This blog update is seriously overdue and I really want to start the new year off fresh, so I’m left with no choice but to sum up most of ’09 in this one post! 2009 was really a crazy year and I can’t believe how quickly it went by. It was a year filled with heartache, transitions, “new beginnings” but best of all, the workings of an intimate relationship with God. I never needed Him more in my entire life than in this past year, and as always, He did not fail to deliver. As I reminisce on the good, the bad and the ugly, I just want to take this time to thank my Lord and Savior for remembering me and never giving up. Without You, none of this would have been remotely possible!
I was still in the studio finishing up the album, and making final decisions on song selection as well as extra production. At the same time, I was in the middle of a huge move, and things were super hectic. Right as I was about to go into mastering, a personal tragedy left me paralyzed physically and emotionally. I knew I had to pick myself back up and finish what I had started, but at the time I felt I had not one ounce of strength in me to do so. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life, but that’s all a part of the process, right?
It’s funny how people in your life own up to their titles when you’re going through rough times. I’ve had the same girlfriends almost my entire life, but I feel that our relationships have grown stronger than ever since they were REALLY there when I needed them most. I feel so blessed to have each and every one of them (you know who you are!) beside me. One of my very best friends from childhood, Anna (www.annaselena.com) actually held my hand, walked me through all of the pain, and helped me focus on my goals as an artist and musician. Together we literally designed, outlined and shrink-wrapped my entire project before it hit the stands in May.
Although it was a bittersweet time period, I was still relishing in the release of my CD and gearing up to begin promoting it. I had so much amazing support from my friends, family and colleagues during that time. Everyone was so excited and happy about the project and I just wanted to share that experience with all of those around me. Once plans for a CD release party were underway, I found myself out and about, networking and meeting people almost 7 nights a week! Going out that much was especially hard since I wasn’t drinking anymore . I had a new found respect for promoters after working that circuit. Luckily, I had some close friends of mine helping to spread the word =)
Granted I hit up every club you could imagine, but this particular Wednesday night my girls from the Syrenz Crew (Jimini a.k.a Tiff and Peppa) were dancing the night away at Zanzibar in Santa Monica. So, I popped in on the fun and got to promote my event, too. That’s Gyroe in the front holding my CD =)
Out again with the girls from Syrenz, this time at a private party called “The Deck”. Met some of the best breakers and dancers I had ever seen, and FOX TV was there to capture it all.
I obviously couldn’t get enough of these fabulous girls cuz here I am after their fantastic show at the El Portal Theatre. They performed in a sick new rendition of “Rhythm Nation” and of course helped pump up our upcoming performance for my CD release party!
I was seriously working the town!! This is the same night at Halo with my summer partner in crime Dezmond Meeks (www.dezmondmeeks.com) and a friend. Can’t remember what night it was, something like a BET Awards afterparty…definitely made some new friends though and even ran into someone I worked with eons ago who happened to be there filming the night life. We did an impromptu interview, but I was so sweaty from dancing I hope no one ever sees the footage!!
July 2, ’09: THE MEDUSA LOUNGE
This is the first time to share this private video of me and my BFF Hana on our way to sound check before the big night. She came down from SF for the weekend and helped me get prepped in every way imaginable! From that day on, she has coined herself my new personal assistant.
Here I am backstage with my producer, DJ and friend Techbeatz making sure the mic is working before our first number, Therapy. IRONICALLY, the mic was working then, but once I hit the stage, it wasn’t! What a nightmare! The show just went on, and although the track was playing in the background, I sang it at the top of my lungs. Right before the song ended, the mic started working again…OUTRAGEOUS! These things happen though, and luckily I had the most forgiving and loving audience supporting me that night. We actually ended up doing the number again later that evening to make it up for the cameras.
Here we are performing Therapy AGAIN. Aren’t my dancers purrty?? That’s my friend and number one fan, Jane taking pics up close and personal (heehee).
