Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here's the scoop.

I am really excited. A little more than a year ago, I released my debut EP ("Black and White"), and now I'm ready to take on a much bigger project.
The Black and White EP: my first release ever! Photography by Lizzy Sullivan, artwork by Daniel Nanni

For the next several months, I will be recording my first-ever full-length album. Of course this sounds like the next obvious step, but I really am sooo pumped.

As much as I love my EP, I know that this new album will be a greater testament to who I am as an artist. The truth is, when I first began recording my EP, I wasn't really sure what I wanted the end result to sound like. I used the songs that I felt would resonate the most, and had experienced session players come in to overdub parts over piano/vocal recordings. All in all, I would say it was a great learning experience for me, and I wouldn't take it back for anything. Most importantly, I had a great mentor and producer help me through the kinks of the project, handle all the logistics, and calm me down when I was being my usual high-strung, perfectionist self. Thank you, Joe Ferry - I really don't think I could have done it without you.

After learning so much from the whole process, I now have an even better idea of what I want to accomplish with this new album. Without giving too much away, I am treating this album almost like a novel - each individual song will in many ways, be like a small chapter. In other words, if you didn't get to know me based on my EP, you're gonna know me now!

The last and most awesome detail that I will divulge to you all, is that my new album will feature my live band. These guys have been working tirelessly with me for over a year, and it's time to give them some shine. I know you all will be able to hear the camaraderie that we've built up over the time we've been playing together, and I assure you that the album sound very different because of it.

So stay tuned! There's a lot happening over the next year ;)

With love and excitement,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

News from a Sniffling Singer-Songwriter

Hey beauties,

Just thought I'd update you all - my show at S.O.B.'s went splendidly well! Not only was the crowd awesome (if you were there, thank you), but there was just such a great vibe in the room. I really haven't had that much fun playing in a while. There were so many new faces, and I met so many great people who were really just there to enjoy all the fresh, undiscovered talent that's out there. It's wonderful to know that people are interested in music beyond what's on the Top 40. After all, those artists had to start somewhere too!

Allen Stone (the artist I opened for) KILLED it. If you haven't seen or heard of this guy, check out this little clip of the show that night. I was even more impressed by his music when I saw him live, which is saying a lot. The guy really puts on a great show. I had so much fun, both performing and listening to all the other great acts.

Since the show I've been really trying to focus on my songwriting. I wrote two new songs, both of which are babies in need of some nurturing. For now I'm giving them time to grow into whatever they are supposed to be. Sometimes I wait a really long time before playing new songs for people - let's face it, newborns don't just start walking right away. ;)

I'll keep you guys posted! For now, I'm sniffling, drinking a lot of tea (and EmergenC), and trying to get over this cold before my recording session tomorrow.

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Opening for Allen Stone Tomorrow!!!

 Tomorrow is a big day for me! At 9pm tomorrow night, my band and I will be opening for Allen Stone, an awesome up and coming artist from Washington who has been creating a lot of buzz in the soul music scene. The show is at the legendary S.O.B.'s, a famous Brazilian restaurant/nightclub/venue that has produced many successful artists. Some of their past acts include Celia Cruz, John Legend, Erykah Badu, Tito Puente, and Marc Anthony, just to name a few. As you can see, this is kind of a big deal!

Needless to say, I would greatly appreciate your support. It would be wonderful to see all of you there, and I'm really looking forward to this gig. S.O.B.'s is a great venue and I'm so thankful that I was given the opportunity to play there.

This is going to be a load of fun, and I hope you guys will join me. Check out the  Facebook Event  for more details, or go to the  S.O.B.'s website  for more information about the venue.

I'll leave you with a video of Allen Stone, who I am truly looking forward to seeing tomorrow night.

                     Impressed? Come out to the show tomorrow night and show your support!!

See you there ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


So I have a confession to make...

I'm a twin. I don't talk about it often, especially where music is concerned - but here's why I decided to bring it up now.

Tomorrow, we will both be headlining at the Bitter End, in NYC. Yes, she's a singer-songwriter too. Click here to check out Omnia's blog, and see what she's all about.

