course, I’ll keep you posted on all that good stuff.

On another note, we got a very nice album review from our friends over at SoulTalk/BlogTalk Radio (thanks Duane ;-)), which you can read below. Duane has invited me to be a guest DJ on the show over the next few weeks. When I get the dates I’ll let you guys know so you can tune in. Usually at this time of year I do a list of my favorite albums for the year but this year I will count it down on the show so make sure to tune in.
I’m giving shout outs to a real eclectic mix of albums and artists this year as a nod to my changing genres with this next record.. I’m feeling something very different musically these days which I just can’t wait to share with you all.

I’m planning to do a show in February and I’ll be promoting a couple shows this spring as well so check the site for those dates.

Last but not least, I wanna’ give a heartfelt thanks to everyone for all the lovely birthday wishes. I got calls, and emails and messages on fb and every other mode of communication I can think of but it was awesome! Totally awesome!! So thank you to everyone for remembering me on my birthday. In return, I’d like to wish you all lots of love and joy this holiday season. May you be fruitful and prosperous in the New Year.
And remember, music can change the world..


Reviewed by DAS aka Soul Talk 12/02/09
Albright - Sunny One Day

The talented duo of Vivian Sessoms & Chris Parks brings a very unique kind of soul sound to your ears; the smooth production with Vivian’s beautiful voice is very refreshing. Vivian takes you on a lyrical and vocal journey that speaks directly to your soul; she has a voice that seems to travel from jazz to soft R&B. The melodies and chord arrangements of the tracks are nicely done, just right for relaxed listening. On this CD entitled “Sunny One Day” it is difficult to pick a particular favorite because each has its own element.

“Oh Baby” gives you the sexy, crooning side of Vivian’s voice, where the title track “Sunny One Day” has a warm inviting feeling. “Its Alright” is a very soothing song with an upbeat tempo. The writing style of these two artists is sure to continue getting attention and garnering fans. Of the many female vocalists out there I would say that Vivian is definitely among the best of them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Where Is The Little Colored Girl??"

Long time no speak..
Sorry about that.
I''ve been off for the summer, so I decided to take it easy for a while. I haven't been home for the summer in a very long time, and it's been a rather strange one with the crazy weather and all that's been happening in the world.. The loss of some of our greatest musical icons..

The summer has become my favorite season of the year (sometimes autumn still wins out), but this summer with all of the rain and sad news brought out the introspective side of me. While I've been hard at work on a new record, I also feel strangely detached from music lately. I feel very passionately that this record is some of our best work to date, but still I've needed to take long breaks from recording to pursue other interests and to stop and reflect now and again..
Its been refreshing..
I've also discovered lots of new music which I'll share with you soon.

I got a dog this summer too, who I absolutely adore :-)
We rescued her from a shelter and she is an angel.. We've been going for long walks and getting to know one another..

On another note, it occurred to me recently that you guys don't know that much about my musical history, so I thought I'd share a funny story with you..

One of the things you don't know for instance, is that I have a great love for
standards and for big bands in particular. I'm a huge fan of all the greats.. Ella, Sarah, Billie, Nina, Dinah.. The list goes on, but I also listen to a lot Duke and Count and a few others.

The reason this is so is because of my grandmother. This was the music of my
grandmothers era.. She played it in the house all while I was growing up. She would sing her favorite songs to me and stand me on the coffee table to teach me how to dance.
As a kid I would sing an Ella Fitzgerald song just as easily as I would a Chaka Khan or Michael Jackson song.

A few years back I became completely obsessed with finding big bands in New York to hear and to sit in with.. I was unaware that there was whole movement dedicated to keeping the music alive and once I discovered that, I was ecstatic.. I dedicated myself right away to trying to establish myself on the scene, buying big band arrangements which I didn't realize are crazy expensive! I had a nice collection of vintage dresses, now I had a chance to use them.. It was an exciting time and I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new music..

The interesting and very cool thing about being a part of this scene was that when you went to a concert there was always dancing and the crowd would be a mix of people ranging in age from 20 all the way up to 70 and 80 year olds including the legendary Frankie Manning (the man credited with inventing the Lindy Hop), and Dawn Hampton (another incredible and much sought after dancer and singer in her own right).

In this way young people got to mix with people who actually were around in the 1930's and 40's and lived to tell about it, and believe me, these were great and often colorful stories to be sure!

In the midst of this I also met many great musicians and their wives and
girlfriends.. It was one of these musicians whose girlfriend Amy said to me one day, 'I want to introduce you to Les Paul'.


Now before I go on with the story, let me interject.. I am a Jimi Hendrix fan.. I LOVE this man... If there was anyone that I could go back in time and meet, there are a few but Jimi would be at the top of that list, ok?
Ok, so suffice it to say that I've read many books on Jimi Hendrix and in reading about Jimi, I learned a lot about Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar, inventor of the multi-tracking tape machine, both of which revolutionized music and the recording industry forever..


(A little known fact, Les Paul tried to sign Jimi to his record company right around the time moved to England to record his first record.)

So back to the story.. My friend Amy had said she wanted to take me to meet Les Paul and more specifically, she wanted him to hear me.. Of course I was very excited and honored but I was starting to tour a lot so finding the time became difficult..

Eventually, I had a break one spring and was hanging out in the city to see one of my favorite big bands, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra. Amy was there and said 'Hey let's run over and see Les, you want to?' And of course I said yes..

Now for some reason, I was wearing my hair in Indian styled braids then.. You know, 2 long Pocahontas plaits, one on each side.. Maybe I was just lazy but it was summertime and it was easy and saved me time but it made me look 12 years old.. :-)

Anyway, we get inside the club and go back stage before the show and Amy introduces me to Les and he was very nice, really nice, but of course he meets lots of people everyday, and he kept forgetting my name a little. Normally I would have attributed this to his being a little older but the man was so sharp and so witty, I mean he had such a hilarious sense of humor and you just know that no one is that funny or astute without having all their faculties straight. I'm sure he was just tired of having to meet and greet people that night, which I totally understood. I was still
very excited about meeting him none the less..

If you've never seen Les Paul, he used to do every Monday night at the Iridium night club in New York. I think he must have been doing this for about 20 - 25 years though it could be longer.. He'd play guitar along with upright bass, piano and another guitar.. No drums.. And he played beautifully, I mean I've never heard anything like it.. His touch, his phrasing, just beautiful.. I'd heard that he'd suffered a stroke several years back and couldn't play for a while and after he resumed playing he didn't think his playing was as good but I totally disagree. After seeing him that first evening, I bought a few of his records and I swear I couldn't tell the difference.

The club was packed and it was a who's who of famous guitarists and other musicians as well. I think the guitarist from Bon Jovi or Aerosmith was there.. In any case, Les told story after story, playing songs in between, and inviting various guests up to sit in.

