Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Song ~ Punanny Politixxx!

Hey Everyone!

I know I haven't been here on the blog for a while, but I want to tell you about my new song "Puannay Politixxx!"  Just in time for the elections of course. So spread the word. You can also DOWNLOAD the song on SoundCloud!

Thank You so much for all your support! Spread the word about the song!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Downward Blog

Hey Everyone!

I know it's been a while since I posted anything on this side, but I have been doing a lot of writing on my other blog called Downward Blog. As some of you know I'm also a yogi and I'll be on my way to yoga teacher training next month! I'm really excited.

So in the mean time check out Downward Blog and right after my show at Sister Uptown Bookstore next week, I will be sure to post something for your büshe fix.


Monday, June 25, 2012

In Gratitude...

I started this blog three times. I was trying not to be long winded, but it seems I can’t help it. The more I sit with myself the less I want to go back. Well at least not too far. Those of you who have read my forever-long blogs know that I have an elephant’s memory. I pay close attention just in case I have to tell you about it. It is indeed the storyteller in me.

I have had quite and year, but I’m not going to recap it at all. I can’t do it again. [If you need to know the whole deal read my old blog (The Year of the Voice) or check the video] I will only go back a week or so for this blog and even then it will tell all, but it will be enough. Ironically my last blog was called “The Year of the Voice” and now we are actually coming up on a year.

I was getting ready to get the band back into the flow of things when I learned that I needed to have surgery on my throat. I had a cyst near, but not on my vocal chords. Now if you know me at all then you know I am not a fan of surgery and I come from a lot of people who feel the same way. I’m not talking about my family I’m talking about my “people.” My friend John recently commented on how I am more of a hippy than he thought I was. I guess, but one thing that some people might call hippy or at least New Age is that I believe in holistic healing, which is really not new at all. So to be considering surgery was big for me.

I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about this who had dealt with this kind of thing. I couldn’t call Adele or John Mayer, but then I remembered that Sandra St. Victor, (an amazing vocalist who you should look up if you don’t know her) one of my inspirations, had polyps removed from her vocal chords and she is doing amazing! So I emailed her and she gave me some sage advice and from there I moved into action.

Beautiful alter the ladies made for my healing circle

I put out the APB to all the healers in my life and everyone stepped up. A week before the surgery my girl Ty gave me a reading so I knew what I needed to do spiritually, and she also came by and did some Pranic Healing on me. Then my girl Desiree organized a healing circle for me. Emily, Hollie, Chuz, Adanze, DeeArah and Sarah came through in person and a gang load of people came through in spirit.  Shirley called my ancestors into the sweat lodge in Michigan and they came to assist in my healing. Peggy hit me with the acupuncture and I did my own personal work and meditation to get ready for the day. So why do all this if I’m going to have the surgery anyway? Because I still needed the path to be clear. No complications. In and out, and also we were praying for a swift and full recovery.
I know things were in divine order because the whole week before the surgery I was in prayer of some kind or another. From Friday June 15th to Wednesday June 20th I was singing to the Goddess and to God. I did two kirtans with my friend Keith and then we recorded the Soul Sangha album. Between "Allah Hoo," "Sita Ram," "Guru Mahadeva" and "Gum, Gum Ganesha," I was all prayed up.

I'm going in!

There I am

My mom came to be with me for the surgery on the 21st. My week had been so packed that by the time the day came I wasn’t so nervous anymore. The day before the surgery I sent out an email to all my peeps to pray or send me good vibes at 7:30am as that was the time of my surgery. When I got to the hospital it was a pretty smooth and fast process. They checked me in and I want up to the 5th floor and got my “pajamas.” Then my mom and I talked to the anesthesiologist and to a nurse to make sure they had everything correct. They then had us wait in a big room until someone came and got me and two other people. We then took the elevator to the 2nd floor where we waited again. One of the women with us was really nervous because she asked me and the other guy what we were there for. I could only laugh. It felt like the old prison question, “What are you in for?” I think there is some sort of rule that you don’t ask people what they are in for. LOL! We didn’t answer her, but we did get a laugh out of it.

Now this is where it all gets interesting. Remember, I asked everyone to pray and send vibes at 7:30am. I don’t what time it was exactly, but as I was waiting for someone to come get me to take me into the operating room I felt a sense of euphoria. It was an overwhelming sense of joy and I just started to smile and laugh. I wondered if it was 7:30 or around then and if people were sending me energy and that’s why I felt happy. It was amazing. I wasn’t afraid at all when the orderly came to take me into the OR.

It happened again when I was in the operating table. They had strapped me in, which was strange, but they said that they sometimes turn the table side to side so they strap people in so they won’t fall off and they can get a better angle if they need it.

Anyway, it happened again before I totally went out. I felt this overwhelming sense of happiness. It was such a blessing. When I thought about it later it almost made me cry.

I also had an interesting experience with the OR nurse. Her name was Dianne and she was really sweet. Before I went under I tapped her and asked her for her name again. I just wanted to make sure I remembered everyone who was there. She was so excited that I asked her for her name, which was a reaction that I didn’t expect at all. She said she felt like she was always forgotten. She said that no one ever asked her for her name in the OR. That felt good. I was there being worked on, but clearly I had done a bit of healing for someone else that day. The other OR nurse was Victor and the anesthesiologist was Miguel.

