Friday, April 17, 2020

The Voyage

several times a day
i pause and wonder where you might be now
what is it like in this new existence

i'm sure that I feel your lightness of being now
a diamond clear and sparkling transparency
that rains over me
in a gentle wash of you


it's just a feeling
but a comforting one
to feel you are at peace
one with all there is
beside inside and around each one of us

everyone that you ever loved
during your time here
before taking off on your amazing journey
of forever-ness

bon voyage sweet lady.
thank you for the good life you gave to me
see you on the other side.






Sunday, April 5, 2020

Lorraine Stern 1918 to 2020

The story my mother always told us about the glorious day of her birth, as told to her by her mother Grace, was that on November 7th 1918, celebrations occurred across the world after the announcement that the armistice was soon to be signed and the "war to end all wars" had finally come to an end, but she only heard the "celebrations occurred all over the world" part, believing for the longest time that the global rejoicing was entirely about her coming into the world. It gave that little girl a sense of self importance but it also gave her a stunning sense of invincibility, self confidence and optimism that would serve her through out her life. 

She was born in a vet hospital because it was the midst of the 1918 pandemic and all of the other hospitals were over run with dying influenza patients. 
A ward of recovering French soldiers in the vet hospital were overcome with joy at the announcement of the war's end and the sight of a new born baby girl, and they asked Grace to name her Alsace after their home Alsace Lorraine. She nixed the Alsace and gave mom the name Lorraine. 

Almost 102 years later, on April 4th 2020 my mother, our amazing sweet Lorraine exited this world on another pandemic.  

She was not just my mom but my friend and confidant. We talked to each other everyday. I will miss those daily conversations profoundly. She was truly a remarkable human being dearly loved by everyone who knew her...funny, extremely smart, brave, kind, biting and opinionated at times, generous, talented, lover of art, travel, reading (she used to devour books) politics (she was a leftist I.F. Sone Weekly reading junkie) cooking and food....she could eat a man three times her tiny self under the table. 

When someone you love crosses the 95 year old mark we start preparing ourselves emotionally for that persons eventual passing on into the next realm. When that moment does indeed come, which it does for all of us as no one gets out alive, it is no easier for having prepared yourself. The loss is real and painful. This remarkable woman who touched so many lives over her very long rich life has passed on. I was going to write that she is gone now, but she really isn't because she is a part of everyone who ever loved her and still loves her. That is her immortality. 101? That's just the physical Lolo. She really is inside of us forever.


Lorraine Lowe 1923


1939 on the road, Augusta Ga


Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Bliss


Press shot Lorraine Grant days


Press shot singing with dads orchestra 1943


Mom with her brother Tommy 1944


New parents. with baby Trudy 1945


Mom and Dad downtown Buffalo


101 years young...


Fist bump!


How we remember her...smiling in her kitchen.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Domino effect

It's already February!

2020 is unfolding with so many possibilities, and I feel like I'm often on the edge of my seat looking ahead to see how one event will ultimately affect another like a series of falling dominoes.

On a microcosmic level in my personal world of possibilities one hopeful event will determine the next...which is exciting (I'll tell you about it in my next blog! hint: think travel, recording, performing) and I'm trying to take a Zen approach to living with many unknown quotients at this writing...being in the moment and simply going with the flow. I'm actually loving the ever changing aspects of my life and my work. The uncertainty feels inspiring and it makes me appreciate where I'm at in any given moment more than I used to.

On a much bigger scale on the domino effect line, I'm waiting and watching to see how our world is profoundly affected by political decisions every single day.  I check the news on my iPhone first thing in the morning to see what's changed in the world while I slept...what fuming tweets Trump has unleashed on social media...what natural disasters have occurred due to climate change...maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and today will be the day that everyone wakes up and decides to take action towards positive change, and be kind to one another...politicians and corporations will wake up deciding to be honest and suddenly want to consider humanity and the environment ahead of personal gain.

That would be amazing no?

One thing I am absolutely certain about is our fabulous women led bands music festival coming up on the horizon in Austin Texas!  Lulufest 2020 will be on May 16th & 17th this year and we couldn't be more excited about the line up.

May 16th at St Eds: 
The absolutely brilliant grammy nominated vocalist Kate McGarry, and one of my favorite artists in the world, pianist /vocalist Dena Derose, and from the Bay area saxophonist Kristin Strom all fronting their own projects and the evening will culminate with an all star line up on Peggy Stern's closing set with the "Estrella Salsa" band which I'm thrilled to be a member of.

May 17th:
Master classes in the afternoon with Kate McGarry, Dena Derose, Suzi Stern, Peggy Stern, Kristen Strom


May 17th in the evening: "Lulufest Afterglow" party with  LeeAnn Atherton, Emily Gimble, Suzi Stern, Danielle Reich, Peggy Stern, Sharon Burbonnais, Rachel Spencer, Austin Women's Jazz Choir and more!


