Christina Custode

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Did you notice…..?

3/30/2017

Inspiration is like a wild animal that attacks me from time to time. The initial strike of creativity is often an instant flurry that comes at the most unexpected of times and refuses to let go until it’s written down. There are obvious moments in my life that have spawned music- usually involving a visceral response that manifests into a song. But the truth is that sometimes something completely ordinary from the middle of the day on a random boring Tuesday turns into a new piece of music. Heck, a few weeks ago a puddle inspired me to crank out a new one- that’s right, a puddle. I’ll admit, that puddle was a pretty unique situation- more often than not, it’s something that someone has said to me or something I said back in response that gets the wheels turning. It could be said in passing- completely nonchalant and out of context one moment, and then the next I’m sitting at the piano pounding out the bones of something new. An idea starts and rolls around in my head, finds a melody, and eventually spirals out. In these instances, I often wonder- do the people who have literally heard me say my lyrics in real time, in real life- ever hear the connection again once a song is finished? Sure- there are the obvious songs that certain people know they have influenced (for good or bad, those people usually figure it out pretty quick) – but what about everyone else? I guarantee you, if you have had a conversation with me, you have most likely heard my material in the raw- from my
mouth to your ears. The question is- did you notice?

 

A little late, but worth the wait…

1/12/2017

Well, not to be outdone by 2015, 2016 was quite the adventure. It was again filled with healthy doses of disappointment, frustration, excitement, and music to accompany it all. 2016 was busy with lots of travel- in the past 12 months I’ve been musically active in 5 states and two countries. Where 2015 was a year of planning, 2016 was definitely a year of doing. Needles to say, I am tired, but excited at how far this year has brought us. Right around this time for the past couple of years (well about two weeks off actually- I’m admittedly late and I apologize for that), I set aside some professional goals for myself– as usual this year, some came through, while others….well, you know….so let’s see how I did, shall we?

  • Write more. I want to set aside time to write every single day. Even if I don’t get very far. I want a date with my pencil, scratch book, piano, and manuscript paper-every day.

Ok- so this one obviously isn’t realistic for me. Two years now I’ve put it down, and two years I have not kept up my end of the bargain. Boooooo. Hissssssss.

Let’s revise it for 2017- obviously, I do not write this way. So this year: I will accept my impulsive writing style and will try to allow myself the freedom to be creative in my own way and time. So there. Ha.

  • Perform more. Locally. Regionally. Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts.

2016 performances ran me all over the north east. This year brought me to New York City (almost monthly), through Rochester, Ohio, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Toronto. Let’s keep going for 2017- Let’s see the rest of the country! Maybe we can make it to the the other coast.

  • Dare I say it…tour! It can be tiny. It can be huge. Whatever it is, I’m going.

Woo Hoo! This year we successfully toured down to Nashville and back! It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have met so many wonderful people on the road and added  them to my amazing group of listeners. Nailed it. Boom.

  • Do more yoga…because my realistic side is freaking out…this is an aggressive list!

I did not do more yoga. As a matter of fact, I did less. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t find the time to sit on the floor and quiet my mind. However- I did way more walking (I got one of those things that buzzes when you’re still for too long) and even started meditating, which was great during some stressful moments (air travel, anyone?). Let’s change this goal from being yoga specific to being active and being mindful, in whatever form that chooses to manifest.

ALERT! I’m adding something brand new for 2017!

5) Get back in the studio and record some new material this year- let’s officially write it down for 2017. It might be a single. It might be something small. Or maybe it will be another full album. I don’t know what it will be yet, but I have a lot of new material that’s ready to go, and there’s no time like the present.

Before we say goodbye to this past year , 2016 had some definite highlights not to be forgotten!

I kicked off the year at the Grammy Awards Ceremony and have thoroughly enjoyed becoming a more active member of the NARAS community since- the friendships I’ve made have continued to flourish and I’m excited to continue to be an active member of the grammy family.  They are such an inspiring group of musicians and I am honored to be able to call them friends and colleagues.

Tea and Talk had its first birthday! As of December 31st 2016, we have spent 90 Tuesdays together, which is pretty incredible if you ask me. 90! That’s INSANE! If you missed one, make sure to check them out here.

I thoroughly enjoyed touring through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It was my very first official tour, ever in the history of my life. It was a great experience on the whole- lots of unexpected twists and turns and laughs along the way. A cheese barn. I found out that I actually really enjoy the drive, unpack, play, pack, sleep, drive routine, which is something you don’t know until you do it. And we did it! We also played our first international show to a packed house in Toronto. Pretty cool stuff!

However, like most years, this year was not all roses and sunshine and lollipops. I had to make some hard decisions in 2016 about my music and the direction it would grow in. At the end of the day, I was stubborn about what I wanted as an artist and had to stand up for that. There are some compromises I am not willing to make, and I discovered that this year. Bullies beware.

I was beyond humbled to be a recipient of an Akademia award and really enjoyed the release of “All For Her” It was great fun being on a few podcasts and radio programs to support the release- We had a great time talking music and life and I even did one of these dripping wet in my living room– now that’s an experience to remember.

The end of 2016 birthed my partnership with Sound Affects #MusicBeatsCancer.  I am beyond excited to allow my art to be a vehicle for cancer research. I’m very much so looking forward to putting my music toward a greater good. Donate here and spread the word! Together we can find a cure.

Well there we go folks. An entire year of work- bumps and bruises included- summed up in a few short paragraphs, a few weeks behind schedule- but as they say, better late than never! I can’t thank you enough for being with me on this crazy journey- 2017 is going to be a big year for us! Cheers, to you and yours, for a fabulous new year full of health and happiness!

