This picture was taken a few years ago after our first private art exhibit gig. You could say we were inspired to get our pose on…
This picture was taken a few years ago after our first private art exhibit gig. You could say we were inspired to get our pose on…
Sometimes I think that music has a funny way of bringing people together. It takes center stage when we’re happy, sad and best of all, celebrating. Live music sets the tone at special events, blending blissful with clanging glassware and polite chit-chat. The launch party of the Summer 2016 issue of VUE Magazine was no different.
It was a sunny August evening aboard the new Sundancer yacht. The day finally arrived after months of meticulous preparation. For my coworkers and I at VUE, this event showcased our summer’s work. After countless hours of writing, photographing and designing, it was fulfilling to see all of the puzzle pieces come together at this event.
With good food, great company and breathtaking views of the Hudson River, this celebration had all of the ingredients of a memorable experience for me. The summer sun melted into colorful clouds at sunset, just barely hugging the New York skyscrapers. Once-filled bottles of wine became drops at the bottom of our glasses. Notable individuals made their way through and around the ever-changing crowd…and then there was the wonderful music I kept hearing.
I still remember the first time my coworkers and I spotted them. We were in the middle of a not so deep conversation with a waiter regarding the hors d’oeuvres and then I noticed them on the yacht’s deck. A woman with a beautiful white dress and chic headpiece to match and a man wearing a navy waistcoat, golden pocket watch and striped tie in an extremely fashionable knot. While their vintage outfits were fabulous, their music was even more uniquely remarkable.
Like everyone on that boat, my coworkers and I were blown away by their musical talent. My fellow writers and I are always fascinated by words. Words and their complexity have become our craft so it was a special experience for us to admire their talent of creating sound. We happily listened as the woman’s smooth voice harmonized with the man’s deep plucking of the double bass. We danced to their music and heartily laughed when the ship’s abrupt movement swung us off balance. Before the magical evening came to an end, I knew we needed a photo to eternalize the joy we felt at that moment.
There were of course a lot of great moments to capture that evening and as a staff photographer at VUE, I had a lot of fun doing so. My lifetime love of music and musical instruments made the challenge of capturing the energy of their performance on camera even more special. The perfect photo opportunity finally occurred as the night was coming to an end on our way back into Lincoln Harbor. The duo’s eyes connected near the end of a beautiful rendition of a Frank Sinatra tune just as I found a few angles framing the awakening lights of the Manhattan skyline behind them. Something, other than the camera shutter, just seemed to click.
All celebrations must come to an end, even the great ones. When the Sundancer finally pulled into the harbor, guests made their way off the yacht and my coworkers and I began cleaning up and collecting the scattered magazines. The jazz singer introduced herself to me and asked to see the few photos I had snapped earlier. She complemented me on the photos, and I praised her music. Elasea and I traded business cards, and the rest of the story is now beginning.
So yes, music really does have a funny way of bringing people together.
You know that saying about absence making the heart grow fonder? Well that’s pretty much my connection with the outdoors. I was born and raised in Queens so I quickly learned to cherish my family’s excursions to scenic areas like our timeshare at the Shawnee Inn near the Poconos. Swimming in the Delaware River was fun and so was learning about the different plants and animals but I was an only child. My fondest memories there consist of running around with other kids and constantly getting into trouble! A few months ago, we performed at our friend’s wedding at that very same Shawnee Inn. While her and her hubby created new memories, all of my childhood ones resurfaced along with some new realizations.
