Embracing the positive: The best outer body experience ever

It’s a general rule of thumb that artists, writers and anyone with a dream should surround themselves with positive energy. That’s a relatively easy thing to do. However, once you do that, sharing your work and talking about your dreams can be another thing entirely.

There was a time when I had such a hard time sharing my work or inner most thoughts—even with friends. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them to know. I was afraid they’d think I was crazy or worse. 😉

I quickly discovered, however, that if you don’t put yourself out there for the world to see, no one will know what you do. I also learned that support shows itself in the least expected ways.

In addition to writing, I dabble in photography. Mind you, my work isn’t as brilliant as Leanne Cole’s , whose site you have to visit, but I occasionally get a nice shot off every now and then!

I’ve taken a few photography courses, learned about f-stops and apertures, and studied the work of master photographers. My favorite photographer was Gordon Parks—the ultimate Renaissance man.

In addition to being one of America’s most renowned photographers, Parks was a film director, of the “Learning Tree” and (a little movie called “Shaft”, which is now a classic) writer, and musician.

Anyway, let me get back to sharing our work. We’ll talk about Gordon Parks in a bit.

A dear friend of mine, who I’ve know for well over 15 years now, knew all about my writing and photography. We talked about it occasionally, only because I never wanted to take over the conversation with writing talk.

First, let me tell you about my friend. She’s a former model. She, Beverly Johnson, and the late Naomi Sims, used to work the catwalk in Milan, and Paris. She left the business and went on to pursue a career in the corporate sector, where I had the pleasure of meeting her. We became fast friends.

One day we were discussing photography, and I casually mentioned (again opening up) my artistic obsession with Mr. Parks. She glanced at me over her red-frame glasses and smiled.

“I know Gordon,” she said. “I met him when I was modeling.”

“Really?” I tried to sound nonchalant, but it wasn’t working.

She smiled again, knowing good and well I was about to burst with excitement. “Yes, he lives in New York still. We used to hang out all the time.”

If that wasn’t enough to make me pass out, what she did next blew me away. She picked up the phone and began to dial. I felt my lungs tightening—no air entered or escaped.

When she handed the phone to me, and said, “Gordon wants to say hello,” I almost fainted. The conversation was brief, and polite. I remembered telling him how he inspired me and how much I loved his work. Then, I handed the phone back to my friend, and sat down. Stunned.

I hadn’t seen it coming, the unselfish gesture of a friend who supported my work and my dreams. I will never forget that moment. I’m indebted to her for making something that marvelous happen.

That was in 1999, and when Mr. Parks passed away in 2006, I was heartbroken. However, I was also honored to have spoken to him, if only for a few moments.

I visited his exhibit, “Half Past Autumn,” at the New York Museum of Art, just before his death, and was blown away once again by his work. If you’re a lover of photography or beautiful things, I’d recommend adding this book to your collection.

Lesson learned? Don’t be afraid to share what you love doing. Surround yourself with positive energy and embrace the support received because you never know what might happen.

For me, I was able to speak to one of my greatest sources of inspiration and he spoke back.

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Sax appeal …Happy Birthday David Sanborn

Growing up, Sunday mornings at my house began with the sounds of my dad’s collection of jazz greats, which included Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and Quincy Jones.

My nose would wrinkle when he invited me to listen to the melodious sounds of the horns, bass, drums and saxophones. I literally wanted to gag. My idea of music back then was the Jackson Five.

As an adult, I remember driving in my car with my dad, listening to CD 101.9. Back then, it was our local jazz station. I remarked that I loved the artist that was currently playing and my dad, straight, yet with a hint of teasing said, “It’s about time you acquired some taste.”

All I could do was laugh. But he was right. Since then, I’ve become a big time jazz lover and I have my dad to thank for that.

My favorite instrument is the saxophone and my favorite artist, the one and only, David Sanborn.

IMHO, David Sanborn is one of the greatest jazz musicians around. Although, he’s played many genres, his music typically blends jazz with instrumental pop and R&B.

OMG! I love his style, and I often write to his music. It could be a love scene, or perhaps a character whose personality requires a little swag! David’s music helps me write for that character.

Most importantly, whenever I’m in a funk and nothing seems right, I pop in a David Sanborn CD, start humming to his sax appeal, and all is right in my world.

I’ve seen him in concert quite a few times, but my fondest recollection was seeing him play at the Blue Note in New York City. The Blue Note is a small, intimate venue where you can really see the musicians up close.

“Up Close” took on a whole different meaning for me, when my daughter and I saw David live. Just before he was about to go on stage, a man at our table (of six) called him over. Apparently, he, too, was a musician and he reminded David that they’d met before.

Good thing I was seated, because it would have been highly embarrassing to faint at that moment.

David Sanborn was literally two feet away from me and with my mouth gaping, eyes glazed over and stunned, all I could do was stare. My daughter still teases me about that night. She said that was the first time, she’d ever seen me speechless.

Anyway …it was truly a night to remember.

To get a taste of David Sanborn’s music I suggest starting off with two of his hits, “The Dream” or “Maputo.” These songs, are quite popular in jazz circles, and “The Dream” is played quite often at sweet sixteen parties, graduation parties, and the like, because of its moving, soulful sound. It’s a great song. Take a listen. 🙂

The second is Maputo, which he made famous with legendary jazz pianist Bob James (on piano). Marcus Miller, (a jazz and R&B legend in his own right) who isn’t playing here, composed this song and many, many, many others!. He’s a favorite of mine also.

This is David’s birthday, so he gets two videos! 🙂 He is touring this year, and since he goes worldwide, you may be able to experience his sound wherever you are. I plan to be front and center! (A hundred “thank yous” to my dad for influencing me to appreciate something new.)

And to Mr. Sanborn, Happy Birthday!

Music: A catalyst for creativity

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Driving home from work today, I had a moment. I had the CD volume up, Maroon 5’s “Sweetest Goodbye” playing and I realized, just like the R&B group, “The OJays”—I love music.

And? You might say.

Everyday something inspires us to create. Writers, decorators, painters, graphic designers, sculptors—all artsy types have something or someone that allows our creative juices to run wild. It could be a fine man (or woman), an idea, a place or yes, a song.

Like many of us, I enjoy doing things with music—making love, cleaning the house, driving, painting and writing. Music seems to be a great catalyst for creativity.

I rely on music to help me set the tone for a scene, particularly a love scene. (I’m quite sure many of us do.) One of my favorite songs to write a love scene by is Boney James’s “Lights Down Low.”

Since the saxophone is my favorite instrument, it was smooth and sensual when I wrote a sexy love scene for Octavia and Marcus (my heroine and hero). The scene begins with the couple at the bottom of the stairs, and after several pages, they work their way up to the bedroom. I’m going to keep how they make their way to the bedroom, close to the vest—for now. Perhaps I’ll give you a taste in a spicy excerpt later. 😉

Another song, I wrote to was Ginuwine’s “Pony.” If you know the song, you can imagine the scene (The air-conditioner was on, I might add).

And yes …, I do use music to write other scenes. 🙂

For instance, in one scene, the lovers (Octavia and Marcus) danced the sexy salsa together. Blasting in my headset was Kenny G’s remix of “Havana.” The remix adds the talents of tap dancer extraordinaire Savion Glover, and the rhythm is powerful. It’s one of the best songs to dance the salsa, (IMHO).

It was also one of the best scenes to write. My fingers dipped, swerved and glided across the keyboard. By the time I finished I was breathing heavily, exhausted and needed a nap.

This was my blog /tribute to the power of music. What type of music gets your creative juices running wild?