 

Coffee Before Talkie

12/4/2016

So let’s begin by getting one thing clear. I am not a morning person. I have allusions of getting up early, going for a peaceful walk, having a relaxing cup of coffee while the sun rises…but alas, this isn’t for me. I sleep like I’m dead, and when the alarm goes off, I hit the snooze button exactly three times- right until there is just enough time to get out of bed, shower, get dressed, grab a coffee and race out the door. It has always been this way for me in the morning. I, am not a morning person. Now my morning routine requires two key things that allow me to function for the remainder of the day. First, a hot shower. And second, a big cup of hot coffee. If these two things don’t happen, I don’t happen.

So, this week, I had the opportunity to take an interview with a station in the U.K. The interview was set for 12:30 GST, which translated to 7:30 am EST. Now 7:30 is a little early for my likes, but not too bad…so I agreed to the interview. I set my alarm for 6:30 and wrote down my notes the night before, knowing full well that I would need all the help I could get in the morning.

6:30 the alarm went off, and I reluctantly got out of bed. I realized I forgot to program the coffee the night before when I didn’t smell it, but figured I could start it after my shower and have plenty of time to have a cup before the call. I turned the water on and jumped in…just long enough to get soaking wet…when my skype call came in…almost half an hour early. At first I didn’t even recognize the ring…and then it hit me. Half asleep and soaking wet I jumped out of the shower and answered the call, frantically trying to turn the shower off without soaking the phone. I twisted the knobs every which way, and I was convinced the shower no longer had an off option. After what seemed forever, I finally got the water to stop and was able to hear the person on the other end of the line. I grabbed a towel and raced downstairs, still soaking wet, and fumbled for my notes in my dark living room, my eyes struggling to adjust to the dark while clumsily searching for the light, all while making pleasant small talk. Now when I agreed to take this interview, never in a million years did I imagine I would be standing soaking wet in my living room.

But none the less,

Here I was.

The host was gracious and easy to talk to, despite my brain’s sleepy and foggy processing ability, things were going great. And then, at the very end of the interview, it happened. I went blank. It was a very easy question–one that I even knew the answer to—and yet in that moment…there was nothing. No words. Just….uhhhhhbnjjjhhhhhh. Blank. Something came out of my mouth as some kind of response but it made no sense. And then the interview was over! I never had a chance to redeem myself! “It was great having you Christina!” CLICK done. Finished. Over. I was just there, in my towel in my living room in the dark. My feet were still wet. What did I just say? Did that really just happen? I looked at my phone and burst into laughter, because once in a while, that’s just how it goes.

Life lesson learned. Coffee before talkie.

 

Busy Bee

7/21/2016

I feel like I haven’t posted a blog in forever- which is terrible. With all of the twittering and instagramming that’s been taking place, it seems I’ve forgotten how to write more than 140 characters at a time (without an accompanying melody that is).  Anyway, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I have been a busy little bee over here and I’d like to share some progress on a few projects I’ve been working on. First off are the performances- I’m always partial to the performance aspect of what I do, and I’m super excited to have set up a particularly exciting late summer/fall schedule! Here are a couple unique performances that I am really looking forward to-

The first is August 3rd at the Bitter End in NYC- for those that don’t know about this place, it’s a big deal! It opened in 1961 and has hosted people like Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Gavin DeGraw, Woody Allen, Jon Stewart, Randy Newman, Billy Crystal, Tommy James, Norah Jones, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield,…just to name a few! I’m so excited to sit on that iconic stage and play that piano I can’t even tell you. GAH!

Then on September 24th I’ll be playing my first international show! I’m super pumped to be playing the Cavern in Toronto! Let’s think of it as the first step in forming the giant North American Tour, eh? 😉

On October 8th, I’ll be giving a concert with Live from Center Stage in Dennis Port Massachusetts, which looks like a beautiful little spot over near cape cod. This concert is going to be filmed in front of a live audience (so if you live there, you should totally come) but is also streamed live in real time- which means literally EVERYONE can come to this show, regardless of your current location on planet earth. How cool is that? You can get your tickets any time by clicking here or through the events page! So, you know, go do that!

And those three are just the super-fab highlights- for more details and a full listing of all of the other awesome spots I’m playing, just bop on over to the Events Page.

Let’s see- in other news- there are two independent/unsigned competitions my material is currently in. Woo hoo!

The first is the IMA’s- the best part about this one is that you actually can vote! Go to the site and nominate your favorite! Just click here:

Christina Custode

 

The second is the Unsigned Music Competition- unfortunately there’s nothing we can do for this one, voting is exclusively up to the esteemed committee. But to celebrate, I’m gifting the lucky track to awesome listeners like yourself. If you haven’t gotten your song yet- click here and I will set you up with a free-celebratory-download lickety-split.

I really hope everyone is enjoying some much needed R&R and I can’t wait to see you at one of the many exciting events I’ve got coming up! There are a lot of irons in the fire over here and I will definitely keep you updated as things progress!

buzz buzz buzz…xoxo, Christina

 

 

The Grammy’s: From My Eyes

2/19/2016

Being a part of the Grammys this year was such an incredible experience- there were so many larger than life moments, I think it would be best for us to walk through everything in chronological order so you can live it with me, step by step, moment by moment- a true behind the scenes look from my perspective.  It all started on a Friday…..

Friday:

I must say that I travel. It’s something that I enjoy doing, especially when it involves music. I love traveling to shows in new cities, meeting new people, and I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of it this year. However….traveling to Los Angeles was not an easy feat. Our plane was a little late arriving to Buffalo, approximately 30 minutes. Once we factored in the de-planing, the re-loading, and the de-icing (it was of course a blizzard) we left a little over an hour behind schedule…which caused us to miss our connection in New York, which caused us to fly to Boston an hour later, sustain a 4 hour lay over, and then board the 6 hour flight to LA. It was brutal.  Keep in mind, my gown was packed in my carry on…so every delay, was another moment it was couped up. I had never been to LA before, so I must say, flying into LA at night is a beautiful thing. The lights look like gold glitter, and everything down below seemed to be sparkling.  It was no surprise that after arriving to the hotel and hanging my gown up, my head hit the pillow, and it was lights out.  I proceeded to have a dream I was playing poker with Taylor Swift…Now, I don’t really know how to play poker. Which is what I woke up remembering.

