Monday 18 February 2013

"Leap and the net will appear"

It has been a long time. Apparently I'm not very good at this blogging thing, but alas I can only write when I have something to say...

2012 was an extremely challenging year. Life came at me so quickly that I've only now begun to process what really happened and what I accomplished. I felt like I barely had time to breathe. One challenge after the other arose and each one took an extraordinary amount of patience and fortitude to overcome. I became spent-- balance has always been challenging for me. I throw myself into my work and I don't look up till it is over. With the convenience of retrospect, I can now say that last year was a crucible year. 

So for 2013, I took the first month or so to do very little. I wish I could say it was just so that I could be sure of where I wanted to go over the next 11 months, but it was simply because my body (my brain) wasn't going to cooperate with me any longer if I didn't stop.  All the warning signs were blazing pretty much since September. So, the only thing I did was work with my kids from OTT two days a week. In the end, it turned out to be just what I needed.

It was hard making that decision. Financially it was crazy, but I'm glad I did because I am beginning to find my inner most strength again- something that was quite bruised and battered for a while now.  I'm still not super clear on all of the details (I never am), but one thing I know for sure is I am embracing CHANGE and lots of TRAVEL for 2013. 

Things accomplished so far: 
  • Trip to NYC & Michigan, with two more trips scheduled thus far. 
  • Return to child-like abandon- did two cart-wheels, just for the fun of it! 
  • Made two really hard decisions personally and financially based on what's best for my health and well-being first, rather than spreading myself so thin for everyone or everything else. 
"Leap and the net will appear".


Here are photos from two of my proudest moments in 2012:
Fame! Jr. - OTT 2012 Production

Just SING! - Live-Breathe Music, 2012 Production.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Flicker of Hope (Adele Story Part 2)

Finally, here is the 2nd half of Flicker of Hope (Adele Story)

...You see, I forgot to mention that the last thing 'Bob' said to me, just before I walked in through the doors, was: "Hey! Don't ever say there aren't nice people in New York".  So, I couldn't believe (wouldn't believe) that he would be so cruel to say something like that and purposefully give me a fake ticket!! 

Immediately I tried to find Steph and Chris to let them know I got 'punked'. It didn't take me long, as they were still in line. When I relayed what happened they were just as flabbergasted as I was. They too just couldn't believe someone could be that mean. Chris was adamant that 'Bob' couldn't have known it was a fake. But I began to have my doubts ‘cause after all it WAS New York City!

In what seemed like an eternity, we stood there waiting and hoping. Adele wasn't on stage yet. It was Intermission, so there was still a small chance of getting in; never mind the box office staff began closing up and security personnel began to relax their tight rein on the entrance.

"No J! You didn't come that close to getting in for nothing. Do something! Say something!! You're not going home tonight like this."


I called out to (who I assumed was) the head box office guy (B.O Guy): "Can I speak to you for a sec.?"  He cautiously obliged, but asked me to come out of the line to speak to him. Deciding that I had nothing to lose at this point by leaving the line, I proceeded to tell him about the ticket and 'Bob's' last words to me. 

I only had my cell phone...So the photo isn't
great but here's the  evidence!
B.O. Guy looked puzzled. "That's strange... 'Bob' you said?" Ok. Hold on here a sec." Now to be honest, I was prepared for him to blow me off, disappearing into the crowd, never to return, but in less than two minutes he returned and said: "Follow me". Once again, I said ‘goodbye’ to Chris and Steph. Although with very little confidence I’d be away from them for very long.

Before I knew it I was back at the doors, this time bypassing the staff member who scanned my ticket earlier, and moving straight through to the second security point where a lady stood. B.O. Guy showed her (what I assumed was) a new ticket, told her to let me in, and then handed the ticket back to me. It was as simple as that folks. I was in!


J: “Thank you soooo much!”
B.O. Guy: You’re welcome.  Enjoy the show!

Two photos I found online of the show.
I am convinced time slowed down for me that night, or maybe the more plausible answer was, for some reason Adele’s show was running incredibly late. Either way, I was able to go on in, find my seat, sit there in awe with a grin as big as Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat, go to the washroom and return to my seat, all before the set started.

Did I mention I had one of the best seats in the house? Yup, right in front of the Sound Engineer. 
Did I also mention Adele’s mom was seated just across the aisle from me and that  
"?uestlove" was a few seats away as well?

The concert was amazing!

