“We laughed with ease and skinned our knees, picking sour apples from an old apple tree; We waved away bees and did as we pleased…many years ago…” – Many Years Ago
thus are the opening lines of one of my favorite songs to sing – one i wrote for my sister and brothers when i was in my 30s. it’s one of the few songs i can sing while accompanying myself on the piano and the waning days of summer this time of year always remind me of that song. don’t know why.
but here’s what i DO know: everything is sweetened by risk. so…are you ready? really ready to put yourself out there? ready to quit that job? to make that call? release yourself from that relationship? make that move? it’s all risky, isn’t it? who knows what will happen? universal power longs for us to harken to that one true note that emanates from within us, that internal tuning fork that hums and vibrates with our own energy set in motion the day we arrived on this earth; the eternal drum beat of our own heart that has whispered to us since that first spark of life in utero. universal power dares us to grab hold to that risk and not let go!! the same universal power that keeps the sun burning – as well as the millions of other stars in the sky – has got our back and will NOT disappoint! it’s time to claim all that sweet juicy goodness spilling over onto the path of risk and witness our own transformation as a result. you are NOT too old. you are NOT too young. you are NOT too poor. you are NOT too inexperienced. you are NOT to uneducated. you have NOT been in your situation too long to make a change. you do NOT have too many obstacles. just jump! and the net will appear…
I WANNA BE EVIL!
i admit it. i’m attracted to “bad” women who “misbehave”. harvard historian and author laurel thatcher ulrich once wrote “well-behaved women seldom make history”. eartha kitt was often spoken of as being ‘bad’, but an objective perspective indicates it was only within the wider context of the contemporary “white-bread” singers who dominated the airwaves at the time. eartha was naturally and unapologetically sensuous; she spoke her mind to whoever was listening about whatever she thought, without regard to their station in life, a trait that often spilled over into her musical repertoire and delivery.
i like eartha, admire her courage and fierce determination to be none other than herself, dammit. so much so that i decided to record a tribute to her music. and that CD’s release date is nov 12 of this year! yes, boys and girls, it’s a CD entitled “i wanna be evil” and i cannot begin to tell you how much fun i had recording it. i was really difficult deciding which songs to put on the CD – i couldn’t find one song that eartha sang that didn’t resonate with me for one reason or another.
once i decided which songs to do, i realized there was no way to do justice to this music without having a horn section. so, with the rhythm section already an experiment-in-truth foregone conclusion (quentin baxter [drums and percussion], elias bailey [b] and kevin bales [p]), we contacted etienne charles (tpt and percussion), adrian cunningham (flt, sax, clarinet) and the inimitable wycliffe (tbn) and they all said ‘yes’. next step was to loosen the reigns so that the incredibly talented etienne charles (love that boy!) could arrange 5 of the tunes. the others are arrangements by me or kevin bales. people, let me tell you: during the sessions, i tapped into something so wild and uninhibited i hardly knew myself! had to pull my husband aside (who was there during our 2nd day of recording) and apologize in advance for some of the conclusions he might have drawn as a result of watching and listening. he understood, though, and said he loved me all the more (didn’t you, baby?)
well, i will leave it to you to decide, but as for me – i am VERY excited about this project!! and eternally grateful for jana herzen and motema music for backing me all the way in this project. it’s not easy doing a tribute album; there is a fine line to walk between tribute (where one hopefully captures the spirit of the music) and imitation (where nothing you do will EVER compare to the original and ends up sounding hackneyed, forced and insincere). check out the itinerary below to see where you can catch a CD release party!
whole lotta jumping took place the last week of july at the centrum jazz camp/workshop/festival. as part of the faculty, it was my privilege (along with sachal vasandani and cyrille aimee in the pic above) to work with singers of all ages and levels of experience as they met challenge after challenge during the course of a week. things began – as they usually do – with some anxiety, worry and apprehension on the part of the participants, but also a lot of nervous energy and anticipation. day by day, those worries gradually gave way to laughter, self confidence and, finally, sassiness and exultation from having risked their own vulnerability to sing at a jazz club on their final night! WHOO-HOO! i give them all a standing ovation for working through their fear and misgivings and singing the hell outta their songs! and many thanks and kudos to the entire centrum faculty and staff for making this another unforgettably joy-filled week of musical bonding!