Dr. Pitman came in and spoke to me for a minute. Did I mention that he’s a supermodel? LOL! Okay, he’s not a supermodel, but he is clearly some sort of super something. I’m very thankful to him and Dr. Pantelides. They were very understanding and treated me like a human being. They understood how much my voice means to me. I am super, super thankful to all of the people there in the OR.

Dr. Pantelides and Dr. Pitman

For those of you who have had surgery and been put under, then you know bizarre it is. It’s nothing like sleep. You don’t dream at all. You have no memory. One moment you are in the OR and the next you are in recovery. There was no counting backwards from 10 until you are out, you are just out! I could feel the medicine going in and that was it. Out! I just remember Miguel saying we are putting the medicine in and that was it.

When I woke up in recovery I was in a little bit of pain. That was to be expected. They gave me more drugs. Soon as I could breathe on my own, they had oxygen on me at first. They took me up to the other recovery where my mom was waiting. I slept there for another hour and then I had to do the “go home” test. If I could walk without getting dizzy, pee on my own and drink water without too much pain then I could leave. I passed the test and soon mom and I were out the door.

We drove back to Brooklyn and to Fairway in Red Hook to get some food for the house. I was on a baby food diet to begin with, which mean pretty much all liquids and pureed foods. For those of you who live in Brooklyn you know that the Fairway in Red Hook is right by the river. Mom and I bought a few things, two of which were subject to melting and that day it was a million degrees. But before we left the parking lot I told her we had to take a pause. I knew I couldn’t be that close to the river and not thank Oshun for her healing power on that day. So I walked around to the river with my mother and pointed to the Statue of Liberty because there was a great view from there. While she was gazing at Lady Liberty I was saying my thanks and praise to the Mother. I was also thanking the Goddess for my mother. I know I am so blessed to have her here with me. That was such a great way to end that part of the day.

We went home in the sweltering heat. Later Jeff came by to help me put my AC in my bedroom window. My mom toughed it out in the living room with the fan. Summer came in with a bang. She really brought the fire to New York City. Thank you Goddess.

Please keep sending me lots of love, light and healing energy. The other side of the journey has just begun.  But with that I claim that I am healed. I am well. I am on voice rest. I am powerful. I am surrounded by light. I am a teacher. I am in full voice. I am open to receive all the grace, goodness and abundance that the Universe has for me. Amen. Ashe. And so it is. Aho!

FYI about New York Eye and Ear: World Voice Day!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Year-End Review - The Year of the Voice

Hey Everyone!

I can’t believe we are back here already at the Year-End Review. This year of the Goddess 2011 was quite a year. Looking back in my mind’s eye January seems like a lifetime ago, but here it is coming around again. I also realized that 2010 was so action packed that I never even finished giving you all the highlights! Well you don’t have to worry about that for 2011.

I sent out an email early in the fall about what was happening to me, but it seems that some people didn’t get the memo. So I am going to wrap this year with the written word and with a short video so that everyone is clear. I know how much you all like visuals and I also know attention spans have gotten shorter. But some of you, like me, still like to read so I’ll do both.

So here is my 2011 Year-End Review. Enjoy!

I was so excited about 2011. In November 2010 I was asked to join Burnt Sugar in Paris to do the James Brown songbook and Sugary take on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. My friend Ian Friday convinced me to extend my trip and take blaKbüshe back to London. That was the best idea ever! London and Paris are so close it was be silly of me not to head back and see my UK folks. I have missed them so much as I hadn’t been back since 2007. That alone was crazy, but it is what it is.

The month kicked off with the American Candy: The History of Sex show and all the while I was also rehearsing with the Sugars to get ready for the Paris trip.

January seemed like it was just a run up to all that I had going on in February, but January was amazing as well. That month I stared writing liner notes for Big Break Records (BBR) out of Scotland. Thanks to my good friend and amazing writer Christian John Wikane, my first BBR assignment was Dennis Edwards’ album Don’t Look Any Further. Getting this assignment first was kind of crazy because of my personal history with that song. It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I met the song and album’s producer Dennis Lambert during my radio days. I convinced him to let me and my friends sing on the remake of the song at that time and the rest is history that not too many people know about. Lol! Anyway, during January I interviewed Dennis Edwards, Siedah Garrett and Phillip Ingram who were all a part of the making of that album. Dennis Lambert would follow up the rear in February. I got to meet Siedah in person while she was in town for the farewell gala for former Alvin Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison.

January also dubbed blaKbüshe one of the Best Emerging Artists by Deli Magazine. I didn’t even know I was in the running. That’s how to kick things off for real.

The first thing I did in February, to the shock of many, was that cut my hair (See: Making a Change blog). I had been thinking and talking about it for quite a while. I though it would be great to debut my new look on the upcoming tour. I’m so glad I cut my hair! I don’t know if hair will ever make a big comeback in my life, but you might see a girl rockin’ a wig every now and then. LOL!

I have to mention again how glad I am to be a part of the Burnt Sugar crew. If not for them asking me to Paris then I may not have been able to go to London again this year. I came into the band on the James Brown tip, but now I have been indoctrinated. I’m officially an eccentric jazz chick and I love it!

