There is no way to watch this documentary and not have your heart broken.. it's just not possible..
When you understand the time and place in which Nina Simone was born and grew to womanhood.. When you hear of the things she had to endure, not all of which are talked about in this film.. Dealing with all those things artists have to deal with on a daily basis, and for her, being the first black or the first woman or the first black woman.. Enduring racial inequality.. The fire that burned in her to rail against the hatred we were all facing at that time.. There is a moment in the film when she is on stage singing a song dedicated to MLK Jr., the day after he was murdered, where she stops in the middle and says.. "They're leaving us.. They are all leaving us.. Martin.. Lorraine Hansberry, she was good friend of mine. Langston.. And they're beating us.. you might get beaten" .. Not her exact words, but.. You can hear the pain in her voice.. The bewilderment.. And your heart just breaks.. She basically took a decidedly left turn in her career, because she didn't have the desire to write or to sing about anything but civil rights while her people were fighting for their lives.. And when you comprehend that this is a portrait of a woman.. An artist, one among many, fighting racial inequality, political injustice, police brutality, blacks being murdered, churches being set ablaze in the 1960's.. The most devastating part? It's that we are still here today, in the same Goddamn place... #still fighting.. #mississippigoddamn #southcarolinagoddamn #baltimoregoddamn #statenisland
#floridagoddamn #northcarolinagoddamn #churchesburning #andonandon
You can see why so many of our greatest artists were black & blue...
Knowing they were our voices.. Our greatest hope.. They had to be.. Even while they were fighting and living and dying themselves..
You can understand why so many of our artists died before their time.. some very young..
Why they were willing to die trying to bring about change.
Anyone who was a part of the civil rights movement and lived to talk about is a goddamn hero..
But you can always feel their blues..
#heroes #sheroes #ninasimone #littlegirlblue
It's strange and sad that the song Strange Fruit, orginally written in 1937 and recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939, was again recorded by Nina Simone in 1965, nearly 30 years later.. expressing the same outrage at the inequality of the time that more than likely prompted Billie Holiday to sing the song in the first place.. and here it is a full 50 years after Miss Simone's recording of the song, and we are yet again experiencing one of the most brutal periods of violence toward black citizens in the US in our history..
Last month, 9 prominent black people, all leaders of their communities, were gunned down in a church in SC.. 2 days later, confederate flag sales went up 2300 percent on Amazon..
2300 PERCENT.. That is a statement.
In the 3 weeks that followed 7 more black churches have burned down.
America is this really the legacy we want to leave behind?
December 18th, 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the United States..
Let's just think about this for a time.. comtemplate it.. dwell on it..
#iwishiknewhowitfelttobefree #somedaywellallbefree #iknowwhythecagedbirdsings #whathappenedmisssimone
Above are pictures of my Uncle Sam Smith (my dad's brother).
At age 15, my mom became pregnant with me. My Uncle Sam, realizing that my parents weren't equipped to raise me at that time in their lives, took it upon himself to help my grandmother support my mother & I, while still attending college. A few years later, he married my aunt Eleanor & they raised me during my early childhood.
After graduating college, he joined the NYPD & served there until he was injured.
Afterward, he relocated to Las Vegas and worked for the LV fire dept. He quietly moved up the ladder until he became a fire inspector and eventually a chief fire inspector. He faced a fair amount of adversity while working for the fire dept and felt that blacks were severely under hired, particularly black men, so he started a tutoring program aimed at helping black men pass the fire dept entrance exams. This led him to start a mentoring program where black students could get their equivalency diplomas and assistance with applying to colleges. He also owned & operated an all black book store, Native Son, in Las Vegas. It wasn't a fancy place by any means, but it was a place where you could go to learn from the elders (The Gathering) & discuss the topics of the day. It was also a place to go if you got into trouble and needed help turning your life around. He did all this for no money, and very little recognition, yet he is personally responsible for assisting hundreds in getting their HS diplomas, college degrees, or being hired by fire depts across the country.
Known affectionately as the Oracle or the Mayor of the Bistro, my uncle loved his people & keenly understood the often crippling handicaps black people are faced with every day. He was one of the strongest, most generous people I've ever known. He was also one of the strictest, most disciplined people I have ever known and did not suffer fools gladly. He did not care for excess & could not tolerate those who did not want to learn, or strive to be the best they could. He demanded excellence at all times from his children and from his students. When people would ask why he was so tough, he would answer "Because the world is tougher, especially on black men. The only thing we can use to our advantage are our minds and we must be educated to do that."
He was a man of few words and spent the better part of most days reading. He sat with politicians, paupers and everyone in between and treated all with dignity and respect. His most fervent wish was simply to uplift our race, one mind at a time, thereby changing our world view and in turn the worlds view of us. He was a great man, a born teacher, a mentor to many and something of a legend to most. To me he was a hero, and I tried to tell him so as often as I could.
There is no man or woman who has achieved greatness without some great form of sacrifice. The brunt of that sacrifice is usually bourne by the loved ones and families of those who have given their lives in service. To my cousins Marshall, Mercedes and Assata, know that you are part of the great legacy of a man who helped to save and shape hundreds of black lives. He did this because he wanted the world to be a better place for you. For all of us..
RIP Uncle Sam. Thank you for all that you've done for all of us.. I love you and I will never forget. We salute you
#family #love #allblacklivesmatter #savinglivesoneatatime #attentionmustbepaid
Assata Smith Sybil Johnson Lincoln Sessoms William Saunders Maurice Sessoms Shannon Wayt Sessoms Jenny Douglas Trevor Johnson Myeisha Rogers Chris Parks Ernest Johnson NAACP-LV Virginia M. Washington
Someone died today
and Attention must be paid
We fear death
For in death We fear We shall not be remembered
But I can never forget
Though I myself will be forgotten in time
Through the ages
We have learned we do become immortal
In the memories of the ones we leave behind
And I now, can finally speak on it
Because attention must be paid
To the ancestors near, far and wide
They must be given their just due
And we must say
I remember you
Someone died and so
Attention must and will always be paid
I and your children will live on in your name
You will see the world through our eyes and through our children's eyes after me and so on
We will honor you with love as We call your name
And We will never forget
Ashay & Amen.
Oh how I've missed you summer!
Is it just me, or did we go straight from winter to summer?? Finally, the long winter is over, and I am soooo dang happy!
Hey everybody! Hope this email finds you all well and basking in the sun! :-)
I'll get right to the point so you can get back out in the sunshine.
First off, I want to thank everyone that came out to my show at Vitello's in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago. It was a beautiful night and the band really did me proud. Special thank you's to Brad Roen, Joey Bybee and the rest of the Vitello's gang, you guys were wonderful to me <3 And to Matt Rohde, Maurice Ellis, Rayford Griffin and most especially JJ Sansaverino, you guys are incredible!
Next up.. The news..
I've got several shows happening all over the country in June and July, and chances are I'll be somewhere near you, so bring a date if you're free and come on out for a night of beautiful music, we'd love to see you!
THE BLUE NOTE|NEW YORK
This Sunday, June 1st, I'll be a doing a special jazz brunch at the Blue Note as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival, featuring:
Oscar Perez - Piano
Michael Blanco - Bass
Donald Edwards - Drums
Shows are 11:30 AM & 1:30 PM and the brunch menu is excellent. It'll be a fun afternoon, of great music and great food.
MEET ME IN ST LOUIS
Then on Wednesday, June 4th I'll be headed to St Louis to be the special guest of pianist Peter Martin (Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride, Chris Botti) at the Whitaker Music Festival with:
Syd Rodway - Bass
Montez Coleman - Drums
Then on Thursday, June 5th I will be at the Kranzberg Arts Center once again with the Peter Martin Trio. Come on out St Louis people, I wanna see you!
THE CAPITAL|I'M COMING TO DC
DC COME OUT AND PLAY!
Finally making my way to DC, so if you're in DC, Philly, Baltimore or any where in the vicinity, you KNOW I wanna see you!
On Monday, June 9th I'll be making my DC DEBUT at none other than Blues Alley! I am thrilled about it to say the least, and I wanna see all your beautiful faces in the house!
Benjie Porecki - Keys
Chris Parks - Bass
Jay Williams - Drums
and very special guests JJ SANSAVERINO and NATHAN MITCHELL.
It's gonna be a night of fabulous music!
BOSTON HERE I COME
And last but by no means least..
MY BOSTON DEBUT AT REGATTABAR!
Lolol! I know, I'm quite busy these days..
What can I say, God is good.. Everyday..
Stellar special guests - VICTOR BAILEY and JJ SANSAVERINO and an incredible band will make this a night to remember.
Come out and join us!
Mark Copeland - Keys
Chris Parks - Bass
Coran Henley - Drums
<img src="http://www.viviansessoms.com/images/regattabarflyer_resized.jpg" alt="regattabarflyer.jpg_resized" />
Hope to see you at one of these and don't forget, tell/bring a friend. I'm loving meeting all of you after the show, so come up and say hi!
You graced us with your inimitable style and your wonderfully generous spirit. You had nothing but kindness and words of wisdom and encouragement for all that crossed your path.
You inspired multiple generations.. The first book I remember my grandmother, an aspiring writer, talk about with adulation and fervor is I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. You will be adored, remembered, spoken of and missed for ages to come Ms. Angelou.
My mother said to me many times as a little girl, Music can change the world. Today I'm going to amend that to say Art can change the world.. and make it a better a place.
Thank you Mom, Grandmom, Ms. Maya..
Thank you for reading.
©2014 Baby Buddha Records | Lalaland Street, Brooklyn NY, 10010
Or rather, here I am! Got here 2 days ago and I haven't stopped moving since I arrived..
I’m thrilled to be here performing in LA for the first time! I’ve heard it's "the city of angels." That’s so interesting to me, I wonder how that story came about? Maybe it’s at an altitude with just the right amount of oxygen in the air where angels can dwell? Lol.. I wish I was going to be here long enough to go to the beach and really soak up the sun after the brutal winter we had in New York! Anyway, this will be a very special show as this will be my first in Los Angeles AND at Vitello's where I'll be meeting the Vitello's family! What's more, I’ll be joined onstage by one of my most favorite people and favorite musicians, the incredible JJ Sansaverino! Since LA has now become JJ's second home, I’ll have to ask him how long he’s been awake! If you know JJ, you know that is NOT a crazy question! Lol..
If you haven't seen JJ and I on a stage together, you are in for a real treat! So please join me for my Los Angeles debut at the beautiful Upstairs At Vitello's
Matt Rohde on Keys
Maurice Ellis on Bass
Rayford Griffin on Drums
and very special guest JJ Sansaverino
UPSTAIRS AT VITELLO'S
4349 Tujunga Avenue
Studio City, CA 91604
See you at Vitello's and remember..
Music can change the world.
