Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I am trying really hard to be a better part of this technology craze. I'm impressed at how easily some people find it to maneuver their way around cyberspace. Case in point is the blog thing. I've seen some really cool, hip, and happenin' blogs, filled with images and clickable items. I try, really I do!! but I can't seem to get any pictures loaded or find a way to hyperlink those images. I feel like a complete dweeb. And this is from a woman who worked in hi-tech for so many years. Now I realize just how much I was resisting it!! :) But no matter, isn't the whole idea of a blog to relay information through words? I can do that!!

The recording part of the CD is complete! And I can safely and thankfully say that I am VERY proud of the outcome. There were some great surprises with my voice in the studio and I think I will have a very nice product on my hands when it is finally released. Now comes the mixing portion of the CD which won't be until the first week of September. It's probably just as well since there is a lot of stuff happening this month and it will be good to get some aural distance from the music before going back into the studio. I'm excited, though, and hope the music is well-received once its released.

Tomorrow at 12:30pm I will perform at the Stanford Hospital atrium. I actually like doing this gig. It is in the lower level of the hospital right next to a beautiful garden and I have the opportunity to perform in front of a lot of people who wouldn't normally have the chance--or take the chance--to hear my music. I'll get to try out some of the new material from the new CD and I'll get to perform with Murray Low, Tom Bockhold and Paul VW. What more could I ask for? :) I'm also looking forward to performing live since it's been a few weeks since my last gig and I've got a lot more coming up this month. This will be the warm-up for the San Jose Jazz Festival.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In the Studio Again

I'm back in the studio all week this week. I've got a ton of work that needs to get done but I'm confident, determined and motivated to accomplish everything I want to accomplish--and hopefully with the high quality I'm shooting for. Yesterday Orlando Torriente and David Chaidez, both great singers in their own rights, came in to record the coros. They did a fantastic job and added a new layer of richness to the music. I'm sure it will inspire me immensely when I record the lead vocals on those songs. Now the rest of the week will be devoted to my vocals. I am trying really hard to get my ego out of the way and open up my voice to the spirits. I know it sounds hokey, but when I am able to do this I achieve levels with my voice I didn't know were possible. I know I've got all of the tools, now I just need to stop thinking so much and let the music flow through me.

I'm feeling really good about this CD and I'll be even more excited when it is released early next year. It's a long time to wait, but I still have so much to do to get it ready to ship. I haven't even come up with a design concept yet. It's not like me to not have gotten all of that figured out by now. Probably because I know I've got time to play with ideas. This Friday I am going to teach a jazz vocal workshop with Doug Goodkin's Orff Training. I'm really excited and honored to be a part of this training. I think what I'm going to be teaching will be fun and educational all at the same time. I'm also hoping this leads to more vocal workshops since I love to teach in that kind of environment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Search of Perfection

There's nothing like a good voice lesson to get my creative juices flowing again. I took a lesson with a very accomplished opera singer, Sharon Kaye, on Monday and she opened up my voice in new ways. I already feel stronger in my ranges and am excited and ready to go back into the studio on Monday to record. I might even re-record a few parts that have already been recorded since I realize I wasn't opening up in the way I had wanted. More time, more money, but the product I want! Do I want this recording to be perfect? NO. I want this recording to be REAL and a true representation of my voice and my soul. If it were perfect then the vulnerability wouldn't be there, the truth, the bare, honest truth, wouldn't exist. Yes, the technology is there to fix every tiny little mistake, and I can certainly appreciate that, but I want enough rawness to shine through in order to truly give the listener a sense of who I really am. I like the fact that my music retains an organic feel throughout. It makes it feel more authentic to me.

So the fundraising continues. I've raised almost $1000 of the $4800 necessary. I SO want to make this work but it is such a huge amount of money to raise. I'm thinking of putting on a house concert with all proceeds to go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am going to see if one of my mom's friends will be kind enough to let me use their large house--as opposed to my tiny one--and hopefully get a lot of people to come. It will also depend upon whether my musicians would be willing to play for free for a couple of hours. I'm hoping they'll support me in this. We'll see.

Oh! and it looks like I'll be going and performing in Chicago in or around October!! That will be exciting!!! Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Onward and Upward!