On the long drive back home after the wedding, Sadiki and I chatted about how different the same place can seem with a new perspective. The venue’s historic charm was so much more apparent, especially during the gorgeous wedding ceremony. Outdoor wedding ceremonies are always nice when the weather cooperates but this one felt particularly magical. As we started setting up under the protection of a majestic tree, I noticed a huge scar that I’m guessing was caused by lightning or a violent storm. I wish I had taken a picture of it but we still had to sound check and then setup for Cocktail Hour and the First Dance so time was limited. The scar was incredibly deep and almost as tall as the tree itself. We were absolutely stunned that the tree survived, somehow managed to heal and even continued to grow. Chills ran through my body as my inner child imagined the stories this tree would tell me if we were able to communicate… and perhaps it did communicate. Our sound that day was noticeably different and we haven’t been able to duplicate it since. Sadiki is the more scientific one of our duo so he thinks it was the combination of warm, humid air and the strange acoustics of being under the tree’s canopy but my inner child has some other ideas. Later on, we entertained during Cocktail Hour on the Inn’s porch and then returned to a pavilion near the river to perform during the First Dance. Moving our equipment back and forth across the breathtaking lawn while wearing an uncomfortable dress and painful heels is a new Shawnee Inn memory that I can’t forget soon enough but it was well worth it. The romantic afternoon transformed into an unforgettable evening of celebration and we were honored to be a part of it.
After wishing our love struck couple goodbye, I ended up chatting with one of the Shawnee Inn employees while we were packing up. I couldn’t help but tell her that I felt like there was something sacred about the area next to the tree where we performed. She said that there actually was. Apparently, Native Americans considered it to be a sanctuary and would gather there every year for a special religious ceremony. It’s easy to understand why they did and why our friends chose that exact location for their wedding ceremony. There’s something powerfully fitting about getting married under an enduring tree that has weathered several lifetimes’ worth of storms and still remembers to flourish beautifully. Watch out. Having nature officiate your wedding may become the “new” trend! 😉
I’m sure it’s no surprise that most of our business comes from weddings. Romantic music performed live as two souls celebrate their union makes sense. Unfortunately, “romantic music” isn’t very tangible or objective. It can’t be seen, smelled, tasted, touched or even heard. The songs that one couple consider to be romantic will be different from the next, yet the romantic feeling these songs evoke are the same for both. eL and I like to think that the sounds of the upright bass and voice have been in love forever and we’re just telling a bit of their story. Fortunately, those that are engaged are experiencing that same love story.
As children, we’ve all done our fair share of imagining. We imagine everything from what we want to be when we grow up to what colors our fancy cars will be. Most of all, we imagine the things, events and accomplishments that will make us happy. As we grow older and allegedly wiser, we begin to realize that some of our childhood dreams may not make us as happy as we had originally envisioned. We modify those dreams accordingly or let them go altogether. Our weddings are no different. Whether you’re five years old or thirty five years old, our dreams of what our weddings will entail are constantly evolving. One of our friends, who was recently married, always wanted red roses for her ceremony. That all changed when she met her soulmate during a springtime stroll through Central Park while dahlias were in bloom.
A similar scenario often unfolds when an engaged couple comes across our videos or catches one of our live performances. We hear about their initial plan to hire a string quartet for their ceremony and cocktail hour but now they’ve fallen in love with our style and aren’t sure what to do. We would love to say that everyone chooses to be bold and hire us instead but many are uncomfortable being different and stick with their original plan. Fortunately for us, there are still a few brave and creative folks out there and as the poet Robert Frost said, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” That difference is where we focus our attention and talents. As a duo with unconventional instrumentation, we know that we must handsomely reward our clients so we’ve put a great deal of thought into our wedding packages. We believe we’ve come up with the most personalized form of wedding entertainment that currently exists but it does require a couple to imagine like we all did as children.