If you come to our show tomorrow, you will see that although we are both musicians, our music is completely different. Sure, our voices may share some similar qualities, but the songwriting styles are like day and night. I also must admit that in an attempt to separate myself musically from my sister, I was very reluctant to play the same show with her. Although we've played a few local shows together in the past,  I decided after my EP was released that it was time to separate myself from Omnia as an artist. When two musicians look as much alike as we do, it is very easy for people to get a little confused. Some may also ask why we're not in a band together, and the answer is that our music is too different. As my sister has referenced in her own blog post about the show, we are two different people with varying opinions, experiences, and things to say.

We hope to see you there!

Check out the Facebook event for more details.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Summer Away from the Computer

Hey all! I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in so long. This has been a crazy summer for me in a lot of ways, and the funny thing is, I've been swamped in everything but music. Even so, I can't say I haven't learned a lot this summer.

Italy was a completely incredible experience. Aside from the beautiful sights, I witnessed a quality of life that people in America unfortunately don't get to experience. Americans may be some of the most fortunate people in the world, but what I'm referring to is not financial success. I never realized how little time we have to enjoy the life we work so hard to maintain, and how stressed we are in comparison to other cultures. I was delighted to watch the Italian people enjoying life - relaxing at cafes, eating gelato, and drinking wine in the middle of the day when most Americans would be at their 9 to 5 jobs. I found myself envious, wishing that I could say goodbye to my neurotic tendencies and take in the simple pleasures all around me.
Picture I took of the Amalifi Coast. If I saw this view every day, I'd be enjoying life like the Italians do!

That being said, I found that I needed a break from everything. My obsession with facebook and twitter started to dwindle, and I'm sorry to say that I wasn't very thrilled to touch the computer at all (hence my lack of blog posts). My office job probably didn't help either, because I began to associate being on the computer with work. What I really needed was to get away from it all - to learn how to relax. Before Italy, my version of relaxing would have been to stare at facebook because I had free time, but this just stopped cutting it for me. I needed to sit down, ignore my phone, forget about facebook, and be in a place where no one could contact me. In a day and age where everyone can be reached within seconds, we all deserve to be unavailable from time to time.
Now, that doesn't mean that I don't love you all. To those of you who read my blog posts, thank you. To all my facebook and twitter followers, I thank you as well. You're all wonderful, and I really do enjoy reaching out to you through all of these amazing forms of social media. I just wish I could meet all of you face to face, because there are so many great things I'll never know about you simply by checking out your online profiles. 

Wishing you all peace of mind, in a world that never stops,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lesson on Writer's Block: Go to Italy

I couldn't be more excited right now. In two hours I'll be leaving for Italy, which means I'm about to partake in two weeks of memorable experiences. Considering that I'm leaving so soon, I should probably finish up the rest of the packing I still have to do, but I couldn't fight the urge to write this little blog post.

I have a very funny feeling that this trip to Italy might be the cure for my writer's block. The thing is, being a songwriter is much more complicated than just being a musician (not to say it's better or worse - it's just different). Classical and jazz musicians need to practice for hours a day to keep up with their instruments, and this kind of dedication sometimes requires a bit of isolation from the outside world. Unfortunately, the ability to write usually competes with this necessary isolation, because staying locked in a room all day doesn't inspire someone to write anything meaningful. A huge part of being a songwriter is living life so that you can write about it, and that's exactly what I'm about to do. I'm taking a step back from the piano, and going out to live life for a little while. The truth is, most inspiration comes from the outside world, not the practice room. So maybe I'll find it in Italy. 

Who knows? Maybe when I come back I won't be able to stop writing.

Ecstatic beyond belief,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hello Summer!!!

Hey all! Sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth for the past couple of weeks! I just finished my junior year of college, moved into an apartment, and started my new job for the summer. Needless to say, things have been a little nuts these days, but I'm glad to be back on track. Time to have a ball in good old NYC! (and Italy, which I will definitely have to post about as soon as I come back...)

My odd schedule for the summer has been making it super hard to book gigs, but I'm doing the best I can. As of now, I have a full set scheduled at the Bitter End on August 11. Although this seems incredibly far away,I'm super excited for it because it's my first time headlining there.