Although my trip to Europe was only the first 10 or so days of the month it was much more to me. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken in my life. I already wrote all about it so you can check out the other blogs (See: The Gift of Paris blogs and Loose in London blogs) to recap that whole trip. But for this review I will just express my gratitude again for such an awesome time in Paris with Burnt Sugar and the joy I felt to have my family in the house and to see New York friends who had relocated to the “City of Light.” Walking the city with my mother (See: Walking Paris with My Mom blog) and bringing Miles & James to Paris in the Sugar way are three of the highlights of the year.

Mom and I at the Louvre in Paris
I made the journey to London by train. It was a shaky start, but Jeff and I did four great shows with the help of some awesome musicians in London. I am so thankful and humbled by all that those folks held Jeff and I down while in London. What an amazing blessed time and those friendships just keep going strong.

Jeff and I at the Morpheus Soul Show in London

When I returned to New York I hit the ground running. As some of you know, I play bass in my friend Keith’s Kirtan, and that happened the weekend after I got back to town. I also did a modified American Candy show at a Sr. Center in Brownsville and then it was time to get ready for the next big Burnt Sugar show at Lincoln Center. Music, theater, music! Yes!

Finally February marked the beginning of my production collaboration with Toshi Reagon. She came by rehearsal to meet with and hear the band up close and personal. That was a really amazing evening. We were all looking forward.

March kicked off with Burnt Sugar rockin’ David Bowie at Lincoln Center! That night was marked by great food by Chef Stef, fine apparel by the band (folks were looking sharp!) and great music. Mikel led the Bowie charge and we all fell in line. Magic happened in that room for sure. It was a rainy New York night, but that didn’t stop the people from coming out because the place was packed. The Lincoln Center Atrium is kind of the same vibe as BAM Café in Brooklyn. Great music FREE! Although that show was off the chain from top to bottom, the evening highlights for me were Mazz giving the most killing rendition of “Heros,” Lisala and I doing that damn thing on “Breaking Glass,” Mikel and Karma hittin’ “Moonage Daydream,” Micah working out “Suffragette City” along with Vernon’s excitement to be singing on it with us and not just holding down his usual spot on guitar, and finally the pièce de résistance, Lisala shredding “Rock and Roll Suicide!” All I can say is go to the tape to see what I’m talking about. [Lisala & I Singing “Broken Glass" and Lisala singing "Rock n’ Roll Suicide"]

There were so many goodies on the Bowie menu and honestly some songs I had never heard before. That show was a great education and a whole lot of fun.

V. Jeffrey Smith and I at Lincoln Center for the Burnt Sugar/David Bowie Show
This month was also the start of my Indiegogo campaign to raise money to make my next album and I was not along. This was the year of crowd funding for sure. I know so many people who had fundraisers this year. The Kickstarter volume was on 10 for better for worse. So it was in this wave that I started my charge.

March also saw the taping of the American Candy pilot, which took place at Streb in Williamsburg. That was a fun and exciting night. The American Candy folks are my other lost tribe. They are hands down some of the best people I know. That taping was free so the place was packed. People had a great time and we learned so much. Onward and upward American Candy!

Next I was assigned another BBR album and this time it was Kool & the Gang’s Open Sesame. Sometimes doing liner notes is easy, but Kool & the Gang was a whole other story. I never talked to any of the guys in the band, but their manager did get some quotes for me (clearly a controlled environment). So I went to my friends and music heads Greg Tate, V. Jeffery Smith and Darrell McNiell to give me their insight on the band. It was great to talk to these guys who I have known for years and place them on the world stage as experts in their field. Not that any of them really needed my help, but I really loved doing it.

Finally in March I attuned my first student to Reiki level I! I am so excited to have Prita as a student. She was the first of three people I attuned this year; the other two being Ayana and Elton. More to come in 2012!

Prita Lal, my first Reiki student and circle sister

This month saw more great liner notes interviews. This month I had the pleasure to talk to Deniece Williams and George Duke for their mega album Let’s Hear it for the Boy. That was really amazing. I had the pleasure of interviewing George Duke in 1997 at the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, but this time was much more intimate. He’s an amazing storyteller and the story of that song is just incredible. I’m going to see if I can post my liner notes somewhere soon so that you can read them for yourself. It was such an honor to talk to them both.

Late in the month the band started rehearsing for our Banjo Jim’s shows. One would be a fundraiser for Japan, which had just been ravaged by a Tsunami. We were also shedding some of the potentially new arrangements for the new album.

I also headed out to Hidden Chapel Studios on Long Island with Patranila, Hollie, Jeff and Sam of the American Candy crew to record “Fashion God,” “Baby Your My Cougar” and the mega hit (yes I said mega hit), “Get Some Black Friends.” I was glad to bring some business to my girl Abihita Austin.

Another big coup in April was scoring wood for the Brooklyn Sweat Lodge. I know you are probably wondering what this has to do with music, but all my work is healing work. So the music and the healing go together. Also if you are reading this and thinking, “there is a sweat lodge in Brooklyn?” Yes there is!

I jumped off this month with the Brooklyn Sweat Lodge. It was another amazing year. I know this blog is more about the music so I won’t stay here for long. I just need to mention it because it is a huge part of my life and I am so thankful for my Brooklyn Lodge sisters.