Adele’s voice was in great condition. She was real. The band was great and the set design was warm, and intimate—vintage lamp shades, dimly lit and suspended from the ceiling.  Her lighting cues were on point. Whoever designed it is brilliant. No pun intended.

She sat for most of the hour and half, occasionally getting up to sip from her sausage dog mug or stand in front of the microphone, while doing her signature “trigger fingers” hand gesture. Her infectious, raucous cackle punctuated each anecdote shared between songs. She spoke candidly about the inspiration for her lyrics and about her ‘Ex’, and genuinely seemed touched by the love the crowd gave her.

A True Artist

Adele is an artist in every sense of the word. I feel blessed to have been able to be there to witness something as 'huge'/someone as talented as she is. Her career, her songs and her concerts are the kind people will be telling their grandchildren about years from now.

In a world where pyrotechnics, auto tune and sex masquerade as music she stands out above the crowd. All she needs is a microphone.

If you haven’t heard yet, unfortunately Adele has had to cancel the rest of her 2011 tour so she can have vocal surgery.  I feel terrible for her and for those who haven't been able to hear her live yet!

I sincerely, wish her the best of health because I suspect she may need to sing, just as much as the world needs to hear her.

Flicker of Hope...

On May 21st, 2011 I was reminded that:
I have gumption.
I can be confident.
I can be persistent.
I don't like the word 'No' and I hate the phrase "you can't".
I am a risk-taker.
I've always been a dreamer and that dreams do come true.

 On May 21st 2011, in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, I saw a glimpse of the bright-eyed girl I once was, and I have never been more convinced that I want her back.

With all the love I have to give,

Here's a Youtube video from the show. 

Saturday 23 July 2011

Summer's Project

Yes, I know I'm supposed to post the second half of the Adele story but I've been super busy... Actually, super busy doesn't begin to cover it.

I'm working on a project called Operation Triple Threat: Sing Dance, Act. A 6-week intensive summer programme for performers between the ages of 11 and 18.   It is taking up all of my time but has been so rewarding! It's so great to see the kids coming out of their shells and its the best thing in the world to see their huge smiles at the end of each week :)

For more information check out:

In trying to get the word out about the programme, I have been in the press quite a bit lately...
Here are  the articles. (Click on photo to zoom in).

The Barbados Advocate                                                     Kurama Magainze                              

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Flicker of Hope (Adele Story) Part 1

Ok..So anyone who knows me knows that I'm an Adele fan.
Anyone who knows me also knows that  I'm not a 'groupie' kind of person, but two and half weeks ago I sure was close! :)

Soho/China Town, NYC May/June 2011
I was in New York City...
A long story short, I was supposed to be en route to Botswana but that fell through and I was left with a non-refundable return ticket to NYC. So I wemt anyways; with very little money, but with the intention of making the most I could of a most disappointing situation.

In prep for the trip, I started searching for tickets to shows in the city. Adele was playing two shows within days of my arrival. Could this be meant to be!?

...Anyone who knows me knows that during university I'd buy good music before I'd buy myself food. This includes concert tickets-reasonably priced of course! By the way, ticket prices these days are crazy!! That's reason enough for a whole other blog, but Adele tickets were definitely affordable but there were none. Both shows were sold out.

In my head:
"Ok..How can I make this happen J? There's gotta be a way!"
"It can't be completely sold out! There are always some tickets held back for stragglers willing to pay any price. Right?"
"Come one, there will definitely be scalpers there. Maybe I could camp out and get one!"
"Oh wait, Miles plays with Adele!!! (Miles is a Bajan musician who just happens to be pay keys for Miss Adkins.)

So, I 'facebook' Miles, asking if there's anyway he can tell me how/where/when/ if  I can purchase tickets.("Because there's gotta be some somewhere!!!")

Negative! There was nothing he could do. The entire US Tour had been sold out for months now.

("Ok! Well I guess I'll camp out then. I've got two chances right? Those aren't so bad odds." )

FIRST SHOW- May 19th, 2011. The Beacon Theatre, NYC:

Now I've never done this before. The closest I've gotten to this is spending all night outside Long & Mcquade (a music equipment store in Canada) to get a great guitar at a steal of a price-- totally worth it!  Yes, it was the middle of winter, but there was an unofficial number system for order of arrival so we didn't have to stay inline the whole time. It really wasn't hardcore camping out 'cause I was with a bunch of guys who had a jeep and every now and then we'd turn on the heat to keep warm. :)
The first Adele concert : May 19th, 2011

Apparently I had no idea how getting last-minute tickets is done.
I showed up at 6:45pm to find a line of people (all hoping to get tickets) about 30 people deep. 