"What do you mean?" you ask. "Didn't you just play there two weeks ago and once before that?"

Well, yes. But I'll tell you why this show is different.

The past two times I've played at the Bitter End, I was a part of a thing called "Singer-Songwriter Sessions." For these events I would always play acoustic for exactly half an hour, and I would be one of many artists who played that particular night. "Singer-Songwriter Sessions" would also be on Sunday nights, which were sometimes difficult for people who had work or school in the morning. Nevertheless, I still had a great time, and I was happy to be a part of it.

The thing that separates my August 11th show from the past two Bitter End shows I've done is that this one is MY show. I'll be playing with a band for 50 minutes, and my sister Omnia (check out her website) will be opening for me - PS. she's awesome, and that's not my sibling-bias talking.

So that's just the beginning of what I have planned for the summer. Of course I will try to write and perform as much as I possibly can - that being said, I'll also make sure to live life a little so that I have something to write about.

Stay tuned.

Love and light,

PS - I'll be leaving for Italy next week, so if that's not inspiration, I don't know what is. ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

SHOW THIS SUNDAY @ the Bitter End!!

Hey there! Just so you know, you are about to hear from someone who is truly ecstatic. I just finished all my finals, papers, etc. and now I'm can actually work on some music again!! All of these academic things have really been cutting into my songwriting time (and blogging time) these days. On the bright side, I'm going into my senior year of college and ready for a whole summer of writing and performing.

So Sunday (that's right, THIS SUNDAY, May 22nd) at 7pm sharp I will be playing an acoustic set at the Bitter End in NYC!! As you may have read in earlier posts, I think the Bitter End is an awesome venue. It's piano-friendly, which means that I don't have to lug my giant keyboard, and it just has a really cozy vibe overall. Not to mention that it has been frequented by so many incredible musicians, including but not limited to Patti La Belle, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and my girl, Etta James.

Here's a little photo from my last show at the Bitter End!

This will be my first show of the summer (well, almost summer) and I'll definitely be playing as many shows in the NYC area as I possibly can. So watch out, NY! You'll be seeing a lot of me.

For other details on my Bitter End show this week you can click here and check out the facebook event. I'm so excited, and I really hope you guys can come out!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Playing Acoustic vs. Playing With a Band

Hey all! So in case you guys were wondering, both shows went great!! Even though I was sick as a dog, coughing my brains out, and somewhat delirious, everything actually went pretty smoothly.

I ended up playing Thursday's show fairly acoustic, only performing with my band for half the set. My abilities to let it rip over the band were limited, and I decided to make my performance more soft and intimate. Saturday, my set was entirely acoustic, and although I feared sounding like a cartoon character (I was SICK), I really felt that I was able to connect with audience on a deeper level.

So here's the question of the day: would I rather play acoustic or with a band?

To tell you the truth, I have mixed feelings. I always love playing with solo piano because it allows me a lot more artistic freedom and it feels more personal. Since the songs are admittedly about my own life experiences, I sometimes feel that I can tell an even greater story when I play alone. However, there is something special about playing with a band that I can't get when I play alone. Obviously there is always a certain sense of camaraderie among all the musicians, but I especially love hearing other people that I play with bring my songs to life. It's just awesome.

I guess it all depends on the mood I'm in, and what's appropriate for the venue I'm playing. Whenever I want to have more direct and intimate conversation with my audience, I'll probably play acoustic. That's when I feel the songs are the most honest. The space that isn't filled by the band really allows people the room to think about what I'm saying, and allows me to make my performance even more dramatic. All the pauses can be longer, and I can hold on to each word for as long or short a time as I want. However, if the setting is a little bigger, louder, and more suited for head-bobbing, I'll probably play with a band. I've grown a great deal as a performer by doing both.

I'll leave you guys with two videos of "Monday." One with my band, one acoustic. You guys can decide which version you like better. ;-)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Shows This Week!!