My Brooklyn Lodge Sisters
With that, the Burnt Sugar crew is back. This time we were asked to play the Ghetto Metal show at SOBs. That event has a huge following and although I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how we would be received there, but in the end it didn’t matter because we never hit the stage! The show as running crazily behind schedule and before we know it our time slot had come and gone. At this point Jared (one of our fearless leaders) stating telling folks that if they had to go or wanted to, they were free to do so. The night was a bit of a bust, but we would return to the Ghetto Metal show later in the year.

I also did a short hit at the Out Music Awards this year. My girl Deepa reached out to me to perform live on the show with her and the students that she works with. We recorded a song together for her album called “What it Takes.” This would be our first time performing it together live, and it went really well.

The Awards show was at Irving Plaza and it went well. I want to give Deepa a shout fall all the work she put into that event and also say that I was so blessed to share the stage with a host of other amazing artists including Militia, Tammy Peay, Baron the Artist and Terese Genecco.

A few days later I was on my way to see my boyfriend with a girlfriend. Who am I talking about? None other than Glen Hansard from the Swell Season! I have a little thing for the Irish boys. Maybe it’s the Bostonian in me. I don’t know, but I love me some Glen Hansard! I went to the MET with my girl Sara and all I can say is bless her for getting the tix and asking me to go. There was also a guitar exhibit going on at the same time. Perfect!

When we got to the museum we checked out the guitars on display and then got in line to head over to where the concert we being held. We followed the crowd to the Egyptian room. If you have never been to the MET there is a huge section of the museum that looks like an Egyptian temple. This is where Glen played! The museum were serving complimentary beer and wine and even though Sara and I got in the room a little late we damn near got a seat up front! Yes! So when Glen passed by to get to the stage he passed right by me. Yes I am a giddy 14 year-old right now! LOL!

It was just Glen, and his now famous guitar, singing his face off as usual. His writing is also amazing! He was joined by his friend and fellow musician Mark Geary for a song that I wish I could remember the title to. But what I do remember is that he ended with a classic Irish song called “Parting Glass.” He also sang this at Radio City with his band. Yes I’m a fan like that. Anyway, when the set was over he had to walk right by me and he shook my hand! AHHHH! Then I did my level best to get an autograph from him or just to chat to tell him he should be my husband, but right as I was about to get up there, his “people” whisked him away. Damn! Well maybe it’s for the best because who knows what I would have said to the man. LOL. All in all it was an amazing day. I have to thank my girl Sara once again. She is one of my partners if Hansard crime!

My not so secret boyfriend, Glen Hansard
As if May couldn’t get any better, it does. I was asked to do the liner notes for the reissue of Between the Sheets by the Isley Brothers! So you know what that means? It means I got to interview Chris Jasper of the Isley’s for the notes and my other boyfriend Ernie Isley wasn’t far behind. Yes, clearly I have a thing for guitar players, but don’t we all? I really learned a hell of a lot about the Isley’s in that interview and it was really just the beginning. Both these men are über talented and are truly the sound of the Isley’s from 1973-1983. Ronald maybe have been the voice, the Chris, Ernie and Marvin were the music and lyrics.

Somewhere in this month I managed to squeeze in a Songwriters Soul Kitchen run. Vinx, our fearless leader, left Georgia and has now landed in New Hampshire. So the Soul Kitchen was doing it northern style this year. It’s really beautiful up there and once again I met a lot of wonderful artists and got to see some of my old SK friends. It’s always a joy to be in that energy. Thank you Vinx and Jenn for continuing to create space for songwriters to expand their creativity.

I closed out the month with my second and last show at Banjo Jim’s (Clip from Banjo Jim's show). This was another great night. We were still trying out alternative arrangements for the songs and raising funds for the recording. On that night we didn’t have Matsu, but it was just as rockin’. Sometimes I really like blaKbüshe broken down. You will see more of that in the New Year.

June and I finally got to interview Ernie Isley. The crazy thing is that I first connected with him on Facebook! I didn’t know it really him, but when I mentioned the song “Between the Sheets”, he responded! I told him about the liner notes and how I was going to reach out to his people about that, but there he was. My conversation with Ernie was amazing!

This month marked the ending of my Indiegogo campaign. Although I didn’t raise my intended goal we still made a good dent in things. I am very proud of myself and YOU on that front. I am still raising funds, but I know that we are well on our way. If you wanted to donate, but weren’t able to at the time you can do it now at

American Candy returned in June with Hot Celebrity Mess, which was a lot of fun! I got to play Grace Jones, Oprah and God! Holla!

Burnt Sugar brought James Brown to the hood in June with the full show at Von King Park in Brooklyn. That’s what’s up! I was really excited about those shows because honestly, they were close to my house. Lol! Gotta love that. My girl Patricia McGreggor was at the helm once again and and Brandon brought James to life once again. It was an amazing two days. I also got to bust out my wigs for this show because last time we did the full show I had locks.

The first night at Von King was really amazing and special Charles Bradley a.k.a. Black Velvet, who is James Brown impersonator and an artist in his own right, was in the house. Now let me tell you. When I was standing on stage singing in the beginning of the show, I saw Black Velvet in the audience. This man looks so much like James Brown I was like, “Damn, this show is so good we brought James back from the dead!” Yo! It’s crazy how much he looks like him. It was a real treat when he came up at the end of the show and sang and danced “There Was a Time” with Brandon and Mikel.