"Geese J...what are you going to do now?"
"Well it can't hurt to wait and see anyway?"
"Fine. I'm staying".

I stayed there in line for almost 4 hrs...
At first the theatre staff kept telling us there were no tickets and we should go home, but I figured there must be a reason why all these people were staying. Later we were told "they were checking the system", "some might become available close to the show's opening" etc etc. I also found out 9 tickets were given out earlier in the day-so all this gave me hope. By 9:40pm when I finally put my tail between my legs and walked back to my sister's place only 2or 3 people managed to get tickets.

"Ah well, the 21st then!"

That night I learnt:
1) I needed to be at the venue waaaay earlier.
2) I was right, there are always some tickets, I just need to be at the top of the line to have any chance of getting one.
3) Tickets that can be copped on the day are usually prime seats (i.e. orchestra seats).
4) Never buy from a scalper unless he/she is willing to walk up to the booth with me to have the ticket confirmed as real BEFORE I pay, or I might be screwed. That night, I saw at least 10 people walk away angry or heartbroken because they paid between $200.00 to $500.00 dollars for a fake ticket. Two girls even took off their heels and ran behind the guy that ripped them off. That was a sight to see! LOL

SECOND SHOW- May 21st, 2011. The United Palace Theatre, NYC:

Steph & Chris + the milk carts
I arrived at noon....
There were already 6 people in the line but I figured I had a better shot this time. So I spent the day sharing stories and milk crates (our seats) with 4 male scalpers and 2 friendly middle-aged women both originally from Canada!! :) .

It was a really cool day. I got to hear a bit of sound check through the slightly opened front doors of the venue. When we walked around back, I got to see Adele's feet up close as she sat on the steps of her bus. She was smoking a cigarette, chatting to some members of her team, partially hidden behind the open door. Yes, but it was her I promise!! LOL. Chris and Steph (the Canadians) were great company, and it was really interesting observing the scalpers...

Adele's Feet :)
The guy at the top of the line, affectionately called 'Peewee', is somewhat of a legend. Apparently this elderly man is usually the first in line at any concert worth scalping. He got there way before 9am and was also one of the lucky few who got a ticket 2 days prior. As we say in Bim, he is a 'boss' at scalping. It was because of Peewee, even though at 8:55pm  none of us had gotten a ticket yet, I had hope. He was confident there would be tickets-there are always tickets, and Adele hadn't started her set yet.

Sadly to say none of us got tickets, BUT there were tickets. Actually, there was a stack of tickets- I saw them with my own eyes. The guy in the booth teased us with them throughout the afternoon by strategically placing them on the counter for us to see. However, according to the guys in line, "some unprecedented underhandedness" went on that day... I won't go into details, less I am sued or something, but I did see cash given in exchange for tickets numerous times, even though we were told repeatedly that there were no tickets for sale. No...they weren't for another show because those who bought them went inside the theatre, or came out and sold them at ridiculous prices to those willing to pay.

Waiting outside the United Palace Theatre (around 2pm)
Yeh.... So at 9:05pm I still didn't have a ticket. I was ready to leave. Peewee was looking worn and dumbfounded and the other 3 guys were really peeved at this point, but Chris and Steph still had hope so I stuck around. Afterall, Adele surprisingly hadn't gone on yet, so all wasn't lost....

Then, out of nowhere, a huge security guard came up to us and started talking to Steph and Chris. (Apparently they had made friends with him that morning, before I got there.) He said to them, "Come with me". Chris said to me, "Come with us". I followed--my heart beating a mile a minute, even though I was trying really hard not to get my hopes up.

The guard (let's call him Bob) proceeds to say that has 'something' for us. ("You gotta be kidding me!") Then he drops the bomb: "I have one ticket ladies..." My heart sunk. The three of us (ladies) just stared at each other--it was heartbreaking....("How can he only have one ticket!? There's no way I'm getting this ticket....Chris and Steph were waiting here before me.)

"You take it!" I heard in the fog of my dismay. "We won't go in without each other". It was Chris. She was offering me the ticket! ("She's offering me the ticket? She's offering me the ticket!! She's offering me the ticket?!?!?")

J: "Are you kidding me? No....Are you sure one of you doesn't want to go in?. You guys were waiting here three hours more than me!!" (Chris insisted).
J: (Looking at Bob) "How much is the ticket?"
Bob: "What do you mean? I'm not in the business of selling tickets. I'm giving you the ticket".
J: "Are you serious? Oh my goodness!" (The tears come and I can barely speak.)
Stephanie & I
Chris: "Go, go! Go before you miss the show!"

