“Chi-town” Calling! (Part 1)

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(Stock photo from Getty Images)

Challenge accepted!

This year, I wanted to do something different with my music career.  I had been performing in LA and around Palm Springs for years, so I thought it was time to branch out a little bit.  What better place to start that than in one my favorite musical cities, Chicago!

After being invited to perform there for a college preparation event in May, then having to cancel, then contacting a bunch venues, I eventually received a positive response from an agent at Uncommon Ground, a farm-to-table restaurant, with a music room.  This room has an intimate vibe like City Winery, a place I’d been to before and loved!  It reminded me of spots Amy Winehouse would perform.  Needless to say, I was going make this show happen and booked my debut gig in July!

Another idea followed (thanks to my sister),  to learn a bunch of jazz tunes and make it an eclectic jazz show.  After all, Chicago is known for it’s jazz and blues scene and I had a desire to develop that repertoire further, so I took on this next proposition.

There was even more I was tasked to do:  find a musician to accompany me, find at least two supporting local acts to open for me, create flyers, advertise, fill the room to capacity, all in about six weeks.  Sounds like a lot right?  Well, it was (especially considering I have a more-than-full-time day-job and other responsibilities.)

Shalini, Uncommon Ground -Edgwater, July 9., 2018

(This is the flyer my friend, Christine and I made.)

*****

With a host of things to accomplish, I opened my computer and began to work.

The Internet is a beautiful thing.  Not only does it provide a wealth of information, there are so many ways to connect with others.  Fortunately, I found a Chicago-based musician/singer pretty quickly and reconnected with an artist, who I’d only met briefly about three years ago.  They were both willing to perform in my show and I was so grateful to have them.

Read about my fellow musicians/artists here:  ‘Sweet Summer Sounds with Shalini and Friends’

As the weeks progressed, I continued to check items off my list.  However, I was falling behind in memorizing my songs.  In my true procrastination-fashion, I saved this objective for last.  (Why do I do this to myself?)

Well-prepared or not, I took my charts, lyrics, luggage, and positive vibes from family and friends, and hopped on that plane… nervously.

*****

To be continued…

 

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Jazz Fest (New Orleans)!

May 2017

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It had been a long time coming…

For years, I had been wanting to go to Jazz Fest in New Orleans.  I had heard many great things about it and since I’d visited New Orleans once, I knew it was a place I had to return to.  It just has a soul and a style different from any other place I have visited in my life.

Finally, this year I told myself I was not going to miss this festival.  While most of my friends are into the more trendy festivals- Coachella, Burning Man, etc., I wanted the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Music Festival to be my first one.

Although I’m a singer perform live regularly,  I was a little daunted by the idea of listening to music all day in the open air for three days in a row, so I opted to go to the first weekend for two days.  It was a nice happy medium.

It was a long journey to New Orleans.  My flight was delayed by an hour and a half, which led me to miss my connection, and have to catch the next flight.  Luckily, I came in time to experience a little night life with my man before heading to the fest the next day.  (In New Orleans, the night life lasts until 5 or 6 in the morning!)

The street bands and live music on Frenchmen’s street served as a nice precursor for what was going to be a weekend full of music!  It was also good to connect with my cousin and his wife, who were also in town for Jazz Fest.

Then the day finally came, Jazz Fest day 1 (well technically day two out of three, but day one for me.)  After a quick hotel breakfast, and a fifteen minute Uber drive, my man and I joined the masses to get through one of the many entrances to the Race Track and Fairgrounds where the outdoor event was held.

Before even entering the fair grounds, people were selling food and drink , including lots of water bottles, as it was a warm day.  Also, the line to the fairgrounds went pretty quickly -a swift bag check and two scans of our tickets, and we were in!

Day 1, first stop:  The Gospel Tent.  What a way to embark on our musical journey, by listening to roaring and uplifting, gospel music!  We clapped our hands, responded to the calls, and continued on to the next tent -The Blues Tent.

This is where the authenticity of New Orleans music began to be revealed and true music-lovers gathered.  People weren’t in the audience chatting or distracted, they were up on their feet dancing to every tune.  To me, it felt like home.

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As the day continued, we made our way through the maze of venues, from small outdoor stages, to tents, to big stages where headliners, including the Alabama Shakes and Usher performed.  As much as I enjoy these artists, my favorites were the local bands.  They simply keep the soul of New Orleans alive.  They danced while they played, some dressed in decorative costumes, and kept people elevated!

Another thing that exudes the spirit of NoLa is the food and people!  As we left the racetrack for the day, the music and fun continued.  While we walked to find a place to catch a cab to our hotel a few friendly party goers, invited us to have crawfish and drinks.  I’d never had boiled crawfish before or knew how to eat it, so they taught us how to.  It was a lot of fun!