This year marked a serious turning point for me.
I knew with the release of my first record a few years ago, putting it out on my own was going to be huge undertaking. I also knew I needed to learn a lot and fast.
In this digital age, I've see a great number of indie artists self release albums, a few do tremendously well. I think the key is realizing that releasing a CD, managing your own career, getting yourself booked in venues, all of it is a full time job. There are highs and of course, there are lows. I think it's safe to say in the beginning there are more lows than highs, and you're dedication and perseverance are severely tested on a regular basis, lol..
But little things and big things have kept me going along the way, booking a gig that took years to book (yes, sometimes it really does take that long :-)), getting a random note from someone saying how much your music/artistry has meant to them, watching my mailing list grow, having a fabulous show, working with musicians who literally take my breath away and inspire me to give them my best in return.. these are the things as an independent artist, that can really make your day.
But there is something in particular that has been the truest beacon of light to me, and that is discovering great music by other indie artists. It is incredibly empowering to see other indie artist's do well, to see them connecting with their audiences in new and unusual ways, and it is especially a treat when it's an artist I know & love. I watch, I learn, I get inspired, I feel encouraged.. I still live for music. There is nothing else I have ever wanted to do.. Watching these artists on their journeys have served as a reinforcement to me to stay on my path, often at times when I have felt like giving up.. I thank you..
Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley
Sandra St. Victor
Beyoncé (this last album release was a coup d'état)
Betty Carter (..mm hmm.. Bet you didn't know she was the original indie artist, did ya'?)
Thanks for reading.. And remember..
Music can change the world.
Vivian here with big news!
First off, Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
We had a great time here with lots of love and good cheer, after which I promptly had to lay down for a WEEK! All that cooking and cleaning wore me all the way out! It's still my most favorite time of the year though, watching the kids open presents, hearing my favorite Christmas songs, egg nog, candy canes (love 'em), and being surrounded by friends, family and love. But real glad it comes only once a year!
I can finally say with certainty, that you will have new music from me this spring! Busy with artwork for the record now, and I am thrilled! New photo shoots, website overhaul, new EPK. And so far I'm booking some of my biggest and best shows yet, so stay tuned for several big performances from me this year, from solo shows to collaborative efforts, shaping up to be a great year! I've been using my time well.
So, couple of quick recaps..
On my b'day in December, I did a concert in Slovakia that was just breathtaking. a really incredible musical experience, with drummer Martin Valihora and his quartet Mikal Bugala on guitar, Eugene Vizivary on keys and on bass. This came about as a result of the show we did for the Bratislava Jazz Festival last summer. Honored to be invited back. Love these guys! Thank you Martin <3
After the new year, we took a trip to St Barths (an incredibly beautiful place by the way) to play at the Baz Bar with keyboardist Dave Archer and drummer Eric Brown, where we made some of the best music I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. It was really something special, so much so, that we decided to do a show upon our return, just because we wanted to keep playing together!
Which bring me to my next point, I'd like to introduce you all to our new musical endeavor, PARADIGM featuring myself on vocals and percussion, Eric Brown on vocals, drums & percussion, Dave Archer on keys & synth and Chris Parks on bass, synth bass & guitar. If you like experimental, you will love this band. The music is a fusion of Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul & Rock with heavy dose of improvisation, and though it sounds like it would be difficult to fuse all those genres together, for us it just feels right and we have a ball while doing it, so if you're free tonight, we'll be making our debut at Rockwood Music Hall - Stage 2, we'd love to see you there.
PARADIGM at Rockwood Music Hall - Stage 2 -
196 Allen Street
Then on Sunday, I'll be back at my little home away from home Smoke, up in Harlem. In fact, I'll be there this Sunday and again 2 Sundays from now on February 16th.
This week I'll be there with the same stellar band that was with me at Kitano Jazz last fall, Oscar Perez on piano, Michael Blanco on bass and Donald Edwards on drums.
The on the 16th I'll be there with Dred Scott, Michael Blanco on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. Very excited to play with all these great musicians.
Dinner & drinks required
Last but certainly not least, I'll be doing a Jazz Vespers concert at Saint Peters Church in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, February 9th with Oscar Perez on piano, Chris Parks on bass and Kevin Bregande on drums.
SAINT PETERS CHURCH
After that I'm off to Russia for a few weeks with Premier Entertainment to play at the new nightclub FACE, featuring myself, Eric Merovitch on saxophone and special guest Clayton Bryant on vocals. If you're in Moscow stop by and say hi!
That's all for now!
Remember, music can change the world and so can we..
Hey guys, 2 emails from me in one month, so you know that means I have lots of news for you! ;-) So let's get right to it! First, I want to thank everyone who stopped by my set at the Arts Midwest Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was 2 fabulous nights of music, the vibe was great, and the band was stellar. I want to give a very special shout out to Chip Vayenas who played drums, sang and put a killer band together for me, and to Dane Farnsworth on keys, Kevin Flatt on guitar & vocals, Aaron Hatmaker on bass, Crandall (show producer), John (soundman), Chris (stage manager) and all the wonderful staff under the Community Communications umbrella, including my agent Marty Sonnefeld! You guys were wonderful! Some interesting developements came out of this showcase, so stay tuned! Next up, the fabulous Ty Stephens and his band (The) SoulJaazz hit town tonite at the Blue Note and believe me when I say, you do not want to miss this show! If you're unfamiliar with Ty's work look him up on Youtube immediately, Ty is truly one of the most gifted singers I know. I could try and describe Ty's sound to you, but I wouldn't do him justice, so get yourself to the Blue Note tonite and witness him for yourself. It is my honor to be Ty's special guest so I will see you there!
Featuring: Richard Cummings (Keys/MD) Robert "RT" Taylor (Gtr), Ron "Rondew" Cordew (Bass) Tony Lewis (Drums) THE BLUE NOTE Date: Friday, Sept 13th, 2013 Time: 12:30 am *(be there early if you want to get a seat) Door: $20.00 131 West 3rd Street New York, NY 10012 212.475.8592 On Monday, September 16th I'm headed to Philly to perform at Chris' Jazz Cafe. My first performance in Philly so all my Philly folk and those nearby, come on out! Now's your chance ;-)
Featuring: Aaron Graves (Keys/Piano) Chris Parks (Bass/Gtr) Timmy Hudson (Drums) CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE Date: Monday, Sept 16th, 2013 Time: 8, 9:30 & 11pm Door: $10. with $5. minimum 1421 Sansom Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 215.568.3131 Then on Wednesday, September 25th I'll be in Nashville performing for the Performing Arts Exchange Conference, so if you're in Nashville stop on by.
Featuring: Kerry "KG" Greene (Keys) Steve Mackey (Bass) Louis Winfield (Drums) PAE CONFERENCE Date: Wednesday, Sept 25th, 2013 Door: Free Time: 10:15 601 Commerce Street Nashville, Tenn 37203 404.874.7244 And last, but certainly not least, on Wednesday, October 2nd I'll be making my Kitano Jazz debut with a stellar lineup of players. Make sure to make your reservations early 'cause this is an intimate little club with excellent food.
Featuring: Oscar Perez (Piano) Michael Blanco (Bass) Donald Edwards (Drums) KITANO Date: Wednesday, Oct 2nd, 2013 Door: $10. with $15. minimum Time: 8pm & 10pm 66 Park Avenue (East 38th St) New York, NY 10016 212.885.7000 By the way, look for me doing a couple things with Christina Aguilera in the next few weeks ;-)
Once again, lots of info, I know. In the meantime, keep up with the day to day shenanigans by joining me below (please follow & subscribe <3)
I'm taking my show on the road y'all! '
Cause mama said music can change the world.
Love you ma!
Hope to see you guys at a show.
Hey guys! Sorry, I've been out of the loop for a bit. I've been running to and fro but I'm back with lots of news for you ;-)
First, I want to thank everyone in Miami who came out to Van Van Dykes this past Friday. It was a fabulous night, the food was great, the vibe was great, and the music was stellar. I want to give a very special shout out to Martin Bejerano on Piano, Eric England on Bass, Rodolfo Zuniga on Keys, Bobby (soundman) and the wonderful staff at Van Dykes, you guys were AWESOME!
Hopefully I'll be back in October, so stay tuned! Now for the news!
Thanks to the ever so wonderful Ty Stephens, I've spent most of the summer in Monte Carlo performing as a guest of his incredible band Soul Jaazz and let me tell you, we HAD A BALL!! What and amazing group of guys! So gifted, so gracious, so fun.. It was truly my honor to play with each and every one. So a big thank you to Richard Cummings (piano), Robert "RT" Taylor (gtr), Emanuel "Chulo" Gatewood (bass), George Gray (drums) & Ty Stephens, I've adopted you all for life! Look out for Ty, Soul Jaazz and myself on Friday, September 13th when Ty headlines the Late Night Series at the Blue Note with me as special guest!
Date: Friday, Sept 13th, 2013
131 West 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012
Next up, on Sunday, September 8th I'll be back in Jersey for the South Orange International Blues Festival with Michael Hills Blues Mob at: Essex County South Mountain Reservation At Cherry Lane The Festival starts at 10am with many incredible artists, including Bill Sims Jr., Dave Stryker, and too many others to name but check out the list and performance times here:
Then on Tues & Wed, September 10th & 11th, I'll be performing at the Arts Midwest Conference in Austin, Texas!
Date: Tues & Wed, Sept 10th &11th
500 East 4th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
On Monday, September 16th I'm headed to Philly to perform at Chris' Jazz Cafe.
Date: Monday, Sept 16th, 2013
1421 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
September 21st, I'm headed back to Slovakia for a concert. Don't have all the details on this one yet but I'll keep you posted. And last but not least, on Wednesday, September 25th I'll be in Nashville for the Performing Arts Exchange:
Date: Wednesday, Sept 25th, 2013
Door: Free Time: 10:15
601 Commerce Street
Nashville, Tenn 37203
Lots of info packed in a short time, I know.
My next email will be full of road stories, I promise ;-) In the meantime, keep up with the day to day shenanigans by joining me below (please follow & subscribe <3)
I'm taking my show on the road y'all!
Cause mama said music can change the world. Love you ma!
Hope to see you guys at a show.