Saturday:

I woke up disgustingly early (considering how late I got in) but my body was still on east coast time so there was no way to fight it.  I was awake. Very, very awake. I had a meeting scheduled with two very important people and I wanted to be on my A-game.  Two Independent record executives were interested in meeting with me, and I really wanted to represent my music to the best of my abilities and make a genuinely good impression.  The meeting was scheduled to be in another hotel, so I called an uber.  Now, I love uber. But this particular driver could not find the  correct drop off location. At all. We drove around in a circle…4 times. As nausea and dizziness started to kick in,  I decided to hop out and have Siri escort me in.  What Siri failed to mention to me was that I would have to climb some stairs to get up to where I needed to go. 123 stairs to be exact. In the heat. In heels. Great. So up the stairs I went, my heels clicking on each cement step, until I got to the top. I was a little melted, but all and all, a quick fix of my lipstick and I was no worse the ware.  I met up with Mandy from IPR and Leo from Bungalow….and we were off to the races.

 

The meeting went exceptionally well. They were truly interested in my art. We talked about ways to represent it correctly and allow it to reach the right audiences, which was absolutely thrilling to me. For a couple of hours we sat and talked about so many possible opportunities and ways to advocate for my music. I left the meeting feeling very excited about the future of our relationship. Woo hoo!

 

Saturday night I attended the Hollywood Weekly pre-Grammy event and met some other incredible artists and industry professionals.  We talked about our music, our goals, our passions and dreams. There were photographers. There were reporters. There was lights, cameras, action…..It was magic. After a short visit to Hollywood for another event, we headed back, peeled my heels off, and turned in for the night.

Sunday:

Sunday morning, the elevators were down. I was on the 15th floor. Which meant to get anywhere, I had to tackle 270 stairs.  Now, if I hadn’t scaled a small mountain the day before in 5″ heels, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But I did- so it was.  First on the agenda was picking up our tickets….and I really wanted to hold those tickets…so I made my first trek down the stairs. We headed over to pick up our tickets- I wore flats.  Holding those tickets in my hands was just such a neat feeling- they were glossy and glitzy and gorgeous…and they were mine.   After retrieving the goods- I put the heels back on and headed out for a pre-Grammy press event at the Continental- which is such a cool building to be in.  So many larger than life artists have spent time there…you could literally feel their energy in the walls. Drinks, food, music, artists, cameras, lights, camera, action!   I climbed the stairs 3 times that day (810 total stairs, twice in heels) and was so excited when returning later that night they were up and running again, I squealed.

Monday:

Monday was a whirlwind.  I woke up, had some coffee, and did some stretching… Mostly because my calves were screaming, as was my right foot…remember, the one that I injured in October? Yeah it wasn’t feeling so hot after 933 stairs and several blocks in my smokin’ shoes…but I also wanted to have a moment of quiet before the day flew by. I wanted to slow it down and feel every moment.   Hair and make up started early…mostly because I did it myself  and needed the time to figure it all out.  Our first destination was the Grammy Premiere Ceremony in the afternoon- this is where all of the awards that you don’t see on the telecast are given out.  There was this magical moment when Kansas City Chorale & Phoenix Chorale won Best Choral Performance, and they all erupted out of their seats and just had this amazing moment together.  I was so proud of them and happy for them, and so was everyone else in that ceremony. The amount of positive energy and support among the artists was staggering- it was like it should always be in the world.

I had about an hour to get into the gown and make it back down in time for the photos and such before the telecast began.  And wow- talk about an energy you could feel and never forget. Everyone looked great and felt great and had huge smiles on their faces. We were genuinely happy for each other- it didn’t matter who won. It didn’t matter what style. It just honestly didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that we were musicians and we were together to celebrate each other and the work we did this year. There was a true feeling of “us”- a united group of artists honestly supporting and pulling for each other. That was so beyond refreshing and incredibly inspiring and I am so grateful that I got to be a part of that… It was beautiful. After the telecast came the after party. After the after party came bed.

Tuesday:

I wish I could say that traveling home was easier than the trip down, but it wasn’t. This time we wound up delayed in Chicago, and after several gate changes, made it back to Buffalo by 2:30am. I was writing this blog on the plane- I was exhausted, I was grateful, I was happy, I was inspired. At about 12:25 CT I looked out my window and saw a shooting star above the clouds. Now if that isn’t a sign…I don’t know what is.

 

I think the most important and invaluable part of this trip was being a part of such a positive and supportive group of musicians- because that’s what it’s all about.  Walking through this process and being an active participant in this community (meeting the musicians, industry professionals, crew, etc) all showed me that this isn’t something so big and scary.  This is not a mean and cold monster. It is not intimidating. It is not impossible. Success for my art isn’t as distant from my reality as I once imagined…this is something I can do, that we can all do together.  During that weekend, all musicians were equal.  There were no separations between us based on genre or career status or anything else.  We were all there together to celebrate how hard we work to make our art- no matter the genre or style or whatever other alienating classification- we were a collective unit. We were there to celebrate what we as artists do.  How we stay up ridiculously late writing and recording and perfecting, how we spill our guts out to the world to chew and spit out, how we loose people in our lives over our passion, how we all feel that burning in our stomachs to keep pushing and to keep creating.  Together, we are the artists, we are the writers, the players, the creators, the dreamers, and the voices. We were there to celebrate each other and the music we have crafted, the passion we share, and the fact that we will never cease to create.