Last week was a good recording week. I was able to record some good stuff that I am very pleased about. There are still some struggles that I am contending with and have decided to put my ego aside long enough to go and take a voice lesson on Monday in order to find different ways to express my voice when I return to the studio on July 23rd. I've just found some challenges with my upper register that I want to correct and improve upon. I'm glad I have so many resources in this area I can tap into to help me out. I don't think there's any shame in taking lessons and trying to improve your instrument. I, for one, hope to learn and grow to my dying day. Of course as I get older my voice changes and I have to learn to adjust to its nuances and find ways to express myself on deeper levels. I'm actually looking forward to the lesson. It's always good to see how other singers approach their instrument.

It's been confirmed!! I am going to Brazil to perform in December. I am SO excited. This is definitely fulfilling one of my dreams of performing in South America. There are already two concerts that are guaranteed and possibly more in Rio and in Sao Paolo. I will be performing in Rio Grande do Sul and in Porto Alegre for sure. My pianist and musical director, Murray Low, will be traveling with me and we will use local musicians to complete the quartet. What a thrill this will be! I'm hoping we can go and see the Iguacu Falls while we're there as well. I am excited to have the opportunity to perform my music in front of a new audience. It will be interesting to see the response we get with my "style" of latin/world jazz. I'm pretty confident it will be well-received.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day Two Complete

Yesterday was a very successful day in the studio. My voice was finally working the way I was hoping it would and my ego stepped aside long enough to let the music have its own voice. I am really happy with how the two songs that were recorded yesterday came out. 3 songs down, 7 more to go! Today will be the last day for a week and a half so anything that doesn't get done will have to wait. I'm alright with that since it will give me more time to caress ideas out of the music. Since the CD won't be officially released until March of next year, I have some time to make sure everything is just how I want it. I also have to start working on the design of the packaging. I'm really at a loss this time on how I want the artwork to be presented. Of course I have some thoughts, but nothing that has really grabbed me yet. But again, I've got time to develop and explore ideas.

Last night was the first official training for the Hike for Discovery team. it was at a track and we just did a lot of walking and stretching--easy enough. This weekend we'll be hiking for 3-4 hours. It's fun to go out and explore new hiking trails that I've never been on before. And the group of people are truly good and fun to be around. Joan got up and spoke about her disease last night and then talked about what her brother is going through with what the doctors are thinking is Multiple Myeloma. She started crying while talking and it completely broke my heart. It also made me feel even more dedicated to trying to raise the funds for this hike. Now I'm more determined than ever to make my goal of $4800. If you're reading this and you would like to help me reach my goal, please make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (http://www.active.com/donate/hfdsvmb/hfdkparra) This link will take you to my website where I will get credit for your donation. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back in the Studio

I have now completed another day in the studio, but this time it's all about the vocals. Yesterday wasn't an entirely easy day. There are the struggles of wanting to perform at the top of my game and also being concerned with phrasing and intonation. Of course I want the performances to be perfect, but more importantly I want them to be real and honest in their presentation. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I really want this to be a quality recording and also a good representation of who I am both as a singer and as a human being. I think I am definitely on the right track. We recorded some nice stuff yesterday, despite all of the psychological games I play with myself!

So today I go back and do it again. Hopefully I can put myself into a more centered space and really deliver the music the way I hear it in my heart. I know these songs really well now and just need to relax and let them speak through me at this point. I know I can do this and I actually look forward to getting back into the studio today to continue this journey.

Friday, July 6, 2007


I hate asking for money. Honestly, I hate asking for anything. I prefer to do things myself and it is always hard for me to depend on others. Do I need therapy? :) Maybe!! But having to ask everyone I know to help me by donating money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is really difficult for me. What makes it easier is twofold: it is for a very good cause and it might someday help save my friend Joan's life--and many others for that matter. The idea that a cure could be found for these blood cancers/diseases is motivating enough for me to ask for donations. So I sent out more than 400 e-mails yesterday asking for donations. Now time will tell how many people are actaully willing to respond. I did get one response so far from one of the DJs that plays my music pretty regularly--Nick Marrero. He's going to make a donation, bless his heart. Thanks Nick!!

I have also thought about different ways to raise the money I need and have thought about going back to the restuarant I worked at all those years ago and ask them if they'll let me work a shift for free. All of the tips I would earn would go towards the money I need to amass--$4800!! Personally I think it's a brilliant idea! I could wear a button or a sign on my apron letting people know what I'm doing and why I"m there for the day. Will my old boss go for it? Possibly. Someone might want a day off!! I've also committed to donating $5 of every CD sold at my live gigs. But since I'm not performing until August 1, I need to find other creative ways to raise money.