Hey kids! So as you can see by the title of this post, I have two shows this week!! I'm a little sick at the moment, but I'm trying not to let my scratchy throat get in the way of my optimism. They say a positive attitude is everything.

 My first show this week is on Thursday at the Student Center of Purchase College. The event is called "Women Out Loud," and it's put on every semester by the Alternative Clinic (the women's health clinic on campus) to celebrate all the vibrant women out there. Without giving too much away, the focus is on a woman's pride in her mind, body, and sexuality, which is often a taboo in most societies . Whatever the case, I dig it, and I think it's freaking great - I'm always delighted to support events like this.

Now onto my second show! This Saturday night at 9:30, I'll be playing at Gallery 151 in Manhattan (350 Bowery on the lower east side). This place has a really interesting history, and although I've never been there, I can tell that it has a cool vibe. Founded in 2007, this hip Soho building is actually covered in graffiti, which the renovation developers discovered when they tore down the sheet rock on the inside walls. After realizing what kind of cool artwork was underneath, the main building developer decided to display it proudly as a testament to NYC art. Kinda cool, right?

So to sum it all up, I'm really excited to perform this week! Both of the shows I'm playing represent causes that I'm really passionate about (art and womanhood), and I'm thrilled to lend my voice to them.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ray Charles: Piano Love

Believe it or not, a piano is just like a human being. In any healthy relationship with you have with another person, you always have to find a balance between being firm and knowing when to back down. I'm finding more and more that playing piano is very similar. All of the great piano players that I've heard have this balance between firmness and flexibility down to an art.

The other thing I've noticed about people who play piano very well is that they don't just play with their fingers. They play with their entire bodies. No, I don't mean that they play the piano with their elbows, their heads, or any other odd combination of body parts. What I mean is they don't just sit there like they're having a tea party. They move with the piano, flow with it, and put physical energy into the notes they play.

The best example I can give you is Ray Charles, one of my own personal idols. Ray is a great example because event though he couldn't see, DAMN could he feel. Check out this video and you will understand exactly what I mean. 

The sound quality on this particular video isn't great, but the visual really represents the idea that I'm referring to. Ray Charles was someone who had a deep connection with the piano as if it were a person. When you watch this video, you can see how he really moves with the music, feels the subtleties, and puts his entire body and soul into what he is playing. I get chills just watching this, and I can only hope that one day I will develop these skills to such a degree . I think the most important thing to observe here is that Ray looks completely relaxed, as if he's jamming out in his living room rather than playing in front of millions of people. It's like he's not thinking at all. Food for thought: Maybe the key to being a good musician is to stop thinking so hard?!

"Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play." -Charlie Parker

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

HUSH, LITTLE BABY - Song Stories

Let me just start off by saying that my recital last week was a blast! Not only were there were tons of people there, but the energy from all of the people that came was just wonderful. So if you were in the audience, I tip my hat to you. It was truly a pleasure performing for you.

Let's talk about one of the songs. The first song that I performed in my set, called "Hush, Little Baby" is a song that I hold very dear to me. Sure, it's on my EP (click here to preview on Itunes) which already makes it pretty important, but it's so much more than that. Since I wrote "Hush Little Baby" I barely ever perform a set without it.

Why is that, you ask?

I guess you could say that "Hush Little Baby" is almost like my anthem. Every singer-songwriter has that one song that stands out a little more than than others, and for me, this one is IT. I think the reason why is that it really captures the conflicted emotion that every single one of us experiences. Have a listen, and try to focus on the words.


 If you still aren't quite sure what this song is about, join the club. I wasn't even completely sure when I started writing it - all I knew was that I was experiencing a mess of emotion and anxiety that I didn't know how to handle. If you've ever experienced anxiety, you know that there are sometimes so many things swarming around in your head at such a high speed that it's hard to distinguish one thought from another. After a while, your thoughts start to blur together into one complex blob of tension that weighs down your mind, and sets its heavy little butt on your shoulders. This song works the same way. If you can picture it, the piano riff that repeats over and over again is almost like someone constantly poking at you, waiting to see when will break down and smack their hand away. In other words, everyone cracks - it's human nature.