If you haven’t, make sure to check out the Tea and Talk Grammy Edition

Happy New Year!!!

12-31-2015

2015 has really been something. It was filled with an assortment of disappointment, frustration, excitement, and promise. I have to say, this year was particularly fickle- things that were “guaranteed” fell through, while other things that seemed to be a long shot in the dark came to fruition twice over. It was a busy year- lots of travel, lots of talking, lots of planning. Lots of coffee, lots of cheese….(some things never change). All and all, I would say this year has progressed with a formidable momentum toward goals and dreams, and has set 2016 to be a year for the books. Last year, right around this time, I set aside some professional goals for myself–some came through, while others….well, not so much….let’s see how I did, shall we?

  • Write more. I want to set aside time to write every single day. Even if I don’t get very far. I want a date with my pencil, scratch book, piano, and manuscript paper-every day.                        

I did write more this year, however I’m not sure I wrote every single day. I’m guilty on not sticking to this one as much as I would have hoped. Let’s keep it on the list for next year.

  • Perform more. Locally. Regionally. Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts.

Woo Hoo! 2015 performances took me well beyond the backyard to Pennsylvania, New York City (multiple times), to Albany, Rochester, and New Jersey. Let’s expand that for 2016- let’s say regionally and…go ahead dare me….nationally (GASP)

  • Dare I say it…tour! It can be tiny. It can be huge. Whatever it is, I’m going.

Although I was able to play regionally quite a bit, unfortunately, an official formal tour in 2015 did not happen. Let’s keep it on the list for 2016.

  • Open for someone

This goal officially happened twice this year! Once with Tracy Grammer in the spring and again with Ravenhill in the fall. Yay!

  • Do more yoga…because my realistic side is freaking out…this is an aggressive list!

This one stays. Who doesn’t need more zen in their life?

Not too bad! Since I think this list was pretty successful, let’s set some goals for 2016!

  • Write every day- no excuses this time, the reminder on my phone has been set.
  • Perform- Regionally and Nationally- as an opener, as part of a tour, as a talking banana, whatever. Let’s do it.
  • Network and continue to build quality relationships with other musicians and industry professionals.
  • Become more active on social media- post something every day…somewhere.
  • Live healthy- yoga, nutrition, water, tea…can I sneak coffee and cheese in here on accounts of antioxidants and calcium?

There were also some unexpected events that happened during 2015 on their own that are worth mentioning – most of these items never even crossed my mind in 2014, how wild is that?!

  • Tea and Talk was born! I’m excited to announce we have been drinking tea and chatting for 40 Tuesdays as of 12/29/2015! If you missed one, you can check them out here!
  • I redesigned and updated the website so we can stay in touch easier, and Facebook decided I was a real person and gave me that little blue check mark thingy next to my name.
  • I adopted a beautiful piano from the pianos in public program- having such a beautiful instrument to fill the house with music is incredible.
  • I caught up with Sarah Mclachlan- we talked about life and music, and I’m very excited to continue to grow that relationship in 2016.
  • The Mistletoe Song was included on W.O.A. Independant No. 1’s Special Holiday Release, expanding my reach into a new part of the globe.
  • And let’s not forget….Fire was up for Nomination in the 58th Annual Grammy Awards! I am out of my skin excited to be attending the event on February 15th!! To be a part of this incredible musical community is such an honor, and I can’t wait to shake some hands and make some new friends.

Well there we have it. An entire year of work summed up in a few short paragraphs! I can’t thank you enough for being with me through 2015- 2016 is going to be a great year for us, I can feel it. Cheers to you and yours for a fabulous 2016!

A Special Holiday Release….

12-8-2015

I am extremely excited and honored to announce that “The Mistletoe Song” has been included in India’s largest Indie Label release of a Special Edition Christmas Compilation produced by MTV EMA Nominee Oliver Sean! Although l  wasn’t the sole writer on this…now that I think about it, it’s actually the ONLY piece I ever officially released that I didn’t write…it has always held a special place in my heart.  You see, two very important people wrote it.  My dad and my piano teacher.  I was of course honored when they asked me to sing it and be a part of this project, but also a little stressed- these are two men I really try to make proud, and this was their baby.  Now, I know how it goes- you write something, you pain over each note and phrase, you get it perfect in your head…and then you go to record it. I’m the first to say it- the studio is often a rough place. Especially for musicians who want to make the very best version of what they have created.  “The Mistletoe Song” had a rough birth- to say it faced some technological difficulties is an understatement- we lost power in the middle of recording sessions, we lost really great takes more than once, things were just not recording for unknown reasons…it really was as if the computer was against us. But we all did it together. I have to say this song had a team of incredible musicians and artists on board who all worked together and refused to give up on it.  I’m so excited that this song has been acknowledged and accepted by W.O.A. International No. 1’s for this special Christmas release!

Give it a listen HERE

For those who are unfamiliar with W.O.A. Records and the Independent No.1’s Compilations,  the Independent No.1’s compilation is a brand well known to introduce breakthrough Independent Artists and Bands (that’s me!)  to fans and media across India and the Middle East.  W.O.A Records, the label behind this successful compilation series announced the launch of a Special Christmas edition of the Independent No.1’s compilation for this holiday season.

This special Christmas edition of the Independent No.1’s compilation has a really strong media backing with guaranteed airplay on various radio stations, venues, malls and restaurants all partnered with W.O.A International, which is super exciting.  The whole idea is to support Independent Musicians (like me!) using the various WOA International platforms available to Indie acts. This special Christmas edition compilation is scheduled for one month of exclusive radio programming on the nationally syndicated and globally licensed radio show, WOAFM99 Radio, all through December. So if you’re in the right place at the right time doing your holiday shopping and snacking, you very well might just hear “The Mistletoe Song”! Don’t think you’re dreaming! It’s real!