Black Velvet doing his best James Brown

The second night was just a fun. The night before I wore my afro wig, but on day two I rocked the early Tina Turner/Beyoncé wig! Yes indeed! A good time was had by all.

"Hot Pants!" Indomitable James Brown @ Von King Park, Brooklyn
The following Monday the Sugar crew was back in action. The Summer Solstice also coincides with Make Music New York (MMNY). This year the organizers of MMNY decided to bring to music to the inmates on Rikers Island. So we went the Island and brought James Brown to the people. It was an amazing day, but hot as all get out! We go to perform for the women’s prison and there were also some young girls there as well from the juvenile facility. This wasn’t my first time performing in prison. I went to Arthur Kill on Staten Island back in my Black Lotus days. It’s never easy, but it’s always feels good afterward to have been able to bring a smile or a good time to folks for a short while.

The other show that was scheduled to happen in June was the Michael Jackson tribute at NJPAC. My friend George Littlejohn called me about performing on the set. He wanted me to sing “Dirty Diana” because of my rock background, but I threw him a bit of a curve ball when I asked if could sing “Forever Came Today” by the Jacksons along with or instead of “Dirty Diana.” George was a bit shocked that I brought up that song. He hadn’t thought of it in a while, but I think about it all the time. Why, because I’m a dancer. A club dancer that is and Ian used to play that song all the time. So it’s always on my radar. In the end he asked me to sing both songs for the tribute. Score!

When I went to rehearsal for the show, Les, the bandleader, told me in so many words that he didn’t like the song. His brother, who also happened to be the bassist in the band, had to disagree. He really loved it and why wouldn’t he because the bass line is crazy!

After rehearsing the two joints I think I had the band on board and suddenly they loved the song. Sadly the show was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Sept. 1st. So until then…

The final June event that I am still amazed happened was my baby girl Ellehcem graduating from high school. I’m not amazed that she graduated; I just don’t know where the time went. Ellehcem is my niece, but I fell like she is my daughter. I am so proud of her! Congrats El! 

Ellehcem! Our high school grad!

Well July brought a bunch of things, but I’ll start with a small recording I did with V. Jeffry Smith called “Kelly Gets Off.” I gave the folks a sneak peak of the song during my fundraiser, but we finished the recording outright in July. Some folks have the joint, but if you are one of those who don’t, have no fear. It’s coming soon!

July also jumped off with the Sugar crew once again. We kicked off the month doing a jazz radio show at WRTI, Temple University, in Philly. That was my first road trip with the crew since Paris. I hadn’t been to Philly in such a long time, and that trip reminded me that blaKbüshe needs to go back. I’m sorry I’ve been away so long Philly. I’ll be back in 2012.

Back in New York, the Sugar crew went back to SOB’s to try our hand at the Ghetto Metal show once again. This time they put us on a decent hour and we were able to do our thing. All it all it was a good show. We had a lot of fun and the crowd was with us. Looks like the second time was the charm.

The final Burnt Sugar show of the month was at Lincoln Center once again. This time we were doing a Tribute to Black Women Songwriters. The ladies of the Sugar crew picked one of their original tunes to do and then a cover of a Black female songwriter. I chose to do one of my faves by Oleta Adams, “My Heart Won’t Lie.” People don’t really think about Oleta much these days, but she is a beast! I just love that lady. If you don’t know Oleta then go back and check her out. Her voice, songwriting, everything, will change your life.

This month I also did a few of my own shows a couple with friends. I was honored to play the Micia Mosley & Friends show with Micia Mosley of course. The show was at Dixon Place and Jeff came with me to play guitar. I did a couple of my own tunes and then I did “blaK Girls” with Aquanetta a.k.a. Micia, which was a whole lot of fun.

Then my friend, DJ and former roommate Selly had a housewarming party and asked if I would come warm the place. Of course I said yes. Her home is really beautiful and it was my honor to be there. Once again, Jeff and I went and rocked the house.

Finally, Jerome asked me to join him on his solo show at Bar on A. As it turned out it was more of a Jerome Jordan and friends show because I was just one of many folks to do a duet with Mr. Jordan. We did our old standby “Solid” by Ashford and Simpson. Sadly we did not know then the Nick Ashford would not be with us by the end of the year. That evening we were actually mourning the loss of Amy Winehouse. That was another loss that we were not expecting. Well there was always question about Amy’s overall health, but when someone passes it’s always a shock. All that said; we still had a great time at Jerome’s show. I hope he will be doing more in 2012. Hint, hint.

September 14, 1983-July 11, 2011

May 4, 1941-August 22, 2011

July also puts me a month away from Michfest! I can’t remember when I got the call that I was on festival, but I do remember getting it and not realizing right away that I was headlining. I was in a bit of shock to be honest because I learned I was headlining opening night. As many of you know I have been going to Michfest for the last few years. I won’t go through my whole festival history, but this year was my first year on night stage. So July began my festival rehearsals and from the first rehearsal I can say with much bias, I knew I was going to have the best band on the land. Yes!

Erine Isley and Chris Jasper were back in my life one more time. I had to interview them again for the liner notes for Go For Your Guns. Again I keep learning more and more about the Isley’s! Love it!

I closed out my month doing something that I never thought I would do again, auditioning for a reality show. The band did it in 2007 on the Next Great American Band show that was nothing short of a bust. Just to be clear, the show was a bust, but not the band. This time I decided to go audition for the Voice. I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this with you, but I will for a few reasons that will become clear.