Toward the the end of the set, he leaned over to ask the guitarist a question, to which the guitarist shrugged his shoulders. Then he leaned over and asked the pianist, probably the same question and he also shrugged..
He then leaned in to the mike and said, "I'd like to invite a young lady up right now, but I'm embarrassed to say, I don't remember her name... Is the little colored girl still here? There was a little colored girl backstage earlier, with 2 long plaits, are you still here young lady?"

As I looked around, I realized I was the only colored girl in the room and realized to my surprise, he was talking about me..
Hahahaha.. I had a good chuckle then got up and made my way to the stage..

As we hadn't paid to get in, Amy and I were sitting in the back of the club, so it took me a few minutes to get to the stage, all the while Les was still calling out for the little colored girl.. Then went into another story while waiting for me to come up (it really was that hard to get to the stage).

Finally, he finished the story, invited me up and said "Well young lady, tell us who you are" to which I replied "Hi everybody, I'm the little colored girl"... the audience roared!

Then I sang a song, and Les said it was wonderful and asked me to do another and then another, and then he said something I'll never forget.. He said, "You know Miss, I'd like to invite you back to do a whole evening featuring you on vocals with the band, would you like that?" And I said I would like that very much, and then I thanked him and left the stage..

My friend Amy said Les never let's people he doesn't know sing more than one song so I should feel honored, and I did..

That is my Les Paul Story..

We've lost some great ones this year.. But they will always be remembered for what
they gave us..

Thank you for reading..

Below is a partial list of famous guitarists who play a Les Paul guitar

Duane Allman - Sunburst, Goldtop
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) - Junior
Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) - Standard Sunburst
Jeff Beck - Standard Sunburst
Fran Beecher (Bill Haley and His Comets) - Custom
Ariel Bender (Mott the Hoople) - Junior
Chuck Berry - Custom
Dickey Betts (Allman Bros.) - ’59 Standard Sunburst, ’57 Goldtop
Marc Bolan (T.Rex) - Standard Sunburst
Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn) - Standard
Buckethead - Custom
Bumblefoot (Guns N’ Roses)
Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) - Custom
Chester Burnett "Howlin’ Wolf" - Goldtop
Toy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker) - Standard
Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard) - Standard
Graham Coxon (Blur) - Custom
Charlie Daniels - ’58 Standard
Eric Clapton - Standard Sunburst, ’61 SG-style, Custom
Steve Clark (Def Leppard) - Standard
Bill Connors (Return to Forever) - Custom
Sheryl Crow - Special
Dave Davies (The Kinks) - Custom, Goldtop
Al Di Meola - Custom
Rick Derringer (Johnny Winter And, Edgar Winter Group) - Goldtop
Andy Dunlop (Travis) - Deluxe
Elliot Easton (Cars) - Goldtop
David "The Edge" Evans (U2) - Custom, Goldtop
Don Felder (Eagles) - Standard
John Fogerty - Custom, Goldtop, Standard
Peter Frampton - Custom "Black Beauty"
Ace Frehley (Kiss) - Custom
Robert Fripp (King Crimson) - Custom Black Beauty
John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) - ’69 Custom
Noel Gallagher (Oasis) - Standard
Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead) - Goldtop
Billy Gibbons (Z.Z. Top) - ’59 Sunburst
David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) - ’56 Goldtop w/Bigsby
Ray Gomez (Stanley Clarke) - Standard
Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam) - Standard
Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) - ’59 Standard Sunburst
Steve Hackett (Genesis) - Goldtop
Kirk Hammett (Metallica) - ’68 Custom "Black Beauty"
George Harrison - Plain top Standard
Warren Haynes (Allman Bros, Gov’t Mule) - Standard, Les Paul 12-string
Jimi Hendrix - Custom
James Hetfield (Metallica) - Custom
Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) - Custom
James Honeyman-Scott (The Pretenders) - Standard
John Lee Hooker - Goldtop
Steve Hunter (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper) - Special
Davey Johnstone (Elton John) - Custom
Adam Jones (Tool) - Custom
Billy Jones (The Outlaws) - Custom
Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) - Goldtop
Mick Jones (The Clash) - Junior, Custom
Mick Jones (Foreigner) - Custom, ’61 SG-style
Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) - Custom, Special, Sunburst
Terry Kath (Chicago) - Les Paul Recording
Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac) - Custom
Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) LP seen in "Money for Nothing" video
Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult) - Standard
Albert Lee - Custom
Frank Lero (My Chemical Romance) - Epiphone Standard
Alex Lifeson (Rush) - Standard, Custom
Kerry Livgren (Kansas) - ’69 Deluxe
Thin Lizzy (Scott Gorham - Deluxe; Brian Robertson - Deluxe; Gary Moore - Standard; Snowy White - Goldtop; John Sykes - Custom)
Steve Lukather (Toto, sessions) - Standard Sunburst
Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat)
Paul McCartney - Standard Sunburst, Goldtop (both left-handed)
John McLaughlin - Custom
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) - Standard
Henry McCullough (Joe Cocker, Wings) - Goldtop
Bob Marley - Special
Sonny Mayo (Amen) - Custom
Steve Miller - Goldtop, Standard
Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) - Standard, Goldtop
Jimmy Page - ’58 and ’59 Standard Sunburst
Les Paul - a bunch of ’em, but especially the Les Paul Recording
Carl Perkins - Goldtop
Joe Perry (Aerosmith) - Standard Sunburst
Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) - Custom
Rod Price (Foghat) - Custom
Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople, Bad Company) - Junior
Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) - Standard
Randy Rhoads - Custom
Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones) - Standard, Custom
Gary Richrath (R.E.O. Speedwagon) - Standard, Goldtop, Custom
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (Blue Oyster Cult) - Standard
Mick Ronson (David Bowie) - Custom
Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd) - ’59 Custom
Todd Rundgren - ’61 SG/Les Paul
Carlos Santana - Special
Joey Santiago (The Pixies) - Custom
Joe Satriani - Standard
Boz Scaggs - Goldtop
Tom Scholz (Boston) - Goldtop
Neal Schon (Santana, Journey) - Standard
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Standard
Slash (Guns N’ Roses) - Standard Sunburst
Earl Slick (David Bowie) - Custom
Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) - Standard
Steve Stills - Custom with Bigsby
Joe Strummer (The Clash) - Junior
Hubert Sumlin - Goldtop
Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones) - Standard Sunburst
Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) - Junior
Pete Townshend (The Who) - Deluxe
Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash) - Junior
Joe Walsh (James Gang, Eagles) - Standard Sunburst
Muddy Waters - Goldtop
Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) - ’56 Goldtop
Leslie West (Mountain) - Junior
Whitesnake (Adrian Vandenberg; Mick Moody; Bernie Marsden; Mel Galley)
Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) - Standard Sunburst
Nancy Wilson (Heart) - Epiphone Les Paul Ultra
Johnny Winter - Goldtop
Ron Wood (Faces, The Rolling Stones) - Custom
Zakk Wylde - Special
Neil Young - ’56 Goldtop painted black
Frank Zappa - Goldtop

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Love To You..

