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A Jazz Crusader and His Singing Daughter

My father is a musician, drummer/songwriter/producer to be exact, formally of the band The Crusaders. All my life I’ve looked up to my dad, a man that’s made his dream career come true. He’s performed with pretty much every amazing musician from the ’60s-’80s. Stumbling upon pictures of him with people like Elton John, B.B. King or Paul McCartney always made for a fun weekend treasure hunt. My dad has always been supportive of my singing but reluctant to help get me into the biz because, and in reality, the music business is entirely different than it once was, and he didn’t want me to be let down or get hurt (but man I love me some Britney. Go get it girl!). I did a few minor things on my own, back-up, demos for a songwriter, but not much.

Then a few years ago he produced a demo for me, which was the first time we performed together. It was a wonderful experience.  My dad is like a little kid in the studio!  Here was a man in his 60s bouncing around, jumping, clapping, “getting into the groove” as he would say. It was a turning point in our relationship. So much fun and inspiring! He really is amazingly talented. Unfortunately, nothing really came from my demo (though I’m pretty big on MySpace). Truth be told, I didn’t really do anything with it. I’ve never been good at self-motivation. Tell me what I need to do and I go after it with the dedication of an athlete training for the big game (preferably a 49ers Super Bowl). Give me a path and I can follow it. School did this, the corporate world does this, and when I wanted to be an opera singer, singing did this. There was a path to follow to reach your goal. However, leave me to my own devices and I’m completely lost and overwhelmed by what to do. So many choices! Which turn to take? Basically I’m own worst enemy when I have to figure out my own path. At least I’m self-aware.

My Dad talked about giving my demo to a few people but he never did. Again, the fear of me getting hurt by the biz. Even though he always said he believed in me, in my mind that was his way of saying I wasn’t quite good enough. Now, my father is not someone that pays you lip service. If you’re not good at something, he’ll tell you. If it can be better, if the phrasing needs to be changed, the diction more precise or loose, he’ll tell you. So my brain would take this info and say ‘Dad says you’re good and that you have the chops, so you must be good at this’ but my self-doubt kept creeping in and saying ‘Yeah, but if you were good enough you’d be doing this’. Obviously I have way too many conversations with myself but I think that’s pretty common with the girls in our generation. I once I had a therapist tell me that I have an overactive brain…what does that even mean? I digress…

So fast-forward to 2011, the past few years my singing has mostly been at family events and lots of friends weddings (I do a mean rendition of ‘At Last’). Recently, my Dad released 3 new albums (all fabulous) and he’s doing a rare live performance in LA at the end of this month. I of course made sure to book my ticket promptly to fly out and see the show. The height of my dad’s career was when I was a baby so seeing him live is rare for me too. Exciting. So last week Dad called me and asked me if I still had a good handle on the version of ‘Nature Boy’ that we did on my demo. I said yes. He then asked me if my voice felt in shape. I had just sung at a work event and my voice felt great, so I said yes again. He then asked me if I’d like to perform the song at his show! OMG! I of course said yes.

I am thrilled to be singing in front of a full audience with some of the most talented musicians in the world. This is a huge opportunity for me. Potentially a game changer but what I’m most happy about, is that my Dad believes in me enough to put me on the same stage as him. As a singer and as a daughter, this is the highest honor I could receive. Forget a Grammy award. My Dad thinks I’m a great singer! And no matter how old I get I just want to make my parents proud. My Dad has always been proud of me and made that clear. I’m lucky to have that. But this feels like a new kind of validation, different. He’s not only proud, but we’re peers. He’s honored to share the stage with me as well. I can’t think of a higher compliment.

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