A Holiday Melody for All Faiths!

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When I was living in L.A. with my partner and my dog, Caesar, for the first time in my life I had a Christmas tree. Growing up Jewish, Hanukkah was menorahs, dreidels and potato pancakes. I loved having a Christmas tree. It was nature in the house, in a big way, nature with lights–and when we turned all the lights in the house off and kept the tree lights on, there it was in all its glory. Being a collector of lamps this was the best lamp ever! On top was a beautiful picture of Ceasar, a sable sheltie–whose image I keep front and center now in NYC.  For many, the holidays remind us to appreciate and acknowledge all the wonderful things life has to offer. However, for some, the holidays represent a time of struggle if they are alone or fighting an illness. May they find strength.

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Ceasar Augustus Hamilton, NYC 2007

From greeting cards to gifts to choral music to charitable giving, to remembering those who have passed, we celebrate the holidays in 2016 in good faith our world will be in a better place tomorrow.

KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR TRACKS

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As a songwriter it is important to keep track of your song catalog. This is your intellectual property. ASCAP, SESAC and BMI handle the performance end of a song’s activity (radio, live & internet) in the USA. Publishers (you can be your own publisher) are responsible for handling the mechanical (sales) licenses for songs which are to be recorded by artists other than the original songwriter. There are also master sync licenses and sync licenses.  I can go into those more in another blog.

Let’s focus on a mechanical license. Record labels have to acquire a mechanical license in order to release a song from a writer if their own signed artist has not written it. They need permission and often they have to pay a fee.

In 1989 King Records in Japan released the album VISUALIZE from the Japanese recording artist Miskao Honjoh with my song EYE UPON YOUR AIM on it. I wrote the song while living in the UK.  I happen to have found out about it because a label owner who was doing business in Japan heard and saw the record / single and my name was on it. A close friend of mine was his assistant so he knew of my work. He brought the record back for me.

The label never asked my permission nor did they send me a license for me to sign/approve allowing their artist on their label to record it, release it and earn on it.  I was like “cool” and then I listened when I was given the CD. They changed the lyrics, while translating it to Japanese and even added to the title, “JUST A CARNIVAL (EYE UPON YOUR AIM)” – though they gave me full credit for the words and music on the album.

The album and the song have been reissued as recently as 2014 and there is even a live performance from 2015 of the song at a club by the artist in Japan on – you guessed it–youtube.

I never did anything about it because it was before the internet and I was too busy moving forward.  Is it too late to do anything about it now? Stay tuned…

Let’s Give Thanks for First Times

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Giving thanks in a very profound way this Thanksgiving! It is my favorite holiday after all. This year I am grateful for so much including all the support I have received for my new project THE PASS.

When I do anything for the first time, it’s a big deal. There’s the initial idea, the process of putting it together and the emotions that go with attempting something new.  Then there’s the Euphoria once I do it… I actually did it! Next up, what’s next?

THE PASS had its first run through last night at Gretchen Cryer’s house with Brendan Littlefield at the piano and yours truly singing and reading the 16 vignettes created to tell my story. I was in a very numb state of mind before and after the run through. I was pushing myself so hard to get it done and then realized it had taken me less than a year to put it together. I am so very excited to keep polishing the show and share it!

Here’s a photo of myself with Gretchen Cryer, my teacher and director and pianist Brendan Littlefield just after we did the run through. It was the first time we all met and first time since I finished the script and added the songs in order, and it went thanksgivingly well.

Facing the Spotlight: Tips on Bringing My Best Self to the Game

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My whole life, singing has been as natural to me as breathing. Now that I’m getting ready to perform my one-woman show “The Pass”  I have to prepare for a more rigorous performance schedule. When you’ve been doing something your whole life naturally how do you discipline yourself, especially as you get older, to keep up the stamina? (And I’m not talking about sex!)

Before holding a concert this past Oct. 16 I had rehearsed two months once a week, including 2 back-to-back rehearsals the days before the concert. This meant 10 hours of singing 3 days in a row. I found myself having to prepare both mentally and physically.

Here’s What Helped:

Self-Affirmations

Increased Exercise Routines—took long walks, bumped up the cardio

Practiced Breathing Techniques

Started Using a Vaporizer with Essential Oils on an Increased Basis

Ate Less Milk Products (Milk Not Good for the Vocal Cords) & NO Spicy Foods (which Contract the Vocal Chords).  Started A Vegetarian-Based Diet Two Weeks Prior to the Show And Am Cutting Down on My Carbs and Sugar.

Getting 7 or 8 Hours of Sleep Per Night

Limited My Caffeine, Switched to Tea with Fresh Ginger, Honey & Lemon—Amazing!

Indulged in Warm Baths

I am happy to say it was well worth it.

Album of the day ” The Wave” Tom Chaplin

I love KEANE – one of my most favorite bands ever. excited to hear this and LOVE the cover. Thx for posting @cavanwoodcouk

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Tom Chaplin is the lead singer of Keane. This solo album is really a record that feels like a diary, revealing the demons that he has struggled with including food, drugs and the pressures of fame. There is also the way forward – his partner and his new child have helped Chaplin to have a sense beyond the problems of fame. These well crafted songs are very like Keane – but he can hardly do anything else. The recurring image of water in ” The River” and ” The wave.” This is the sound of a man in his 30s taking stock and asking questions in song for himself and also of all of us. It is good to see that Roy Castle’s son Ben is one of the people behind this record. Chaplin’s voice as much as Chris Martin’s or Lily Allen’s has dominated radio in the last fifteen…

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THE PASS, a Sense of Euphoria & Praise for Public Libraries

OK so I did it. At yesterday’s concert on 10.16.16, I read a few vignette’s from my show THE PASS interspersed with songs at yesterday’s concert. I really did it and I am excited and also feeling such a sense of euphoria. Here is a photo of me, Brendan Litttlefield and my new Behringer Europort PPA 200 with  Klark Teknik Effects built in, after the concert. Having my own PA is amazing, it is a much needed tool, compact, powerful with great effects.

