For instance, having Pablo Batista graciously lend his amazing talent and legendary percussion skills to our song is amazing stuff. Pablo’s played all over the world with artists from Alicia Keys to Patti Labelle, and even did Alicia Keys’ performance at the World Cup in front of millions of people.
I will never forget the moment when I first met him at the studio and he shook my hand and told me he loved my music. I felt so good about that.
The other players on this song are great, and the guys we rehearse with are hardworking and…. fun! Rick Jannotti (guitarist for SLB) and Howie Fallon (drummer for SLB) and I have grown quite fond of all these music monsters and when we perform/tour, they are prepped and ready as we are. Our producers David and Joe have been working us all hard! Here is a little about our illustrious crew who have either played on our songs or are performing with us or both:
Damon Bennett is this awesome keyboard player who appeared on the MTV Unplugged with Jay-Z and the Roots, worked with super producers such as Rodney Jerkins and Timbaland, and played on a slew of hit records like Justin Timberlake’s Justified and Common’s Electric Circus. Mitch Beer is a bassist who toured US and Europe with Digable Planets and collaborated with #1 hit songwriter Kam Houff. Howie Gordon holds a Master’s Degree in piano performance, Rodney Miller is the bassist for Kindred the Family Soul and was the touring bandleader for Lauryn Hill (nationally and internationally), and Dustin Napoli who plays guitar, drums, keyboards, bass, has assisted us with keys.
So, let me paint the picture for you all… imagine all the guys in the band, their instruments and amps and me with my piano/keyboards. Now add our producers, the film crew and director with their gear, the interns, my A&R guy, my “sister” and her guy…. on any given day there could be up to 20 people around. The energy is palpable, and it feels REAL. Real Tight that is…lol. It’s like a men’s locker room, first and foremost, mostly because it’s a small space for that number of people…and energy is heat, and heat is sweat, and well you get the idea!
It really is like a mini concert every time we rehearse, and even though everyone is crammed in and space is at a premium, the vibe is perfect. It’s so easy to be relaxed and focus on the music. David and Joe are both right in the middle of the band, orchestrating everyone in real time, and the best is when they come over and “jam” with you when it really starts cooking! The attention to details like that really makes a world of difference…especially when David already has the honey for my tea out for right when I’m about to start singing!
Being in those moments and feeling the music, all of it, stuff no one has heard yet, it’s just such a unique vibe… something most people don’t experience. It’s all coming together, the band is really gelling, and the sound just keeps getting better and better…
Now at this point, all this rehearsing is gearing us up for the big moment – the first live performance of our new material. David has this spot in Doylestown (PA) called Puck Live where he’s hosted many of his showcases, and that is going to be where we play all of this for the first time. As much as these rehearsals have been like shows for us, nothing beats the truly “live” experience of performing in front of friends and strangers.
The mixture of nerves and excitement was taken up a notch for this show. As a performer you always have some level of nervousness when you perform – that’s just the nature of the beast – but this was much different. We had been practicing and recording for so long, and you get used to the same faces staring back at you. But in front of a whole new crowd of family and strangers alike, it’s a whole new level.
There wasn’t much time for nerves, though. While we’re doing all this rehearsing, we’re also completely re-doing the band’s logo and website, which means new pictures have to be taken. Luckily for me, my team was able to get me in touch with a world-class photographer by the name of Mark Weiss. If you pick your favorite artist of all time, chances are he’s photographed them…. he’s the best of the best. I got to spend an entire afternoon with him and the pictures…. just wow! You might have seen me post a few on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and there are PLENTY more where those came from!
Picking out the wardrobe for those photos was fun too…another meticulous process but I was super excited by what we picked out!
Photos, rehearsals, recording, wardrobes…only thing left to do now is the show at Puck. Next time we’ll talk about how that all went!