So where does God come into all of this? All you really need to know is that He (or She, or it, or whoever/whatever you think is up there, if anything) represents the hope that all of us want to feel at some point in our lives. I'll stay away from talking about my religious beliefs, but I think we can all agree that everyone just wants something to believe in. That something doesn't have to be religious at all - it just has to be something that gives you hope. Whether you have hope in another person, your plans for the future, or your dog, everyone is a little hopeful about something. That's why it hurts so much when these forces in your life let you down. Knowing that nothing always goes your way is one of the most is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking parts of being alive.

For me, "Hush, Little Baby" represents the inner conversations that go on whenever I am too overwhelmed to take in what is around me. I'm sure you've noticed that the voices in my head are pretty patronizing, and some of your own inner conversations probably have that in common. No one really wants to break down, and we will do everything we can to talk ourselves out of it.

Here's to a hopeful week,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Here's the photo I used for my poster. You like?
This week is a crazy and exciting week for me.  As a Studio Composition (songwriting) student, I am required to have a junior recital, as a testament to the work I’ve been doing for the past three years. Well, guess what? My junior recital is this Thursday!!

So what does that mean?

1)  I’m finally doing a show at school that my mom can actually come to (i.e. one that will not involve drunk college kids)
2)  I can jazz it up with a fancy reception and Italian food!

The great thing is that I am more excited than nervous. I usually just get really anxious and stressed out during the week of an important show, but not this time. While I’m sure the nerves will kick in on Thursday, right now I’m just going to enjoy the fact that I can dress up (what girl doesn’t love that) and play a 10-song set with my band.

Speaking of the band: damn, is this gonna sound sweet!! Drums, bass, guitar, piano (obviously) and five amazing backup vocalists. Not to mention that I just decided over the weekend to add cello to one particular song. I’ll be playing what I believe to be the best songs I’ve written over the past three years, meaning that I will settle for nothing less than an awesome show.

If you’re in the area and you’d like to come to my recital, it’s on Thursday evening at 7:30, in Room 0081 of the Purchase College Music Building. Also playing will be amazing singer-songwriter Dana Mancuso (piano-chicks unite!), so you won’t want to miss this!

Wish me luck!!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Singers vs. Mediocre Singers

I must admit, I'm pretty picky when it comes to accepting new artists. Although, I wasn't even alive at the time when motown was popular, I have a total fascination with it. My favorite kind of music, with the exception of Norah Jones and a few others probably doesn't get more recent than the 70s. So why is it that lately I've been listening to a whole lot of Adele?

Because she's freaking fabulous, that's why! Not only is she absolutely adorable as a person (which you can easily see if you read/watch her interviews on TV or in magazines) but damn, does she have talent. She has a mind-blowing voice, not to mention a refreshingly honest songwriting style. Perhaps the reason I like her so much is the old-school tinge to her voice - so soulful and strong, yet beautifully vulnerable at all the right moments. It's nice to see that someone with real talent can still make it in the mainstream music industry, especially as a singer. Take a look at the majority of artists today: most of them are singer/songwriters, with very little focus on the "singer" part of the title. If you read my first blog post, you know that this is something I've set out to change. But it's wonderful artists like Adele who give me a little more faith that it's actually possible.

This does not mean that I think every artist has to be a great singer. Bob Dylan is a perfect example of a singer/songwriter who is such a great storyteller that his voice became secondary. However, I do find that the singer/songwriters who can really sing can sometimes tell an even greater story. First, let's define a great singer: This is not someone who merely sounds "pretty." There are many people in the world with good voices, but being a great singer is a lot more than that. The thing that separates a mediocre singer and a great singer is not just the ability to sound beautiful, but the ability to tell a story with the voice. Considering that the voice is the medium that delivers the lyrics of a song, it really can tell just as much of a story as the lyrics do. When these two things work in harmony, you get a mind-blowing vocal performance.