WANT.. i want -my god given right to choose who represents me
i want my god given right to live the life i call free
i dont want to see any more naked black women on b/e/t
i want black men to stop talking about how they don't respect me
why should we let anyone tell us who we are
only we know who we are and can be
i will say these words til I'm dying 'cause i wont stop, i cant stop-til you hear me
people have lived and died so we can stand and walk tall
feared for own their lives but somehow they kept going.. strong
do we feel we owe nothing to them but to dress fly & party on and on?
i am so sick and tired of us living as though we are invisible
look at the life of the man who fought & lived from day to day
trying to figure out how to lead his people to the promised land, the PROMISED LAND
leaving behind his young wife and children wrapped up in our pain and suffering (the world of the living)
how do we repay him for all that he gained?
by grown women clappin their asses and grown men refusing to take stances
maybe this is a necessary ill
maybe we are just letting off steam but i can't see how this is the answer people, this can not be the way
i'm talking to our mothers, fathers, sisters & brothers i'm talking to our children
i'm talking about - black pride where is it? by any means necessary, when necessary
by peaceful means when we can
i'm asking if we think we are past fighting for our civil rights as though the movement has ended
when in fact it has only (truly) just begun
if our leaders of yesterday were here today, we would have marched to new orleans
BUT FIRST, we would have marched after the 2 bush elections
are we not tired of being taken for granted in voting fraud scandals
and by pop personalities who speak so cavalierly of lynching and nappy headed hoe's?
of students who hang nooses from trees for sport, cops who maim and murder in the name of the law..
irate comedians who resort to racial slurs and epithets in a moment of panic and loss of self control, calling people nigger.. nigga? please you know what? i hereby refuse to call another black person nigga
in my dreams i see an image of a sleek black cat and in her resides the spirit of nefertiti
like an angel she comes to me and softly chides "you were not sent here to simply just.. be, but to fight, raise hell and rebel for that which you believe
things haven't really changed for people like you and me
young men sent to fight for a country that would rather see them die than educate their minds
young women raising families without fathers is another sign of our times
WHERE ARE THE FUCKING BLACK MEN WHO WILL STAND BESIDE US??
we have the highest rate of aids, but are the ones who can least afford to see a dr
we shop the most yet own the least
1 out of 9 black men is in prison..
but none of that will stop me from trying to make YOU // hear ME.. or rather, it is the very reason
why should we be so familiar with defeat?
i want -my god given right to be protected by the police
i want my god given right to have honest and fair representation by my govenrment
i -want -my -for -ty -ac -res -and -a -mule don't you?
we live in a land where we can still encounter racism every day
yet so few speak for us in a way that is not sensational but instead rational and with intellect and poise
we forget that this fight is not over
that the revolution MUST GO ON
but this time the revolution WILL be televised
our heroes are dying or else they are slandered, ridiculed, and brought down before our very eyes
yet we stand unmoved, unphased and unprepared
the elders of our tribe disappear before us as our last line of defense
but it is easier to build a monument than to start a movement
there is a pain in my heart that is hard to describe
it is not unlike the feeling you get when love has betrayed you
except it is a country that has failed me, failed all of us..
so i guess you could call it heartbreak
it will begin with me
let the movement begin
the time is now to take a stand..
This is the story of the first band I was in and our very first show, a shared memory as told to me by my 6th grade classmate Gerald McDonald, who I had a huge crush on ;-) Some of you may remember I started posting this last year, but I never posted the end, so as you've requested here is the complete story. Thank you Gerald for reminding me of this, of course I've never forgotten it, as it was so outrageous I could never forget, but being a little girl at the time, I've often wondered if it happened exactly the way I remembered. Turns out, it did.. READ ON..
Where I'm From..
Without mentioning the year, I'll say that the culmination of this event took place during the summer of my last year in elementary school. I'd always loved music and wanted to play an instrument badly. So, in the beginning of that school year I joined the P.S. 92, Mary McCloud Bethune School's Orchestra. I had no idea what instrument to choose. The music instructor, Mrs. Stratfield, suggested the cello, and I agreed. From cello I went on to play bass guitar. A great friend of mine, Julian Green, who lived in the St. Nicholas Projects (I lived in Lionel Hampton Houses), and his brother Tim Green, had already been playing guitar professionally in Funk bands and performing all over Europe. Well, Tim began to teach Julian guitar and me the bass. We learned pretty quickly too. By the end of the spring we'd formed a band with two brothers, also from the St. Nicholas Projects, Kenny and Everett Veasley. Their older brother Freddy played Funk keyboards professionally. He taught Everett keys, and Kenny taught himself to play drums by ear - and he was funky. After joining forces we still needed a place to practice and someway or another, we got Mr. Byrd, to give us open access to a room in the St. Nicholas Projects Community Center, of which he was in charge. By mid summer we'd already had a few songs down pat and were pretty tight! We added a percussionist, Big Larry to the band and were well on our way to stardom, LOL!!! The only thing that we needed were singers. Before I go any further, I must take you back to the beginning of the school year. Our teacher that year, Mrs. Judy Evans, our 6th grade teacher was amazingly educated and Afro-centric. She taught us as if she were teaching adults, giving us the gumption to reach for whatever we wanted in life. We were the TOP class for that year. Well, a couple days after the school year had begun, Mrs. Evans made an announcement to the class that we'd be having a new student, that had been skipped a couple of grades, joining our class. You can imagine the chatter in the room. Seemed as if no one wanted a Nerd joining our class and we were about to give this new kid hell! But, on that day, in walked the cutest, prettiest little girl I'd ever seen. She was scared and timid to the point of being terrified, but, she was beautiful. That was the first time I had ever set eyes on Vivian Sessoms. Now, back to the story! We needed singers, so we put out the word in our "Hood" that a spot was open. I can't remember who, but someone suggested 'Lil Vivian from 200 (200 was the building Vivian grew up in). She had sung in our class production of The Wiz and she was GREAT!!! At first her mother objected to her being in the play (I'd later find out that her mother sung professionally also), but I guess with a little nudging from Mrs. Evans, she landed the role of Dorothy. When we held auditions for the singing spots and little Vivian blew the other girls out of the water!!!! We had our Star!! One problem though, just as when she starred in our school play, Vivian was still afraid of singing in front of people. Well, unbeknownst to a few of the guys and me, Vivian would quickly lose that fear. At the beginning of her first practice with us, Vivian walked in the band room guided by one of the biggest, smoothest dudes I had ever seen around our side of town. It was her Uncle Lincoln. We started out pretty slow, but needless to say, by the end of that practice we'd all done pretty well. Within two weeks we had about 5 songs down pat. The tightest of them all was Diana Ross's Love Hangover. Vivian sang the ---- out of that song. And, of course, I held the bass line right in the pocket, LOL. During those days, trips from NYC to Atlantic City were well awaited for when summer hit. Mr. Byrd gave an annual bus ride to AC every year. Since he'd given us access to a room for rehearsal, he considered us to be "His Band", so he often checked in on us. Well, it was during one of Mr. Byrd's unannounced visits, that he brought us some of the best news a bunch of kids from the projects could ever expect to hear: we would be the opening act for Marvin Gaye (at the old Coliseum) in Atlantic City. I will never be able to explain the excitement we all felt; I'll say this though, it was over the top. We practiced hard, and though I honestly don't remember the set we'd put together, I remember it being tight! We reached out to some of the guys in the projects who were already playing professionally by that time and they made sure that we had it right. Julian had his brother Tim (who was already a guitar virtuoso, touring Europe with a Funk band), Everett had his oldest brother Freddy (who had started out playing in the same band as Tim, but was doing a lot of keyboard work in the studios at that time) and I had the help of two bass players (John, who had begun his bass career playing funk with Tim and Freddy, but had crossed-over to Gospel when he got Saved, and Jerome, who was touring Europe with Tim). Kenny was a natural and his ear was amazing! Though he couldn't read a lick of drum music, Kenny could pick up the drum line stroke for stroke - by listening to the LP's. Yeah, we got it right! We got it tight!! Besides Vivian, we had two other girl singers. If I'm correct, one's name was Valerie and the other was Caroline. To be honest, they were only there to fill in space because Vivian had the vocals locked!! LOL!!! As we prepped ourselves for the big day someone came up with the idea of us all dressing in a similar style. I wasn't too keen on this, but I finally gave in. Anyway, we chipped-in a few dollars each and one of the girls went and brought a lot of African print material. I remember that material had a bright, light blue background. So, all of us fella's had Daishikis made, and the girls had floor length dresses, all with the same material. Boy, (LOL!!!) I can't get that picture out of my mind, now!!!! We looked like a Black version of the Partridge Family! LMAO!!!! Well, that hot summer day arrived, and needless to say, we were all nervous as hell! We loaded the bus with Mr. Byrd (and everyone else) encouraging us to perform well. Yeah, they knew too that we were ready. It was a pretty long trip to Atlantic City, but being young, we made the best of it. Julian and I practiced half the way. We were escorted to The Coliseum and, boy, was I both amazed and afraid. If any of you have ever been to that place, you know what I'm talking about. The Coliseum was on it's last leg. As hot as it was, the place was hotter and gloomy. It was also HUGE! We were told that a regulation football field could be placed inside. Putting our nervousness on the side, we did as told and began to set-up our equipment. John had let me burrow his acoustic amp for this gig, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. The day flew by pretty quickly and the people began to pour into The Coliseum. As big as this place was, it became standing-room full quickly. My fear was heightened until I looked out from stage left and noticed my Moms down front. Yeah, Showtime!!! That's right.. and my biggest fan had made it!!! As Mr. Byrd walked out onto the stage to introduce us, I looked at Vivian. She was scared!!! The other girls were trying to console her but she appeared to be horrified. Well, the band went out before the girls and played our opening numbers. The crowd showed us love too! I mean, they knew we were just opening for Marvin Gaye and that this wasn't the Apollo, so I guess they showed us some mercy!! LMAO!!! Then it was time for the girls to come out. After their introduction, we went right into Love Hangover. As she always did back then, Vivian had a nervous jitter in her voice for the first couple of bars. But by the time we got to the bridge, it was all she wrote. The crowd genuinely responded to this little girl. She had them on their feet!!! And, to boot, she got us tight!!! If any of you has ever performed in front of an extra-large crowd, you'd know what I'm talking about. Once Vivian broke out of her shell, she unleashed a flow of energy that we had no choice but to follow! That's REAL! Mind you, she was only about 8 or 9 years old. Her voice was so naturally smooth and strong that one would think she'd been singing professionally for years. VIVIAN ROCKED!!!! And because of that, WE ROCKED!!!! Then, to top it all, when Marvin Gaye came out (he had about a 29 piece band), right after he completed his Intro, he called us back out onto the stage and carried Vivian out on his shoulders, to congratulate us on a job well done. But most of all, he praised Vivian, and that voice. Yeah... that was really cool!!! Thanks Viv, for a memory I'll never forget!