“A long, long time ago...
I can still remember how
The music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while..

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died..”
-Don McLean

When I was a very little girl, I would hear this song on the radio and it would make me cry. I didn’t understand why, I was too little to understand the concept of death or dying and I didn’t really know what to song was about. There was just something about “the music dying” that seemed awful and forever to me. To this day that song still makes me a little sad.

Hey guys,
Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Been busy as you all know, working on new music but I felt like I needed to stop for a few days. The music just left my head. Feels like I can’t hear anything. The day I heard the news I was so stunned, hell everyone in the world was stunned, but I thought… in a day or so it won’t seem like such a shock. Even though it felt like I just lost a brother, it felt odd to be grieving so much for someone I’ve never even met. At first I said “I’m not going to watch any programs or news, or listen any radio stations playing his music, at least not for a while.” I taped a lot of stuff but I still haven’t watched, it feels too hard.

I can remember when Donny Hathaway died and feeling really sad but I was just a kid. I understood the concept of death better but up to that point I had never lost anyone close to me or been to a funeral. I knew it was a tragedy and though I didn’t understand how or why he died, I was very sad. Even though I was a kid, I somehow instinctively knew that music would be very different without him. Maybe that’s because I can remember the first time I heard Mr. Hathaway. It was Christmas of 1970. I was going to take my first plane trip to California to visit an aunt. I was going with my father and his parents and I was beside myself with excitement. When we arrived, the entire car ride from the airport to the house, all my aunt talked about were these two new artists that were making incredible, and really beautiful music. It was music for black people, young, hip, soul music for young, hip, beautiful black people. Of course that wasn’t exactly what she said but it’s how I remember it, it’s what she conveyed. It was music that people actually sat and listened to. It seemed to me, now thinking back on it, to be a new kind of blues if you will, very heady, dark and rich, their voices, both so soulful and so full of yearning. Those artists were Donny Hathaway and Al Green. During that vacation which lasted several weeks, there was no other music played in the house, and I mean no other music. But all of this was shaping me and I still remember it as one of the best Christmas’s I’ve ever spent with my dad and his family. Somehow listening to those two artists still remind me of my dad, so I was very sad when Donny died.

I also remember the day Marvin died. The shock of hearing of his death and how he died, I remember feeling ripped apart by that. Now I could really and truly relate, having begun to lose loved ones. I also knew that I would never be able to do anything with my life but music and was so completely engrossed in all things musical. More importantly though, I had met Marvin Gaye a few times and he was so very kind to me. Furthermore, not so long before, my childhood friends and I spent an entire summer dancing to Got To Give It Up. It was one of those records that defined a period in our lives and we never stopped playing it the entire summer long, literally. Now I knew music would never be the same.

Then three years ago James Brown passed and again we were all shocked and saddened. Where as Donny, Al, and Marvin might have been my mother’s music, James Brown was everyone’s music, young and old. You danced your ass off listening to James Brown, he kept it grimy, gritty, and soulful. It was soul of the rawest kind, not polished and beautiful but very honest and very real.

When I was a really little girl I was completely, and I mean completely consumed with two artists, one of whom was the magnificent James Brown. Now please believe me when I say this is the truth, my father played percussion with James Brown, (that’s not the part I want you to believe, though it is the truth), but before that, before I could even read, I could read the name James Brown, don’t ask me how because I don’t know. I just know that growing up in the St Nick projects, which is only a few blocks from 125th street (a major thoroughfare and shopping street in Harlem) we used to pass by the Apollo on a regular basis. If I passed that Apollo Theatre and saw the name James Brown on the marquee and my mother said we weren’t going I raised holy hell right there in the middle of the street. Now here’s something else I really want you to understand. You DO NOT have temper tantrums when a black woman is your mother, ok?? You just don’t do it, but that’s on the level, how much I had, not wanted, had to see James Brown. The funny thing is, and this is really funny, sometimes we would have tickets and my mother would be trying to explain to me that we were going to go but the show wasn’t that day or that he wasn’t even in town yet, he might be coming the following week or month but I would be standing in the middle of 125th street screaming at the top of my lungs and my mother would literally have to drag me away form the Apollo. After my dad started playing with him I got to see him often (which was made even better by getting to see my dad too) for as long as my dad had that gig, which wasn’t a very long time but long enough for me to have seen lots of shows.

I still don’t know why I was so mesmerized by James Brown but I suspect it might have been his dancing. I would stand on my seat and watch the whole show (I was only 3 or 4) and not move until it was over. I was star struck and I wasn’t the only one as evidenced by the many artists he influenced from George Clinton, to Jackie Wilson, to Prince, to Michael, speaking of which, the other artist I was obsessed with at that time was the Jackson 5 and particularly Michael.

Here at last was music, that even though everyone loved it, seemed perfectly geared toward black kids especially. In truth it reached all kids black and white, so much so that the Jackson’s white counterpart, The Osmond Brothers came quickly after. I was too young to remember Little Stevie Wonder, he was before my time, had I been a little older, I might have been daydreaming about Stevie but as fate would have it James Brown and the Jackson 5 are the ones who really struck me the hardest. Theirs are the first songs that I can actually remember besides songs I learned in school and the ones my mother would teach me.
My mother was a singer too and taught me many songs as a kid, particularly a lot of Doo Wop and Motown songs. I couldn’t read or write yet but I could harmonize with my mother and sing backup. I guess you could say that I already had the bug at that point, having seen my dad on stage and watching my mom singing. I’d be in the mirror, brush in hand singing with Michael, trying do the dance steps. When the Jackson’s were on television everyone in the building watched. Actually, if any black person was on television we’d all be glued to the tv, but Michael was different because he was this little kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old doing all this amazing stuff. though I was gonna’ marry him. No for real, I thought I was gonna’ marry Michael, I’m not joking.

I realized last week that for every phase of my life there was a Jackson or Michael Jackson record to go with it. All through my childhood and teenage years, even after I became an adult and was falling in love for real it was to a Michael Jackson song. Even my son became obsessed with Michael Jackson. I remember being absolutely mesmerized the first time I heard Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. I would sit in front of the stereo and play that song and that album over and over and over again. I would study it. And then when we thought he couldn’t top himself he came back with Thriller. He looked totally different and we were all really surprised but we didn’t care. And then he outdid himself and everyone else by moon walking on the Motown 25th anniversary show.

My heart has been aching since I heard the news and hasn’t stopped. I feel like a fool but there it is. My sister in law told me when she goes to sleep, she grieves in her stomach for Michael. I know what she means. I’m trying to figure out why I’m so despondent over someone I never really knew. I wonder if it’s because it seems to me like he never got the to have the childhood he deserved and had to sacrifice so much of his whole life to be what he was to all of us. Or maybe I feel awful because it seems like he never got to have much happiness in his life, growing up with Joe Jackson for a father, then being harassed and torn down in his prime by greedy, shameless people who took advantage of him and did irreparable damage to the reputation of one of the greatest musical icons to ever live (now the kid comes forward and says Michael never touched him... disgusting). One of my closest friends says everyone on this earth feels exactly as I do because when Michael died our childhoods died with him. Beautifully said.. I think it’s that the music died.. at least for me.. for now.