(I look at Steph. You see, she's the real Adele fan. Chris was just there to support her.)
J: "Are you sure Stephanie? Are you sure?"
S: "Yes! Go!"

As I move towards the door, in my head I'm thanking God and freaking out, but my heart is sad... I really felt bad that my new friends weren't getting in too.

I walk up and give the guy at the door the ticket. He scans it: "BEEP!"

Door Guy: "This ticket's no good".
J: "Huh? Are you serious? ("Think fast J!")
(Door Guy shrugs.)
J: "The guard gave me this ticket for FREE, I didn't pay for it. Why would he give me a fake?"
DG: " I don't know Miss, but it's no good..."

"Argggh! You got to be kidding me... This can't be happening!"

To be continued...
[Flicker of Hope (Adele Story) Part 2 coming soon!]

Saturday 14 May 2011

Thankful Ears

Lately people have been saying 'great music' is making a come back. Is it really?  
I used to think great music had gone too but maybe it never left!

There have been exceptional artists who have made exceptional songs in the past 10 to 15 years: John Mayer, John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Bobby McFerrin, Jill Scott, Sade and of course Adele, to name a few.  I guess their existence just seemed so insignificant in proportion to the junk I had to sift through on the radio. Or....

Maybe I was just too ticked off at the fact that some of the great artists I knew just weren't allowed to be heard--shot down for not writing cookie-cutter songs and mindless lyrics; or because the ones who I thought got a break by being signed have never been given the exposure they deserved. Maybe I was just really disappointed that nothing had come of my own career, and tired of being told my songs weren't good enough, I wasn't showing my skin enough, I wasn't 'Pop-y' enough, so I felt like there wasn't enough 'great music' out there. 

But on days like this, when I'm standing at my kitchen sink and Adele's melodies float through my mind, and I know she is the best selling artist in the world right now and has broken records that only dead artists have achieved...
In a year like this when Esperanza Spalding wins Best New Artist over Justin Bieber (never mind she's been around for a quite a while)...
I feel good. 
My ears are thankful 'cause I've been so tired of the other stuff out there.

Maybe a change is coming. After all they say things come in seasons... 
Maybe the industry has swung so 'wrong' that it's about to swing 'right'. I certainly hope so!

To all those great artists who have been discouraged and disillusioned by 'the system' but keep on keeping on, I salute you-- you have strength only few possess.  
I pray that if you keep making music simply because it's what you love to do most, and tell honest stories only the way you can, what is truly yours will come to you. 
With all the love I have to give,

Saturday 9 April 2011

Of Pink Grapefruit and Sorrel

It's a tradition among my sisters and I that whenever anyone of us returns from being overseas for an extended period of time we make sure we head to Bridgetown (the capital) to get what we affectionately call a "Sister M". This bundle of joy wrapped up in a simple plastic cup is made by the sweetest and most hardworking woman: Sister (Margrita) Marshall.

Now sister Marshall is quite famous on the island for something completely different from a refreshing treat. According to an article on Trivester (Daily Christian News), "Sister Margrita Marshall is a stalwart on the Barbadian Gospel Music scene, and is by far the most popular female gospel singer in Barbados". She is known for her signature high pitched falsetto, and for possibly her most famous song, "Walk Holy". Listen to it and you'll have to resist the urge to shake a limb or two :).

Link to a short video clip of Sister Marshall Performing "Walk Holy". 

So on Friday I had to go to town to pick up some stuff for a cake order. It was super hot and humid and noisy- I hate going there for all those reasons, as well as the fact that every two steps a taxi man asks me (in a pseudo American voice):   "You need a taxi Miss?", like I am a tourist! I don't know what's up with that? I from bout here! LOL. I digress... Yes, so to make my trip worth it, I headed to the west side of town to find Sister Marshall and her bright Yellow (Yellow Pages) snow cone cart. [*Please note it is not actually a cone- it is in a cup- a nice BIG cup :) ]

Now we have Sister Marshall's movements down to a "T". Lol, that sounds a little "stalker-ish", but a girl needs to know these things if she is to ensure a trip to town will be worth it. In the mornings she's usually up town- I think coming along Tudor Bridge- but by afternoon she is usually en route to, or in the Bus Stand by the General Post Office.  It was afternoon, so there she was right in front of the Post office, under the shade of a tree, yamming down her lunch.