OH, YOU FANCY HUH? Trying new things is a good thing.. I've been seeing some really great looking e-mails and e-flyers lately and I've wondered how people were making their emails look so fly.. Now I know ;-) I should have tried this a long time ago, but kept putting it off because I thought it would be difficult and I didn't have time for difficult. Well, it was easy, in fact so easy, I thought I'd send you guys an update to let you know what's going on over here in Viv-land. BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! First off, got a show coming up, in fact a few shows coming up this year. The next one will be at Feinsteins. I did a show here last year, and it was amazing, so I'm going back for round two! FEINSTEINS at LOEWS REGENCY Sunday, April 22nd - 8:30pm Park Avenue and 61st Street, NY. NY Premium Seating - $35. *(with additional $25. minimum) Regular Seating - $25. *(with additional $25. minimum) THE INCREDIBLE BAND: Chris Parks - upright, electric bass, acoustic guitar Mike Mancini - piano, keys Noam Dworman - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, vocals Eric Brown - drums, percussion, vocals Jeff Pierce - trumpet Click here to buy tickets: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=4356575 Click here for the Feinstein's website: http://feinsteinsattheregency.com/performance.php?id=475 NEW MUSIC! Looking at summer release for the new record and man, I am SO excited!! It really has been a long time coming, much too long, so stay tuned. NEW VIDEOS! Just put a bunch of new videos on Youtube. You can check them out here! Vivians Youtube page http://www.youtube.com/chynadall INDIE ARTISTS! Check out my new Indie Artists page, where I feature the works of artists I love, from musicians to painters to designers & authors, etc. New features for this month are Kelli Sae with her new album PURE, Martha Redbone with her new album GARDEN OF LOVE - Featuring the Songs of William Blake, Sy Smith with her new album FAST & FURIOUS and last, but most definitely not least Gary Foote with his new album HARLEM WORKS That's all for now, but there's lots of exciting news coming soon, so tune in and we hope to see you at Feinsteins! Thank you for supporting independent music, and remember, music can change the world. Enjoy the sunshine! Vivian Â
Those golden days
When you were my whole world
A time when I was loved so completely without thought or understanding from me
Just beautiful sunshine and bright clean snow and italian ices and bowling and the drive in movie
Your warmth and love surrounding me
Matching dresses, me with hands on my hips standing on a table reciting nursery rhymes
Kisses and Hersheys chocolates and rummaging through your pocket books that smelled of chewing gum, tobacco and your perfume Me trying to play your giant guitar, you singing to me, me walking around the house in your shoes, you reading to me anytime but bedtime
The park, the summers, the open fire hydrant
Christmas time, birthday parties
Pancakes for breakfast and home made rolls on Sundays
The Blaupunkt stereo playing in the living room
Learning to write my name at the kitchen table
I wonder what you would think of this world now
Would it make you happy or sad?
I can make it through the day without falling down now
I have someone who loves me thoroughly, he can't live without me
I can string several days together without thinking about it
But every now and then..
I miss you so much it breaks my heart in 2
Hey guys.. I've been keeping extra busy these days working at a new restaurant/nightclub called The Darby located on 14th street where the old Nells used to be. If you're a native New Yorker, you will definitely remember Nells.. Almost as popular as Studio 54 although maybe not as famous, but definitely at the height of its popularity, was one of THE places to be.. A few celebrity owners though not quite sure who all of them are, but the same owners also own Butter and both restaurants boast excellent menus, designed by renowned chef Alexandra Guarneschelli (Food Network)..
The decor is beautiful, red walls, velvet banquettes and settees accented with chandeliers from Hudson furniture. Live music everyday of the week and downstairs is an after hours room with DJ and 2 full bars which even though just opened, is already shaping up to be one of the jewels of Highline District.. New york is fly again y'all and after the long and dreary winter we've had, this summer is looking to be one of the sexiest and most sultry ever! Whoa oh oh oh... I'm a native New Yorker.. See you there.. http://www.thedarbynyc.com
There is no place like NY in the summertime, love it, love it, loves it!!
Every place is jumpin' off and poppin', opportunities knockin', I'm running into friends, old and new..
The sun feels good on my skin..I got a new do..
I'm pullin' out the strappy sandals and the sleeveless tops and tight jeans (well actually.. I never really put the tight jeans away) and the miniskirts and sundresses..
Hello fellow sunworshippers.. Got a lotta catchin' up..
Sorry for the long silence.
Been on hiatus for a while, just takin' it easy and reflecting..
Making a lot of life changes, still some to go.
Revamping my interiors and exteriors you could say, and it was high time..
Figuring out what doesn't work anymore can be hard sometimes, I seem to get used to things and want them to stay same 'cause it's what I know, what I'm used to and so it feels comfortable. Even when it starts to get uncomfortable.. Hopefully you understand where I'm coming from a little..
I decided I'm going to take time to reach out and get to know a few people I've been admiring from afar and see if I can forge a few new friendships.. To my great surprise I got a few totally unexpected calls from people saying "You know, we should hang out sometime.. I've always liked your vibe and been wanting to reach out to you". Seems they'd been making an effort to reach out to people they want to get to know too! Life is funny like that sometimes.. You say you want to make a change and try something new and all the doors open and the phone starts ringing to that end! God or Fate or whatever you want to call it.. I've decided to say NO more to doing things that don't make me happy, even if those things are attached to a lot of $$ at the other end.. I plan to start putting 80% of my energy into my music instead of my usual divvying up between the work that pays and the things I love which has been leaving less time for me.. The thing about doing your own music is you make less money (at least in the beginning) but whatever.. I'm preparing to work with less even though I'm praying and hoping for more :-) This is a big change for me but I'm ready for it.. I want to make time for the people and things that I love and I finally figured out that A. I can't do everything and B. The time is now... I had a bad car accident last week.. 10 car pile up.. Wasn't hurt bad.. Just bruised up, concussion, really sore.. Scared the hell outta me though.. Totaled my car.. Brand new Mini :-( In fact, this whole year has kinda been like that.. A lot of big changes.. Not always smooth.. But que sera sera (one of my favorite songs.. check out the Sly Stone version, *sidenote: did you know that Sly Stone dated Doris Day?). Kinda helps put things in perspective.. The important things just become crystal clear..
Album 1 is complete.. Album 2 about 70% done with the music. Need to finish vocals, artwork, photo shoots etc.. Still haven't decided which one to release first.. I ran into my friend and publicist Kat, yesterday at the movies (Sex and the City).. I know that's a sign.. ;-) Anyhoo, heading out on the road again with the legendary Joe Cocker.. whom I adore.. I can listen to him sing all day and nite.. I don't even want to hear myself sing all day OR nite... Lol We'll be opening for Tom Petty who I also love! If you see us heading to your town, come out and see us.. Look for the new record in the fall.. Promise. 'Til then, if you get the chance, check out new music by these artists.. because they're awesome.. And because music can change the world..
Sandra St. Victor - Sinner Child
Kimberly Nicole - The Yellow Brick Journey
Colin Smith - The Wilderness Lots of love..
See you somewhere soon..
I'd like, if I may, to introduce you guys to some of the most visually stunning art 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 by him 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. 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 way we've never seen him 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 perhaps they just made 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 http://www.ktfineart.com/artists/jeremy_blake/ Epilogue.. Sometimes being an artist is not at all glamourous, it is hard fucking work.. It can be stressful, and disappointing and even.. downright depressing sometimes.. But if you truly love what you do and strive to be the best YOU can be, there are rare moments of intense clarity, of dreams being realized and of stunning beauty.. Sometimes that is enough, sometimes not.. What we hope, is that the beautiful works will live on.. Thank you for reading â€œIn 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 newâ€¦ needs friends..â€ -Ratatouille
NOW FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY!
Get your copy of 'Sunny One Day' for just $6.99!!
That's right, for JUST $6.99 you can get 'Sunny One Day' as part of an experimental promotion which we'd like you to be a part of..
I just wanted to post something on a movie I watched today and was so moved by.
If you have a chance, please watch it or buy it (available on dvd January 2008).
SAND AND SORROW
Offered exclusive and unparalleled access to the situation on the ground inside Darfur, Peabody award-winning filmmaker, Paul Freedman ("Rwanda - Do Scars Ever Fade?"), joins a contingent of African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur while a tragic and disturbing chapter in human history unfolds. While the heroic men and women of this undermanned and under-funded mission brave harsh conditions and unfettered violence, as many as 2.5 million displaced persons have no choice but to settle inside squalid camps to wait and hope. (An estimated four-hundred thousand civilians have perished so far.)
While analyzing the historical events that have given rise to an Arab-dominated government's willingness to kill and displace its own indigenous African people, "Sand and Sorrow" also examines the international community's "legacy of failure" to respond to such profound crimes against humanity in the past. But while immersed in the despairing crisis of our time, Freedman manages to give voice to the ever-growing and inspiring movement of those who wish to make "Never Again" finally mean something.
John Prendergast, Samantha Power, and New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, lead the viewer through burgeoning refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border, past mass graves inside Darfur itself, and into offices of the United States Senate to plead on behalf of the innocents of Darfur. This impassioned trio inspires a growing and vocal advocacy movement that extends from rural high schools to big time college campuses, all the way to the halls of power in the US and beyond. Freedman's camera is there to capture the heroic struggle between politics and humanity.
Addis Ababa, Khartoum, New York, Londonâ€”Freedman's subjects are as varied as his stunning locations. Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, U.S. Senators Barak Obama and Sam Brownback, Sudan scholars Alex de Waal and Gerard Prunier, and rebel leader Minni Minawi, provide powerful and touching insight into the conflict. Exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage of the historic, but failed Darfur peace signing in Abuja, Nigeria, and the inspiring rally on the Washington Mall, confront the viewer with the power of hope and the face of evil.
As Freedman ventures deep inside the vast and violent Internally Displaced Persons camps of Darfur, he comes face to face with the collective sorrow of a people devastated by others' political unwillingness and shameful indifference. These people have joined the growing spectral chorus of others who waited for help in genocides pastâ€”help that we know may never come.