More info. about the upcoming festival, tickets, locations, hours, and past Lulufest's at: https://lulu-fest.com/

Keep your eye on this site for info. on upcoming exciting developments and see you in Austin in May!

Musically Yours,

Suzi



Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020 in 2020!



A new year! I’ve been sending out emails, texts and cards wishing the people I love a happy, healthy, inspired New Year…hoping that we can all improve our vision of what this world is capable of being. 2020 in 2020 is my new motto! 

I still hold onto the hope that we can take action and turn things around…environmentally, politically and emotionally. The world is so divided and on edge. My resolution is to begin microcosmically with my own self improvement…being more involved…a kinder, more empathetic person…smiling and engaging with strangers. I realize it will take a hell of a lot more than that to turn our messed up world right but I’m determined to practice kindness and recognize goodness, joy, and the delights that are still very much a part of my extremely fortunate life. 

Make no mistake…I think concrete things like voting, giving to charity, volunteering, recycling, composting, spreading joy through your music and art…yes, yes, absolutely do that too of course!! But the kindness thing is majorly needed right now. 

I also have to work on chilling more around small stressors in my immediate life that in the big picture don’t matter at all…like social media stress, texting, tweeting, instagram envy (Oh man! Everyone is doing cooler shit than me!!) and freaking out when computers don’t function when you need them the most…”where did my mailing list go all of a sudden?!"

Can I talk to you about computers for a minute?

Anyone who owns a computer knows that they're fantastic when they work but on the other hand they’re a nightmare when they don’t work...capable of turning you into a ranting angry crazed lunatic.

 If your livelihood depends upon the computer functioning, one can feel hostage to whatever technological "glitch du jour" pops up on the screen freezing the arch of your mission dead in its tracks.

I have a dependency on my laptop and its functionality like most of us do; I schedule students, rehearsals, gigs, meetings, write and archive my lyrics and music etc. but my partner depends on it for every single step he takes in his creative process for his work. He’s a composer who writes scores, orchestrates, edits and communicates with filmmakers through a series of keyboards and computers that seem to work for him maybe… 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time he is in his studio cursing like the afore mentioned lunatic, rebooting, unplugging, crawling under diode blinking machinery, unraveling and re-patching cables.

We’ve been married for 12 years and I feel like the computers in his studio are these other entities that came along with him when I said “I do”. Some relationships inherit children from former marriages…or pets…or a piece of ugly furniture that has sentimental value to the other guy so you willingly take it on…but these computers have a life and a mind of their own and they rule the roost.

I truly do understand the fragility of the whole system and that one thing out of whack stops not only my hubbies whole entire creative process, but makes it impossible to meet his deadlines which can be unbelievably stressful.

The day will be humming along swimmingly, then I’ll hear the sound… The dreaded sound…the all too familiar guttural caveman grunt coming out of the studio...I will think “oh crap the computer’s not working but...maybe it’s OK” then profanities of blue come streaming up the hallway and I think “nope... not good...I’ll go hide in my room with a book till it blows over” and so it goes. 

We live with this unreliable temperamental room mate named Mac who has been known to very suddenly alter our weekend plans, keep his owner up sometimes for 24 hours trying to figure out how to get the guy to talk again, tease and taunt by working like a champ and then without warning and with no rhyme or reason, stick his little electronic nose in the air and stop all communication.

There is such an intense sense of relief when my hubby the composer comes into the room and says “OK I figured it out! It was minor!” That proclamation can come after 5 minutes of swearing,or worst case scenario several days of fiddling and sending out for parts and taking the computers apart and putting them back together again. One never quite knows how these episodes will play out.

I’ve learned to adjust to living with Mac. Like any temperamental artist, he can be fabulous and inspiring, or completely frustrating and elusive.

Here’s to the three of us living under the same roof and making beautiful music together in 2020. 

On the tiny- teeniest level, which is my very small life...I believe this will be an amazing, beautiful, loving year of positive forward movement.

On a much grander scale I pray that all of these small gestures that each one of us is very capable of putting out into the atmosphere, will collectively make a positive difference that we can feel globally. 

Happy 2020 from Suzi, George & Mac


George at work...things are hummin'

My little room mate Mac

Life can be sweet...remember this,

Sunday, October 13, 2019

We could use your help!

Are any of you Spotify or Pandora users?

If so we could use your help making the grocery money!

Did you know:
According to Spotify, the artist receives a payout somewhere between 6 tenths of one cent up to 8.4 tenths of a cent ($.006 and .0084) per "stream" of that artists music?

It depends on the agreement between the artist and Spotify, but that being said you'd need well over a million "hits" listened to for a minimum of 30 seconds to count as a "stream"  to make your pay off of $6,000.  That's not too good for over 1,000,000 streams of ones music.