The Independent No.1’s Christmas Special Edition is the very first of its kind- it is already considered to be a collector’s edition, and features artists who are burning up the charts on radio as well as online. The album has 22 songs that are the very best of Christmas holiday music by Indie artists from around the world and is available across major stores worldwide- you should definitely pick one up!

If you’re in to streaming, you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music and iHeartradio.

If downloading is your thing, you can get your copy through CD BABY at Independent No.1’s Christmas Special Deluxe Edition: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/independentno1schristmas2

And on iTunes https://itun.es/gb/gW0y_

Conversation is Good for the Soul…

11-30-2015

I got to spend some time with Sarah McLachlan this weekend- It was wonderful talking about music, the industry, and the direction of the future.  I am beyond grateful to have gotten the opportunity to spend some time with her and discuss so many exciting things together. Cheers to more conversation and moments together.

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“FIRE” Up for Nomination in the 58th GRAMMY Awards!!!!

11-2-2015

Ok, folks. The past 11 days have been incredible. If you haven’t heard, I’ve got something huge to share! Brace yourself for some incredibly big exciting mind blowing news.  And I mean, clear-off-your-shoulders-straight-into-outer-space-mind-blowing-news.  I am beyond honored to announce “Fire” is Up for Nomination in the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.  THE 58th ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS!!! Yes- “Fire”- the song you request at my shows, the song you play in your car, the song that I wrote when everything was going wrong…is Up for Nomination!  And I mean THE Grammys- the awards ceremony that’s televised from the Staples Center- where JLo wore that green Versace scarf dress that was cut down to her belly button, where Whitney Houston sang “I Will Always Love You”…THAT Grammy Awards.  I could just scream with excitement…as a matter of fact, I think I will. AHHHHHHHHHHH!  This is such an incredible and humbling experience.  To be included in this community of exceptional musicians is simply a dream come true- and I couldn’t have done it without my listeners.   A special thank you to everyone for your emails, comments, likes and shares…I am overwhelmed by your love and support. I am so incredibly lucky and beyond excited to share this moment of my journey with you.

Earlier in the week, I met with Mark Richards from mix 96, Time Warner Cable News, Tony Farina with the Niagara Falls Reporter, Tony Zambito from JazzBuffalo, and other members of the media.  Make sure to check them out!  This week will also be busy with interviews- Stay tuned for our sessions together.

For more on Fire and the Grammy’s, visit the GRAMMY page!

 

The Day the Universe Handed me a Crown…

7-3-2015

Recently, things haven’t exactly been going my way. It was as if some lunar event happened, and magically overnight everything that could go wrong, was actually going wrong. I was disappointed, let down, and downright mad.  Now, I believe that the universe is all about balance.  The beginning of this year took off with such a surge of positivity and excitement that I knew the opposite was most likely going to turn up at some point…its the natural flow of the world. Things go right, and then enviably, things go…not so right.  About two weeks into my gunk (grumpy funk), opportunity called. Literally. I was so grouchy, I almost didn’t even answer. And not to be overly dramatic here, but the phone rang, and everything sort of started to move in the right direction.  I could feel the excitement and anticipation of new opportunities starting to reignite…the gunk was lifting. And then, by far the most unexpected thing happened via Twitter (I know, Twitter of all places).

I was contacted by Mark, the founder of Pianos in Public, to “adopt” one of their pianos!  Let’s go back: I originally stumbled upon Pianos in Public when we were story boarding the video for High Water.  I wanted to play a piano outside, but as you can imagine, those aren’t necessarily easy to come by…pianos don’t grow naturally in the wild and usually folks keep their domestic pianos indoors.  I stumbled upon Pianos in Public on Facebook and fell in love! I was so happy to feature two of their pianos in the video and was super excited about what they were doing…making extraordinary instruments available for free public use. Genius. Basically, they take in abandoned pianos, refurbish the guts, and put them around the city for folks to play.  And as a bonus, the pianos are all beautifully painted by local artists. As new pianos come in, the older pianos need a forever home, or they are sadly donated to the trash.  When Mark contacted me and explained the situation, I just had to say yes.  Without touching it, I committed to adopt “The White Piano”. All I knew was that it was an upright that had been outside on a street in North Tonawanda and was being delivered to me tomorrow…no clue on the make, model, touch or sound…but I said yes.
And boy am I glad I did.  Turns out (to the best of my research) “The White Piano” is a 4-pedal George P. Bent Crown circa 1900’s Orchestral Grand Piano. It needs some minor repairs, but all in all it has a great sound and feel.  They literally don’t make them like this anymore, most are only available through antique piano refurbishing shops.  Talk about a gift from the universe…a beautiful, functional piece of history…literally dropped off in my living room.  I am happy to say the gunk is officially over, and the Crown and I are becoming the best of friends.