Photos courtesy of Chip Williford (more in the photo section). Hey everybody, Just wanna take this time to say how much it meant to us to see all your beautiful faces in tha' house last Tuesday evening! It was just an incredible turnout and there was sooo much love in the room, I can't even tell you!! We had a ball, and you guys were right there with us tearin' it down :) The band was in awesome form (which is why I adore them) and even the newcomers Meku (percussion), Yatta Beasley (trumpet) & Keith Loftis (sax) were killing it dead! So many of you wrote e-mails, posted comments and took photos, btw, I wanna give a special thank you to Chip Williford, & Michael Cuthberston for the awesome photographs. You guys made the evening a smash and we just want to say thank you. We love you guys, you're the best. If you missed it, hang tight, 'cause we're doing it again in September with another show for the official release of the cd. Below is a review by our buddy Tom Paul (thanks Tom, *check his website, Chris is co-producing his new cd), who was at the show on Tuesday. In other news, I just arrived here on the Pink tour (joinin' Jenny) and I can already tell it's gonna be a blast! The band is incredible, AND they're really nice too (which is hard to find) plus the music is slamming and P!nk is mad cool, very down to earth. Signing off now.. but before I go, thank you to all of you once again for showing your love and support. 'til we see you again, be good to one another.. keep supporting indie music.. thanks for reading. peace v _______________________________________________________________ Y'All, Last night I saw Vivian Sessoms and Chris Parks new band 'Albright' at The Village Underground and the show was off tha hook!!! If you were not there, then Yes U missed it big time. I wished everyone who knew Vivian and Chris were up in the room to see this show. First of all the room was packed just like you'd want for your CD Release Party with their fans who came out in love and support of the new CD 'Sunny One Day' from all around the Northeast. Sherrod Barnes opened up with a great set of songs, killin' guitar playing and gritty vocals backed by the Albright band. The band: Chris Parks: Bass/MD Sherrod Barnes - Guitar Eric Brown - Drums Meku - Percussion Casey Benjamin - Keys Kenyatta Beasley - Trumpet Keith Loftis - Tenor Sax When Vivian took the stage she was joined by background vocalists Keith Fluitt, Keesha Gumbs, and Darius Booker doing an accapella version of Back To Life from Soul II Soul which had the whole room up in a deep lather. The band then dropped some of the nastiest funk out of a rhythm section I've heard in a long time with crafty backup vocal arrangements on "Tainted", "Dunno' know", "Searchin", & "Ghettoland." All the while Vivian sang like it was her last show on Earth. She put her whole style, personna, and vocal expertise out there on a rope and served it up to the audience song after song for an hour and half, with hoots and holla's from the many heavy backup singers in audience urging Vivian on..."Sang Vivian!!! You know what...she did...Viv brought the house down on several occasions throughout this amazing evening of music. There were some amazing arrangements of cover songs that got the audience excited over the classic tunes. The first full band cover was the Curtis Mayfield gem "Move On Up", followed by Alice Smith's "Woodstock" (amazing CD go buy it...now!!!), then a stripped down version of Sheryl Crow's "Stong Enough" and closing out the eve with a cover of my favorite version of "Stop On By" written by Bobby Womack, which Rufus featuring Chaka Khan made famous. Keith Fluitt on backing vocals nailed the Tony Maiden (Rufus) like harmonies just as if it was Rufus droppin' the funk up in the spot. The band played their asses off song after song, they were tight and were taking amazing solo's throughout the evening. The most memorable was by the fine percussionist Meku on "Move On Up" and Tenor Saxist Keith Loftis on "Stop On By", which Vivian called him over to the center of the stage and proceeded to sing Jazz standard melodies one after the other over the killin' groove. This brought the audience to their feet as Sessoms was scatting her ass off trading licks with Loftis as the band grooved deep. For me the most beautiful moment of the evening was Vivian singing a song she professed she wrote about her husband Chris called "Love can turn you around". I wish every singer could have been there to hear how she delivered this song with such passion and depth of soul. I think after that song everyone was feelin' the love that needs to transcend within all of us on a daily basis. As usual Albright left us wanting more, more, more, but until the next show we will all have to wait. Soooooo...the next time Albright is playin' get yo ass down to the show. If you were there, I'm glad we all took in that Experience, 'cos it was something else. Peace and One Love, Tom Paul
Look out for Chris Parks featured on the new Amel Larrieux cd of classic jazz standards entitled 'Lovely Standards'. Chris is playing guitar on the 'Shadow of Your Smile' track but the whole cd is truly a beautiful selection of ballads with sultry arrangements and warm vocals from Amel. Release Date 05.22.07
Hey everbody, Viv here with the latest happenings. First, did I mention that I did bv's for Rob Thomas on a single for the up coming Disney movie 'Meet The Robinson's'? I think it's gonna' be released this summer so watch out for it. We had a blast, Frankie (for those of you who don't know Frankie, he's the guitarist in Rob's band) drove down from philly, we had lots of japanese, and good wine. It was a party as a always. Next up, Chris and I wanna' thank everyone who came out to the Julian Velard extravaganza. He was absolutely amazing in every way AND he sang his ass off. I just love him to bits, he had some suit types down to check out his show and I think he really knocked them out, so outstanding all around. His audience was so warm and receptive to Chris and I as the opening act, really wonderful, thanks again Jules. To find out more about that show keep reading, there's a review at the end of this blog posted by our good buddy Marshall (Thanks Marshall). BTW, if you haven't already, be sure to pick up the latest Amel Larrieux cd 'Morning', Chris is all over that little gem on guitar. Lastly, I posted a bunch of video clips on Youtube last month, and we're getting a lot of hits on them. I have some posted here in the music section too, so stop by and have a look. Some of them are a little jumpy, but we're learning as we go, they'll get better, we promise. We're gonna shoot a high end video this summer, we'll keep you posted on that. Last but not least...(drumroll please!) It's coming, sooner than you think, 'SUNNY ONE DAY'!!! We'll be mixing in less than a month. Stay tuned.. Thanks for reading Artists: Julian Velard / Vivian Sessoms Performance: February 22, 2007 at Joe's Pub, New York, NY Written by Marshall Shephardson. Fully bedecked in faux-'60s regalia (complete with pomade-aided coiffure-quash), and backed up by his gang of none-too-rough-looking henchmen, Julian Velard rolled into Joe's Pub on Thursday to annex it to his turf, once and for all. With a one-two combo of powerhouse sets, he knocked out a gang off geezers eyein' him at seven, and an uppity crowd of wiseguys who tested him at ten. Looking (almost) as cool as the giant likeness of Steve McQueen floating above and the theater-lobby stand-up James Dean on stage left, Velard floored everyone in his path. His moves were roundly spectacular. "Little Demons" had equal punch in its spare, solo form as it did in its racing, full-band version. "Joni" and "Gonna Do It Alone" were sterling-perfect in both sets. And, of course, "Jimmy Dean and Steve McQueen" bumped humongouslyâ€”especially in the first set, where it concluded with a funktastic breakdown outro. Plus, each performance was sprinkled with unique surprises, like the first set's "Darker Shade of Love" (one of the best lyrics/song titles I've ever heard) and the second set's fan-commanded "Way You Make Me Feel." The most pleasing of the night's surprises was the level of presence by Mr. Velard's beautiful frequent collaborator, Vivian Sessoms, who sang several duets with the bandleader, as well as the oh-so-crucial backup parts in songs like "Joni." In between Julian's shows, Vivian also did a solo set, accompanied only by her other half, Chris Parks, on guitar. As usual, she spent equal time plugging other artists (giving instant interpretations of their newest work) and showing off her own tunes, including "Don't Go," which would be devastatingly heartbreaking if the words weren't couched in such an irresistibly fun Sesame Street bounce. She ended her brief time in the spotlight with the absolutely precious "Heart," the unmistakable Parks/Sessoms classic. It's one of those songs that you feel you've known your whole life the first time you hear it, and as soon as it's over you want to hear it again. Peace&Luv V
I find glory in a golden sky.. The seed was planted in stealth with great care and before I realized, the affair began to take shape. It started with little things but more than anything, it was how much She loved you..adored you even. I suppose that would make any lover infinitely more attractive, to be adored by one such as her, that was the first thing. Oh.. how she spoke of you often & with pride, eyes gleaming as she did. I can remember how depressing that used to seem to me, her loving you so, after all, what had you ever given her but heartache? I now journey down a long, dark tunnel at the end of which is the smallest, faintest light hurtling toward me faster than I can control and I collide with it in a big, huge BANG!! Into nothingness...except for blinding.. white.. light. Here, I can see everything...vividly, how is that possible? I have these big bangs & as I grow older they seem to happen with more frequency where daydreams & nightdreams, conversations & memories, history, philosophy & bits of collective consciousness all coincide with life force. For a split second who I am/what I am does not matter. I am nothing and yet see all, know all, not with my mind but on my skin. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck raise in awareness that I am part and parcel of something else. Something so large, so beyond me....and here is the key to it all.. Love.. is the Thing.. that thing that is the constant underlying thread to all humanity, and oh.. God.. how glorious are the dreams, how wonderful! They're like a drug to me, the beauty, the peace, the souls who only visit in dreams. I feel a warmth in the pit of my stomach, it's the feeling of coming home to a place I never want to leave... and that glorious golden sky.. I am secure as I journey through the space-time continuum.. Writer, dreamer, know thyself and from whence thy came, that you may see what you shall, and must become, for it is you who shall lead the masses. She insisted, no demanded that I know myself at all times and in all places even when I would rather shrink from my jet black, golden brown, light skinned, ugly but beautiful self. Those times I was lost and thought I didn't care. She said there was a place for me, for us, a time that would embrace us, & we would be guided and oh..how she loved you so..even as she mourned you and the weight she carried. The betrayals, the travesties, loved you through your suffering and so did she, suffer I mean, albeit silently. She said I must love you as well, but then again I hated you sometimes too. I suppose you seemed all consuming to me then, you sure sucked the life out of her and so many others before. I often wonder if she wondered had she done all she could. No matter, it's all over now but the shoutin' and by the way she could scream & shout too! Liked to shout about you to any & all who'd listen. Who could deserve this much love especially when you behaved like a son of a bitch, beating her ass in the street for whatever reason, uplifting you or some such thing. But she said I must be gentle with you and that I must know you & love you as myself for you would one day be me & mine. The young are so impatient, so angry and impetuous, but not she. It always comes back to her, my model, my mentor, my muse. She believed us to be the last vestiges of hope and faith who could remind the world of that constant, yet invisible, underlying thread. Like her belief in God she believed in us.... and loved us so... Happy birthday grandma, I love you
