Friday, May 15, 2015

Project Update - Meet the Players, the Final Edition!!!!

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later – the final edition of “Meet the Players!”

In this installment, we feature Lorraine Ferro on background vocals, violist Kris Wilkinson, and artist Marina Drasnin.

One of the most beautiful aspects of making this record has been the cross section of people who are gracing it. It is an amalgam of those I adore and have worked with for years, people I adore and have never worked with before, and complete strangers whom I now, come on, sing it with me – adore.

And so it is fitting in this, my final installment of “Meet the Players,” that it encompasses just that cross section of all three.

Lorraine Ferro has been one of my favorite voices on the planet since I met her and we became friends in our twenties. For years, she was the voice on every demo I recorded, and the one I heard in my head whenever I wrote a new song. So to have her singing with me as I embrace my own voice is a gift beyond that which I can express.

You might best know her as the writer of the #1 song “Stand,” or from the TV show The Voice, or myriad live shows and TV jingles. In the past few years, we’ve finally had the chance to share the stage on many occasions, and all I can say is it is a heck of a lot of fun and I am still in awe. So thank you, Lorraine for adding your voice, your magic, and your soul to this project!

Kris Wilkinson is one of the people I’ve never met, but someone who was definitely meant to be a part of this. She has recorded and performed with too long a list to write in its entirety, but here are just a few of them – Jason Mraz, Elton John, Train, Carrie Underwood, Michael Buble, and the list goes on and on with just about anyone you could name in the music business that’s huge.

When I started this project, it was my intention that everyone who was on it would bring their heart and not just their talent. When you are asking a complete stranger, there’s no way to actually know that until they’ve played. But that has been the beauty of trusting this process and going with what felt right. I am so grateful to have crossed paths with Kris and that she gave the same artistry, energy, and beauty to this project as she has for all those people I listed above. What a validating gift! Thank you so much, Kris!

Last, but not least, is another kind of crazy story. I am Facebook friends with a multi-talented figure skating champion named Tai Babilonia. Truth be told, I did not hang pictures of musicians on my walls as a kid. But I did have a bevy of athletes I admired, and among them were my favorite pairs skaters of all time – Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner.

Social media is a funny thing. For all of its deficits, it also allows for connection between people whose paths would not have crossed otherwise. And such was the case for me in this instance.

So I am Facebook friends with Tai, and somewhere in my FB feed was a piece of art that one of her friends posted on her wall. Well, I fell in love with it, in fact, so much so that I wanted it on my album artwork.

So I, being the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” type of person, reached out and asked this completed stranger, who is an honest-to-goodness artist, if I could please use her artwork on my album. Well, needless to say, Marina Drasnin and her beautiful work are now a part of this project as well. And I have met another beautiful soul…thanks to Tai Babilonia, a world champion figure skater.

How’s that for the intricate tapestry of life?!!!! So many thanks and hugs to Marina and to Tai!

So here’s the wrap-up of musicians on the project:

Me – Ilene Angel J
Tanya Leah
Mark Prentice
Matthew Bubel
Caitlin Evanson
Kris Wilkinson
Everett Bradley
Lorraine Ferro
BethAnne Clayton
…and special guest Kenny Loggins!!!!

We are up to mixing and mastering next!!!

Thank you for hanging in there with me and for believing in this work and making it possible. I love and appreciate you all beyond words!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

a Mother's Day Blog...

Mother’s Day has been one of those holidays I’ve tiptoed precariously around since my mother’s passing twelve years ago. It’s a mixed bag of memories and melancholy, and I know I am by no means alone in this. Anyone whose mother is gone dances that dance as well.

I remember thinking once, when visiting my niece, and realizing my utter delight in her mere existence, that we all seem to be perpetually searching and longing for that – someone to delight in us. And though it seems like something reserved for only our direct bloodline, wouldn’t it be nice if we could practice more of that kind of love with everyone in our lives?

Whom do we cheer on? Whose champion are we? Whose safe harbor are we in stormy seas? Can we love people as much in their failures as in their triumphs? Can we keep our arms open even when we ourselves are hurting? Can we delight in each other’s adult selves as much as we do in toddlers and puppies?

Maybe it’s a byproduct of time that we stop and think about how we show up in life. Maybe that’s because how we show up is our link to immortality. More than any accomplishment we will ever achieve, love is the abiding thing that exists beyond our time here. So we shouldn’t be stingy with either feeling it or expressing it.

And that brings me to…my sister-in-law, Narci, mother of my cherished and adorable niece, Samantha.

It is hard living 3,000 miles away from people you love, but the time I do get to spend is both more precious and gives me a different vantage point than I otherwise would have had.

My niece, Sammy, is effervescent. And what is most precious to her, she shares openly, whether it’s her excitement about a book she’s reading, something she learned in dance class, or a treasure kept in a special place in her room. She is considerate and polite, caring and affectionate, and I can’t help but think that her mother should be given a medal for raising a child with those qualities in today’s world. (And my brother, too, but it’s not Father’s Day yet, so hold your horses, will ya!)

So Narci, please know that you are appreciated and valued and respected so much for making this world a better place by who you are raising Samantha to be and by who you are, because you could not impart qualities you did not yourself possess.

Wishing everyone a safe harbor of unconditional love – to have it and to be it for others.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Mom & Me
Me, Narci, & Sammy 2014