For more on Crown Pianos visit:

http://antiquepianoshop.com/online-museum/crown/

For more on Pianos in Public

Pianos in Public Buffalo

 

Oh the places you’ll go…

4-19-2015

Over the past month or so, I’ve been lucky enough to perform in a variety of venues in the North East (which is TOTALLY AWESOME!!). It’s been incredible meeting so many new people and sharing my music.  I’ve been in a variety of performance environments in a short amount of time- from full concert type shows where the audience is there strictly to listen to the music – to sports bars where the 60″ flat screen tv is king of the jungle and I’m merely a tick on the back of a flea – I’ve lived these venues (and everything in between) in the last 45 days.  And to be frank, it’s hard going from one to the next…one night you’re a rockstar and the next you feel like no one would notice if you set the keyboard on fire and ran a lap around the bar naked.  Seriously! Go ahead and laugh, but it’s true. And it’s tough not to get discouraged when you’re literally singing your heart out while some drunk girl is twirling around on her even drunker boyfriends shoulders three inches from your face, dangerously close to falling on you and your instrument.  But this is the truth of some venues…and it is what makes us musicians… Frustrated. Resilient. Experienced. Seasoned. Determined.  I’ve literally said to the band “I am going to get these people to engage with us …it is going to happen.  We are going to make it happen…”

Playing these different concert types in succession has truly been a blessing in disguise…I’ve learned a lot about my listeners and about my own performance style.  I’ve learned that I’m really good at handling the guy who yells “Freee Biiiiiird” and that I’m not phased by ridiculous raucous behavior…I’m fairly certain at this point I could play through a tornado without missing a beat.  I’ve learned that I like to have my side table for concert style shows and never want to perform without a monitor…ever.  And most importantly I’ve learned that my listeners are always there, even if I can’t see them right away, and that they truly appreciate what I do.  And that is what it’s all about.

 

Pennsylvania

2-23-2015

Let’s start by making one thing clear.  I know nothing about the state of Pennsylvania. I don’t know geographically where their cities are, how their road ways work, what’s down there, or who lives there. So when I was invited to showcase and speak on a panel as part of the Millennium Music Conference #19 in Harrisburg PA, I thought GREAT, AWESOME, LET’S DO IT!  Pennsylvania is super close to New York, right? On the map it’s right under us! And I’ve seen signs to Erie when I go to the fair in the summer, and that’s in Pennsylvania, so this should be a great little 45 minute trip! For those of you who know nothing about the state of Pennsylvania (like me a week ago), let me tell you what I discovered. Harrisburg is actually on the complete other side of Pennsylvania, and it’s actually a giant rectangle, and in order to get there from Buffalo, you actually have to go diagonally across the state. It’s actually a 5 hour drive without stops and traffic and…snow.  Because let’s face it, it’s February, so snow will be happening.  BUT! This conference was going to be worth it…a new city, a new venue, a new group of people, a new network.  Exactly what I’m looking for…remember those New Years goals…?

So we packed the car, including a new wind screen from the bulk pack I ordered from Amazon after I neglected my last one in NYC, and headed down. The first little bit through New York was effortless.  Clean pavement, clear sky, I think the sun was even out which was a fantastic thing to see…it was flat flat flat flat and then KABOOM! Tiny mountains and winding roads and big open spaces…we had crossed the state line.  How is it possible that terrain can change so fast!? It’s almost like New York and Pennsylvania had a discussion…”I’ll be flat, and then you can be all hilly, but we won’t tell anyone” “haha yes, that’s a great idea” Where there weren’t winding twisting roads going through these devious hills, there were huge open spaces.  And it was cold…really cold…and anyone who knows anything about snow knows what big open spaces + super cold snow + wind means.  White outs. Needless to say, the rest of the drive was not effortless.  It was hard.  But we made it! We got a much needed drink and turned in for the night.

The next day was full of listening to panels, taking feverish notes, meeting with industry professionals, mentoring, walking, talking, getting coffee, more panels, meeting other artists, more talking, making new friends, more networking, more twittering, and more coffee.  And then before I knew it, it was time to get ready for my first showcase.  A 45 minute set at Carley’s Ristorante and Piano Bar, 204 Locust Street Harrisburg PA. An address that was entered into the GPS and ultimately led us to a residential area 2 miles away from the venue.  Never to fear, Siri was there, and she directed us to the correct 204 Locust Harrisburg PA, just in time for dinner and drinks before the set.

We got to the venue, had some wine and cheese and dinner and enjoyed listening to the other artists who were slotted before me. I was supposed to start at 9:30, but when the act before me was nowhere to be found, I started early…and wound up playing 2 full sets, about 1:30 of originals! And it was great! Hung out with some friends I met earlier in the day that came to listen, made some tips, sold some CD’s, nicknamed the waiter “Ti Amo” because he needed an Italian name. That’s a success in my book.

The next day was a continuation of the first.  New panels, more mentoring, more networking, visiting with the artist friends I made the day before.  The panel I was speaking on happened at 2:30, and it was great sharing my crowd funding experience with others!

The news was on in the hotel bar and they were forecasting a “snowstorm” for that night. It was 18 degrees out (heat wave anyone?), and it was dusting snow…nothing to be concerned about in my book.  I decided to watch the weather, but had every intention of making the show.  I came here to play, not to sit in the hotel because it was sneezing snow. This was nothing.  A little later in the afternoon, some of the venues started to close due to the “storm”.  The act before me cancelled and asked me to cover their slot…which I agreed to. And then the act before them did the same. I was originally scheduled to start at 11, but figured I would start at 9:30 and see how the crowd went.  If everyone left because of the weather, I would pack up too.

I called Carley’s to make sure they were staying open, got ready and took off.  Apparently they don’t plow or salt the roads in Pennsylvania…so it took a little longer, but still…I certainly wouldn’t have considered it the apocalyptic storm it was made out to be. A couple of inches of slush…child’s play. “Ti amo” was tending bar, we got a bottle of wine and some cheese, listened to the artists who had the 8:00 and 8:30 slots and went up around 9:30.  My plan was to play a little over an hour and feel the crowd out, if everyone took because of the storm, I would do the same.  I made friends with two gentlemen at the bar who I affectionately named Chuck and Bob and played my first 75 min set. Chuck, Bob, Ti Amo, and the rest of the bar were happy people! They found the tip jar! And my CDs! We laughed about their “snow storm” and the set flew by.

Around 10:45 the door opened. “She started early!” One of the group of 7 said…looks like I was staying. I took a quick 10 minute break, got a tea and a fresh water, and went back up to play my original 11:00 time slot- in full.