We continued to enjoy the music scene in French quarter that evening, found more good eats, then called it a night-  as we had one more music-filled day to go!

Day 2:  Rain!  That’s right, it was raining and we received the notification on the Internet that “the Jazz Fest is closed until further notice.”  Did we really travel from far and purchase non-refundable tickets, to not be able to attend this long-awaited music festival?  I felt terrible… until about 1pm, when it opened up again!  By then we had purchased some gear to weather the rain, including waterproof shoes and umbrella.  The racetrack was muddy, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying what was left of the fest.  Lorde was great on stage and it was exciting to catch a live show of Tom Petty!  Although my favorite again, were the local performers. This was the day the New Orleans marching band paraded through the track.  Come rain or shine, the music played on!

This spirit  that comes from the soulful and uplifting from music, people, and food are what I love about New Orleans and while things didn’t go quite as expected, I was so happy to be there and share the time with my family and partner.

My hope now is that I will one day perform at this awesome festival!  (Can you visualize it? 😉 )IMG_3932

“Pre-Grammy” Weekend!

February 17, 2017

The weekend leading up to the Grammy’s is an exciting time, here in L.A.!

There are so many special networking and musical events that take place and fortunately for me, I was able to partake in some of them this year.

It started with the Pre-Grammy Party hosted by Whole Planet Foundation, a charity event benefiting microlending around the world.  The venue was beautiful, packed with elegantly-dressed people, and plenty of food and drink to try from the sponsors of the event.

Lucky for me, I came just in time to listen to the jazzy sounds of Grammy-nominated vocalist, Rene Marie!  Her voice was reminiscent of old jazz favorites -Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald – a rare find in LA and something I’m often in search of.

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(Remy Marie performing with her jazz band)

Later on, I was surprised to see the Katey Segal, who played Peggy Bundy in ‘Married with Children’ as the lead singer of a folk-rock band called The Reluctant Apostles.  She has a very soulful voice -what talent!  The evening was lovely and worth the evening commute.

The next night, I had to rally myself to get to a networking event right back in Hollywood.  It was for the Southern California Music Industry Professionals, hosted by Tune Registry. I had been wanting to attend one of these events for several months and this time I committed to it, in spite of the raining weather and traffic.  (My new motto should be:  there is no gain without a long drive.)

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(Color-coded sign-in sheet at the mixer -clever idea!)

It took place in a cozy bar called Bar Lubitsch, known for it’s cocktails, as well as the music room in the back, where many bands will play, including my brother-in-law’s, called American Bloomers.

The room was packed -not just with music professionals from LA, but also from San Diego, San Francisco, and even Tennessee!  I was inspired by their dedication to travel the distance for this event and it served as a reminder to me to stay focused and driven.

This networking event led to another one, as a lyricist from Tennessee named Terrance, offered an extra ticket he had to attend a BMI event the next day, called “How We Wrote that Song.”  It took place at this cool club and performance hall called 1 Oak on Sunset Blvd.  While dance hits played and aspiring songwriters filled the venue, a panel was being set up on stage for famous songwriters of today – Dallas Davidson, Alex Da Kid, Laura from the Matrix, Manny Fresh, and Fat Joe.  After their songs played, each of them described the conceptions of their songs and the special ingredients that made them hits! Laura and Dallas even sang a couple of songs they wrote and I noticed how different it was to hear it from the songwriters.  One could tell that these songs were undeniably their own.  The artists who popularized these songs didn’t  have the same emotions behind them as the respective owners.

 

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(A quick “celeb” selfie.  Standing next to me is my new friend from Tennessee, Terrance.)

After this inspiring event, it was my turn to shine.  I left Hollywood to Pasadena for a Pre-Grammy live event, where I performed a couple tunes.  I started to run low on steam, as the week was long, I had been rear-ended before the BMI event, and there were some personal matters on my mind.  But as they say “the show must go on” so on I went!

At Red Gate Records in Pasadena, many artists connected to Planet LA Records performed their songs.  I used this as an opportunity to get a feel from the audience  for my current Hip-Hop and R&B project.  I performed an original tune written by yours truly called “What it Means to Be,” a 90’s R&B-style song with a modern vibe.  My collaborator, Savvy-OS, composed the instrumentals.  The song was well-received, as the crowd went from silent and attentive during the song to excited upon completion.  I followed this one with an a cappella favorite,  “Summertime.”

It and was a good night and a fulfilling weekend.

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(Me during my performance at Red Gate Recorders.)

Those were all my pre-Grammy activities!  It was great to be involved with these musical happenings.  I felt inspired and better connected to people on a similar journey.