Adele has a strong voice, but she's also extremely sensitive. She's never sings loudly for the sake of being loud, or even softly for the sake of being soft. While she's a skilled singer, she doesn't constantly need to remind you that she can do all of these things with her voice. The most important point is that she's always genuine when she sings. She doesn't sing the way she does just to impress you, or make you think "look how pretty she sounds!" Forgive me if I sound like a know-it-all, but I really have no interest in singers who simply admire themselves when they sing. If a singer sounds pretty but isn't genuine (as in, they're thinking about how to impress the audience with their next riff, rather than what they're saying), I pretty much stop caring.

This is why Adele is fabulous. She's soulful, she's sensitive, and most importantly, she's real. The video I'm about to leave you with is "Make You Feel My Love," which was written by Bob Dylan and covered by Adele. Even though this is not one of Adele's songs, it's a great example of everything I've been talking about. With lyrics written by Bob Dylan, and heart-wrenching vocals by Adele, there is definitely a story being told here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bitter End in NYC: A Piano-Friendly Venue

On Sunday March 20th, I played a gig at the Bitter End, a well-known NYC venue where longing musicians flock with hope that they will be heard. The Bitter End, located in Greenwich Villge, has been a starting venue for many famous musicians, including Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, and even my girl, Norah Jones. Needless to say, there's a lot of history there. As a matter of fact, the Bitter End really is an odd window into the history of the entertainment industry, as well as the United States. Just ask Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell how important the Bitter End was to them during the 60s, when they sang their songs of protest against the Vietnam War.

Now let me tell you why I love the Bitter End....

It has a piano. That sounds like a simple and obvious reason, but let me tell you why it's not. 

It is nearly impossible as a singer/songwriter who plays piano to find a venue that actually has a piano, let alone a decent one. If you're lucky, you'll run into a venue like Sidewalk Cafe (the main starting venue of Regina Spektor), which has an old upright piano against the wall of the stage. But who wants to play a show with their back to the audience? I know I don't.

The Bitter End has a cozy cafe atmosphere with dim lighting, cute tables, and a nice bar for all those who like to have a drink while they listen to good music. The walls are a beautiful red brick, and the acoustics are great, but my favorite part is the Yamaha grand piano on the stage. 

Let me tell you, I am usually forced to play in venues that don't have pianos, since these types of venues are usually the most common. If I only played shows at venues that had pianos, I would pretty much be limited to the same two or three spaces. Most venues in the NYC area in general are geared towards people who play guitar. Man, am I jealous of guitar-players whenever I see them strolling around with their guitars on their backs. If I could bring my piano with me everywhere, I totally would. 

The funny thing is, that is pretty much what I have to do whenever I play a show. I brace myself to lug my giant 88-key Yamaha stage piano (that's a fancy-schmancy name for my keyboard) to the venue. Usually I'll recruit a couple of friends to help me with this, and forget about feminism long enough to let one of my guy friends wheel the keyboard so that I can just hold the stand and the bench. It's way too much for one person to carry on their own. That being said, you cannot even imagine how refreshing it was for me to simply show up to my gig, and have a piano ready for me to play. This little convenient thing put me in the most positive mindset to perform. I'm glad to report that it went really well, and I had a blast the entire time. And the audience was awesome!

So thank you, Bitter End. This is why I love you. You look great, you sound great, and you're piano-friendly. 

Love always,

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Next Alicia Keys?

So when you're a girl who happens to play piano and sing at the same time, there are a few questions that people often ask.

"Is it hard to concentrate on playing and singing at the same time?"
"How old were you when you started playing piano?"
All reasonable questions. Here's the one I have the greatest love/hate relationship with:

"Are you the next Alicia Keys?"

Let me get one thing straight. There were many people who sang and played piano long before Alicia Keys came around. Did everyone forget Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Billy Joel, Elton John, and at least 100 other people?

Don't get me wrong, I adore Alicia, and actually went to see her live during her "Diary" tour at Radio City She is a fantastic woman - she's beautiful, talented, and compassionate, (Click here to read Alicia's Blog and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about). There's no doubt that she's been a huge influence in my music, and that she's one of the best talents in the mainstream music industry right now. Aside from being a classically-trained pianist, Alicia Keys has an undeniable raw talent and keen sense of style that sets her apart from a lot of other artists. The reason why I am grateful to her, however, is that she made playing piano look like the coolest thing someone can do. When Alicia Keys hit the charts, everyone admired her for her talent. If a beautiful girl from Harlem could be a classically-trained pianist and still be hip at the same time, then who could say that all pianists are stuffy nerds with wire-framed glasses? I'm not sure how old I was at the time when Alicia Keys hit it big, but I do remember that all of sudden I was proud to say that I played piano. And I wished I had practiced a little more Beethoven...

