What REALLY happened in Aruba Pt. 1

I know…  I know….. it’s been a minute….

I really never intended for Thought Process to be a journal, but since I have been so terrible with Tweets, FB updates, (this blog) etc.. and since these are Thoughts still in Process I think I will make an exception.  🙂

(BTW: I am typing this on my way to perform @ the Capital Jazz Festival in DC.….. This is becoming quite the ride and I don’t wanna get off any time soon.)

It all started with an email from Terry Bello (big ups to Terry) telling us about the competition. I remember hearing about it last year, and a good friend of ours, Abby Dobson winning.  With the release of the album, we are trying to put iron in as many fires as possible, so I added a video without too much expectation.  When we made it into the finals, we realized this could actually happen and went into extra promo mode.  We have an amazing base of fans and friends …family really…. who always support (as evidenced by the SoulTracks Awards New Artist of the Year and Jazz and Soul Top Track of the Year « Composure« ) so we reached out and…..  Well Thanks ya’ll!!  🙂

So here is something you may not know about me…. I do not pack my bags until the ticket is booked…… soooooo when people were telling us we were ahead in the polls, I kept it business as usual.  Even after they closed, I still didn’t post anything because we hadn’t heard the official word.   After a few days of sweating it out the email arrived and it was on. (Gone plays loudly in the background)

(fast forward through a shopping, packing, prepping, stressing, rehearsing montage… and ……resume playback)

Until I landed in Aruba I don’t think I got the scope of it all.  There were posters on literally every lamp post promoting the show.  There were also billboards in every hotel lobby, and at every function, with my face alongside Mary J Blige, Toni Braxton, Raheem and Joe to name a few.

I was recognized for the first time by a staff member at the hotel and it was then that I realized…….. my current lifestyle of being incognegro might be in jeopardy, should I walk down this path. 🙂

(fast forward through check in, jumping on the bed, chillin’ poolside, drinks with umbrellas, steel drums….. and…… resume playback)

First stop was an interview with Moshay Laren Philadelphia radio personality (WRNB 107.9) .

Moshay was so cool that she let us roll with her as she went to other locations – alongside director Mike Jones (who is truly Morris Day incarnate).  It was the perfect way to see more of the island, learn some facts and of course…. crack mad jokes.

Next stop was the press conference. I walked in as Toni Braxton was leaving :(, but I got to meet Joe Thomas, and Raheem Devaughn gave me some advice on traveling overseas(very cool cat).  I was on a panel with Mark Adkins, producer of the Soul Beach Music Festival, and comedian Chris Spencer.   I answered some questions and had a photo opp…… Nah…. I just wanted to sound hollywood… we took some flix :).

That night there was an island wide black out, but of course we made it out to Club Havanna later that night to get it in!!!

In our next webisode…. the interview along with footage from the show, the show, the show!!!


What REALLY happened in Aruba Pt. 2 …… « This is called the show! »

Sound check was hot…… literally….. it felt like 300 degrees.  We got to sit in an listen to Raheem setting up and then we got on……..briefly…  but briefly on this kind of soundstage is still the business.

It’s kind of funny…. I wasn’t really nervous.  Our new addition on keys — James Spears said « This ain’t nothing but a rehearsal with people. »  That reminded me that we already did the work, now it was time to apply it and just have fun.

Now……..I am sure when a director shoots a film he probably would prefer you didn’t see it compressed and in a little window on youtube.  A lot of times as an independent artist it feels like that… there are a lot of compromises that make you feel like people don’t get the full picture……..  So then imagine this is IMAX…. 3D…… DOLBY SURROUND….. CENTER SEATS!!

I’m not saying you need a light show, caribbean island, smoke machines etc…. but I doesn’t hurt.  🙂

Funny man Chris Spencer was the host.  He had the crowd rocking and gave me a great introduction (as well as some encouraging words after my set).  We played some of my signatures tunes (Composure, Love Revolution, Seasons, and Gone) with a few surprises.

I have never performed to such a large audience.  It was a sold out event.  They estimated the crowd at 5000!!

It is an amazing feeling to perform for so many people and still feel a connection.  I could see the faces of the people in the front 5-10 rows and see the movement of the people further back.  They were getting it in!!!  We did some crowd participation and at that point I could hear the roar of the voices from people in the stands.   This was truly a dream fulfilling moment for me.

As I walked off the stage… before I could get down the stairs, Mark the Production Manager asked me,  « Do you have any more?! »

Well…… since this was kind of a new unit we had no more of my material rehearsed, but one thing that  I will never turn down is an opportunity to freestyle.  So I ran back up on the stage and explained to the crowd that what we were about to do something that should not be attempted without parental supervision (well actually I just explained we were coming off the head).  In addition to getting the crowd involved, the band members got to flex and kill their solos.  Tiffany T’zelle murdered it– (been telling her  It’s her time)

Here is the interview with some footage from the show.  I hope to get the rest to post soon.

I am a student of the craft, as well as a fan, so after a while I went into the crowd to watch the show.  WOW!!!  WOW!!!  Incognegro cover blown!!    I took so many pics and signed so many autographs that I couldn’t help but feel we did what we came to do.

I met a ton of people both local as well as folks from around the way, like DC, NJ , NY, and everyones energy was great.

We sold out of CD’s and I regretted packing those extra kicks in space that could have held CD’s… lesson learned.

Mary‘s show was incredible!!!   So many hits and tons of energy – YO represent. Toni Braxton sounded great. I have never seen her live before.  In the break room, I saw a familiar face.  Derrick Wright was  her drummer and he played on my record as well. AIGHT!! Raheem is a real down to earth dude.  I really felt his set.  We have a lot in common.  I would love to do a collabo with him.  We slipped him a record, so who knows….. 🙂 Joe‘s set was really smooth.  Dude has a lot of swag and crazy vocals….. and he brought a horn section.. always a good look.

My final day, I got to chill with the Soulbeach staff…we took a speedboat to a private island complete with flamingoes, iguanas and  the best snorkeling I have ever done.  Later that night we all went to a famous lighthouse on the island and I looked up at a sky filled with stars hoping to be one myself one day.


To everyone that voted and made this a possibility for me….. I thank you.  I hope although I couldn’t take you with me…. and many of you did ask(insist)…. you know that I took you with me.

You are all the steam that powers my engine.

Big shouts to my squad – from left to right – (James Spears :Keys, Tiffany T’zelle :Vocals,  Les Cleveland :MD/Drums, Miles Anthony :Manager, David DJ Ginyard :Bass )

Mark Adkins, Cynthia, Alissa, Moneek, Victoria, Moshay, Mike Jones, Layton, Kristin, Anthony, Zo, Terry Bello, Karl, SoulBeach, Blackplanet, Righteous Music Records and Righteous Music Media, LLC.

And of Course!!!!  Can’t forget all of you who support me and what we are trying to do!!!!