By the end of the set, it was close to midnight. I had played and sang over 3 sets of original material straight (excluding the 10 minute tea break) to a healthy bar. I was tired. Tired and really really happy.  I put on my coat and headed back to the room.  It wasn’t until 2am that I woke up and realized I had left my windscreen, once again, in the bar.

 

The Music Will Never Let You Down

1-22-2015

This last week has been busy.  Over the past seven days, I have entered three songwriting competitions, recorded two videos (one professional and one…well,not), became a social media socialite and put finishing touches on a new song.  The constant posting, voting, liking, favoriting, retweeting, friending, tweeting, and instagram-ing is exhausting…not to mention the recording, editing, writing, and rewriting.  Although I would absolutely love to win ALL of these competitions, I am fully aware that this is simply not going to happen.  Actually, I most likely will not win any of them.  And yet, despite all of the work and energy I have poured into my submissions, I’m ok with that…because completing these projects has been a fulfilling process, and I am once again reminded of the wisest thing I was ever told.

“The music will never let you down” – Vincent Lenti, 2008, after a particularly disappointing performance.

I will never forget this particular piano lesson.  I had played a Bach prelude and fugue as part of a departmental recital the previous Saturday…the prelude was stunning…as was the fugue, but unfortunately, not in a good way.  I was so disappointed in myself, I had practiced my butt off for weeks, and when it was time to show everyone, it just didn’t happen.  It just didn’t happen. So I beat myself up the entire weekend until my lesson, which was on Monday at 4:30. I walked in, sat down, and we started to talk about the recital.  I was a mess.  And I will never forget what he said.  “Listen…a single performance does not define you as a musician. It’s just a moment in time, and this is a lifelong journey. Certain performances are going to let you down and disappoint you, but the music will never let you down. So take yourself out of it, it’s about the music, not about you.”  The lesson continued, and I played the fugue without error…which was even more frustrating at the time.  I went back to my apartment and thought about what he said. Then I  slept on it…for a few years.

7 years later, and guess what, he was right! Performances, opportunities, and people HAVE let me down.  But the music has not.

So maybe I don’t win any of these contests.  Maybe I don’t get enough likes or votes or retweets or hearts or thumbs up or whatever.  This is a lifelong journey, and the music will never let me down.

 

For Auld Lang Syne…

12-31-2014

This past year has really been something.  It had its fair share of disappointment, sadness, impatience and frustration. It’s brought questionable people with questionable motives both in and out if my life. It has brought loss, heartbreak, and anger.  At its worst- 2014 has been a royal pain.  However, it has also brought tremendous generosity, excitement, opportunity and progress.  It has brought hope, new friends, change, and laughter.  It’s amazing to think of what has transpired this year, some things seem so far in the past (when in reality they were just a few months ago).  There are a few favorite moments that stick out.  I completed writing and recording my first ever full length album, connected and worked with world renown producer Stuart Epps, and then had it funded through amazing kickstarter fans (who were once strangers and now feel like family). I’ve brought my performances outside of the region for multiple shows in several cities across New York and was part of one of the largest Fringe Festivals in the United States.  I filmed my first ever music video, which currently has almost 2,000 views in less than four months (you should watch that by the way).  I’ve written a lot of music, met some new people, drank a lot of coffee, eaten a lot of cheese, and started writing this blog.  I’m sure I’m missing things, but these experiences (minus the cheese) are paramount. The momentum this year has been nothing short of incredible!  At its best- 2014 was truly memorable.  2014 was also responsible enough to plan a little for 2015.  I have exciting performance engagements pending across the north east, the official release of “From Here”, and five new pieces ready to be worked over and over for the next album…that’s right, I haven’t even officially released this one and I’m already working on the next one…it’s a vicious cycle.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do have some professional goals for this upcoming year. I’m hoping that by sharing them here, we can double check how I did – 365 days from now.

  1. Write more. I want to set aside time to write every single day. Even if I don’t get very far. I want a date with my pencil, scratch book, piano, and manuscript paper-every day.
  2. Perform more. Locally. Regionally. Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts.
  3. Dare I say it…tour! It can be tiny. It can be huge. Whatever it is, I’m going.
  4. Open for someone
  5. Do more yoga…because my realistic side is freaking out…this is an aggressive list.But that’s what goals and dreams should do. They should lead you out of your comfort zone and give you something to keep pushing for. 2014 was a year of progress for me. 2015 will be a year of action. It certainly hope you take a moment to reflect on this year…the good, the bad, the ugly, and to appreciate each experience for what it was.   Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year…cheers to 2015!

 

HOW DARE YOU…

12-15-2014

Songwriting is a very personal thing.  It is a process that is challenging emotionally, creatively, and musically.  It is hard to understand this process, especially for those who don’t write, and on certain occasions I have been confronted with this dilemma. “Why’d you write that?” “Where did that come from?” “Is that about me!?”  It is especially difficult when those who have inspired my music don’t understand this process.  Since I don’t live in a bubble, and have feelings, often people and situations in my life manifest themselves into pieces of music.  It is important to keep in mind that none of my music is meant to be malicious or hurtful.  Each piece is simply a snapshot in time of a personal reaction to a particular situation or event. Opinions, perspective, and feelings all change and evolve over time- but that song remains specific to a certain moment- in the past. The process usually looks something like this.

  1. Something happens
  2. I am personally impacted by this event
  3. I don’t know how to express what I am feeling (sorrow, loss, anger, love, joy…you know…the easy ones) so I sit at my piano. For hours. Until the right sound is coming from my hands.
  4. I begin to piece together the appropriate verbiage
  5. I decide that the music isn’t specific enough, and begin to tear apart and rewrite everything I created in step 3 until each note has a meaning and a function in relation to the story or message. The music must say more than the words. I write this down on my giant manuscript paper.
  6. I write and rewrite the lyrics. I throw them out and start again.
  7. I edit the music and the lyrics until I feel that they accurately portray what I am feeling. This usually takes months.