Budding relationships usually have soundtracks that go unnoticed. We often wonder if our couples would have ever remembered Taylor Swift singing her heart out during their first kiss or the Romeo Santos songs in the background of a memorable evening taking Bachata lessons. These are the memories we ask them to recall so we can ensure that their wedding’s soundtrack pays homage to their relationship’s journey. Once the songs have been selected, we assist them in choosing the right place for them based on their messages. Some songs have a more celebratory message and are perfect for the recessional while others are more sentimental and better suited for the first dance. The challenge is to not let the style of the original song get in the way. We’re known for transforming club hits and pop songs into beautiful romantic ballads, thus exposing their deeper messages. We also enjoy learning and recreating music from all over the world. So far, we’ve had the privilege of performing in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Latin and several African dialects. We’re looking to add Hebrew, Mandarin and German to the list so if you know anyone…hint, hint! 😉
While it’s my personal opinion that we should be hired for our music, eL, an unrepentant fashionista who needs shopping rehab, believes our look should be as compelling as our sound. At her request, it’s become vital that our attire always stylishly complement the wedding’s theme and décor. We’ve done everything from Gatsby inspired outfits to futuristic vestments she somehow purchased from 2081. Even I have been forced to admit the obvious. Our couples really do enjoy having control of how we look, as well as sound, on their special day. Just remember that I am an unwilling participant in this dressing up thing and will not crack the faintest of smiles if the client has demanded that I wear white pants or pretty much anything pink! -_-
Here’s how we enhance a couple’s wedding day:
We start by performing love songs a half hour before the ceremony begins. It’s a wonderful way to set the mood as guests arrive. And since ceremonies rarely start on time, the least a couple can do is entertain their guests until they decide to show up. We then perform our renditions of the couple’s favorites during the processional and recessional. We conclude with another song or two as guests exit.
Cocktail hour is where we have a bit more fun. We usually perform an upbeat set from all genres but this can be customized as well. For example, one of our couples asked us to not play any reggae during cocktail hour since they hired a reggae band for their reception. When we first started doing weddings, we were consistently hired for just the cocktail hour but those couples always offered the same feedback. Their guests loved our performances but since the couples were busy taking pictures and greeting everyone, they never had an opportunity to enjoy us. We want our couples to be 100% happy so we’ve created our First Dance & Dinner package so they can have their own show.
First Dance & Dinner
As you may have gathered, I’m not the most lovey-dovey type but I can’t deny that our unique renditions are perfect for the First Dance. It’s a couple’s first dance together as one. Isn’t it fitting that they dance to a version of their favorite love song that no one has ever heard before? And isn’t it even more fitting that the sounds of just the bass and voice represent the harmony between two people with a profound connection? Speaking of connections, we want all of our couples’ dance moves to be as smooth as our music. That’s why we send them recordings of their First Dance songs beforehand so they can practice and not embarrass themselves. If they would like, we also perform for the Mother-Son and Father-Daughter Dances. After the dances, the couple is able to finally sit down, eat dinner and enjoy us perform. Once the guests are ready to get their booty shaking on, it’s time for the DJ or wedding band to take over.
Now it’s time for me to bore you with the decidedly unsexy but important technical aspects of how we make all of this happen. We own three separate high-end sound systems. That enables us to setup a separate system in the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception areas and quickly move between them. Our sound systems are so easy to use that some of our couples have decided to play their own playlists (via an iPod, cell phone, tablet or laptop) through them for the reception and forgo the expense of a DJ. We provide wireless microphones as a courtesy and they regularly come in handy for officiants during ceremonies and announcements and speeches during receptions. If the venue warrants it, we provide a small stage and lighting as well. Although it’s a lot of equipment for us to lug around, it’s necessary since we aim to make our couples’ dealings with us as easy as possible. While we drive all over the Northeast for weddings, we’re also a fantastic option for those getting married abroad. We both love to travel and my bass folds into a much smaller case (think The Jetsons) that’s airline friendly.
Most couples recognize that we are a luxury source of entertainment but we do occasionally get couples who are surprised by what we charge. Perhaps they spoke to a harpist or violinist who quoted them a few hundred dollars to perform for their wedding. That’s similar to the difference in cost and quality of buying a wedding dress off the rack from David’s Bridal versus commissioning Carolina Herrera to create a couture gown. Both options technically get the job done but only the couture gown was created specifically for the client and will astonish all who lay eyes on it. It requires an exceptional amount of effort, skill, creativity and time so naturally, there’s a higher cost. Our rates are not dramatically higher than the average musician’s but what we offer is infinitely more valuable. This is due to the unparalleled level of personalization we are known for. Ultimately, our ideal couple is not consumed with having the most economical wedding possible. Instead, they embrace imagining an incredible day celebrating their love and know we are the pen and paper they must use to compose their wedding’s soundtrack.
eL’s Loyal Manservant
In an age where most of our music is electronically enhanced (I’m trying to be gentle), it’s a really nice feeling to receive compliments for our natural sound. It’s interesting because most people have no idea how how much nature has shaped what we do. I could tell you about how fussy Sadiki is about eating organic foods, juice fasts and cleansing but I want you to keep reading. Instead, I’ll start by telling you about our rehearsals outside on his magical deck.