Sometimes the biggest challenge for me as an artist is trying to be distinguishable from other artists in my genre, while still trying to associate myself with these artists so that people have a clue as to what I sound like. Chances are, if you like Alicia Keys I'm probably girl. Even though my style is not as blatantly R&B, there are a lot of musical qualities that we share. I could say the same for Norah Jones. I've been listening to so much Norah Jones over the past three years, that I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that she didn't impact my music. So maybe that's it: maybe my sound is a happy medium between the classic/urban R&B sound of Alicia Keys and the more mellow, soft jazz/pop quality of Norah Jones. I am perfectly fine with this description. But you know what? Maybe it doesn't matter so much.

I am not the next Alicia Keys. Or the next Norah Jones. And although being known by any one of these titles would probably make me feel flattered, I would still have to say that neither one is accurate. I am the next me - the only me, and my music consists of three things: my thoughts, my voice, and my experiences. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you for listening.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Negative Inspiration = Creativity x 100

I have to admit, sometimes it is much easier to write a song when bad things happen. I suppose this means I'll be writing a song soon. This week is full of negative inspiration and I'm hoping this negative will spiral into a few great songs in the process. At the end of it all, I try to tell myself one thing: Even if an experience was completely horrible, the best way to make light of it is to write a song about it. If I can do that, then no experience is ever a waste. I'll also know that when I look back at the negative experience I'll always be able to see at least one positive thing about it: that I was creative.

I hope you guys forgive me for this melancholic post of mine, and I'll definitely be posting again later on this week. Hopefully by then, I'll have a new song to tell you about.

Wishing you all a better week than I'm having,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monday: Song Stories

 Although it's past midnight and technically Tuesday, it's pretty much still Monday to me. I've been up since seven in the morning, which probably seems like a treat to some of you sleep-deprived workers/students out there. Getting to sleep until 7AM used to be a dream come true, yet now I found myself groaning every time my alarm clock sings to me, whether or it's 7 in the morning or 12 o'clock noon.

Almost exactly two weeks ago, I wrote a song called "Monday." Yes, this song was actually written on a Monday, and it is actually about Mondays (how mysterious). That day, I sat down at the piano with the intention of writing a song, though I didn't know what it would be about. I wasn't directly inspired by anything, and I was completely distracted by the entire mess that had been my day so far. Then I realized that all my distractions and lack of inspiration had just inspired my song topic.

Let's think of everything that Monday means to most people: work, getting up early, stress, the start of a new week, the end of the weekend (i.e. back to reality), and let's face it: leaving the people you love to go do whatever you have to do to pay the bills. Whether that means going to your job or classes, it all pretty much ends up being about the same thing in the end: money. If you're lucky, you love what you do and actually enjoy going to work every day. Regardless, for a lot of us (even musicians, believe it or not) there is a bit more to life than work, and it is these simple life pleasures outside of our careers that keep us going. There is a reason why we look forward to Friday, and it isn't just that the simple fact that the work week is over. For some of us, it is that there is someone we're waiting to see who we've been missing all week.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reach for the Sky: Is any topic too ridiculous for a song?

So here's my predicament for this week: I have to write a song about Buzz Lightyear for my next master class. Think I'm kidding? Well, I am absolutely, positively, 100% serious.

I guess I should give you guys a little background. Aside from being a singer/songwriter and trying to actually make it in the music industry, I also study songwriting at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College. SUNY Purchase is a wonderfully artsy place full of inspiration and people who are not afraid to express themselves. Sometimes people's sense of expression can be a little alarming, but hey, whatever floats your boat. 

