Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kwanzaa Time is Here!

I LOVE Kwanzaa!
The day after Christmas is the first day of the African-centered holiday called Kwanzaa. I've always celebrated Kwanzaa in some form or another since I was a little girl and moreso when I became an adult. My partner's family has an annual Kwanzaa celebration on New Year's eve that I've attended for the past five years and in my work as a youth worker, I've always produced some sort of Kwanzaa festivity, my most memorable celebrations being when I worked at Covenant House Washington for almost six years and the celebrations were mainly led by the youth in the program. We had so much fun...

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are so important to me and I honor them by trying to uphold them throughout the year. They are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Yesterday's performance was definitely an example of Umoja.

So, this Kwanzaa, I wanted to be sure to participate in a Kwanzaa celebration, particularly to perform my Kwanzaa song "Kwanzaa Time is Here". I'm trying to have a holiday CD completed by next fall for the holidays and "Kwanzaa Time is Here" will definitely be on it. I wrote it about six years ago and distributed it to my family and friends as a Kwanzaa gift and continue to get requests from folks who wish to use it for their own Kwanzaa celebrations. I sent a video of me performing it last week at the Potter's House to wonderful Carolyn Malachi who is CEO of Smart Chicks, Inc. and a brilliant performer in her own right and she invited me to perform in this year's Kwanzaa Celebration at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center that she produces annually for the resort chain.
(In photo: My beautiful snow princess in front of a wall of lights in the ICE! exhibit. Photo by Hook)
(In photo: Ice creations in the ICE! exhibit. Photo by Hook)
(In photo: An ice teddy bear for the kiddies. Photo by Hook)

(In photo: I'm performing with Stan Cooper and Kristen Arant who agreed to perform literally the day before the show. We had never rehearsed (and I had never met Stan), so the performance was literally as impromptu as you can get! Photo by Hook)

Impromptu is Theme of the Day
So, the performance was in the ICE! Pavilion across the street from the Gaylord Resort on the National Harbor. ICE! is this traveling exhibit of various creations made of ice held in an area that is so cold that visitors are given a thermal coat to wear ON TOP of the winter coats and clothing they already have on. I wasn't performing in this freezing cold space, but, instead, right outside of it in a space that was designed as a backdrop depicting the DC city of Georgetown. My family got to go thru the ICE exhibit before my performance and they took the cute photos above in front of the different things that were a part of the exhibit. One of the running jokes between my spouse and I is that I can only perform at places where I can get free admission for the family to save money on family field trips, and they have to be cool enough that the kids have fun and learn something in the mix. Well this was definitely a fun family field trip.

The performance was a one-of-a-kind experience and nothing I could have expected. The mic I was singing in had no monitor, and the speakers were not in the same room with me. Instead, they were throughout the ICE exhibit. While this was way cool to have my music transmitted throughout the exhibit, it was a bit disconcerting not to hear clearly how I sounded through the system. So, I could not hear myself singing and my musicians could barely hear me, as my guitarist was amped and my drummer was, well, a drummer. Drums aren't quiet. But, we worked it. I told them, if all else fails, I have my maracas to shake!

The two musicians, Stan Cooper and Kristen Arant had literally agreed to perform with me the day before and I had never met Stan before. My friend and regular accompanist Gary Young was on vacation in Boston and I was scrambling fast to find accompaniment and was helped by the top-notch musician Walter Cosby, who I initially asked, but he was already booked for a gig. Both he and Stan have performed with some well-known acts, so to have Stan to agree to work with me was an honor. Kristen was so incredible last week at the Potter's House show that I begged her again to come out to accompany on the Kwanzaa song, and she wound up performing the whole set. She too is a traveling drumming diva who has performed with some of the best as well.

The ICE! exhibit was packed! The event sold out before noon that day. My spouse told me that someone came up to him and asked "Who is that band?" when we were performing and was texting about us. That was cool. Hopefully the text wasn't one joking about how this crazy woman was singing into a mic that was not turned on, LOL.

All in all, it was such a great to play more Wii!

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