Dear Michael,
No one in the world has ever been able to touch the hearts of so many and no artist has ever been loved more..
I hope you see..
God bless you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ladies & gentleman, Jeremy Blake..

Jeremy Blake - Berkshire Fangs ('01)

Jeremy Blake - Berkshire Fangs ('02)

Jeremy Blake - Mod Lang ('02)

Jeremy Blake - Chemical Sundown ('01)

I'd like to, if I may, introduce you guys to some of the most visually stunning artwork I have ever seen (above).

I remember the first time I saw the movie Punch Drunk Love and being so in love with that movie for so many different reasons.
I thought the music was just magical, and oh so lovely.. so much so, that I bought the soundtrack the next day, particularly for the song "He Needs Me". To my surprise I discovered the soundtrack had been done by Jon Brion, who is my dream producer and at the top of my list as far as producers go (Elliott Smith, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Kanye, Keane, Dido - all artists I love.. you can see him every Friday at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles).
I also found that the song "He Needs Me" was written by Harry Nilsson for the movie Popeye and was sung by Shelley Duvall. Harry Nilsson is one of my all time favorite artists for having what I think is one of THE most beautiful voices of the century (though I love them all, my favorite album is Nilsson sings Newman). The soundtrack overall though, just has an old world charm to it, and a little bit of a foreign film feel to it. It is a delight.

As for the cinematography, breathtaking.. I couldn't stop watching it. I love it when a movie grips me the way that Punch Drunk Love did, it wasn't just a sweet story, which it most certainly was, but the characters involved were all really kooky, and exuberant.. with Adam Sandler in a a way we've never seen him before and Emily Watson who was lovely and refreshing.

In my opinion, the past 10 years has seen a whole spate of films by a new kind of director, guys that want to tell a story in a whole new way and shoot film in a very different way, that to my mind, has made film so much more interesting and engrossing, directors like;

Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia)
Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore)
Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
David O Russell (I Heart Huckabees)
Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands)
The Hughes Brothers (From Hell)
The Wachowski Brothers (V for Vendetta, The Matrix)
The Coen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou, Fargo)
Ryan Murphy (Running with Scissors)

But the thing that always set Punch Drunk Love apart for me was how visually stunning the film was. The film was literally interspersed with these out of focus, really colourful, beautiful shots and I always wondered how the hell they did that, I thought maybe they just make the camera go out of focus and that was what you'd see, these colourful shapes but I've asked people in the industry about this and they all say no.

I think I might have seen that film in 2003..
Fast forward to 2008..

I'm sitting in my Dr's office waiting to be seen and pick up a copy of the New Yorker Magazine. It was a special fashion issue and it had very beautiful clothes in it, all designed by relatively unknown designers. When I was ready to leave, I asked if I could take the magazine with me and they said yes. I carried it around in my bag for weeks. It was full of all kinds of interesting stuff but one of the last stories I read in it was the story of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake.

Their story went a little something like this; 2 young and amazingly gifted artists meet in their early 20's in New York and find an immediate attraction between them. Before long they are inseparable, Theresa becoming a successful video game creator (Chop Suey, Smarty Pants, and Zero Zero), and Jeremy beginning to find his way in the art world. Theresa begins to write screenplays and the 2 eventually move to LA, where Theresa begins to shop her film ideas. Jeremy in turn begins to find his own voice and style through a somewhat new medium that he is partially credited with creating. I don't know that I really understand it, but it would seem that it is a kind of graphic design using film and computers. Some of the works he created are used in the film Punch Drunk Love (the ones I always wondered about). The 2 are beloved by many and seem to be at the center of their own universe when after 12 years together, the unthinkable happens, Theresa commits suicide. One week later Jeremy follows in her footsteps. Their untimely deaths rock the art world, film world etc.

It is possible I may not be telling their story correctly so I mean no disrespect to any who might read this having known the couple, nor do I mean for this story to be a downer. I just finally found the answer to a plaguing question and in finding Mr Blake, have discovered a brilliant artist who's work deserves to live on.. Let's celebrate him shall we?
You can see his works here

Sometimes being an artist is not at all glamourous, it is hard fucking work.. but if you love what you do and are good at what you do, there are rare moments of dreams being realized and of stunning beauty..
Sometimes that is enough for the artist, sometimes not..
What we hope, is that the beautiful works will live on..

Thank you for reading

“In many ways the work of a critic is easy, we risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves for our judgement. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read, but the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations and new… needs friends..”

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Indy Star Adventures (ISA): ep2

Viv, Jen & indie artist J. Henry

Hey everybody,
Viv here with the next ep of the ISA.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit more about prospective managers.
Using The Secret and all the other principles I know to draw the right manager to me, lol, I’ve been spending time talking to people, asking questions, brainstorming, etc.
What I’ve been finding is that the best candidates are coming up in the most unlikely places.

Part of the reason for this is that most established managers in the industry are looking for a very established artist (mainly in record sales and or following) to work with, thereby missing out on the potential great artist that may unwittingly cross their path. Of course this is understandable, tried and tested is always preferable albeit not always available these days.

While most of us musicians and music lovers have heard nothing but how much the industry is changing for the last 3 or 4 years, and indeed it has changed greatly, I still think that it has changed in our favour (independent musicians). I think there are more opportunities available to indie artists than ever before, but it’s also harder to know what’s out there, when we probably have more artists making music now than ever before in the history of music.

Another reason to look in unlikely places, is that being independent, you can probably be better guided by someone who isn’t chained to outdated modes and ideals. Someone thinking completely out of the box at this time, is probably just the thing that’s needed, considering the fact that at this time in the music business, almost anything goes.. fresh ideas, new approaches and independent thinking are welcome.

With that, I’ll tell you about my 2 latest prospects.
Long shots to say the least, but two very different people who I believe with the right amount of hard work & vision could be absolutely perfect partners for steering this venture.

They are both women.

The first is a seasoned former exec with many years of experience in the music industry, having worked at Viacom, Sony, a few other companies I cant remember and lastly as the GM of a large independent record/management company. She quit because she didn’t care for the label heads business practices and modus operandi (INTEGRITY, gotta love her for that). She has an entrepreneurial spirit which she showed in opening up her own restaurant a few years ago (which means she has valuable experience in other areas of business), she’s funny, and smart, charming as hell and a true people person, which for me is an absolute plus since I’m a shy type. Plus she’s a go-getter so it’s almost a no brainer. The downside is she has a young family and lots of family stuff happening (which isn’t a downside for me at all, but could be hard to balance as a wife and mother). Still, she’s a woman who carved out a niche for herself in a predominately male run industry and climbed up the corporate ladder all on her own.