“SLUT ENERGY THEORY – U’DEAN” OFF-BROADWAY IN NEW YORK!
ok. i don’t know how in the world i’ve been able to keep this under my hat all these months, but i couldn’t say anything about it until after the official announcement was made on july 22. thanks to the hard work of my booking agency, geodesic management, and their unflagging belief in my creativity, my one-woman show, “Slut Energy Theory – U’Dean”, is scheduled for four nights (4 nights!!!!) off-broadway in New York. the dates are october 12, 13, 18 & 20, 2013. my play is one of 8 plays being featured during the 2013 All For One Theatre Festival. here’s a link to it all: http://www.afofest.org/shows/slut-energy-theory/
for more information: https://renemarie.com/one-woman-shows
for reviews about the play itself:
and here’s an interview with ryan warner on KCFR, my favorite NPR station: http://www.cpr.org/article/legacy-archive-5198
i’ve always wanted this show to get more attention than it has. and not because of any wish for fame on my part. it’s just that i believe in u’dean and her story. i love the way she touches people, the way her story moves others to speak up about their own. and i love the way u’dean speaks through me – with a courageous vulnerability and fierce honesty that is very difficult to replicate in my own life. her story of abuse, sexual awakening and sexual independence crosses the sensitive material threshold many times in the telling; she sees no need to mince her words – anything less than that would amount to pablum. wholly unglorifed and unsentimental truth is the only language at u’dean’s command by which she finds a means to release everything that must be said. this is what makes her so beautiful to me. i love the lessons i learn from her each time she takes the stage.
if you have ever met, seen or heard u’dean, i ask that you join me in visualizing her speaking her unadorned, yet passionately spoken truths in women’s shelters, community centers and correctional facilities. that is my goal – to bring u’dean to those who are least able to come to her.
if you have not yet heard u’dean speak, i encourage you to set aside 2 hours of your time in october to take advantage of one of the four times this year she’ll bring her homespun wisdom and unsentimental sacrilege to the stage in NY.
WHAT I NEED FROM YOU (AND WHAT I OFFER IN RETURN)
my four days of performing “SLUT ENERGY THEORY – U’DEAN” in october in NY are part of 14 actual days that i’ll need to be there for rehearsals, workshops and panel discussions. traveling back and forth between virginia and new york during those two weeks will simply be too exhausting and, knowing myself, i will need to be residing in quiet and solitude in NY from october 7-21. fourteen days in a hotel in NY can be quite expensive, so i believe that among those reading this there is (at least) one person who either has a well-appointed, private, quiet, self-contained place with a kitchen or kitchenette for me to stay during those 2 weeks with easy access to the cherry hill studio theater or knows someone who does. that’s where all you fabulous folks come in!
in exchange for securing a place like this for me, what i will offer in return is free COMPED tickets for two at ANY concert or club date for the next 365 days, (to include cover charge and dinner), 2 complimentary and autographed “I Wanna Be Evil” CDs, a “shout out” from the stage, plus a backstage hang with me and Experiment In Truth on any or all of those nights. this offer will be good for 12 months from the date of agreement. it can be at any venues you choose within the continental U.S. if you or someone you know has just the spot, simply respond to this email.
WHERE WE GONNA BE AT??
Oct 6 – Virginia Arts Festival, Attucks Theatre, Norfolk, VA
Oct 12, 13, 18, 20 – AFO Festival (Slut Energy Theory – U’Dean)
Cherry Lane Studio Theater, NYC
Oct 26, 27 – Cork Jazz Festival, Cork, Ireland
Oct 31 –Lleida Jazz Festival, Lleida, Spain
Nov 1 – Avui Jazz Cicle, VillaReal, Spain
Nov 2 – Jamboree Jazz Club, Barcelona, Spain
Nov 12 – * CD RELEASE EUROPEAN PREMIERE * Duc Des Lombards, Paris, France
Nov 14-16 – Pizza Express, London, UK
Nov 20 – Bethesda Jazz & Blues, Bethesda, MD
Nov 21-24 * CD RELEASE U.S. PREMIERE * Jazz Standard, NYC
Dec 9 – Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill, NC
Dec 22 – SPARC Concert, Landmark Theatre (w/ Jason Mraz, k.d. lang & others), Richmond, VA
Jan 29 – The Underground Student Activity Center, Temple University Campus, Philadelphia, PA
Feb 18-22 – Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Moscow, ID
Apr 12-13 – South Miami Dade Center for the Arts, Miami, FL
Apr 17-21 – London Jazz Workshop & Festival, King’s Place, London, UK
May 22 – World Café Live, Wilmington, DE
May 23 – Westminster Canturbury, Richmond, VA
May 24 – Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Festival, Washington, DC
we will be adding more dates as the weeks go by, they’re just not confirmed yet.