A lot of things happened at that audition that I’m not going to talk about just because I have to save something for my book, but I will tell you this. Something was up with my voice that day. As I was preparing for that audition something really made me take stock in what I was feeling and hearing. After that day I knew then that I needed to get checked out, but I couldn’t do it right away. It had to wait until at least August.

We jumped off the month heading to Michfest! It was an exciting time. This year’s travelers included Achuziam, Toshi and I. You can check out the whole festival on my Michfest 2011 blogs.

If you read my blogs you will see that I lost my voice after my festival performance. I got it back enough to record with Burnt Sugar, but after that I went straight to the doctor to find out what was going on with me.

Burnt Sugar/David Bowie recording at the secret local in LES

Paula at Bunt Sugar/Bowie Recording. Hot!
I was advised to find an ENT who works with singers to look at my vocal chords. I was so thankful to find Dr. Le who also took my insurance. After she examined me, she told me that my vocal chords were really swollen and she put me on vocal rest for two weeks. That was going to take me right up to the rescheduled performance of the Michael Jackson tribute show at NJPAC. The way I was feeling at that time, even if she had cleared me I think I would have sadly passed on that show. Well it turns out I didn’t have to make that decision because two weeks later the doctor told me that my chords were not as swollen, but they were still not better. She also said that after looking at my chords I might have a polyp. She sent me to have a bunch of other strobes and tests to verify what was happening. At any rate, I was then put on vocal rest that would last until the end of October. That took me out of commission with the upcoming American Candy shows, Burnt Sugar shows and recording of my own project.

Since I wasn’t put on complete vocal rest I was able to continue doing my liner notes which required phone interviews. So in August I spoke to Ernie Isley and Chris Jasper once again for the album Harvest For the World. I wasn’t able to get Ron Isley for any of my notes so I supplemented the liner notes for both Go For Your Guns and Harvest For the World with interviews with DJ/producer Ian Friday and guitarist Vernon Reid.

I clearly wasn’t going to be doing any singing anytime soon so I went to see one of my favorite bands, Just a Band, who were in town from Kenya. Jeff was going to play the show with them, but couldn’t swing it. So he got David Pilgrim on board and also my girl LaFrae was playing drums. Great night! I couldn’t stay long because I wasn’t supposed to talk over loud noises, but I had a great time at the show.

There wasn’t a lot that happened musically during this month. As I stated above I couldn’t do the MJ NJPAC show. I was going to attend anyway to show my support, but I got a last minute call from Ganessa who said she had an extra ticket to see…wait for it…Stevie Nicks!!! What?? I immediately said yes and that was that! So thanks to my girl Sara, Ganessa, Chaney and I went to Jersey to see Stevie! It was a great night and a great show. It was just what I needed because I was feeling a little down about not being able to do the NJPAC show. I was really looking forward to singing “Dirty Diana” and “Forever Came Today,” but alas it was not meant to be that day. Ms. Nicks was a good consolation prize for sure.

This month I also couldn’t do the American Candy: Hot Chocolate show, which I was really bummed about, but I opted to bar tend so that I could hang with the crew.

Finally that month Burnt Sugar played at the Nova Bar. I couldn’t sing so I played a mean tambourine for the people, which still felt great.

For most of the month of October I was still on vocal rest. I also got my vocal strobe that month to get a clearer picture of what was going on with my chords.  So what did I do with my time?

I decided to start volunteering at my local yoga studio so that I can do to yoga for free. As some of you know I also started a blog called Downward Blog for all my yogis out there. I haven’t blogged there for a while, but that will also be making a comeback in the New Year. I have really enjoyed my adventures in yoga and they will continue.

I organized the fall lodge gathering. We didn’t have a sweat, but we did talk about next year’s lodge and sit outside by the fire. It was another magical night for us in Brooklyn.

This month my Reiki master was in town from New Mexico so I went to the practitioners gathering that she has every time she is in town. It was really great to see some of my Reiki sisters that I only see once or twice a year. I had sent an email to all of them asking to send me Reiki to help my vocal chords and to set up some personal healing time. At that gathering I got a few spiritual messages about my health, which I am so thankful for. I really needed that healing time with those ladies. I can’t wait to do it again.

At the end of the month I was taken off vocal rest and decided to sing with Burnt Sugar at the Jazz Foundation fundraiser. I knew I was going to come back slowly so I said I would sing one song. We were doing a James Brown/David Bowie mash-up at the show so I said I would sing “Breaking Glass” with Lisala and that was going to be it for me.

It was Halloween weekend and a strange one indeed because there was a snowstorm the night of the show. I couldn’t do the American Candy show this month because when they started rehearsing I was on vocal rest. So once again I opted to bar tend for the first day of the show and on the second night I did the Jazz Foundation show.

I won’t get into all the details of that show, but I will say that it started off with so much fire. Lisala and I killed “Breaking Glass” once again. We knew that we had to stop half way through the set so the foundation could honor a musician, but when the set came a halt, Lisala had left burn marks on the stage after singing “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing;” sort of a funny song to sing at a fundraiser. LOL!