Being born and raised in Queens and then going to college and working in Manhattan, Sadiki’s place in the middle of the scenic Hudson Valley has always been a relaxing paradise that seemed to be constructed from the pages of a novel. I have written most of my songs in noisy apartments, on the subway or on buses. I’ve then rehearsed them in churches, theaters or studios. It was a new experience to create in an environment where the only things I could hear were birds and crickets engaged in a chirping competition while the wind blowing through the leaves provided a seamlessly disarming backdrop. At first, I had to learn to focus on whatever we were working on. It was SO easy to get distracted watching the hummingbirds chase each other or marveling at the stillness of the frogs who seemed completely at peace sitting right next to us as we rehearsed. Fortunately, I grew accustomed to nature’s charms and and before long, I too was in love with creating and rehearsing outdoors. I discovered a musical freedom there that I hadn’t felt since I was a child and it’s been a tremendous part of our identity ever since.
As much as we enjoy our outdoor songwriting and practice sessions, almost all of our gigs have been indoors at high-end events. We love performing on stage with fancy colored lighting and high-tech sound systems in front of hundreds of well dressed patrons but if I’m being completely honest, it always feels like we’re reenacting the magic that only truly emerges when we’re outdoors. I’ve only realized this truth during the past few months. Last winter was a long and harsh one. It may have been the worst one of my life. If not, the fact that it is the most recent one coupled with my new-found adherence to lady-like behavior (no more sleigh riding or snowball fights) certainly makes it seem so. Like most New Yorkers, I longed for spring’s return. The change in weather brought with it the pleasant gift of several outdoor bookings.
Because we grew used to performing indoors, we initially looked at performing outdoors as a logistical nightmare. Where would we get power from? Would our sound get lost since there were no walls and ceilings? And of course, would the weather cooperate? To make matters worse, our first outdoor event was a rooftop wedding in midtown. While the view was fantastic, it rained on and off all day so everyone was understandably nervous. Fortunately, the rain stopped a few minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin and we were able to get setup and start performing on time. Although the sun decided to make a fashionable entrance, there wasn’t enough time for it to dry anything including the chairs so all of the guests chose to stand. Although it appeared inconvenient, the ceremony became even more intimate. The puddled rooftop reflected the gorgeous sky and the sun’s rays shining through the moist air created a heavenly glow around everything. The stunning bride walked in to our rendition of Robin Thicke’s Angel and it was truly one of the most breathtaking moments we have ever seen. It certainly set the tone for our other outdoor events.
Since then, we’ve had a few outdoor performances in the Hamptons that were beautiful but pretty much everything out there is beautiful so that’s to be expected. The first thing I noticed was how perfect the temperature was. To be fair, I’m sensitive to temperatures since my biggest professional hazard is having to wear dresses made of about as much fabric as one of Sadiki’s ties. As a result, I’m usually uncomfortably cold whenever we perform. At these outdoor gigs, the sun’s warmth has been such a cozy reprieve. The gentle breeze has also been a welcomed participant. On more than one occasion, it has encouraged the trees to sway along with our music…or did it just seem that way because the legendary Hamptons traffic took a piece of our sanity?
After one of our Hamptons performances, we were invited to perform on a yacht for a small dinner party. While watching a dazzling sunset, we performed a few tunes during dinner. Towards the end of our set, the ocean was so still that it seemed like we were sailing on a sea filled with stars. The yacht swayed ever so gently and it was during this peaceful juncture we performed My Funny Valentine for a couple visiting from Europe to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The hypnotizing setting inspired us to deliver our most heartfelt performance of the song to date. When we finished, the teary eyed couple was overwhelmed with gratitude. While we graciously accepted their thanks, we shouldn’t have taken all of the credit. We would never have performed the song that way without nature’s assistance.