Until next post!

~Shalini

 

The Daily Grind and George Michael

Hello All!

Life has been pretty eventful these past couple of weeks, challenging and uplifting my mind, body, and spirit.

For those of you who may not know, I don’t just sing, I spend most of my waking hours as a Scientific Sales Professional. I provide solutions to Analytical Chemistry Labs for nano-scale separations of polar or charged molecules by the technique called Capillary Electrophoresis. (To learn more, go to http://www.sciex.com or e-mail me and I’d be happy to explain further!)

I’ve been employed at this company for just over a year and like any new sales position I’ve had, it has taken a lot of time and effort to learn the ropes. Out of nearly eleven years of being in this field, this past year was one of my best. Recently, at the National Sales meeting in Las Vegas, I was recognized as the top performer on my team, a proud moment for me!

It made me reflect on what I do to be successful in my job. It also made me think about why my mentor who has been a sales professional for nearly three decades consistently does well. One thing we both have in common, besides a strong work ethic and persistence, is we are both performing artists!  He plays guitar and has been performing in a band for many years.

I truly believe that sales is part art and part science and having a background in music and theatre has surely helped me in this profession. I also really love to help people, which has always  been a driving force for me.

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(Receiving my award, from my boss, my boss’s boss, my boss’s boss’s boss, and my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss!)

When I was at my National Sales Meeting, I had very little time to prepare for the George Michael Tribute concert I mentioned in my last post (hope you were paying attention!) Meetings were all day and socializing with colleagues was all night, so I ended up using spare minutes the following weekend before the show (in between throwing my sister’s baby shower -yay, I’m going to be an Aunty!) to prepare.

As I wrote down the lyrics of my song, “Kissing A Fool,” a method I use to help me memorize, I was amazed. Not only was George Michael a powerful singer, he was a profound writer. I understood why he was so beloved by his fans.

It was an honor to pay tribute to this great artist after an enduring work week and wonderful to be among the most talented musicians and vocalists of Los Angeles (no exaggeration!) Please free to watch my performance here:

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(Intently watching Janice Freeman, an amazing vocalist, at the George Michael Tribute.  Photo Credit: Alton Arnold)

Thanks for tuning in and learning about Shalini the Artist and Science-Lover!

P.S. My next gig will be on Valentine’s Day singing for the elderly -one of my favorite types of audiences.  I’m looking forward to spreading a little love through music 🙂

Gigs and NAMM!

January 22, 2017

It’s been another productive and exciting week in music for me!

This week I performed at the Vampire Lounge in Beverly hills -a cozy little wine bar, with a plush, vintage look to it.  It had been a while since I’d performed long acoustic sets, so I was a little nervous.  Luckily, I sang alongside a very talented musician and guitarist, David Sampson.  At the last minute, we came together to run through a diverse set of songs, spanning from pop, to jazz, to soul, and we made it work!  People loved it.

It was also wonderful to see many of my friends come out and support, as well as meet new faces.  It made it that much more comfortable and fun.  One woman named Mona asked me if I loved doing this and of course I responded “yes.”  She then said, “it really shows when you perform.  The audience can feel it.”  That was a sweet compliment and a good night.

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(Friends, Dave, and I tucked in there -Vampire Lounge)

If you’re connected to facebook, feel free to check out our rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” here:  https://www.facebook.com/ShaliniSings/videos/1080168188776277/?pnref=story

Later in the week, I had to make a game-time decision on how to spend my Saturday:  Women’s March or NAMM.  It was a tough call considering how much I believe in women’s rights and equality and what a crucial time we’re in, but I went with the latter, as I had never been to a large music conference.  It was also an opportunity to meet fellow musicians and industry professionals, which I don’t do often considering my day-job is in a completely different field.

Once I arrived in Anaheim where the convention took place, I began to regret my decision.  Parking was nowhere to be found.  I circled for about an hour and then came up with the “bright idea” to park at my friend’s parents home about two miles away then take an Uber.

It was just in the nick of time, as shortly thereafter I was on stage with Bollywood musical legend, Bappi Lahiri.  No, I had not planned this at all.  It just happened!

Mark Nguyen of Planet LA records, my friend who helped me get in to the event, asked if I would sing backups with Mr. Lahiri and I couldn’t say no (even though I didn’t know the songs), so yes is what I said!  Yes, I did it and it was great to share the stage with one of India’s beloved musicians and artists.

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(Bappi Lahiri and I singing together in the Gibson Room at NAMM)

We all took a short coffee break in the Gibson VIP room, where I sat down with Mr. Lahiri and his son Bappa.  We had a nice chat and then Bappi took the opportunity to offer advice to me:  “You just need to tell yourself that you are going to be an established singer.”  I think he was right.