I was ecstatic, but its always hard to find a park around there at that time of day, and I had no idea how I was going to manage this. I was alone in the car and couldn't circle while someone got it for me.  First I turned left, right before the building, and thought about risking a 3 minute park in a "No Parking Zone" but my conscience won and I exited hoping I could find a spot in one of the parking lots on the other side of the street. There was none and my heart dropped. I could almost taste the ice in my mouth and I couldn't bear the thought of driving home without one. Then I saw there was a guy parked in front of an office standing out side his car chatting. There was just enough space for me to park behind him, run across the street to get my "cone" and dash back. So I did just that! I parked behind him, ask him nicely and he said sure!  He even followed me and bought one for him and his kid.

Across the street Sister M hooks me up!

Now when I was growing up, there were like 3 or 4 flavours you could choose from, along with the option of condensed milk poured on top. At Christmas time when Jams, Mom and I bought from her she still only had a few flavours, but I today there were about 10 bottles on her cart! There was Ginger, Lemon, Blueberry, Pineapple,Strawberry Orange and more, but when I heard Pink Grapefruit that grabbed my attention!

It went down like this:

Sister M: "...Pink Grapefruit".
J: "Is the grapefruit good?"
Sister M: "Yes girl"
J: "I'll have that!"
Sister M: "You know what, try it with the Sorrel".
(She saw my face)
Sister M: "Girl I won't put you wrong!".
(She handed me my cup, packed in tight and tall. I pay her.)
Sister M: "Taste it and tell me".
J: Mmm...You're right. It's so goooood!
Sister M: "You see, I told you I won't put your wrong."

It was a perfect blend of sour and sweet and certainly tasted like real juice- not the syrupy stuff you usually get. Heaven I tell ya! I returned to the car, negotiated a really tight 3-point turn (assisted by some very helpful gentlemen) and headed home sipping and crunching on the concoction.

Sister Margrita Marshall had no idea how much she made my day on Friday. I will certainly be returning there very soon for another one, but as I sit here thinking about this special lady, I can't help but ponder the fact that she too, never subscribed to "Jack of all trades, master of none". She has her snow cone thing, her music and Lord knows what else she does! I'm sure much more.

I remember meeting Sister Marhsall for the first time in a music setting back in 2007. We both performed at an event for the Barbados Cancer Society at Western Light Nazarene Church in St. James. That night she came up to me after I sang and started chatting. We talked about music and life and church. She encouraged me to always put God first and to never choose to compromise God's standards for a career. She said life can be hard at times but that you can always find something to give thanks for and that she thanks God for every day He gives her. I thought it was so nice of her to share with me like that. Her encouragement was a real blessing and I was honored that she thought so highly of my music. I find that in Bim musicians/artists may say something good about a person among their peers, but don't actually tell the person! I try to do it whenever/wherever I can because I know that a little bit of encouragement and acknowledgement can really go a long way, but I don't do it enough. A compliment just means so much more when it comes from someone in your field and someone your respect.

It seems as though Sister M is known for her encouraging spirit. In the above mentioned Trivester article Barbados Gospel Fest founder and director Adrian Agard states: "One of her strongest inputs in Barbadian gospel music, to my mind, extends beyond the stage. Sister is an encourager. Whether or not she is actively involved in the concert, she can be seen supporting the younger artistes, actively involved in worship as they minister."

I give God thanks for Sister Margarita Marshall and her ministry of feeding the spirit and quenching our thirst :) I hope you try her Grapefruit and Sorrel snow cone. It's a mere $1.50 BBD ($0.75US)- a steal if you ask me! Oh, and try encouraging someone this week!

With all the love I have to give,

For information on Sorrel: Click here.              

Did you know that Grapefruit is an 18th
Century hybrid first bred in Barbados?
Check out this link:
 Wikipedia Grapefruit History Article.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Everybody has something going on

Everybody has something going on, some burden they're carrying, some skeleton in the closet that they're feverishly and constantly working to conceal. Everyday someone experiences an overwhelming tragedy and gnawing sense of loss. When you drive today, take the bus today or walk today, when you sit to each your lunch today, remember you're not alone in your heaviness or hopelessness, disappointment and despair but, when you come out of the heaviness (yes, you will, even if it's just for a day at a time), use the pain you've felt to fuel true compassion for others who are sitting in the depths of their own pain and great sadness. Use the joy you feel in that moment to truly appreciate the awesome and wonderful things and people that still exist in this world. 

[Originally posted on Facebook via "Notes" on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 8:06 am]