And for all of this, we say thank you to nature for the many ways it has and continues to inspire us. We just hope it forgives us for expressing our gratitude via a blog post!
We were recently asked if we had a favorite performance. It is a tricky question to answer because there are several that come to mind but the one that stands out the most happened at a jazz festival in Martha’s Vineyard last year. We were honored to be invited to perform alongside many talented and accomplished musicians…and to be completely honest, we were also a bit intimidated. It was our first year performing together and we still had our doubts. To make matters worse, I was getting over a cold and my voice was not cooperating with me. The bands who performed before us were amazing and received deafening applause after almost every song. You could tell that the crowd really enjoyed them. When it became our turn, we played a few covers to ease them into our unique style and what an upright bass and voice duo can sound like. Perhaps it was a friendly audience because we too received our fair share of applause. As my voice warmed up, we became more confident and decided to perform one of our originals called Come Out Love. Its soul stirring melodies combined with intimately introspective lyrics invoke emotion when we are at our best. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult for Sadiki to play and me to sing, especially when my voice is on the mend. On that evening, we both made a few mistakes but nothing catastrophic…or so we thought. When we ended, there was no applause. There was no movement. There was only silence. We looked out at the crowd and saw many with their heads down and eyes closed. The lively atmosphere that we inherited seemed like a distant dream. In its place, there was a calm and peaceful state that would be more appropriate at a meditation retreat than a jazz festival. The quiet was eventually broken by a few people whispering their wonder. After that performance, we finally believed we had something special.
Acute Inflections is a chic duo of an innovative vocalist, Elasea Douglas, and a captivating upright bassist, Sadiki Pierre. Although their instrumentation is minimal, they deliver an intoxicating jazzy, funky and sultry sound. Their novel interpretations of well-known songs, along with their thought provoking and infectious original music, make them one of New York City’s hidden treasures. These lifelong friends regularly perform at corporate events, weddings and upscale events meant to impress. Hearing and seeing them improvise while freely travelling between genres is an immensely delightful experience. An artistic collaboration of the highest order, Acute Inflections’ sophisticated performances mark them for future stardom.
Elasea Douglas is a gifted vocalist and lyricist. Her list of achievements includes performing in the Tony Award winning musical FELA! on Broadway and abroad. She has also performed her own original music locally at venues like The Knitting Factory, Groove Café, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Cafe Wha? and the much famed and celebrated Iridium Jazz Club.
Sadiki Pierre is a talented upright bassist. Because he has performed with numerous classical, jazz, blues, latin and gospel ensembles throughout the Northeast, he is uniquely capable of fusing almost any style of music. His percussive, melodic and groovy bass lines, combined with his hypnotic solos, frequently leave audiences craving for more.
For a more detailed biography, please visit www.acuteinflections.com/our-journeys.
Without Further Ado…
A Taste For Your Eyes…
Highlights From A Recent Performance…
For booking, please call 212.729.8372.
Elasea Douglas is a gifted singer, songwriter, dancer and actress. Like many other singers, she first started singing in church as a young child. For a short time as a toddler, she believed she was the reason everyone attended the services so she took full advantage of the choir’s pauses and other quiet moments to let her voice be heard. When she was a little older, she humbled herself by singing in her schools’ glee clubs, choruses and musicals. In her teenage years, she attended Bayside High School Academy of Music where she primarily received classical vocal training. She was also heavily involved in dance and theatre, in addition to being introduced to jazz during this time. Because singing was her forte, Elasea decided to double major in dance and theatre at Hunter College while she still continued to do her fair share of singing with worship groups throughout the country.