Here's how you can help: during your listening process please consider doing a search for Suzi Stern and stream some of my tracks. They were all lovingly crafted and the brilliant musicians on every track would be honored to know that the music is being heard.  The perk for me will be getting a check from CD baby for Spotify and Pandora streams.  

It might bring in enough $ to take George out to dinner or put a little bit of gas into our hybrid Volt...and knowing that the music is indeed being heard makes me happy.

Let me know what you think about the tracks.
What you'd like to hear more of? 
Share your listening habits with me. 
I'm curious about what works and what doesn't and how jazz musicians can keep making a living with out necessarily touring and selling T-shirts and the merchandise that goes along with that route. 

If you still actually listen to physical CD's I have 8 releases to date that can be purchased on Amazon.com or cdbaby.com or Viewpointrecords.com or visit my website where there are sound samples so you can make an informed decision! 

www.suzistern.com

Thanks for reading all of this and considering locating and listening to my tracks!



I am so grateful to all of you beautiful music lovers. 

Musically Yours,

Suzi



Time off from work with my grandson!



Teaching a clinic in Pasadena. This continues to be such a joy! Helping aspiring singers find their voices!



Another wonderful outlet recently: Singing with the new music orchestra "decisive Instant" in L.A.



I keep writing and recording...so far it's not making us rich but it's part of this unstoppable process!



My involvement as assistant director of Lulufest in Austin Texas is so important to me. Meeting and working with remarkable women like Jane Bunnett and Maqueque from Cuba, Ingrid Jensen, Allison Miller, Dawn Clement, Emily Gimble, Helen Sung, Carrie Rodriguez to name only a few. I'm stoked about Lulufest 2020 where the line up will be equal inspiring.



More joys of being a working musician: Networking with ridiculously talented and wonderful women like pianist / composer Peggy Stern, Jazz vocalist / composer Jay Clayton and saxophonist / composer Claire Daily.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Coming home to Buffalo

The first time I moved away from home I was 19 and happy to get out of Buffalo New York. I'd tell people I was from N.Y. hoping they'd think I was talking about Manhattan. It wasn't a lie. I was indeed from New York, but the western most part of the state right on Lake Erie...famous for Bethlehem Steel, the Erie Canal, Niagara Falls, WKBW radio, the Terf Club situated right underneath the Peace Bridge with the best fresh oysters, clams and pizza and always hoppin' with mafia diners...The Anchor Bar with it's famous chicken wings, beef on wick, Teds Hot Dogs, The Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bills...So nothing a 19 year old vegetarian who wasn't into sports was too excited about.

At the turn of the century Buffalo was a vibrant center for commerce, with beautiful architecture, parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and wide parkways lined with trees. It was a destination spot for artists, writers and intellectuals. But when I was growing up there it was a struggling city...people were leaving inner city Buffalo to buy homes in the suburbs...and once the steel plant closed Buffalo seemed more depressed than ever.  Although the air seemed cleaner people were leaving, old buildings stood neglected and downtown was full of empty store fronts.

Today Buffalo is coming back to life.  It's truly one of my favorite places to visit. My family is there so of course I love visiting but that fact aside, Buffalo is full of character and history and beauty.

I especially find beauty in the little gems that no one has touched yet...things that haven't been renovated...the old bridges rusting and sturdy, ornate man hole covers that remain unchanged, abandoned factories waiting to be turned into condos or art museums.

I have lived all over the country. In fact I've lived away from Buffalo longer than I have lived "in" Buffalo yet Buffalo will always be home. The intense winters, the joyous spring thaws, spectacular colorful autumns, and the backyard bar BQ's, swimming in Canada, luscious green, all too brief summers.

I plan to be compiling a book of photos that I've taken over the past years from the city of no illusions and here are just a few images to share.

On another note....no pun intended, I'll be in Austin May17th & 18th to sing at lulufest and help produce this years fabulous concerts. Hope to see you there!  All the details here: www.lulu-fest.com

Love from Pasadena California and thanks for reading my blog!































Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lulufest 2019!

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been busy here in L.A. doing some long distance assisting with the plans for Lulufest Austin!  

This year, being our third Lulufest we are extending the event to two days of concerts. May 17th at Parker Jazz downtown Austin Texas & May 18th on the Jones Theatre stage at Saint Eds U. 
We will be presenting an amazing group of extraordinary artists so be sure to save the dates on your calendar and I’ll see you in the heart of Texas this coming May.

Our fearless leader, Peggy Stern (no relation!) has very creatively chosen women to feature who present a wide array of varied musical styles. 

All the info. you need is on the Lulufest site at www.lulu-fest.com

Looking forward to being back in Austin and being a part of this beautiful and important festival!

Musically Yours,

Suzi


From Cuba to Austin: 
Jane Bunnett and Maqueqe 



Carrie Rodriguez


Claire Daily


Dawn Clement

Estrella Salsa 

Jay Clayton

Pamela York