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Denise Marsa & Brendan Littlefield 10.16.16 concert Palmer Museum, Springfield Library, NJ

Brendan and I rehearsed quite a bit and we had two rehearsals back to back on the 2 days before the show. We put together a strong set and worked on new arrangements and played my songs from the past 4 decades – from the 80’s thru 2016! and it was a blast and the audience really enjoyed and told us so! I am really fueled up now to work more and harder on THE PASS.

Library gigs are cool. The good news is they pay for the programs they bring in. Some of the libraries have bigger budgets depending on the size of the town and population. Libraries offer programs to their communities for free.

We performed in the Palmer Museum in the Springfield Library where they have a very old piano – one that Brendan truly enjoyed playing. There’s an exhibit as well and the current exhibit is from Sam Caponegro. Here’s one of Sam’s paintings:
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This was my second concert at Springfield Library in Springfield, New Jersey and I loved it. I had the chance to test the waters for THE PASS and the audience was entertained.

And I am still basking in the delight of the euphoria…

Thick Skin

As I am new to blogging – it is often times hard to decide what is worth a read and why. There are so many blogs out there and so many people looking for an audience.

This blog was originally created to help generate some interest in THE PASS, the show I am diligently working on while I run my PR side of my life and mentor and manage NICOLE BERKE. I am happily devoted to the pursuit of Nicole’s success as a recording artist and songwriter. Her career and well-being matter to me. That has been an important part of my career in music, mentoring and managing new young artists. It has shifted so many ideas and concepts I had formed over the years about the music industry and the process of being an artist. I have the chance to step into another artist’s shoes and it is pretty cool. I learn so much everyday.

This morning I had an epiphany after a somewhat interesting experience with a fellow blogger yesterday and an associate that helps me with my work. I tried to fix something and did what I thought was best and it backfired. No big deal, right?

It did remind me of something.  Having thick skin is important if you are going to create art, music, a blog, cooking and the list goes on. Doing something that comes from your heart and soul and sharing it and then letting it go. Only you know your intention on any given day. The idea is do what you do and if people like it great and if not so what? Will you stop doing it? Why give others the key to your safe?

My intentions are usually good.

 

Meet Brendan Littlefield

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Started working with the very talented Brendan Littlefield preparing for the Sunday, October 16 2PM show at Springfield Library Museum. We are also working on THE PASS!

Here’s a bit about Brendan:

Brendan Littlefield (b.1989) is a Brooklyn-based composer, arranger, pianist, and baritone. He completed his master’s degree in theory and composition at New York University Steinhardt in May of 2016.

Through the years he has been fortunate to study piano with Jung and Steven Spooner, voice with David Meyer, Jay Rozendaal, and Paul Speiser, and composition with Roger Briggs, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon.

Born in New York, raised in Idaho, and schooled in the Northwest, Brendan has deep roots in a variety of musical styles and disciplines, from free improvisation, to blues, to folk music, to opera.  The son of two accomplished, classically-trained singers, his musical training at the piano began at the early age of 3, and continues today.  Brendan found himself gravitating towards composition very early on, through the lenses of piano improvisations and, now, songwriting and working with a variety of solo artists and bands.

College provided him with the opportunity to polish his understanding of composition and musical theory, as well as continuing his study of a variety of different aspects of musical performance, from voice to conducting.

Brendan’s music is rooted in the marriage of the old and familiar with the new and exciting.  Innovative use of everything from instrumental techniques to rhythm and tonality drive his work, and he draws on both his extensive performance experience and his jack-of-all-trades approach to life in general to create a wide variety of lyrical, harmonically-intriguing, and rhythmically-complex pieces.

The Pass will launch in the Spring of 2017 with initial readings being held in NYC.

Gretchen Cryer: She’s Getting My Act Together

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Last spring I went to a reading at the York Theater of “Call My Publicist!” written and performed by Joshua Ellis, the very well-known and accomplished Broadway publicist (“The Elephant Man”, “Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby”). The show was directed by Gretchen Cryer. I was so impressed that I thought to myself that’s exactly who I need to direct my show, “The Pass”. I googled her, sent her an email with a link to my own website and told her I was working on a one woman show. She then got in touch; we arranged a meeting so we could assess how we might gel.

I was honored when Gretchen agreed to work one on one with me. It has been one of the most rewarding and invigorating projects of my career. She is an extraordinary force and I can understand why she is considered a theater legend.

Gretchen is well known for writing the book and lyrics and starring in “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road” (with music by Nancy Ford). The show, originally produced in NYC by Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, was followed by a 3 year run at the Circle in the Square. With Nancy Ford, Gretchen also wrote other shows, including “Now is the Time for All Good Men” and “Anne of Green Gables”. Gretchen has recorded two albums with Nancy for RCA and has starred on Broadway in her own cabaret act, in addition to performing off Broadway and on film. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and is President Emeritus of the Dramatists Guild Fund. In addition to these accomplishments, she has received various awards and degrees, among them a Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University and a MAT degree from Harvard.

Gretchen’s enthusiasm for “The Pass”, as well as her vast experience, have been a stellar inspiration. I wish to thank my friend Terry Castillo for suggesting I go to “Call My Publicist!”—not only did I meet a mentor, I also enjoyed Joshua Ellis’s play for its candor, humor and verve.

Here’s EYES WIDE OPEN, a song that we will be featuring in THE PASS and it is getting the most plays on KeyMedia Group Music  soundcloud page! Just recently added it to our player and glad we did.