After graduating from Hunter College, Elasea performed in several Off-Broadway shows including Dreamgirls and most impressively, a one-woman show called A Role Once Played. She made her Broadway debut as part of the original cast of the Tony Award winning show, FELA! Even though she enjoyed theatre immensely, she somehow still felt unfulfilled. She was advised to channel her creativity into her own art so she began working with producers and writing and recording her own music. She’s performed these jazzy and soul stirring originals at numerous venues including The Knitting Factory, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Cafe Wha?, Iridium Jazz Club and Groove Cafe. Although she still loves dancing and acting and will undoubtedly utilize these talents again, creating and singing her own music has been the second most rewarding experience of this flourishing star’s young career…obviously her legendary church performances as a toddler will always be first!
Sadiki Pierre is a talented upright bass player who is uniquely capable of playing and fusing almost any style of music including classical, jazz, latin, reggae and R&B. When he first started playing the upright bass, he had no interest in actually learning the instrument and instead was only looking for a way to get out of his sixth grade class. Fortunately, he chose the right distraction from his schoolwork. It soon became apparent that he was quite musically adept. Although his parents could not initially afford to buy him his own instrument and pay for private lessons, he was still chosen to perform with the New York State School Music Association’s All-State Orchestra in addition to performing with another prestigious student orchestra throughout Europe.
Despite the encouragement of those closest to him to study at a school like Juilliard or Berklee to become a full-time musician, Sadiki chose to attend an aviation school called Daniel Webster College in order to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a professional pilot. Nevertheless, he still enjoyed playing in his spare time so he continued to perform with various community orchestras and string ensembles such as the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. He also occasionally trained with a few esteemed double bass teachers including a member of the New York Philharmonic. His focus on classical music inadvertently created a longing for musical freedom that drove him to study and master jazz. Since then, he’s performed at numerous jazz clubs throughout New York City, the Hudson Valley, Boston and New England.
While Sadiki became a promising classical and jazz bassist, he wasn’t still musically satisfied. He tried his hand at several other styles by playing with blues, gospel, R&B, funk and latin groups but ultimately, they limited his freedom to move freely back and forth between the styles. Because of this, he decided to retire from music shortly after graduating college. After a ten-year hiatus, he has rediscovered his love for music. Most importantly, he has finally found the musical projects that allow him to freely mix the different styles that he loves and form the percussive, melodic and groovy style that he will surely be known for.
The clearest of skies and blinding sunlight tell a misleading tale. This was our first official photo shoot as a duo and it was quite an experience. Our photographer, Vitus Feldmann, was a German fellow who only takes photos with iPhones and iPads. On the other hand, my bass player is a part time techy so he isn’t the biggest fan of Apple products (he actually wants the new Blackberry!) because of how “locked down” they are. He also detests being photographed so it took several weeks of intense negotiations before he finally agreed to this project. The temperature on that lovely afternoon was supposed to be around forty degrees but the wind was in a particularly foul mood so it felt closer to the teens. I suspect I would have been warmer just wearing lotion rather than the stunning dress by Douglas Says… but Vitus said that “one must suffer to be beautiful” so I’ll try to keep my complaining to a minimum. Our videographer, Mike Larry Ward, was dressed far more appropriately and I can’t remember ever being so jealous of someone simply for having a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Sometimes, it’s the little things in life…
We chose Brooklyn Bridge Park as the location for the shoot because of the contrast between the autumn foliage, water and city skyline. The combination is both breathtaking and a perfect visual representation of our music. I must confess that because of Sadiki’s reservations with all things Apple (except pie), I had my doubts that an iPhone would be able to fully capture those moments. Fortunately, Vitus and his iPhone wasted no time putting me at ease. The camera accurately picked up every color and detail and even had no problem with the challenging lighting of sunset. And despite Sadiki’s aversion to being photographed, he turned out to be a natural and he’s obviously photogenic. His gift (and sometimes curse) for joking around about any and everything made the time pass quickly but it also taught everyone involved a very useful lesson. He didn’t care for the initial photos because he felt that our smiles were insincere so he decided to address the situation with childish pranks like teasing and pinching me. This led to a lot of laughter on his end and because laughter is so contagious, everyone joined him. At first, I tried not to but there were times when his antics were just too funny not to laugh at and as you can see, the results speak for themselves. Keep that in mind the next time telling someone to say “Cheese” before a picture isn’t doing the trick.