Anyway, I take a master class in composition and my professor likes to give assignments. My particular weakness in songwriting is writing to a topic, so naturally my assignment for the week would be to write to a topic. That's all fine and dandy. I don't mind a challenge, even if I complain about how unfair it is the entire time. However, only at Purchase College would I be forced to write about something so quirky and utterly ridiculous: Buzz freaking Lightyear. 

Don't get me wrong - I adore Buzz. This all started because a girl in my class was carrying something (though I can't remember what) with Buzz Lightyear on it, and I just so happened to express how much I love Buzz. Little did I know that I was digging my own grave, because suddenly my professor's face lit up with excitement and he said "Yes! That's your assignment for next week. You're going to write a song about Buzz Lightyear!"

So here I am, completely clueless about how I'm supposed to start this song. I guess I'll just have to do a little Toy Story research (i.e. watch the movies a few million times) before I figure out how I'm going to do this. By Thursday. Wish me luck - I'll need it!

Reach for the Sky!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Introduction: Inspiration, Ideas, and Experiences

I think the question of the day is, why would someone who writes songs also need to have a blog? Considering that I'm always working on a song of some kind, you'd think that I wouldn't need to express myself any further.

Let's think about this. In life, do we ever really get to say everything that we want to say? Usually not. There's always just a little more to say than what has already been said. What I'm starting to understand more than ever is that a song is only a 3-minute representation of the actual life events that surround it. So from an outside point of view, I'm forced to leave out a lot of details. This seems unfortunate in a lot of ways, but I'll tell you why it's not. It is often these unsaid details that make a song beautiful. Just because you didn't hear me mention what I ate for breakfast that day, or that annoying thing my ex used to do, doesn't mean that I didn't express these things in some way. Context is everything, and this makes writing very subliminal. So does performance. If you wonder why I pound my fingers down on the keyboard during that chorus, or why I always look like I'm dreaming when I sing that verse, it's because of the context. You might not know why I'm singing the words that I'm singing, but I do. And if you asked me to, I could look back and describe to you in detail all of the 7 million things that were going on in my life at the time when I wrote that song. 

I suppose now would be the time to introduce myself. My name is Leila, and Eric Clapton spelled my name wrong. I guess he's awesome for writing a song with my name in it to begin with - I mean, L-A-Y-L-A would be the most obvious spelling. But hey, I like to think my way is better.

Like Sir Eric, I write music. I think it's safe to assume that you've realized this by now, but there's no harm in stating the obvious. I've been writing music since I was eleven. Technically I used to make up songs in the shower when I was in elementary school, but I suppose those don't count since I never actually wrote them down. All of those little songs were about ridiculous things like Elmer's glue and Crayola crayons - I guess as a child I would either be considered weird or cute, depending on your standards. 

Despite all the songwriting speeches I've been giving you, I really started out as a singer. Singing was probably my first love, and I still love it more than anything. A lot of singer/songwriters don't put a lot of stock in the "singing" part of their title, but this is one of the most important parts of my music. I take the singing part just as seriously as the writing part, because as I briefly mentioned before, performance has a lot to do with the way a song is perceived. That being said, I write my songs to suit my voice. This could  be a slight problem if I ever have to write for another artist, but I'm not sure I would ever want to do that.  If context is everything, I probably couldn't handle giving my song to another singer that didn't live through the specific experiences that I did while I was writing the song. This may seem amateur, but I suppose there's a little bit of childish pride in all of us. At this point in my life, I'm just not ready to let go.

The piano was my second love. Don't get me wrong - I didn't treat it very well, and I neglected it pretty often in many ways. I rarely ever practiced in the traditional sense of practicing, and this is probably why I don't sight-read or do any of those things that crazy pianists do. As soon as I figured out that I could use the piano to accompany my singing, I began to write songs. And that was pretty much it for me. Of course I was still playing piano all the time, but let's just say that scales and Bach inventions unfortunately took a backseat after that.

For now, that's all you really need to know about me. I'll try not to pour my heart out too quickly, and I'll try even harder not to give away all the background of every song I write. My only hope is that you can reflect on your own experiences as you listen. 

With love from a humble singer/songwriter,