I should preface this next paragraph by stating that the second candidate doesn’t seem to want manage, or rather doesn’t know if she’d make a good one, although it’s pretty much what she does all day. Let’s just say she’s an amazing coordinator and/or orchestrator. She works in marketing outside the music business but has a deep and intuitive love for music and musicians. She is one of those keepers of the flames so to speak. It’s crystal clear to me, as it probably is to most everyone that come into contact with her, that she should be doing something in the entertainment industry, but just what that is, she’s still unclear about. Still she is one of those people that enters a room and will know a little something about everyone before she leaves it and what’s more, everyone that comes into contact with her wants to know her and enjoys her company as she is knowledgeable in just about everything. That’s a gift. You can call her up and ask for a contact to any person anywhere in the music business and she will either know someone or find someone who does. Now that’s what I call SPARK! Plus she’s a people person as well and has a natural curiosity and a sharp wit. The downside as I said earlier, is that she doesn’t see herself as manager exactly.

2 brilliant and accomplished prospective managers none the less.

Stay tuned and look for the first video blog next week featuring new music.
Thanks for reading,

remember.. music can change the world.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Treat from the Video Vault..

This is me on tour with japanese composer & pop artists Ryuichi Sakamoto..
Also in this band are Everton Nelson - Violin, Hiroshi Takano - Guitar, Mori Toshihiko - Keys & Drum Loops, Chris Minh Doky - Bass.. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CINEMA - Favorite Films

Ok.. you asked for it but I must warn you, this is the condensed list - which is why I hate doing these.. It's impossible to narrow it down to just 10. I'll post more every so often..

01. Jersey Girl 1&2
02. War Games
03. Project X
04. Jerry Mcguire
05. Reign Over Me
06. The Holiday
07. Harry potter 1-6
08. Singles
09. Rush
10. Running With Scissors
11. V for vendetta
12. Matrix 1
13. The Godfather 1&2
14. Sleepy Hollow
15. From Hell
16. Sweeney Todd
17. Chocolat
18. Spanglish
19. Punch Drunk Love
20. The Royal Tenenbaums

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tillman's Bar and Lounge's Selective (aka Racist) Door Policy..

Reposted from

On Saturday night two friends and I went out for a late night hang. In search of a place where we could chill out and catch-up, I suggested Tillman's Bar and Lounge for no other reason than the fact that it was close to our meeting point and I knew they would be open late. While friend number one searched for parking I got out and asked the bouncer a few basic questions that progressed (or digressed actually) like this:

Q - Can we park on this block after 1(AM)?
A - No. They ticket and tow.

Q - How late is the kitchen open?
A - 2AM, but we're only accepting reservations right now.

Q - Reservations? Er so you mean there is no room at the bar either?
A - No only reservations for the bar too...

Q - So basically your saying we can't get in huh?
A - That's right.

Initially, I wasn't THAT taken aback by the downward spiral of this conversation. I figured the place was packed; unusual yes in these times, but hey you never know. So I tried unsuccessfully to reach my other friend by cell so she wouldn't waste her time searching for a spot but she eventually came strolling up and after hearing that they wouldn't take us, she decided to make a second attempt. At just that same moment, the hostess came out and my friend asked her instead about the availability and contrary to my exchange with the bouncer, she welcomed us all in with a smile.


So we enter the vestibule; not forgetting to give the bouncer a dirty look as we stepped inside. We walk through the short dark hall and right before we pull back the the heavy drapes to enter the establishment, I started preparing for my push through the crowd only to find...Tada! The place was empty!! Ok, OK they had a few bar stools and tables filled, but in no way filled to capacity. You know what I did? I left it alone...I figured I would make a small complaint to the manager on my way out and chalk the incident up to a misunderstanding or misjudgement on the part of the bouncer.

We ate. We drank. We were merry.

Upon leaving we found the manager. I described what had happened and asked him for an explanation. Here's what he had to say (paraphrased of course):

We DO only take reservations on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.
Management has the right to be selective.
Well you got in didn't you? (More like a question than an answer, but arrogant nonetheless)

No denial. No apology.

My reaction?? I posed this question to myself:
WWOD? What Would Obama Do? (I borrowed this phrase from and give full credit to my best friend Kemba for this one).

Well I really don't know what he would do but the question at least calmed me down enough to keep it moving. Knowing plenty of bouncers and club owners personally, I pretty much know the rules of the velvet rope; no sneakers, no single men, no drunk people and since none of these applied to us, I could only assume that the folks over at Tillman's seem to have found a new one; The "No damn reason at all except for the bouncers' own prejudice and ignorance" policy.

In this day and age; during a time when most restaurants are going under, Tillman's has taken it upon themselves to hold tight to some randomly subjective velvet rope code that only they can decipher.

If one chooses to spend their money wisely (my thanks to AC for the drinks btw) then, I think we too as patrons should practice a variation on Tillman's policy of: Being Selective

I hope you too will join me in Being Selective by "selecting" some other place and NOT Tillman's when making future plans for a night out in NYC.

Ciao for now...
The Katalist

Epilogue - I just got off the phone with my homegurl that was with me that night (I wanted to fact-check what I described above) and she got me all fired up again about what went down only two nights ago. This is MY blog DAMMIT and if I can't write about what I'm thinkin' then WTF! Now for the real deal about all the thoughts I had regarding this incident:

Tillman's Bar and Lounge is a racist Black-owned establishment...That's right I'm taking it there. And for those of you who don't know me...I'M BLACK! and I looked DAMN GOOD that night as did my two friends. So why in the world did this bouncer screen us; no! a better term would be PROFILE us as a "DO NOT ALLOW"?

Believe it or not, I don't have many personal accounts of being a victim of blatant racial discrimination...knowingly anyway. I got a few - security following me in a department store, poor service in a restaurant, job application rejections and not being able to catch a cab, but this one is some bullshit! Why? Because it was my own people who were doing the dirty deed this time. You don't agree with me?? Maybe I'm over reacting?? Listen my anger is a base reaction; meaning, I don't need historical or psychological rhetoric to back me up or justify my feelings. I was insulted and furthermore ashamed by the behavior of two black men who under different circumstances would have probably been friends of mine in a parallel Universe (like Brooklyn or Harlem).

I jest only to alleviate and counteract my pain.

So now it ends (or maybe begins for that matter) with me having to use my powers for evil instead of good. This blog along with a viral e-mail campaign are kindling and I intend to spread the word about Tillman's. I don't care about an apology anymore. I looked for that on Saturday night. I use this vehicle to vent and I've accomplished that BUT if anyone reading this would like to make a comment to Tillman's about their "screening" policies, I've included their contact information below for your convenience....just in case you'd like for them to know your opinion. or

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here's a little something from the vaults.. enjoy!

Happy - Towa Tei feat Vivian Sessoms & Bahamadia..

You may remember Towa Tei from the group Dee Lite (Groove Is In The Heart).
He went on to become a big solo artist/DJ/producer in Japan.
This is a song I co-wrote with him and hip hop artist Bahamadia..

