In my life, singing and painting have historically been the creative avenues I choose to express myself in times of uncertainty, panic and fear. Through an interdisciplinary approach to my debut jazz album, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” my goal is to remind artists that they have a place in this unstable world. As an interdisciplinary artist living in an unstable world, it can be easy to feel lost or discouraged. But art is absolutely essential in today’s society. YOUR freedom of expression can enrich other lives. Art represents WHO we are. WHAT we care about and what we’ve been through. It can help us cope with the harsh realities of life. It enriches the human experience and helps us deal with what is happening NOW. Art can go places where language cannot. We need it, and we need each other. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” celebrates music, painting, singing, dancing, togetherness, and much more.
I watched my father play, tune and repair instruments since before I could remember. He is an internationally respected master of stride piano, and I was mesmerized at how swiftly his hands moved from one side of the keys to the other. It was like staring at a machine that made no mistakes yet possessed elegance and feeling. I was eleven years old when he first asked me to sing, and I haven’t stopped since. Just as jazz piano was his calling, singing became mine. It is how I was able to tell my story, and storytelling became my passion.
My mother, an art historian, also exposed me to a whole world of creativity that enhanced my love for storytelling. She was a lover of nature who ensured that I absorbed the world in all its rawness and beauty. Growing up in Missouri, we spent much time in the countryside. Nothing between us but clear skies, fresh air and silence. No phones. No buildings or cars. Just us. I gave in to those moments. I savored them when we traveled, played in the rain or took our shoes off and felt the ground beneath us. Those moments molded my story. My father exposed me to music. My mother exposed me to the world in a way that made me want to capture it in music. This wonderment has been with me since childhood, and I aspire to use my painting along with my singing to create similar moments of wonderment for others.
As the Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and President’s Award recipient at Purchase College, I served as an ambassador for the college and performed at its sister school in Tokyo. With no expectations of ever traveling that far, I simply welcomed the new experience. Immediately I knew I was in for something sacred, and again, I gave in to the moment. Ready to absorb all of Tokyo’s loveliness, I sang my story. I sang in English. I sang in Portuguese. And though my audiences couldn’t always understand the words, I could feel them listening. I was present, and so were they, and we were absorbing each other. It became apparent that if I can’t always communicate because of a barrier of language, art can be a means of communication. Music can go where language can’t. So too with visual art, and this synthesis is the driving force of my creative inspiration.
While I am formally trained in music and informally trained in art, the two are complementary forms that come from the same place, emerging in different ways. When I began painting, I discovered that it unlocked more liberating and improvisational impulses in my singing. While improvisation is a key element of jazz, there is still musical structure and tradition involved in jazz singing. The feeling of painting for me, however, is closer to “psychic automatism.” I call my creative process while painting “explosive” because of its uncontrolled, exuberant and intuitive nature. I call my creative process for music “intentional” because of my technical training, leading to a more controlled, conscious approach. Together I think this combustible mix will bring to life the range of human impulses that exist in all of us.
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH
A long time ago, in a time of panic, loneliness, uncertainty and fear, singing gave me hope. It gave me confidence. It gave me discipline. It allowed me to be myself and express myself freely. But a worldwide pandemic made it harder to do so. Thankfully, I found a different way to express myself-that was through painting, which also came to me in a time of total uncertainty, loneliness, panic and fear. It wasn’t exactly confidence that painting gave me-rather deeper curiosity. It allowed me to blend two art forms together and explore what could happen. It allowed me to be more in touch with the world. It unlocked more liberating impulses in my singing. It has deepened my understanding of “freedom of expression” and the uniqueness of interdisciplinary art. It allows me to absorb experiences and try to create my own. It allows me to tell a deeper story and try to infect others with my story.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is the anchor and title track of this album. It is meant to remind all people that they are never alone in the terrifying, unknown and dark times we have been facing. Many people have their own story related to this song, including my own mother, which I didn’t know until after I rediscovered the song and found my own meaning within it. Her high school marching band would play this song after every game. She and other friends in the band described it as not only a beautiful arrangement, but an “anthem they played to themselves.” This song would continue to remain relevant in my mother’s life for many years to come. When I got the idea to make an album, I came across this song and thought to myself, “that’s it.” Beside the fact that it became the anthem in parts of the UK and Europe for first responders and those in quarantine during the pandemic, the beauty in the simplicity of the song captured me. As did the lyrics, which are relevant to so many areas in my own life. And let’s not forget how excited football fans in Liverpool get when they hear this song.
When I chose to make the song the centerpiece of the album, I was going through a time where I was struggling to find out who I was as a singer-which still remains true today. I graduated in May of 2020. Classes were all online beginning in March. My senior recital was canceled, and my graduation was canceled. I faced a lot of rejection in my personal and professional life during the year. I was completely lost, and though I knew I wasn’t alone, I had never FELT so alone. All of the sudden music wasn’t reliable anymore. I became so removed from it. I couldn’t perform for an audience, and I was receiving no signs that were encouraging me to keep going. The feeling was heartbreaking. All my life, singing was my safe place. My shelter. My escape from the world when I was a child. My friend. And suddenly I was scared of it.
Thankfully, my mother encouraged me to pick up painting in the beginning of the pandemic. I loved it because in contrast to singing, I didn’t feel as vulnerable when expressing myself. I wasn’t going to be judged or forced to do ANYTHING while painting. There were no rules I had to follow-no chordal structure, no melody, nothing. It was purely self-expression. This is why I would like to partially dedicate this project to my mother. And for a few different reasons. Partly because she is an artist herself, and a HUGE music lover. Also because of her own connection to this song. But mostly because she has always inspired me to pursue my dreams. Though she encourages me to be practical, she has always inspired me to do what I love. I sing because my mother always sang around me as a child. I paint because my mother encouraged me to go paint when singing wasn’t available to me. This is also the first time I have been away from my mom, and my goal in singing this song is to remind her that she is never alone.
But “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is not only dedicated to my mother. It is also dedicated to all artists during these times-artists who have trouble expressing themselves, lack confidence or motivation to keep going, don’t have the means or enough support to pursue their dreams, or to those who feel completely lost and discouraged in an unstable world. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is for everyone. I hope that this song encourages people to pursue what they love.
The project will be a musical album that will include a complementary journal. This journal will include sketches, words, lyrics/writing, etc. from 2020-2021. My goal in providing this is to give an audience an intimate look into not only the inspiration for the project, but also the process in which I create. The synthesis of painting and singing is the driving force of my vision, and I aspire to magnify the importance of interdisciplinary art around the world.