Every now & then I like to print things here that have some meaning to me outside of music. The following is a letter from Tyler Perry on being invited to the opening of a new school built by Oprah Winfrey in South Africa... 'It's Sunday morning. I'm sitting here in South Africa watching the sun rise. I'm aware that the time is seven hours ahead of the east coast and that most of America is asleep, but I wish that I could wake you all up to see this. It is so peaceful here. In a few hours I will be heading home and I will take from these ten days a lifetime of memories. It started with the invitation from Oprah to join her here for the opening of her school. I was a little reluctant to come and spend New Year's here because I have been in church every New Year's night since I can remember. Well, I can honestly say that this was truly more spiritual than being in any watch night service that I've ever been in. This entire trip has been unbelievable. From the time that I left, I have been having unforgettable memories. Like, getting to have several conversations with the most eloquent man that I have ever met--Mr. Sidney Poitier. He has so much class and grace. The wisdoms that he left me with on this trip were worth the trip alone. Then getting to this continent and being greeted by African drums? WOW! And the spirit of all the invited guests. It seemed that everybody that I spoke with left me with something that I could use in my life. I know that God was here. The New Year's Eve bash was too much for your senses to take in. I can't even begin to explain how beautiful it was. It started with an African choir singing native songs and then ending with "Amazing Grace" and "Oh Happy Day". It was the clearest night that I had ever seen and with the biggest moon. It was as if God, Himself, wanted to show off the heavens to us. At midnight I stepped away and said a prayer. When I turned around Mary J Blige was taking the stage and she rocked the place. Then there were several impromptu performances--Patti Labelle then Baby Face. He sang "If I Could Change The World". This was all unsolicited mind you. Then India Arie sang, then Tina Turner closed the show with "Simply The Best". I danced until the sun came up. The next day we left Sun City and headed to Johannesburg. We drove through some of the townships. The poverty was heartbreaking, but the children were so happy. Someone said to me, "I wonder what they dream about". It didn't take me long to find out. As many of you know, after educating thousands of children in America, Oprah has opened a school here for girls. And when I saw these children, my God, you had to see their faces and hear their stories to understand. When we got to the school, these girls (12 and 13 years old) talked about how they dreamed about not just becoming doctors and teachers, but discovering the cure for AIDS, or becoming President, or the Minister of Education. I have never in my life seen so much gratitude and so much hope. Then the next day I got to meet Madiba Nelson Mandella! Life changing, life changing is all I can say. I also went to Robben Island and saw where he was in prison. I stood in his cell. I don't think that my life will ever be the same after that visit. I know that this is a long e-mail this time, but hear me when I say this--Let 20007 be the year that you follow your dream. Don't let anybody tell you what you can't do. With the help, grace and favor of God you can live your dream and bring it to pass. Believe in yourself. All of you who have stopped dreaming, go find it, dust it off, get back at it. It's never too late. That dream that has been nagging you and won't let you rest will lead you to your destiny. It's how God moves. Go for it! It is possible! Faith can take you to fruition.. when you believe.' Tyler Naturally (albeit unfortunately), the press is having a field day: 'Jan. 13, 2007 I Winfrey's unguarded comments about the opening of her school revealed the degree to which arguably the most influential woman in the United States is still driven by the specter of her own beginnings as a poor, sexually abused child in Mississippi, and her seemingly endless spiral of desire to set the world right not simply for other young women, but for her own prepubescent self. For a moment, her self-spin veered out of control, and we got a brief snapshot not just of Winfrey's good intentions, but of the loneliness and solitude experienced by a woman who is historically and culturally unique in her power, wealth, life story and position in the world. People magazine described the fluffy duvets that will cover the beds of the girls -- who will pair up in dorm rooms, each of which features a kitchen and a small balcony. CNN reported on the cafeteria's marble tabletops, and Winfrey crowed to every reporter in earshot about how she had chosen "every brick, tile, sheet and spoon" for the school. There are murals and a yoga studio, and trees under which the girls can read, and they will sleep on 200-thread-count sheets. Winfrey told Newsweek, "These girls deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and beauty does inspire." Winfrey might have known that news of her students' swank surroundings might not wash with American critics, who don't bat an eye at white hotel heiresses dancing on banquettes, or reality shows about sweet-16 parties with budgets that could build a home for a Katrina victim. But impoverished black girls sleeping on nice-ish sheets? That didn't go over so well. The affronted sense that these girls deserved only bare-minimum accommodations and that a private citizen's money should have been used to educating them in bulk rather than in gracious individual style reflects our own beliefs that the bare minimum is all poor (black) girls need. And in part, it's surely that kind of attitude that has fueled Winfrey's obsession with aesthetics. She told several publications that South African builders initially sent plans that made the school look like a chicken coop. "It was clear that the attitude was 'These are poor African girls. Why spend all this on them?'" she told Newsweek. "It was unbelievably upsetting." Indeed, criticism of the Leadership Academy's luxury is practically immoral. It's Winfrey's money and should she want to use it to provide six randomly selected babies with a lifetime supply of Rolos, then no one outside of the babies' families and dentists would really be in a morally sound position to object. But that Winfrey did not see this reaction coming, and thus did not temper the admittedly wacky emphasis on the aesthetic and the decorative aspects of her project, is unusually unperceptive. She walked right into this -- with the tawny bricks and embroidered O's -- and in doing so, revealed the extent to which she is still shaped by her own emotional hunger, despite all the money and influence in the world.' Unbelievable, isn't it!? Who gives a damn, really, what her reasons are? I print these excerpts because I am utterly amazed at how racist and small minded people can be, how unforgiving and cruel particularly toward a country that has been through as much as Africa (Rwanda, Darfur..). The woman is singlehandedly changing the face of a nation. To really grasp the magnitude of poverty in South Africa, and what a school like this will mean for underpriveledged families & underserved communities, communities that have been ravaged by their lack of education, aparthied and AIDS please check out the links below: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6224001.stm http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-01-02-winfrey-school_x.htm?POE=LIFISVA http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0105/p01s03-woaf.html may you all be inspired, may God bless you Ms. Winfrey.. thank you for reading.. peace&love **stepping down off soap box**
Ok, so.... Where to begin? I have been BUSY... Alright, first, did I mention that on New Years eve Chris & I went to Levon Helms Midnite Ramble up in Woodstock? It was sooo awesome!! If you don't know who Levon Helm is, he is one of the founders, lead singers and drummer for 70's supergroup The Band. Martin Scorcese did a documentary on The Bands farewell tour in the 70's, called 'The Last Waltz' in which Levon talks about the Midnite Rambles of his childhood where musicians from town and neighboring towns would gather in a local barn, each person bringing an instrument and a dish and just jam 'til the mroning hours. He started his own Midnite Rambles about 2 years ago in his recording studio/barn and they've grown out of control, never an empty seat in the house! If you're up to making the drive up to Woodstock you won't be disappointed, there's always special guests dropping in, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Steel Dan, Elvis Costello, & the list goes on. Check out Levon Helms website: http://www.levonhelm.com The following week my bud Julian Velard called me and said there was gonna be a hush show at Rockwood Music Hall featuring Amos Lee (I'm a big fan) so I hustled over to see the man and his music (I was in me nappies at the time), and I'm really glad I did 'cause he was beautiful. Beautiful smile, beautiful voice, great songs. We met my other friends Matty Beck and his lovely wife Barbara there after which we proceeded to get nice and toasty, lol. Check me out with Amos, Julian & Matt: Next stop, Boston, Mass. where Kim Davis, Keith Fluitt and I backed up Patti Austin for the Inaugural Ball of the first black Governor of Massachusettes, Deval Patrick. He gave one of the most moving speeches I've ever heard. It was a great honor to be there watching history being made. We have come a long way.. Check out a few photos from the evening of the Governor himself and Kim, Keith & myself: Lastly, I spent part of last week in the Bahamas at the Michael Jordan Golf Tournament. I went there to backup the incomparable Jennifer Holiday (the original dreamgirl) and believe me, she was nothing short of INCREDIBLE! She sang 'And I am telling you' and brought THE house down!! While I was there I met a few awesome people including Ricky Lawson (drummer extroadinaire), Greg Philligaines (he's worked with everybody y'all), Michael Beardon (bad boy on the keys, same b'day as me :)), Alex Al (sweetie pie on the bass), Greg Moore (fawnkee guitarist) & his wife, author Toy Moore (check out her website guys), and last but not least, the lovely Lisa Vaughn, who was also there to do backups for Jennifer. Lisa has worked with Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, CeCe Winans and many others. She was the BOMB y'all!! Loved working with her! Stop by Toy & Lisa's websites if you get a chance, and check out the pictures below of me, Lisa & Jennifer Holiday and me Lisa & Micheal Beardon: http://www.toymoore.com http://www.lisavaughnmusic.com Told you I'd been busy, hahaha.. Ok, so I know I promised my next blog would be about the 'Sundown' recording like, 3 blogs ago, but I promise it's coming. By the way, just posted some video of live perfromances on the myspace page and I'm gonna' put some on this site too in a day or so, so do be sure to stop back by & check them out. Before I sign off I just wanna say how much we miss you guys and we promise we'll be back soon. We don't have any Albright shows for a while but I will be sitting with a few folks, and I'll keep you all posted right here. Thanks for reading & keep supporting independent music.. Peace&love
Beethoven meets young Liszt "The most memorable time I experienced with Liszt was when he told me of his meeting with Beethoven. 'I was about eleven years old', he began, 'when my highly esteemed teacher Czerny introduced me to Beethoven. He had long before told him about me and had asked him to hear me play. But Beethoven had aversions against prodigies and for a long time refused to hear me. Finally though he was persuaded by my indefatigable teacher Czerny and said: 'Then for God's sake â€“ bring the little rascal'. It was one morning about ten o'clock when we entered the two small rooms of the Schwarzspanierhaus, where Beethoven lived. I was somewhat embarrassed â€“ but Czerny kindly encouraged me. Beethoven was sitting by the window at a long narrow table working. For a moment he looked at us with a serious face, said a couple of quick words to Czerny but turned silent as my dear teacher signaled to me to go to the piano. First I played a small piece of [Ferdinand] Ries [another pupil of Beethoven]. When I had finished Beethoven asked if I could play a fugue by Bach. I chose the C minor fugue from Wohltemperiertes Klavier. 'Can you transpose this fugue', Beethoven asked. Fortunately I could. After the finishing chord I looked up. Beethoven's deep glowing eyes rested upon me â€” but suddenly a light smile flew over his otherwise serious face. He approached me and stroked me several times over my head with affection. 'Well â€“ I'll be blowed' he whispered, 'such a little devil'. Suddenly my courage rose: 'May I play one of your pieces?' I asked with audacity. Beethoven nodded with a smile. I played the first movement of his C major piano concerto [nr. 1]. When I had finished Beethoven stretched out his arms, kissed me on my forehead and said in a soft voice: 'You go on ahead. You are one of the lucky ones! It will be your destiny to bring joy and delight to many people and that is the greatest happiness one can achieve'. Liszt told me this with great emotion; his voice trembled but you could feel what divine joy these simple words had given him. Never did Liszt â€“ the human being â€“ make a greater impression on me. The flamboyant man-of-the-world, the revered artist was gone; this great moment he had experienced in his childhood still resounded in his soul. For a little while he was silent â€“ then he said quietly: 'This was the proudest moment in my life â€“ the inauguration to my life as artist. I tell this very rarely â€“ and only to special friends.'" rip jb