On Monday I return to the studio to begin recording my vocal tracks. I have been exercising my voice all week and have tried hard not to over-practice the songs. I'm worried about getting burnt out on the songs and not being able to bring freshness and complete honesty to the music if I sing them too much. So I'm practicing vocalese and other new songs I want to add to my repertoire. Tomorrow I'll go up to Wayne's and go through the songs with him. He wants to hear how I'll be approaching the music so we can hopefully save time in the studio. I think my ideas are pretty well locked in and now the spontaneity of just singing with my heart will hopefully take over when I get in front of that microphone. I'm sure Wayne will have some ideas for me and I'll see how--and if--I can work them into how I want to approach the music. He always has good ideas, it's just matter of whether they resonate with me or not. I respect him above most others, but I still do have my own opinions and my own creativity that needs to be asserted when necessary!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

I could go on and on about the state of our political affairs in the US right now, but really what good would it do? Actions always speak louder than words and so I'm not going to sit here and complain about how frustrated I am as an american and how embarrassed I am about my government. What I need is to be part of a solution. I saw the movie Sicko last night and it depressed the hell out of me. How is it possible that we as a country have allowed our people to go so long without healthcare while other developed democracies offer universal healthcare? It's really shameful that we as a nation have not been able to come up with some kind of plan to aid all of our citizens. Honestly my first impulse after watching the movie was to leave the country. It's actually something I've toyed with for many years, but now it almost feels important to live outside of this country if I'm to live a healthy life! We deserve a quality of life that, unless you're wealthy or "gainfully" employed, is unavailable to the majority of folk. As a musician, a self-employed citizen of this country, I have no insurance unless I pay for it out of my own pocket. And even then, what I can afford is for catastrophic insurance, which means I pay a lot out of pocket in the hopes nothing terrible happens to me. It's frightening and causes undue stress that shouldn't have to be there. How can this be changed? What can I do to help change this?

Today I'm going on a walk with my friend Joan. She is the reason I am doing the hike with the Laukemia and Lymphoma Society. She told me yesterday that her brother was diagnosed two weeks ago with a blood cancer and that his prognosis is not good. I feel so sad for her and her family. She is now going to hike for her brother, while I hike for her. Now it feels more important than ever to raise the funds necessary to do this hike (http://www.active.com/donate/hfdsvmb/hfdkparra). The more money that can be raised the more research can be done to find cures for all of these diseases and cancers. Despite all of this sadness and frustration with the world, I continue to have hope. I refuse to let go of the hope that our world can improve, that we can improve as human beings. Underneath all of the terror, violence and greed we still have humanity--somewhere underneath it all. I guess I better start digging...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Last Gig Until August

I had a really nice gig last night. We had a fantastic turn out of friends and family and even some new folks who saw the article in the Metro and decided to come down. I LOVE press!! :) One woman in particular--Stephanie--saw the article in the Metro and was intrigued by the fact that I perform Sephardic music in my repertoire. She came after our first set where the one Sephardic song of the night had already been played. Since she came down specifically to hear that part of my repertoire, I moved a few things around in the second set and included Esta Montanya d'Enfrente. It actually felt really good singing that song and since it will be going on the next CD it was great practice on how I will approach it when it comes time to record. I really love the way Murray Low has arranged this style of music. He has a really good feel for how to represent this music and he has a way of bringing out its true beauty with a few well-placed chords here and there.

Playing in a restaurant is always a challenge. People come to hear you perform--at least some people do--but they also come to share a meal together. It's hard to not want to talk to your group while the music is playing. It is a bit of a challenge to me to have half of the room completely ignoring me and the band while we perform. But then there are those magical moments when there's something we do with the music that makes everyone quiet down and stop to really listen to what we're doing. That happened a few times last night but most noticably while we were performing Esta Montanya. I know the people that came last night were "listening" to the music while they were in conversation with friends, but it is a definitely different vibe when playing in a concert situation where people are listening more carefully. I suppose all these instances are good for me to experience. The fact of the matter is I get to sing and share my music with the public. That is a gift in any form it might take and I appreciate the opportunities I have been getting and continue to get. The fact of the matter is: I LOVE to perform!!