Later we took a walk down the exhibition hall.  It was huge; there were hundreds of vendors selling instruments and many musicians trying them out.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.

As a salesperson for scientific instrumentation, it reminded me of vendor shows I’ve worked, but this was a completely different vibe -music was everywhere and potential customers were incredibly enthused to try new gear!

I stopped at the Blu booth, where they had a live DJ playing throwback R&B and hip-hop hits, with microphones and headsets to try.  I came to the conclusion that my favorite microphone (especially for my higher register) is the Spark.  I will keep this in mind for future recordings.  🙂

As we continued outside of the convention center, a drum circle commenced. About seventy people took a hold of difference percussion instruments, while the director stood in the center to queue each part, with such vigor and enthusiasm.  It was awesome.  It felt tribal in a way.

At the main stage outside, one of the original members of the Ronnettes performed.  I didn’t see her up close, but noticed her voice still had that same signature Ronnette sound -decades later.

Before the after-party, which took place in Mark’s room at the Marriott hotel, I had a brief celebrity sighting of none other than Stevie Wonder!  He came out of his vehicle with his entourage, so there was no opportunity for a photo, but it was neat to stand so close to greatness.  Apparently, he performs at NAMM every year -who knew?

The after-party was fun -about fifty people squeezed into Mark’s room and we mingled and sang and simply had a good time.

That was my Saturday and needless to say, the commute and seemingly endless search for parking was worth it.

It was also great to get back on stage as a solo artist and perform a live set with Dave earlier in the week.  Maybe I’m right on my way to being an established singer, as Mr. Lahiri said!

Next up:  I’m performing in a tribute concert for George Michael, January 31.  Mark your calendars and have a great week!

Best,

Shalini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day Like Today

Tired but elated -today was a great day!

Why, you may ask?

Well, after a pretty busy week of work in San Diego and not the best sleep last night, I spend my entire Saturday devoted to music.  Of course, being in Los Angeles, I had about two hours of commuting, while avoiding about three car accidents.  Crazy, just crazy.

My first stop this morning was in Studio City, where I worked with Savvy -OS to continue our R&B, Neo-Soul project together.  We worked on two new tunes.  In spite of both of our full-time work schedules, we are making magic happen!

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(Savvy-OS and I circa Sept. 2016)

After a lunch break (a healthy one, I might add) I headed over to Burbank  to meet with my friend, who has been working on the A&R side of the music business for many years.  We listened to new EDM tracks his team is working on as well as several of his songs that he successfully published from the 90’s onwards.  It was over two straight hours of listening to music, some of which I recognized and some new and inspiring.  It was awesome.

Even more exciting, is that he is giving me the opportunity to write on his team’s instrumentals.  As a budding songwriter, I’m a little nervous, but eager to take on this new challenge!

That was my day today from 8:30AM to 6:30PM.  What a joy it would be if I could do this all the time!  This year is off to a nice start.

Good night, my friends.

 

 

My Music Year in Review -2016

Hello Everyone!

Before I say goodbye to 2016, I would like to share a few highlights of my life in music this past year:

2016 offered me the opportunity to expand my horizons both in songwriting as well as in live performance.

After several years, I was excited to release my own single, ‘Hole in Your Heart.’  This tender and honest song revealed a different style of music and creating it was a great learning process for me.  You can listen to and download it here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hole-in-your-heart-single/id1097134541

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On Independence Day weekend, I was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Staples Center.  I was on the brink of becoming severely under the weather and, by a mishap, I missed my sound check, but by good graces and the help of my Mom’s special tea, the live a capella song was well-received by the crowd.  Feel free out my performance here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl9W8FZ1sTg

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I also worked on new EDM tracks with producers from around the globe and spent several Saturday mornings working alongside Savvy Outta Sight on new music to be released this year.  (I don’t want to give a way too many details yes, so please stay tuned and follow me on instagram:  @simply_shalini and @singingshalini)

All of my musical endeavors occurred in my limited free time, outside of my new, demanding job and travels.  (My hustle is strong!)

Speaking of travel, I made a trip to Hawai’i, where I went surfing for the first time –something I’ve always wanted to do!  It was relaxing yet fun challenge, executed right around my birthday.fullsizerender2

 

2016 was a year of learning and honing skills I didn’t know I had and I couldn’t have done without the support of great friends, family, and collaborators.

In this New Year, I look forward to more growth and success in the world of music.  On that note (no pun intended), I wish all of you the very best in the pursuit of your dreams and goals.  Happy New Year!

Yours truly,

Shalini