Without getting into the long story of that night I’ll just say that we didn’t finish the set and ended up leaving the joint. I thought that would be the end of that, but then we were asked to come back and do our whole set at another Jazz Foundation event at Tammany Hall the following month. Sweet!

November and it’s another b’earthday for me. I did a little singing at the Burnt Sugar potluck back at Nova Bar. The music was great, but the real highlight for me was Bruce Mack’s grilled fish! It was amazing! Mr. Mack got a few propositions after folks ate that fish. I was so happy when he gave me a whole fish to take home! Yes!

This month was also the Burnt Sugar/Jazz Foundation redux at Tammany Hall. So the crew assembled and did the James Brown/David Bowie mash-up in full. It was a great show and I got to see Hamiet Bluiett for the first time. He is a bari sax player and he is amazing! That show as off the hook and afterward, Greg and I found a secret Thai spot in LES this was killin’! Sorry, I can’t tell you where it is because then it won’t be a secret anymore and as much as I love you, sometimes a girl needs a secret spot! Lol. After that show, the Sugars were asked to play at Tammany once a month. So you can see us there on a regular until further notice. I love a good residency.

Since I was still on the slow return to singing I did a few other cool things this month. I chopped wood for the first time in my life and I did Reiki at the November/Scorpio themed Zodiac Lounge. Then on the liner notes tip I interviewed Leon Sylvers III and Evelyn “Champagne” King for her album Face to Face. I was hoping to get André Cymone on the phone as he was the other producer of the album, but I had to settle for an email interview. Booo!!! *wink*

Finally this month I started speech therapy for the continued healing of my voice.  After getting the results of my strobe I found out that I have a polyp on my right vocal chord and a cyst on the tissue between my left vocal chord and my larynx.  So speech therapy will help the polyp, and I am doing to acupuncture to take care of the cyst.  I have a great speech therapist named Karen and although this information may alarm some of you as you read it, I actually feel really blessed about this whole healing journey. I am claiming my healing victory. When I go back to the doctor I expect to be free of all the things I just told you. It is done!

So here we are in December. I am hopefully, Goddess willing, on my last bus trip from Boston to New York. Of course I will do what I have to do in the future to see my family, but I really hope I’m doing it in a car, by train or even by plane in 2012. But before I get into all of that let’s take a look at the month that will shortly be leaving us.

I started off the month with the Sugars at Tammany Hall once again. It was our final Brown/Bowie mash-up, at least for a little while. We are going back to our Sugary ways. I’ll give you all that info so you can see us at the top of the year. It was another fun night of music and on this night I spent the evening eating at the secret Thai restaurant with Paula, Lafrae, Greg and Vernon. Fun!

I was asked to sing at a friend’s housewarming this month. I was a little nervous at first and wasn’t sure if I would accept the invite, but I did. I know that seems strange since I have been singing with Burnt Sugar, but as many of you singers out there know, it’s one thing to add some backgrounds or sing a duet and another thing to sing lead out right.

Jeff played for me that night and I decided to sing “In Your View,” which was new to most folks in the room, but the lyrics seems to be right on time. It’s always cool when you can touch people in that way.

I was not the only artist in the room by far. We had poets, dancers and vocalists of all kinds. There were many things that stood out for me, but the person who stood out most was my girl Beatrice who proceeded to get up and sing an aria! Now maybe it wouldn’t have been such a shocker if I had known the woman was a classically trained vocalist. Shows how much you really know about people. I actually learned a lot about people who are in my immediate circle who I see all the time, but had not taken the time to dig a little deeper with. That really made me take pause and think about how I interact with people or better yet how I DON’T interact with people. It’s making me think about how much time I really spend on Facebook and not in people’s faces. I am going to do more of that in the years to come. I’m going back to basics on the friend front. I’m gonna be in your face. Lol!

Anyway, Beatrice proceeded to bring down the house and when the performances were said and done we talked for a while. We talked about the voice and exchanged our stories and then she said she wanted to work with me. There was something in her story and something in her voice that told me this was the person I had been praying for to work with. Goddess is good! All the time! So I have a new vocal coach and I’m thrilled! I plan to be better than before. I really believe that next year is going to be amazing!

Back to the healing world, I decided to start volunteering as a Reiki practitioner at an organization called You Can Thrive that offers alternative healing treatments for women with cancer. They started out just working with women who had breast cancer, but has opened up to women with all kinds of cancers. So they offer acupuncture, reflexology, massage, essential oils, aromatherapy and Reiki to name a few things. So I will be lending my healing hands to these women and I’m really excited about that! I have been looking for more ways to give back and I think this is perfect. Treatments for the women are free or by donation so there is no stress to them on the cost. That is ideally what people need to heal. No Stress! Goddess bless.

Right before I headed home to see the family, I headed to the studio with Norman Conners. I wasn’t recording with him, but I have a feeling that will happen in the coming year. The story of how I came to meet Mr. Conners is a long and twisted one, but I’m glad I made it there. He was recording an amazing singer named Jennifer Freeman from Atlanta at Hammerstein Studios in the Manhattan Center. I have been to the Manhattan Center on many occasions and as you know I played there in the Grand Ballroom with Tamar-kali and Joi a few years ago, but I had never been up to the studios. Let me tell you that that place is amazing and the room sounds incredible. It would be a dream to record there, but I’m all about making dreams come true so we’ll see what happens.