Hey guys, Viv here with lots of news. Honestly, I have so much to tell you, I don't know where to begin! Whew.. Ok let's start with our last gig at Rockwood Music Hall. I know, i know..I shoulda posted this weeks ago. It was beautiful..acoustic music is something I really love doing, I really do. The intimacy, being able to be heard so clearly, every word, every little breath. Songs seem to take on a new life performed that way and it's funny how well certain songs lend themselves to that setting. A big thanks to the guys over at Rockwood, Ken & Tommy and to you guys, we had a nice crowd that evening. I had Chris Parks on acoustic guitar & electric bass and Sherrod Barnes on acoustic & electric guitar that evening with my good friend Noam Dworman sitting in on 1 song. You know, I never thought people cared about this stuff but a lot of people write in and ask me what the setlist was so I'll try to remember from time to time to list it here. The setlist for that evening was as follows: 1.sundown (title track of our new cd) 2.hair of the dog (mike viola) 3.brighter than sunshine (aqualung) 4.holdin' on (ours) 5.what have I done (ours aka vivid) 6.dreamin with a broken heart (john mayer) 7.unwell (rob thomas) 8.don't go (ours) 9.here comes the sun (beatles) 10.heart (ours) We threw in a lot of covers 'cause there's just so much great music out there now and it seems like acoustic music in particular is on a steady rise lately. (check out the sirius radio station 'coffehouse') Check out a couple of pics from Rockwood below.. After Rockwoods, I dashed up to the Sugar Bar and did backing vox for Black-i, our drummers band and we had a BALL, in fact we had such a good time that Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson stopped in and wound up staying for the whole show. It's so fun playing with Black-i 'cause they're sooo funky, I told you about them already but if you don't rememeber, check out their site www.black-i.com. Imagine Prince x Sly Stone, add in fresh & new and there you have it, BLACK I. Check out a few pics from the Black-i show below with Chris Fischer, Mike Griot, Teddy Crockett, Eric Brown (whom you can't see) & me.. After that (told you I had a lot to tell you), me & the crew headed back downtown to the Bluenote to see Stokley of Mint Condition perform with Chris Dave, Sheddrick Mitchell, & Derrick Hodge where he proceeded to kick ass and believe me when I tell you he killed it!!! Every singer worth their measure was in the house to see Stokley!! It was a packed house. Check out a couple pics from the evening below, the 1st one is of Queen Aaminah, Stokley & myself and the 2nd is of Melonie Daniels, Queen Aaminah, Camiile Gaynor & me.. Ok, so I know I haven't been the best at keeping this blog up to date but since we're not gonna do any shows for a while, we're gonna keep you guys updated on all the happenings with us right here, so check in often. Next entry: 'The Sundown Recordings'. Peace&love
Viv & Keith Fluitt belting out their version of 'Stop On By' by Rufus & Chaka.. Hey People, Hope your holiday was wonderful and you're all recovering nicely from the extra turkey and pumpkin pie ya couldn't pass up :) I gained a few pounds myself so I'm sitting here dreaming about the gym, haha.. Dreaming, I say... Just wanna take a moment to thank you all for showing your love and support by coming out to the Cutting Room last week! As promised it was a killing show, in fact one of our best! We've never gotten so many e-mails before from people saying how much they enjoyed the show! Needless to say we had a ball and you guys all made it so, so THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!! We wanna give a special thanks to Marlon Saunders and his crew (Arif, Biti, & Joe) for doing their thang, and to his manager Michael Dumas, who was so awesome throughout. Also wanna thank designer Leon Greene for the fabulous red lace dress I had on that evening, and photographer Arnold Gadson for wonderful photos he took (stop by the photo gallery & and take a look), and my buddy Tom Paul for promoting and handling the mailing list (you're awesome). Can I just take a moment to talk about my new band?? Can I?? 'Cause they are truly OFF THA' CHAIN!! Sherrod Barnes Eric Brown Casey Benjamin Chris Parks Queen Aaminah Keith Fluitt & Darius Booker Have you ever heard of a band that has so much fun playing together, that when you try ending a song they keep right on playing!! Have you? Every one of 'em big uppin' each other and having a ball, lol.. They're really something else.. Sooo damn funky the only word that comes to mind is EXPLOSIVE!! Anyhoo, we've got a lot of exciting stuff we wanna' tell you about coming soon. The cd release, which is getting really close (we're making plans for it now), & we'll be sending out an e-mail shortly. Also, our last gig of the year, and some dates in early January, after which we'll be taking a short break to tie up all the loose ends with the cd. We'll be playing at Rockwood Music Hall next month on December 15th, where Chris and I will be doing an acoustic set. We were scheduled to be at The Canal Room in December too, but that date got postponed 'til February so keep checking back on our site for that info. Lastly, I'll be opening for my buddy Julian Velard (remember him? he played with me at the Jazz Standard last month) for a little mini tour doing more acoustic sets which is a totally new thing for me. I love doing the acoustic thing 'cause you can really stretch out and get into the music on a more intimate level. These dates will be sometime in the beginning of January. So stay tuned and thank you again for all your love and support throughout the year. Lots of love & remember to keep supporting independent music! Happy Holidays....fa la la lah V&C
Hey people, Just wanted to take time to thank you all for coming out to the Jazz Standard last Monday night. It was such a pleasure and we really had a blast. So far the best crowd yet! I didn't know what to expect presenting this new material which is so different from Albright but you guys put me right at ease, and I have to add that I had the most stellar band ever!! So many people were asking for cd's after the show, we promise they're coming soon so hang in there with us, we're really close. :) If you didn't make it to the show there's a review posted below by our buddy Marshall Shephardson (Thanks Marshall <3) Also, stay tuned next month for a couple shows we have in store starting with Chris and myself doing an acoustic set at Rockwood Music Hall on November 2nd where I'll be opening for Julian Velard. In case you don't remember, Julian's the guy that sang with me last week at the Standard, where so many of you raved about his voice. We'll follow that up with an Albright show at the Cutting Room on November 17th, where we will again be opening for the ever soulful Marlon Saunders and have as a special guest Sherrod Barnes. Again, thank you all so much for coming out & supporting us, it was truly awesome to see so many friendly faces in the crowd. See you soon, and keep supporting independent music.. Peace Vivian 'AS A TESTAMENT TO HER UNFETTERED AMBITION..' The solo performance of Vivian Sessoms at The Jazz Standard on October 2 was a perfect testament to her unfettered ambition. While we all still salivate over the ever-postponed release of her (still!) forthcoming Sunny One Day, Vivian is already promoting that albumâ€™s follow-up: Sundown. And if the two sets at the Jazz Standard accurately predicted the timbre of Sundown, itâ€™ll be a more acoustic, more contemplative companion to the funky groove of Sunny One Day. Each set featured a mix of covers and originals, but Vivian as always made every song her own, turning the entire songlist into something exciting & novel. Most memorably, Vivianâ€™s honey-slow take on the Beach Boysâ€™ 'God Only Knows' and sweeping space-age exploration of Allison Kraussâ€™ 'You Will Be Mine Ain' True Love' each would doubtless have brought a tear to its composerâ€™s eye to see how wonderfully their brainchild had grown up since setting off into the world. But no less rich and mature were Vivianâ€™s newly-minted compositions, which are still waiting to be set free into the hearts of another generation of creative listenersâ€¦(hint, hint) And the players were as varied and dynamic as the songs: Chris Parks, this time on guitar, seamlessly alternated between crisp acoustic plucking and slick electric sizzle; multi-stringer Matt Beck let fly with woozy lap-steel and glittering mandolin solos; Misha Tsiganovâ€™s piano and keyboards traversed the entire terrain from tinkly trills to lush cascades, usually over the course of one song; Eric brown crisply shuffled and marched on the skins; and Carlos Hendersonâ€™s work on both stand-up and electric bass was consistently solo-worthyâ€¦no matter who was soloing. Finally, Julian Velard stepped in to contribute deft back-up vocals and to join Vivian for some stirring duets. In the middle of it all, Vivianâ€™s voice and presence served to draw together and focus each element into one pure musical message. She was clearly as humbled by the sterling musicianship surrounding her as she was proud that her vision had brought it all together. http://www.julianvelard.com http://www.mattbeck-fans.com http://www.mishatsiganov.com http://www.myspace.com/blackidrumandbass (Eric Browns' band)
Hey guys.. I know this is kinda late, but check this out. The review below was submitted by our buddy Marshall Shepardson. Marshall, whom I consider to be a real music buff, has been hanging out with us since the days of our first band 'VIVID' and is one of our most supportive & loyal friends. Thank you Marshall for the beautiful words and for always coming out! I also wanna thank Christian for having us at the Blue Note, my sister Sybil for contributing pictures from the show (more in the gallery), and our most awesome band! ..And if you haven't heard, Jenny just left to go on the road with pop artist Pink, go jen (she's my idol)!! So get out to a show and show her some love :) ALBRIGHT PLAYS THE BLUE NOTE, SEPTEMBER 1st, 2006 "It was raining, and well past midnight in New Yorkâ€™s Greenwich Village, and a crowd was gathered in the cityâ€™s premiere jazz venue. But, rather than the detached coolness you might expect at an event called the â€œBlue Note Late Night Groove Series,â€ the feeling at Albrightâ€™s second full-length show was as warm as a hearth-heated family reunion. Fans of all the many projects, side-projects, and collaborations of the impossibly prolific Vivian Sessoms and Chris Parks had gathered to hear the duo take center stage. And, as you might expect, the crowd was as varied as Albrightâ€™s influences: from dapperly-clad night-outers down to your studiedly grungy village hipsters. Apparently unaware of her own genre-transcending magnetism, Vivian was as always the consummately humble superstar, insistent upon plugging every album in the folk-soul indieverse, except her bandâ€™s own long-awaited â€œSunny One Day.â€ Of course, nothing could sell Albrightâ€™s upcoming album better than the songs: from the shuffling bump of â€œA Day in the Parkâ€ to the wrenching soul of â€œHeroin,â€ each of Albrightâ€™s songs is an exquisite groove, subtly girded by dramatic storytelling. In addition to the bandâ€™s own gems, they also put their unique soul-rock twist on a handful of grateful classics, like Soft Cellâ€™s/Slum Village â€œTainted Love,â€ Sheryl Crowâ€™s â€œStrong Enoughâ€ and Gnarls Barkleyâ€™s instaclassic, â€œCrazy.â€ Tonightâ€™s surprise gem was a haunting rendition of Roberta Flackâ€™s rarity, â€œ25th of Last Decemberâ€, and in its discriminating diversity, Albrightâ€™s repertoire comprised an unmistakable vision: at once darkly daring, and luminously hopeful. Itâ€™s music that acknowledges that things may not be perpetually sunny, but that always something bright waits beyond the horizon." Marshall Shepardson-- thanks for reading.. http://www.queenaaminah.com http://www.myspace.com/jennydouglas
Ok... so sometimes we get a little bored over here seeing the same old thing.. then again, we've got a good reason to change up our outfit, chris has got himself a new bio, so go check it out and read all about him. by the way, i owe you all a write-up on the bluenote, i haven't forgotten. back in a jif with that. the cover art you see above is the cd cover for my friend tim reis' latest work "the stones project" which is a refreshing and lovely re-working of some classic rolling stones tunes (with whom he is also currently touring as saxophonist). the album features norah jones, sheryl crow, lisa fisher and a few of the stones pitching in their efforts to make this a real gem. i've been performing these songs with tim over the last year and in fact we played the Iridium Jazz Club last week. i've had a splendid time meeting all the brilliant musicians tim keeps company with. whether you're a stones fan or not, i promise you will love this cd so treat yourselves to something new when you get a chance, and be sure to check out his site. that's all for now.. thanks for reading :) www.timreis.com
