Friday, December 27, 2013

First Tour: T minus 3 days to go {a look back}

In October 2013, I went on my first National Tour with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. I sang the Abyssinian Mass written by Mr. Marsalis with Chorale Le Chateau led by Damien Sneed. 

I found out earlier this year that I was going on tour and didn't really mention it to the masses for months and months because I felt like I was dreaming! Showing up to Jazz at Lincoln Center at the stage door every few weeks and rehearsing a piece that the legend Wynton Marsalis wrote...I mean, how could this be real life? It was a question I'd be asking all year long.

I don't really know what I was expecting but whatever that was, it was BEYOND what I could imagine. Firstly, I was surrounded by greatness. From the conductor Damien Sneed to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and everyone in between, we had some of the best musicians around in that room with us. And every single person in that choir could sing their faces off and it really validated my place in that room. That I was among the best of the best and I was included in that best.
Photo credit: Candice Hoyes

Fast forward to the beginning of October, it was the first of 3 days of rehearsal where we'd be rehearsing the Mass with the band for 6 hours per day. During those 3 days, there were some very interesting guests. On my way to lunch that Monday, I'm the only person in the hallway getting on the elevator and WHO walks out of the Dizzy's Jazz Club with their entourage but Fantasia Barrino. I don't even get star struck by people but for some reason, I was with her. Maybe because we were both at work that day, in the same place, and I was thinking, maybe I shouldn't say anything. But then she said "Hay-llo" to ME in her signature raspy voice. HA! I'm actually a really big fan of her and voted for her every week when she was on Idol.

The 2nd day, Crosby, Stills & Nash randomly showed up to the rehearsal. I don't know why, surely they were performing somewhere themselves and just wanted to check out the production. No big deal I guess. But *I* was freaking out because I spent a year trying to figure out the name of this one classic rock song, but I could only think of this part "Do do do do do DOOT DOOT DO DO". And it was such a long frustrating year because when I typed that into a search bar, don't you know, google COULDN'T TELL ME WHAT I MEANT. Anyway long story short, it was "Judy Blue Eyes" by them and I felt closer to that band after someone finally told me and sent me their CD (Thanks Debi!!). Okay, so that's why it was important to me that they showed up. I wanted to yell to them "Hey!!! Do do do do do DOOT DOOT DO DO. You know what I mean?!?!" What a La Toya-centric coincidence! (I cued up a YouTube Vid of this song HERE just in case you have NO idea what I'm talking about)

Ron Raines!
And on the 3rd day, someone who looked like Ron Raines showed up. Only, it WAS Ron Raines. This sealed the deal for me because after my friend Lawrence Saint-Victor got a role on Guiding Light, I started watching the soap opera to support him. I very quickly became a mega-fan of the character Alan Spalding (played by Raines) and how tremendously exquisite his villainous portrayal was. Just supreme. I loved him. So on that 3rd day when Ron Raines showed up to rehearsal I really had to ask myself if this was real life.

And we hadn't even left for tour yet...!

Here's a clip of us singing from one of our rehearsals that week:

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