The world is so funny. Right after I met Mr. Conners I was asked to write the liner notes for an album that he did with Pharoah Sanders that featured Phyllis Hyman. I really wish Phyllis were here to talk to. Sigh… Either way it’s still so amazing how the universe works.

After all that I headed home for the holidays. As I write this I am on the bus back to New York. I have been up and down this road so many times. I probably know it better than the bus drivers do. I always say that if I wasn’t a musician I could have been a truck driver or a city planner. LOL. I know it’s a far cry from what I’m doing, but there is something about a well-planned driving route and a well laid-out city plan that makes me happy. Maybe it is one of those past life things coming up.

As I head into 2012 I can feel the cosmic shift. It actually started early in 2011 with the uprising in Egypt and kept going until it hit our shores in earnest in the fall with the Occupy Movement. People in general and Americans in particular don’t like change, but people, the times they are a changing. As I look back on 2011 there are things that I didn’t get done that I thought I would, but clearly the Universe had other plans for me. There were clearly other things that I had to do. So I did not fight I just moved the way I was told to go. I followed my heart even when it hurt and there were many moments where I was totally unsure of what I was doing or how things would turn out, but I just jumped. Some of us get to certain points in our lives when we think we’re too old to jump, take a risk or take a giant leap to change or even save your life. But as long as you have breath you have a chance to start over again. Time is not running out. Time is on your side. You are always on time. You are always in time. What a beautiful thing.

I have no idea what next year is going to bring, but I plan to dust off this old girl that I know so well and let her shine once again. I plan to give her a chance to do what she was sent here to do for real. I charge her to be fearless and to run wild and free and do things that some people won’t like, understand or agree with. I am going to take her hand to live fully, and outside of every box and anyone tries to put her in. I am going to look her in the face and tell her I love her and wrap my arms around her. I am going to feed her well and take care of her body and be kind to her. I will speak highly of her all the time and forgive her daily.

2011 is over and the calendar will turn. If that’s what you need in order to make a change then use it as fuel. If you don’t start on January 1st or 2nd, then start on March 1st or 2nd. Every day that you have breath is a day you can make a change.

Thank you for sticking with me in 2011. I know I have been very quiet this last half of the year. I know. I needed the time to go in so I can come out again. Thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me during this time. I love you all so much. It came in so many ways. Ways that I didn’t even know were available to me. Wow!

Have a blessed New Year everyone! Hold yourself up to a higher standard. In the words of Junior, “Live Your Life!”

2011 Thank Yous!
I have to first thank my family, especially my Mom and Dad and my aunt Helen and Uncle Richard. Not only for being the best family, but for making the trip to Paris and London this year to see me perform. That really meant more to me than they know. I also have to publicly thank my Mom and Achuziam for helping me to start to transform my home life. I love you mom. My while family is the best! I know you don’t hear folks say that much about family, but I love mine so much. It was tough year and family helps in times like this.

Who else?
Abby Dobson, Abhita Austin, Achuziam Maha-Sanchez, Adam Rock, Alam Nathoo, Alex Nolan, Alixa, Andre Lasalle, Ayana Byrd, Beatrice Anderson, Ben Tyree, Brandon Victor Dixon, Bruce Mack, Bunny Bread, Candace Meredith, Carol Ann-Miles, Chippy Dubin, Chris Eddleton, Christian John Wikane, Desiree Mwalimu, Donna Sue Johnson, Elton Leonard, Ganessa James, Gina Breedlove, Greg Tate, Hanifah Walidah, Hannabiell Sanders, Heather Corbett Etchevers, Hollie Harper (& the whole American Candy Crew!), Ian Friday, Imani Uzuri, IndieGoGo Campaign funders and beyond, Jared Nickerson, Jason Dimatteo, Jeff Jeudy, Jenn Lambert, Jerome Jordan, Jim Russell, John Calvert, Julie Brown, Julie Wolf, Justin “Top Rock” McKenzie, Karma Mayet Johnson, Kat Francois, Keith Borden, Ki Ki Hawkins, LaFrae Sci, Latasha Diggs, Laura Vogel, Lisa Vogel, Lisala Beatty, LyricL, Matsu, Max Grunhard, Mazz Swift-Camlet, Micah Gaugh, Micah Lee, Michelle Escoffery, Michelle McKenzie, Micia Mosley, Mikel Banks, Myles Riley, Native Tongue, Nivea Castro, Nucomme Walker-Davis, Nye Taylor, Patranila Jefferson, Patricia McGreggor, Paula Henderson, Peggy Regis Robinson, Prita Lal, Pyeng Threadgil, Rachel Esquilin, Regina Brooks, Rob Covell, Robin Elon Dixon, Ryan Ansah, Samara Gaev, Sara Zuiderveen, Scott Baylis, Shalonda Ingram, Shawn Banks, Stefanie Kelly, Stephanie Maceiras, Temporary Residents (Ten Mill, DJ Johnny Rebel, Soulful Solly Brown, Lyrical), Terri Lynn Delk, Tim Rickard, Toshi Reagon, Ty Shaw, Ursula Tuca Milan, V. Jeffery Smith, Vernon Reid, Vicki Randle, Vinx, Will Martina, Yilis Suriel, Yvonne Sanders and ANYONE that I may have missed on this list. You are not forgotten. Thank you for your love, support, patience and understanding.