A few weeks before the shoot, a great friend of ours suggested that we learn the classic, Autumn in New York. When I first listened to the greats like Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald sing it, I honestly thought there was no way I could do it justice. Somewhere near the top of the “Things That Annoy eL” list is hearing or seeing someone try to remake a song or movie and having the new version end up worse than the original. Fortunately, my cowardice was spotted right away by “you know who” and the tune became a huge part of the photo shoot negotiations. For some time, I really struggled to learn the first verse and feared that learning the entire song would be impossible. Luckily, there was a sudden shift and I “got it”. The rest of the song became a….well I was going to say breeze but I’m going with “Veend!” in honor of our iPhoneographer, Vitus, and the wicked temperatures that day. We hope you enjoy our rendition of the song, the video of the photo shoot and of course, the pictures.
Robin Williams. For those of us born during the 1980s, he was as much a household name as Sesame Street. Although he was a comic genius and a phenomenal actor, I was always especially impressed with what he was able to do with his voice. My parents were stricter than most so as a young child, I often wasn’t allowed to watch the films and shows he starred in. Because of that, I ended up listening from hallways or other rooms (they never said I couldn’t “listen”!) and it became a game for me to guess which voice was his. Robin was far too talented so I almost always lost but it was the most enjoyable losing experience of my childhood.
Like all of his fans, news of his death was shocking to me. Hearing that he committed suicide struck an even deeper chord. It’s always difficult to accept death but Robin brought so much joy and laughter into our world that it seems like he violated an unspoken rule by moving on without warning. The more thought I gave the situation, the more unfair it seemed that he fell into such a dark place despite the bright light that shone through him. This led me to dig deeper into his story so I could attempt to understand this tragedy. I heard and read everything from “he was tormented by demons who possessed him while he performed and wouldn’t leave once the curtains fell” to the all too common struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, infidelity, loneliness, etc. In the end, I realized that understanding what he actually went through was impossible. All that matters now is a beloved man and quite possibly the most creative force of our era is no longer…and all because of suffering so heavy that it seemed like it could never be resolved.
There’s a song on our upcoming album called Resolve Me and its message is quite appropriate for this topic. The song is basically broken into two pieces. The first piece describes the factors that cause us to be stuck in an unhappy place. Some of these factors include habitually chasing unhealthy desires and embracing poor perspectives of our circumstances. The second half of the song is written from a place of awareness of where these choices are leading us and who we are inadvertently becoming. With that awareness, we can seek the truth and implement it by embarking upon the journey of letting go of the past, discovering, taking responsibility for and loving who we are each and every day and then making the decisions that are truly in our best interests. While we all hope that adopting a new mindset will lead to a change in our circumstances, what happens externally is ultimately out of our control. It may be cliche but all that we can control is how we react to whatever happens. Fortunately, choosing a brighter perspective means we are more likely to see the message and humor in situations that previously would have made us sad or angry. And if we can learn to find the light in life’s darker times, we’ll ultimately be more joyful and at peace.
One last note about Resolve Me. It’s by far our most demanding song to perform. Its melodies, rhythms and lyrics are exceedingly difficult. When we perform it flawlessly, it leaves everyone who hears it feeling vulnerable, convicted and ready to take an honest look in the mirror and deal with their issues. But when our performance of it isn’t quite right, it leaves us feeling haunted and incomplete. This is ironic for several reasons but most of all because it’s so hard to perfect that it’s the last absolute last song we choose to perform whenever we are asked to perform some of our original music…
It’s difficult to find the proper words to end a somber post like this but first we would like to say thank you to Robin Williams. We can’t begin to express how thankful we are for captivating, entertaining and inspiring us all. You will always be missed and may you rest in peace. To those of us that are still here, may we all encourage each other to look inside ourselves, love all that we see, good or bad and accept the daily task of repeatedly solving ourselves. It’s tremendously hard work that may never truly be complete but the reward is well worth the effort.