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lost Ones.. an open love letter.. (part III)

*Reposted from

What's up Amus?
Haven't holla'd in awhile so I thought that now would be a good time to re-open our lines of communication.

I have to admit, I stopped listening to your albums. Well, I still listen to FRANK. Sometimes I can't help it. It reminds of me of how it used to be..


Wow. The FRANK LP---those were good times. I remember when you gave me the single for "In My Bed". I was floored. Your jack of Nasir's "Made You Look" had me open. Actually I think I was more amazed by the fact that Salaam "I-Gave-The-Fugees-Their-Hottest-Track" Remi produced a heater for Nasir in 2002 and turned around and gave you the SAME track in 2003. Even greater than that? I couldn't say sh*t---the song was diggy diggy DOPE! Considering the fact that I was kinda disgusted that Nas flipped the beat from "Thief's Theme" and turned around and used it for "Hip Hop Is Dead" (shame on you, Will I. Am). I mean, I'm not against "artistic" beat-jacking---but gottdammit Nas! You jacked your own music for your lead single, ON YOUR VERY NEXT ALBUM....damn you ESCO!!!

I digress. This isn't about Nasty Nas/Nastradamus. This is about you---isn't it, Aim?

[NOTE: I did decipher that you had a "jones" (no pun intended) for Nasir WAYYYY before anyone could put that sh*t together. I mean c'mon; you used his music for your single, on the first album, then on your follow-up album you recorded a song "Me and Mr. Jones". I was all over that shit like gottdamned Magnum P.I. My sleuthing skills are bar none.....with the exception of Shaggy and Scooby.]

(BTW, this is really how you use the word "anyhoo". You internet numb nuts need to get your sh*t together)

As I was saying.....

I was feeling you Amus. 'In My Bed' took me back to a time when a young Mary Blige was rocking over break beats. Whereas Mary marked the evolution of "New Jack Swing" to "Hip Hop Soul", you provided "Retro Soul" as an alternative to Bubblegum/Crunk/Insta-Soul music. [Note: I speak of these terms as phases and NOT sub-genres. I will not make the same mistakes Kedar made.]

I remember when you sent me the link to the Ghostface promo. It was a commercial for GFK's 'More Fish' album. I dug the commercial. C'mon, it was Ghost! In the background of the 30 second spot, somebody was singing. Wait a minute....that ain't Ghost (obviously)?!?!

Hold up.....who's that singing in the background?

Commercial.....Ghostface.....background music.....ol' school sounding...female singer....kinda sounds like Shirley Bassey......hold the hell up! Oh Sh*t!!! Amus, that's you!!! Oh snap!!! That's why you sent me the link! Damn ziti...duh??? I stood there, grabbing my heart like Fred G. Sanford.

December 2006. I copped the 'More Fish' album. I listened to "You Know I'm No Good" a million frigging times. A less than stellar 2006 was redeemed with one supreme collab. Ghostface+Wineface? That was the one-two punch of the year.

January 2007. Your peoples at Universal sent me a DVD. Ahhh, I remember it like it was yesterday; I'd just got home and I really wanted to wolf down the hoagie that Monica, from the deli, made for me. Actually, after seeing Monica, I wanted to jump in the shower and......AHEM (dammit Ziti....get a hold of yerfself)!!! Anyway, I popped in the DVD, opened my sandwich and ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shitttttttt!!!!! A video! F*cking Eureka! It was for the song "You Know I'm No Good". Even though this version was Ghost-less, I was stunned, nonetheless.

You looked different since the last time we saw each other. You had an enormous bee-hive. You lost a little weight. You had these crazy, biker chick tattoos. One of your tats even featured a naked woman. That put you in good with one of my babes. She secretly wants to have a lesbian encounter. She doesn't think I know. Shhhhhhh.

I loved you. You were a cross between The Supremes and Alanis Morrisette; You had the flair, image and pipes of Diana and the girls. You had the truth and I-Don't-Give-A-F*ck attitude of Alanis. You were old AND new at the same time. You were going to run the second leg of a race that Erykah, D'Angelo and Jill had started. In the video, you were slinking around in that tub, showing off rug burns to a jilted lover. You could sing (or sang --- i.e. "that heifer Amy Winehouse can SANG"). You were going to raise the bar for these other Nickelodeon pop tart singer hoes.

Maybe that was too much to ask for.

*(to be con't..)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lost Ones.. an open love letter.. (part II)

(*note - reprinted from - feb 2008)

..And what about you D?
How much longer do we have to wait for the next one?
We all know you recorded about 10 albums worth of material when you did 'Voodoo'.
Can't we just get an EP? A single leaked to the internet?? Somethin'?
I've just about played the words of 'Brown Sugar' and 'Voodoo'.
You know you single handedly changed the the sound of R&B music in the nineties, don't you?
There are many others that have done great things in music but you are one of the few that gave us a brand new sound..
New for us anyways..

Let's see... before you, there was Scott Joplin, Little Richard (or) Chuck Berry (don't know which of the 2 of them is credited with bringing rock and roll to the world), Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gilespie, Bob Marley, Teddy Riley and you..
Now there were many other folks who came before you.. Sly Stone, Jimi Hendryx, Miles Davis, Ella & Sarah, Duke, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Michael, Stevie, Curtis, Marvin, Al, Earth Wind & Fire, and on & on, not to mention Ludwig Von Beethoven, as black artists who have been groundbreaking and forward thinking but there are only a few that we can truly say started a genre or had a musical term coined after their music..
You are one of the few..

One of the things that makes you different is that you openly admit you've studied and learned from the masters and freely share with us who our masters are and who we should be listening to, if we didn't already know....
Sadly, some of us didn't.
You encouraged us to go back and listen and learn by sharing the adventures of the 'Soulquarians'.
Didn't we all wanna be up in those sessions?
Up in tha' house that Jimi Hendryx built, watching videos of Curtis and Sly, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Donny & Prince, smoking a joint, having a lil' taste of Jesus juice and then jamming for 'bout 8 or 9 hours straight..

You know what I'm sayin'?
Sometimes an artist comes along and makes everybody that isn't black want to be black so badly, if only for a time, just to have that real true black experience of our music , our culture, and being a part of something so soulful... so smoky... so earthy...and beautiful... that when that artist sings their song, black people everywhere look at everybody else with that knowing look in their eyes, their heads cocked to the side like 'we have a secret and the secret is,'s good to be us, you heard that song, you heard what he said, you seen the video, that's what we look like, that's what we do when we party, that represents us and we know you wanna be us!'
'Brown Sugar' is still one of those songs that if you hear it in the club or at a house party, when it starts with tha' 'ba-down ba-down'.. er'body in tha' room gets a crick in they neck (yeah I said 'they',) a hump in they back, arms go up in the air and asses gits up off tha' chair... 'uh uh uh uhhh, oooh wa oooh wa oooooh, clack' you put that song on and even the most unfunky, unsoulful mofo's in tha world become instantly cool as they get transported to the scene of Marvin Gayes 'I Want You' album cover or the 'Got 'Til It's Gone' video by Ms. Janet..