There are shows and then.... there are SHOWS.. Some performances are good, some performances are great.. some will change your life... I once saw Labelle at summer stage and it changed my life.. forever.. It was the thing that made me absolutely positive I wanted to do music. Seeing Prince live did that for me, seeing D'angelo & Marvin Gaye did that for me, I've seen footage of Ella, and Sarah, or Sly & early Natalie Cole on Don Kirschners Rock Concert as a kid and I knew.. Last night I saw Michael McDonald open up for Steely Dan and believe me when I tell you it was one of the most remarkable shows for sheer talent and execution of great music I have ever witnessed. The music was as good as, and most of the time better than the recordings, I kid you not, and that is not something you see often and most certainly not something you see in artists today. I went on Donald Fagens site when I got home to read up on the man. He had a whole blog on Ray Charles and how much Ray had inspired him while growing up and how to him, Ray changed the face of music. I love when an artist you admire and respect speaks so well of another performers artistry. He also said in another blog that nothing new & exciting has happened to music since Bob Marley & reggae. hmm... I almost agree.. I am a reggae/ska fanatic myself. Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, Michael McDonald are heroes to me. I didn't know I had heroes.. I will not tell you about the show itself, you MUST go see it! Last night inspired me.. it changed me.. I am better for it.. That is the power of music. mama said " in my time, we thought music could change the world if people listened" Thank you for listening.. www.steelydan.com www.michaelmcdonald.com
ALBRIGHT FEATURED ON RADIO SHOW & PODCAST THIS WEEK!! DJ Vinnie over at Afternoon Groove Radio featured us in the first hour of his broadcast this past Wednesday, playing our song "Dunno What". The show aired already but if you wanna check it out e-mail the folks at Afternoon Groove Radio to request it. So far Afternoon Groove was an internet broadcast but we heard throught the grapevine that the show is moving to over FM and the show we're featured on will be the first FM broadcast! Congrats to everyone over at Afternoon Groove, we wish you much love & success with the new format!! We're also on The Unsigned Artist Showcase podcast this week and you can go to their website listed below and listen to the show from the site or download the show. They're playing the title track from our forthcoming cd "Sunny One Day". By the way, our friends Heavy (awesome band! check out their website) were invited to be the featured dj's for the global soul podcast last month and they played one of the songs from our cd, "He Who Knows" (written & produced by Heavy). You can go to the website to download that show also. So check us out, we're getting around! We wanna' give a big shout out to DJ Vinnie, Reg T. & Heavy for supporting us & playing our music. In other news you can hear partner Chris on guitar on the latest Amel Larrieux cd's including the newest one "Morning" & her last cd "Bravebird". Chris is also in the studio with Heavy working on their latest cd which is pure fiyah, stay tuned for it! More later y'all, Thanks for checkin' in.. Peace www.unsignedartistshow.com www.afternoongrooveradio.com www.globalsoulmedia.com www.heavymusic.net www.amellarrieux.com
Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that Tim Ries (Rolling Stones saxophonist) & I were featured guests on our friend Mads Baerentzen's c.d., an extremely gifted pianist & arranger from Denmark. Well, I am happy to say that finally the c.d. has just been released. I don't know if you can purchase it here in the states yet as it is a European release but it will be available soon! You can also go to Mads website www.madsbaerentzen.com to order the c.d. directly. It is a really beautiful record written and arranged by both Mads & Tim and we had so much fun doing it. I just got a copy and I've been playing it over & over. By the way Mads & Tim are also doing a few arrangements for my "other" c.d. More about that later. Stay tuned.. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
just a quick note to let you know we have a few new pics posted of the village underground show. a big to thanks to tom paul (check out his website by the way), my sis sybil & dawn for the wonderful photos. we're hard at work on our second c.d. , we'll keep you posted! back in a minute :) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ok, first things first.. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!! hey everybody, viv here sending out a tremendous thanx to everyone who came out to the village underground last thursday!!! it was our best crowd yet and that is most definitely thanks to all of you, so thank you, thank you, thank you! i was a little nervous about everything going smoothly but i have to say everything went off without a hitch. sherrod barnes opened for us and judging from your comments and e-mails he won all of you over just like i knew he would. what a wonderful musician, and all around guy, we truly love him. he said he'd never performed his own show before but you would never have been able to tell that. to put it simply, he amazed everyone, and believe me, you will see him with us again very soon! as for our show, we started out with "oh baby" and the night sped off from there!! we coverd a lot of ground, talked about a lot, and made a lot of music. so many of our good friends, family, and people we admire were there to support which made the night very special indeed. we had people from as far as australia, and florida. there was a lot of hugging and picture taking afterwards (val, i looked for you but you disappeared), catching up with friends we don't see enough of, making new friends, etc. i wanna give a special thanks to limited tyme p.r. (((shirl&abby;))), bella starr (shae-muah), my buddies tom p., mike c., noam d., & cisco for the use of their e-mail lists & for helping to spread the word. i also wanna give a shout out to my boy marshall who has been hanging around since the "vivid" days (our first band) and never waits to chat after, he just glides in & glides out after, lol (you're a doll)... i also wanna thank dawn waski for the beautiful pics of the rt tour posted in the photo gallery. SO... if you didn't make it out this time, don't fret, we've got more shows coming up soon. the first one is: Friday, September 1st, 2006 @ The Blue Note http://www.bluenote.net 12 Midnite 131 West 3rd Street NYC, NY 10012 Price: $12.00 the bluenote, as you can imagine is a big deal for us and we really want to fill the place up, so mark your calendars, set your bberries & get ready 'cause we're gonna add a bunch of new songs and we'll be smokin' by then!! we've got all kinds of stuff in the works, so stay tuned and once again, thanks for helping us make thursday our best night yet!! lots of love & remember to keep supporting independent music!! bye for now ;) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I swear it feels like the last day of high school around here. Everyone is buy turns missing their homelives but at the same time sad to be leaving each other for what we know will be a long while.. I've been on some long tours, made lifelong friends, had loads of fun, (and shopped til' i nearly dropped) but I never went home feeling like this before.. I'm gonna miss these guys ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
VIVIAN ON TOUR WITH ROB THOMAS You can catch Vivian and Jenny Douglas McRae singing with Rob Thomas of matchbox twenty performing his solo album "Something To Be". Check out live performances including Live8, Fashion Rocks & The American Music Awards on: Launch.com Sessions@aol VH1.com mtv.com itunes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LALAH HATHAWAY/OUTRUN THE SKY Vivian & Chris wrote and produced 3 songs on the latest Lalah Hathaway disc entitled "Outrun the Sky". Get your copy now 'cuz it sells out fast! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DAVID MORALES/2 WORLDS COLLIDE Vivian is one of the co-writers and featured vocalists on the new David Morales album entitled "2 Worlds Collide". Be sure to pick up a copy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MADS BAERENTZEN TRIO Due out this fall, Vivian is one of the featured artist on Danish composer/pianist Mads Baerentzens album, along with saxophonist/composer Tim Ries. Stunning arrangements of gems like the Duke Ellington classic "Come Sunday", and the standard "Tenderly" contributed by both Mads & Tim will make this cd a must have. Stay tuned! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ KHANI COLE/LIFETIME Vivian & Chris produce jazz singer Khani Cole's latest effort entitled "Lifetime" on Expansion Records. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ V&C GET SONG IN FEATURE FILM Vivian & Chris have a song featured in an upcoming independent film entitled "Moonlight Serenade" set in the '40's, about a composer who writes a ballad that becomes a hit song, their song is the featured song. Stay tuned for more info! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ LOOK FOR CHRIS SOLO RELEASE Thats right! Look for Chris to do his thing on his upcoming release MUDBOY/"BeatJunkie" in the spring/2007. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ V&C WORK WITH STARSEARCH RUNNER UP Freedom Bremner, 2x Star Search runner up is starting work on his project with Viv & Chris @ SuprDupr. You can find Freedom's current single "Cuddly Toy" on cdbaby.com or on his site houseofreedom.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There's lots to see here, so kick back & stay a while. For instance, if you go to dates, you'll be able to see what Chris and I are up to on a weekly basis, if we're playing anywhere and who with. In news, you can get the all the info on our latest projects, who we're writing with or producing, any press. In case you didn't know, Chris and I have been working on a record for the last 3 years and finally it's ALMOST finished. We're so proud of this offering and hope all our friends, old and new, will go out and buy it (in a few months if you click on buy, you'll be able to purchase your very own albright cd right from home). This music is a departure for us artistically, but we felt like it was time for a change and the change feels right. It's soulful, it's bluesy, there's an experimental feel to some of it, in that we played with a lot of elements, though overall it is a soul/r&b record, or maybe it's a jazz/hip hop record, I don't know. It just has a warm, laid back, ride in your car feel to it. We hope you like it! For all my VIVID people, there's something on the cd for you too, but hang tight cuz' we'll definitely be doing more rock stuff in the future. Also, since so many of you ask if there is a VIVID cd and there isn't one yet (sorry), there are a few VIVID tracks in the music section, along with some other goodies we think you'll like so be sure & check it out. Stop back often, cuz' we're busy at work on lots of things and have so much exciting stuff lined up. One of the things we'll be working on is a cd for Jenny. Those of you who know me surely know Jenny Douglas-McRae, as we are practically one anothers shadow. Jenny is an amazing singer-songwriter whom we hope to start work with early next year. For those of you who don't know her, she's worked with Janet Jackson, Joe Cocker, and Glenn Lewis to name just a few. Chris has started work on his solo offering as well and knowing Chris that'll be a real eclectic mish-mosh of rock/hip-hop/electronica Just about everyone we know is talented and I mean EVERYONE, so if you're looking for an outlet reach out to us. We're usually in the middle of 3 or 4 projects at a time and always need a good song, a good lyric, or just a plain old good idea. It really is amazing what the internet allows people to do! It gives all of us who normally wouldn't have a way to reach people, an outlet and a voice! Thanks for checkin' in, PEACE&LOVE;
we've gotten some letters from people asking where the name "albright" came from. albright is my maternal grandmothers maiden name, and in fact, i was named after her. for as long as i can remember she wrote short stories and poetry but was never published though it was her life's dream. naming our band albright felt like a fitting way to remember her for her writing and for her love of words. She in turn passed that love on to me...
vivian cora albright sessoms 02.03.27 - 04.19.92