Prior to the second number, Free, the Syrenz, my choreographer Darrien Henning, dancer Prince Moffet and I were outside doing an interview with FOX TV. This is never before seen footage of us in front of Medusa Lounge and me rambling like a total airhead. Please excuse the lack of media skills. My dad caught the whole thing on his camera. The actual bit that aired on TV only had like a 3-word soundbyte, so thanks dad for capturing that!
One night I got a call from a friend about participating in an interview for a show that airs on the BBC London’s Ben TV. Really had no idea what it was for at the time, but I agreed to meet with Los Angeles Event Promoter Jay Lenny Levanne (that’s him up there). Jay was the guest host of this particular episode of “The United States of Nigeria” and invited me to be on with him. I had a blast touring all of LA’s hotspots with them for the show. It was a LONG and HOT day and the host and I were in super stilettos (big mistake).
This was at Hollywood and Highland where we were wrapping things up and I even got to do a plug for my new CD. Thanks Jay and Ben TV!
September 5, ’09: ROCK THE RED
For Labor Day, a friend of mine who runs a charity called “Layers of Love” (www.layersoflove.org) invited me to sing at their launch party themed “Rock the Red”. The charity throws private birthday parties for children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. I performed my single, Therapy, on the rooftop of Canvas LA in downtown. It was a beautiful night and I was happy to help in any way that I could!
Publicity shot with my dancers, Marcos and Harout, and my fabulous choreographer, Darrien Henning! Love you guys!
Me and D are always smiles when we are together!!! He is the MOST patient person I have ever met. He deals with my whining and excuses all day long =)
In October I started prepping for upcoming shows and finally got my band together! My single, Therapy, was steadily climbing the indie music charts from the onset of our radio promo campaign with NRP (www.heartlandent.com)
Things began to get pretty hectic with 3 upcoming shows, 2 different bands, and trying to work on new music at the same time. It all paid off though…
November 25, ’09: M BAR
That’s my guitarist, Heday, from Layla Lane and me rehearsing before the show. I absolutely love my ukulele!!
Valerie from Layla Lane, Spike Phillips, me and Heday.
Ooh, ooh! This is my CREW! The ones that take care of everything for me behind the scenes. That’s my brother, Elliott (isn’t he a cutie pie??) on the left and BFFs Anna and Hana. I heart you guys for life.
This was taken after the show. There were two different cameras shooting at the same time. Guess the boys were looking in one and the girls in another =)
November 29, 09: THMC
This was at our last mintue performance put together for THMC (www.freshglobal.org) church in downtown LA. I literally got the request to perform 2 days prior, but it was an honor to be invited by them.
That’s tiny little me on their huge stage! I was used to being in closer proximity to my band and felt totally strange being so far apart from them. My drummer, Spike was encased in a plastic box about 50 feet away! It was such a great experience to share my songs and testimony with everyone there (footage coming soon!)
December 5, ’09: KOREAN CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
Back in September, the Korea Daily Journal featured a story about my music and invited me to perform at their annual holiday appreciation festivities. I put together another band with Phil Parlapiano (also my ukulele and piano teacher!), Butch Norton (percussionist) and David Sutton (bassist). We played an acoustic set that included a few holiday tunes (both in English and Korean) along with some of my originals. The audience was amazing. I shared a lot of my personal struggles with them and it was also a blessing to have my entire family and number one fans (!) there. We had so much fun and the show was a hit! (footage coming soon)
Just getting started with the guys…and yes, that is a “desk” in the front corner. It was a bit strange, but everyone was sitting in desks and patiently sat through our entire set. I felt bad for my mom, since she has back issues, but she seemed to be really enjoying herself!
See…everyone at their desks =)
I got to rock my uke again to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”…always an audience fave.
Love this shot of David’s bass…it’s so massive!
I feel so lucky to be working with such talented musicians! You guys are the BEST!!!
And then right after my last show…
On Kahana Beach in Maui. That’s what I call a vacation! 3 radio stations were playing my single there, and I spent 7 days basking in the sun with friends and family, lots of pork and a brand new ukulele. What a way to end the year…
WISHING YOU ALL MANY BLESSINGS IN 2010!
With Much Love and Gratitude Always,