I've only run up to the front of the stage for 2 concerts in my ENtar life..
One was for Al green (there is a hilarious story that goes along with that ep) and yours..
I was at your show with my boyfriend and it was understood that even though HE bought the tickets and I was there with HIM, HE WOULD have to get over it 'cuase I WAS going up to the front of the stage and would kick another bitches ass (I'm usually very loving to my sisters) if she ain't (that's right I said ain't ) move over!

We've been hearing for a couple years now that there's an album in the works..
We hope to God that's true..
That would make my year for music!

Last week I was checking out the October edition of Vibe magazine with Chris Brown on it's cover.
Lot of good stories in there but one that really caught me was the story on the rise and fall of the Debarge family, a most beloved first family of r&b music.
It was a tragic story of fame and drugs followed by a fall from grace, & behind that, an extremely abusive father, a passive mother, lawsuits, prison, death AND underneath all of that...a most beautiful legacy of music that the survivors in the family struggle to keep alive.
Don't be that D, please, we beg of you... don't ever be that..
Don't be that star who shined so brightly and then burned out too quickly leaving us all here with crushing memories of what you could have been, should have been...
Black people live that reality all too often. Our Icons give us hope, someone to look up to, something to strive for.. Especially the musical ones because you give us a song to sing and to put in our hearts, a soundtrack to live our lives to...

*(to be con't..)

*Note - Just heard.. Lauryn Hill posted new concert dates on her website & D'Angelo is planning his new release for the summer!!
Awesome & inspiring..

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lost Ones.. an open love letter.. (part I)

(*note - reprinted from - feb 2008)

Dear Lauren & D..
I just gotta ask.....
Where are you?
Do you know we miss you?
Do you know we are all here waiting patiently for the 2 of you to return and grace us with your music?
Do you know how much you are loved, championed, and adored by the rest of us?

We've all heard the stories..
We know it's hard living your life out in the open for all the world to see and sometimes judge, but I promise you, the people that judge you are not your real fans or at least not your best fans.

We know you had unpleasant dramas with your former co-producers and writers but did you know... we don't care?
Do you know how many of us don't give a damn if you didn't write a fucking word on 'Miseducation' because the bottom line is NOBODY could sing those songs like you do?
And I'm not even saying you didn't write those songs, I'm just saying most of us don't care!
Because your voice, your presentation, YOU are such a magnificent talent, you could sing tha' damn phonebook and I'd still be first in line to buy it!

I still listen to 'Miseducation' and your 'MTV Unplugged' cd's today and I still love them every bit as much today as I did when I first heard them.
I remember the first time I heard 'Lost Ones', I was in a store in Greenwhich Village in New York.
I was in a fitting room trying on clothes, that song came on and I was like 'OH SHIT!' I came out of the fitting room and started dancing.. (I put my clothes back on 1st, haha)
When that song went off I walked right over to Tower Records to find out when the album would be released and if the single was available.
That was back in the day when you could still buy a cd single and if it wasn't out yet you'd wait patiently for the song to come on the radio.
I remember how people used to talk about 'Miseducation' being groundbreaking and innovative and fresh, and it was, it was all that and more. People were comparing it to Bob Marley and the Beatles.
Maybe there have been other personal dramas in your life, demons you've had to put to rest..
We all understand the need for private time and a personal life but PLEASE don't let whatever those issues are make you stay away from us forever. We need your thoughts, your ideas and your emotion, we need that voice. We need you..

(To be con't..)

Friday, April 10, 2009

File sharing and its effects on the music biz..

To working musicians everywhere,
I have a teenage son who tells me his pirating music is no big deal. Since he is a musician himself, I point out to him that someday that’s going to be his money people are stealing. But he remains unphased.

He tells me the record sales make money for the record label, not the artist. He says that the artists make all their money from touring and live concerts. He thinks the pirated music promotes the concerts and therefore helps the artist make more money. I still don’t allow pirating in my house.

But tell me what you think - as artists out there having your work “shared,” are you just glad to have it being enjoyed, or does it bother you? Admittedly, he is stealing music that is recorded by major record labels, so maybe its different than the independent musician working for his living. But I’d still like to hear what you think.


Dear Valerie,
My name is Vivian and my husband and I are both workimg musicians.
About 8 years ago when pirating seemed to really start to catching on, I used to be completly paranoid that someone would come to our house and drag my husband out by the scruff of his neck. He pirated music day and night..

At that time, people were getting fined and arrested for pirating, there was one kid that was sued by a record company for several thousands of dollars. Their point was to try to make an example out of the poor kid.
Of course my husband kept right on downloading music and never ended up in jail or fined.. (Yet, that is..)
Just because he didn't doesn't make it alright.

A couple of years ago now, my husband and I independently released our own cd, and of course, our music has also been pirated along with many other recordings I've done for and with various artists over the years. Ironically, this is a fact that my
husband has had a bit of a hard time dealing with, while I, on the other hand have come to accept this as a way of life.

While it's not exactly true that artists don't make $$ from record sales, it is true that most artists, especially newer artists, do make the bulk of their $$ from touring and performing but they also make a chunk of $$ from publishing which is also drying up due to lack of record sales which is a direct result of pirating. And obviously for independent artists like ourselves, we stand to lose a bigger percentage of $$ from pirating because we get to keep the biggest percentage of $$ from record sales. This is the way independent music stores are set up, to aid the independent musician.

The internet has irrevocably changed the face of music forever and in many ways, this change is absolutely for the better. The amount of opportunites available to independent musicians, to have our music heard and sold are infinite..
The amount of work that goes with these opportunities, might also be infinite. On the one hand the internet has opened many doors for me as an artist as well as a consumer, on the other hand the internet has made stealing intellectual properties relatively easy. What we have is a double edged sword.

Seriously though, when I think back on the stranglehold record companies have had on the music industry for the last 60 years or so, I'd say all in all, I absolutely prefer things the way they are now with this much more level playing field.

I don't now, nor have I ever believed that being an artist should be the crap shoot it has been. I've seen many a no talent individual reach super star status while so many truly gifted, inspired, and incredibly unique artists go unnoticed..
I've seen artist after artist be cheated, stolen from or treated horribly by their labels. I personally have been told by a few label execs that I need to copy the style of this or that artist if I ever wanted make it in this business or be signed to a label..

It's this shift in the music business that has, without a doubt, inspired me to want to make music again..
In this arena, I actually feel like I have the ability to find my own voice, my own audience and on my own terms, and though I'd like to be paid for my music, I'm happy to know that people are listening and interested, whether they pay for it or not.

Thank you for reading..
mama said music can change the world..

Friday, April 3, 2009

Indie Star Adventures (ISA): ep1

Hey babies, Vivian here with the next ep of ‘The Indie Star Adventures’..

