I just found out that I’m #2 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Jazz Vocals with my new CD “The Company I Keep”—and I suddenly realized I have reached another destination – the top of this particular measure of achievement—but I got there not with traditional GPs but with a WAZE app. Now what does that mean Mark? (Love talking to myself) It means that at a certain point I realized the major highways and byways of show business weren’t going to take me to where I wanted to go, so I would have get creative and to find the back streets and out of the ways places to get to my end point. My destination is recognition and the ability to sing my songs around the country and have people appreciate it and yes lay down money to hear me.
The highways and byways were closed for a lot of reasons—I’m old, I’m singing Jazz, I was doing a lot of originals in a field where the audience preferred standards. So, I had to be crafty and figure out other ways to get there. The first thing I did was to say to myself, Mark (here I go again) what are you good at? Now as artists, we spend a fair amount of time knowing what we’re not good at (and I’m going to keep that close to my vest), but I thought about this and came up with a few things that were good about me. I had a pleasing voice, it had a nice sound. I wrote really good lyrics, and I had developed over the years a nice stage persona and act.
So, what I did is take those three things and double down on all of them—I started taking more singing lessons and really supported my tone, and yoga helped open up my chest cavity. I started teaching lyric writing (which made me a better writer—because I was constantly teaching the craft, and as a teacher had to walk the talk) and finally I analyzed what was good about my show—and just emphasized that. Whatever song I sang was like a little bit more information about me, I learned to spice up my originals with well-chosen songs written by others and I learned how to read a chart and communicate with the band. I found out I could swing—and that I was “cool” who knew??? I also realized that I was playing in LA too many times a year, so I cut down on the shows and I made each show a special occasion. I started regionally and now I’m slowly expanding my base.
And most importantly, when I put out a self-financed CD I spend money on promoting it.
I’ve done all this without the highways and Drivers of the industry—But with a lot of help from my collaborators, musicians, singers, friends and fans. I love my fans—and always try to give them my best. It takes a village to get you there—Show business is a people business and person by person I’ve made people my allies and collaborators.
And…block by block each CD since 2009 has been getting more notice and increased visibility. Reviewers know me, Downbeat has given me Four Stars, magazines do articles on me—and it’s all going to what’s available to me at that moment.
And as I’ve gained confidence I’ve sought out better routes and lanes that I once would have thought I wasn’t fast enough to go in. Sometimes these lanes block my entrance and—voila! Sometimes the lanes let me in.
My career has been challenging, depressing, elating, quizzical- but I stand here at 67 doing better than ever! And I can get to a “yes” 3 minutes faster by just going for it.
Thanks for reading my blog! Here’s a free download of my song Walk Between the Raindrops, a duet with the wonderful Jackie Ryan, from The Company I Keep. Free Download