The process never ends. It is personal. And the first time I play this song I have been working on privately in public, I sometimes forget to breathe.This is not a random practice!!! I do not sit around and think “gee…that Ebola crisis is a hot topic. Maybe I’ll write a song about that today. Let’s throw some notes down and make up some words and call it a song”. That is just not how it works!! I am in no way trying to capitalize off of innocent bystanders for the betterment of myself. Remember, I’m just as much as involved in these situations! These are my feelings, my reactions, and my thoughts alone…something moved me enough to make me go to the piano and start creating. A quick analysis of the time-invested/income-gained continuum would show an inverse relationship. So capitalization and self betterment is out of the question. So why do I write? I write because I have to get it out. I write because people say “Your song helped me.” “I’ve been there too.”

I encourage you to be open minded and kind when you are listening to my (or anyone else’s) work. These songs came from somewhere private and special within the writer. I will never apologize for my music, because it is the truth. It is my truth of a specific moment in time. And remember, if you’ve made an appearance in one of my songs, it is because I have truly loved and cared about you. You gave me something that forever changed me. And for that, we should both be grateful.

 

New York City: A City Without Wind

11-23-2014

Getting ready for a show is always a process, especially when that show happens to be your very first in New York City. The travel, the packing, the music, the equipment, the excitement…you get the idea. Being from Western New York, November means cold and snow.  This year, lots of snow. So the Nordic-tundra-puffy snowman look- I’ve got down. However,successfully achieving the chic city look without freezing my fingers off or sweating like a hippo, I have yet to master. This is a work in progress. My father insists on bringing hats with him everywhere he goes, and advised me to pack a little black hat just in case it was windy, just enough to keep warm. I insisted it was never windy in the city – the buildings block all of the wind! I had been to the city in November before and never remembered any wind as I looked at the Rockefeller Christmas tree- which is always hidden in scaffolding when I am visiting. He disagreed. I made sure to pack my bag Thursday night- I would have plenty of time on Friday to change my mind, unpack, and then repack for my departure early Saturday morning. Which is exactly what happened…twice. Two last minute additions included my black windscreen for the microphone (which I like to call a nose), and a matching black hat.  Since this was a big show (my very first ever in the city), the nucleus was attending- mom, dad, and James. We arrived in the city early Saturday morning, checked in, and decided to bop around for a bit until heading over for the sound check. As we walked through the streets and arrived at the famous scaffolded masterpiece, despite my objections it was….windy. I put my hat on. I could practically hear my dad smile behind me even though he was several paces back. The afternoon progressed quickly, enjoying the sights and taking in the charm that makes New York so special. We headed back to relax and get ready…and the butterflies began their attack.  What if nobody came? What if the piano was in bad shape? What if this place was a front for organ harvesting? What if…you name it, I thought it.  I’m not one to get nervous before a show, but with all of these unknowns, I couldn’t ignore the tinge of worry knocking occasionally at my confidence’s front door. I grabbed my set list, windscreen, and my hat and headed out.  We waited for a cab, we waited at the red lights, we waited for the people to cross the street when they weren’t supposed to, wait wait wait wait- wait.  Then we pulled up, and the place was…ADORABLE! The piano was in great shape, and these people did not strike me as kidney sharks. I started playing, and as soon as I started, the butterflies packed up and left for the night – realizing they had lost the battle once again. Then the most miraculous thing happened.  People came! Let’s be clear- in no way did I sell out the Met, but there were people there. They stayed, they drank, and most importantly, they listened. They listened! After the show, they stayed to chat about the music…they had opinions…it was fantastic.  The conversations flowed as freely as our celebratory libations…for hours. The nucleus was inebriated, and it was time to head back. I grabbed my hat, and we hailed a cab. Little did we know our adventure was coming to its peak as we climbed into the little yellow taxi.  It all started with the seatbelt light.  The sensor was pitching a fit, beep beep beep…”shut up you b***h” our driver commanded in an almost jolly voice …the car exploded with laughter. As we drove through the more lucrative parts of town -“10 million dollar apartment…for that much you can buy North Dakota and Idaho…buy one get one free you b***h”. As he pontificated on world domination- “I’d vote for Bush and Mr. Dick again on one condition… they take over Canada”. When cars would get in the way – “move you b***h”. As people walked in front of the car “move you b***h”. As he honked the horn at my dad’s command “yes boss, move you b***h”.  The whole way- for 46 blocks  “yes boss, move you b***h”. We paid our spirited driver and headed in for the night. Tired, sauced, dehydrated and hysterically laughing- until the lights went out.

It wasn’t until I was on the plane headed back home the next morning that I truly absorbed this experience.  That night, I did not play to a sold out house at Madison Square Garden, I did not sell ten thousand albums, I didn’t make a million dollars…but I felt on top of the world.  I felt rejuvenated and renewed.  I was enthralled with the opinions and thoughts of my listeners. I was overwhelmed by the support of my tiny nucleus, the three people in this world who support me more than anyone deserves. I was grateful for the friends who took time to come to this show and grateful for the new friends and fans I made that night.  It became so clear in this experience- that this journey is not about the money or the fame or the whatever else.  It is simply about music and people, nothing else. When I got home, I unpacked my bag, and realized I had left my little black windscreen in New York. Despite the sadness of leaving my nose in the city, a part of me is really glad it’s there.  The city gave me so much that night…so many wonderful memories and lessons I will have for the rest of my life.  The least I could do is to give it a tiny black hat, just enough to protect from the cold New York wind until I return.

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