So.. I got a little Tribe filtering through my NEW speakers. Yeah, I had to go out and get some new speakers today. The ones I had were really compact and lightweight which is perfect for travel but they had no bass.. Now you know you can’t be rocking Tribe without the low end, right? I was on a Biggie rampage last week, trying to eek some low end out of them damn speakers, I just couldn’t do it. So, I guess I’m gon’ be that ghetto chick that always has too many bags ‘ cause I gots to have me a bottle of Red Devil hot sauce, my giant ass speakers, hair grease, flat iron, too many pair of shoes, the kitchen sink, whatev’s..
For real though, I forget sometimes just how much I love Tribe and Biggie and then I put them on and it’s like I discover this music all over again and I have to listen to every record. It’s like I just get in a zone.. but I had to give Q’s Renainssance a rest, I have played that ish to death. Is it just me, or is that the dopest record out right now, still?? If not, please tell me what is ‘cause I damn sho’ need another record to play.. (and please don't holla at me about nan a record that aint banging' from start to finish, k?)

Ok .. So, I have been getting scolded left and right about my lackadaisical blogging..
Kevin, my girl Kat, even my boy Will.. I know.. I’ve been terrible, but I’m gonna do better..
Promise.. I even got a new camcorder (do we still call them that?) and I’m gonna start a vlog in a few weeks.. Just let me get my i-movie skills together

And now, here’s the latest..
First up, the P!nk tour – is going fabulously well, and that might be an understatement. So far every show has been sold out.
Now, I don’t wanna’ give too much away , ‘cause I want you all to come out and see the show, because honestly? This is the baddest show I have ever seen, much less been fortunate enough to be a part of! And that is no lie, just straight truth. If you never were a P!nk fan before, you will absolutely be one after you see this show.. She puts all the other divas TO SHAME.

First of all, the costumes are by Bob Mackie (Carol Burnett, Cher, and what a gentleman) and they are really beautiful and show off P!nk's fierce ass body.
The music is stellar and has something for everyone. The entire band is showcased, and we kick major ass every night whilst P!nk sings her ass off.
The dancers are beautiful, every single one of them.. and so graceful and so talented.
The lights, the movie screens and stage design are nothing short of spectacular, seriously..

The thing I hear the most from people, folks I know and strangers alike, is ‘I have to see it again, there was so much to see, I just couldn’t choose one thing to look at’..
Plus, I’m out here with Jenny, so you know.. trouble ensues, hahahaha. I should probably be calling this blog ‘The Adventures of the Shopaholics’ (hahaha, someone did that already, didn’t they?) It was Jen’s birthday last month so I treated her to a pair of Choo’s. All of y’all better know what a Choo is (lol). I try to spoil her whenever I can, she is my idol!

Then again, we have our down days too. So far, everyone’s been sick with a cold or the stomach flu. In fact I was patting myself on the back that I managed to escape unscathed, only to succumb last nite to the worst stomach flu I’ve had in a long time. Boy I went down hard. Let me tell you, it is not fun to have to perform when all you want to do is hug the toilet
So there you have it, it's not all fun, games and glamour. All the travel can wear you down sometimes, but we have so much fun too and you couldn’t ask for a nicer or more fun group of people.

Moving right along.. The new LP – is shaping up nicely.. Now, this is probably going to be hilarious to some of you, but I can’t decide what genre I want to do next so in typical Sagittarian form, I’m doing 2 records.. (haha). I know, I’m crazy but some days I wake up and feel like ‘This is the direction I want to go in’, and then other days I wake up and feel like ‘No no no, THIS is the way to go..’ so now you know, I’m indecisive sometimes.. I’m even going so far as doing separate artwork and the whole nine. Hopefully, as I get closer to the release date I’ll have a clue but until then, I’m just reveling in the music.
Chris is out here with me, (twice so far) recording, writing, brainstorming and getting in some quiet time ;-)

Got a couple of photo shoots coming up, starting to get pics together for the artwork and what have you. Getting all my ducks in a row for the next release. There is a ton of stuff that has to happen to put a record out, even as an indie, and being the perfectionist that I am, that means double or triple the work for me, so you most definitely need an awesome team.

Coming up in the next few blogs I’ll talk a little bit about the team we’ve managed to put together so far, but in a nutshell;
-We have an excellent PR firm that did some spectacular work for us with the last record. Everywhere you saw us, they had a hand in it.
-Through our PR company, we met and had several meetings with a great marketing firm, so hopefully you’ll hear us on the radio with this next record.
-An amazing graphic artist that I found on Myspace whose work is stunning. He’ll be doing the artwork for the cd and revamping the website.
-Our attorney, who is an absolute Godsend and goes so far above and beyond what is usually asked of an attorney.
-We are signing on with a new internet PR company who comes highly recommended the folks over at CDBaby.

We have a few other key players who are signing on to assist in various ways, as well.
The only 2 missing, but very key pieces to this puzzle are a booking agent and/or a manager. Like most indie artists, these are the 2 most coveted, yet hardest to fill positions in an artists career. Honestly, as an independent artist, if you have one, (either a manager or a booking agent) and they are really good, you usually don’t need both. It would be great to find a good booking agent, but I feel like with all we’ve learned in the last 2 years, releasing and promoting our own music, we would do better to find a really good manager so my goal is to get someone on board before the year is out and hopefully, in time, for the release of the new record.

What are the things you want in a manager?
-Honesty has to be first, right? No brainer there.
-Ear to the ground, needs to know what’s happening.
-Needs to get me, I want someone to see me and be like ‘Yep, I get it!’ (Is that too much to ask?)
-HUNGRY/driven, that one is important, I think.. Lots of get up and go.
-Charming/people person, natural schmoozer (that’s a gift, not everyone can do it, I, for one cannot!).
-Has to have contacts and connections or know how to get them.
-Kind, if you have to talk to someone on a daily, that would be nice, plus I’m kind of the sensitive artist type.
-Patient/stick-to-itiveness ‘cause I’m also kind of stupid sometimes, (sad but true), also comes in handy when it comes to waiting for answers, waiting to get paid, etc.
-Killer instinct, ‘cause people always say that’s a good thing to have in a manager but I want it to be known that I would only appreciate that trait if it’s not directed at me, (I felt like Woody Allen writing that).
-Funny, (I just threw that one in). Maybe attentiveness would be better? Funny goes a long way sometimes, though..
-Fair, also very important and although you wouldn’t think it, it's not the same thing as honesty.

HEY! This almost sounds like a husband list! I already got one of those!
I wonder if I could convince Chris to manage me? I’m pretty sure he’d never go for it.
Then again, you know one of those people who does everything so damn good they can’t never get nothing done, I’m just sayin’. So that probably wouldn’t work no how.. (lol)

Anyhoo, be sure to stay tuned for the next episode of the ‘Indie Star Adventures’ to find out how the search goes..
And as always, drop us a line, anytime..
Peace & love,
Your girl

Btw, music can change the world..