All posts filed under: Writing Process

Trying to Get Through Spring

There are so many beautiful songs about Spring–songs that cover different aspects  of the weather, the flowers, themes of renewal, loss, and love. I think that the seasons resonate with everyone, at least everyone who lives in an area of the world where they set the schedule for planting, growing, harvest, and fallow. Anyone who has experienced these shifts in temperature, these quarterly phases and physical reminders of life, death and re-birth can appreciate the metaphors of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. The song I want to talk about today, analyze in a way, was written a few years ago. At the time, I was learning many jazz standards, all new to me, while also grieving a loss, so I happened to write a song that reflected my deep sadness, yet reminded me of all the lovely things Spring has to offer. I was especially focused on flowers I had been singing about in the other standards, or flowers that had personal meaning to me from my childhood. So, I will attempt to dissect and explain the song lyrics a little and to indicate …

Happiness

I am always pleased to help when someone asks me to create English lyrics for a new song, but when it is a song I have never heard before, a song that really speaks to me, really touches something in my heart, then I am thrilled. This happened last year when I was approached by a friend-of-a-friend, a wonderful New York City singer who wanted English lyrics for Jobim’s A Felicidade. Some of you may be aware that this is the song that opens the 1959 film, “Orfeu Negro” (Black Orpheus). So when I struggled a bit to find a suitable lyric for the last phrase, instead of interpreting the original lyrics, I took a risk and tapped into the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice instead, as the film is a modern telling of their sad love story. It is set in Rio de Janeiro during Brazilian Carnival but perfectly matches the original Greek tragedy’s plotline. I am in love with this song, so beautiful and heartbreaking when you think about the story behind it. Live in the moment! Love now! …

Let Me Sing This Dance With You

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to sing a few jazz standards accompanied by Murray Wall on double bass (contrabass); he’s a wonderful musician. It was so much fun. No microphone, no piano, no drum, and a no distractions.  We had a small audience who also seemed to be sending out the “no judgments” vibe which was very sweet. It was a showcase-style performance with four other women, and we had a ball singing in this simple rotating format. It was conceptualized by one of the performers, and dubbed “Beauties and the Bass” by another.  A lovely group dynamic. After the performance, I spent a few moments talking to another friend. She was part of the audience, but had also assisted a couple of the singers with their choreography (suggesting hand gestures, slight movements to try while singing, and other things like that.) She is a very graceful person, and we spoke about her possibly dancing to one of my original songs sometime in the near future.  As we were talking I was immediately reminded of the following song that I wrote …

In Remembrance

30 March 2015: Ulysses L. Slaughter, Jr. would have been celebrating 59 years on earth today, if he had not left “All Too Soon”. He passed from this earthly plane in 2008, but I still think of him all the time, especially on days like this, his birthday, for if he was still here, all his friends would probably be loudly singing at his home, eating a ton of soul food, and enjoying a tremendous celebration of his life. One of his favorite songs to sing was, “Here’s to Life”. He told me the first time he heard it was at a friend’s home. They had the Shirley Horn album, and they put it on for him to listen to. He said he lay down on their carpet, and closed his eyes, and was instantly transported by the song. Now, whenever I hear anyone singing “Here’s to Life” I hear Ulysses’ voice, the two are inseparable to me.  I visualize him blissfully reposing on that livingroom carpet with “Here’s to Life” in his ears, mind, and heart.  (Chokes me up every …