Riding the Career Roller Coaster – Phase 1

Grammy-trophyWhen I read through my leads for lessons. I get everything from, “I want to get over my stage fright,” to, “I want a Grammy!  Really?  You want a Grammy, and you think just having a better voice will help you? Having a good voice helps, but there’s a lot more to it.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was three, my family moved from New York to Los Angeles, because my dad was a drummer. That’s when my life began.

I have no memory of our big house with the wraparound deck in the Hollywood Hills… although I have seen photos of myself on that deck.

Eydie-Gorme-Eydie-In-LoveI DO remember moving into the cute house in North Hollywood. I also remember getting Eydie Gorme’s album , ‘Eydie In Love‘  for my 4th birthday.  ‘Someday he’ll come along, the man I love, and he’ll be big and strong, The man I love…….

Yes, I was crooning love songs at four, and knowing and believing I was a singer. I wasn’t a famous singer,  or a paid singer. At age four, in our living room,  this is where I would dream my dreams.

However, those fantasies never included awards, mansions, cars and lots of money.   They were dreams of singing for people, and doing it for a living. Making enough to have a house and a dog or 3 and sing. Sing all the time.

In retrospect, that IS how my life has turned out. But there are many many stories in-between.

Be Aware of Red Flags

Not all the experiences are radio appearances, concerts, and signing autograph. For those of you who are pre-teens, teens, or young women, I want you to know what you are in for.

Signing with a Record Label was easy, in 1962

When I was 12, my dad took me to Capitol Records to sing for the CEO in his big office. I had my guitar, and sang for him. He made a call, and in a few minutes, we were signing a 6-song record deal. Three records of two sides each.

Career Roller Coaster

Jessie Paul in Studio C

Within a few days, a few songs were delivered to our house via limo. My producer/manager was nice as could be. He was the only one who Was  in my career!!. It was all so exciting and new.

THEY said I had to change my name. My new name was Jessie Paul.

I was in Van Nuys Jr. High, and the press releases were all, ‘that cute new doll from Van Nuys Jr High, the new singing sensation blah blah blah.’  I had photos done, but NO one told me how to pose!! No one helped me with my wardrobe?

So we recorded with a full orchestra in Capitol Studio A, or C, I just know it was the BIG one., a huge orchestra,   with three back up singers. It was so much fun, I knew this would be my life, forever. I lip-synched my record ‘Johnny Let Me Go‘ at a school party. I had a blast.

The song charted on Billboard’s Top 100, 75 with a bullet. Then, the roof caved in. The Beatles landed in America, and what label were they on?  Capitol Records.

My next session was NOT at Capitol, but a smaller studio with a smaller rock band. I didn’t mind that, I was doing what I loved and the songs were better than the last ones. However, Female singers were not on the hit maker machine anymore. It was all British bands and beach music. The boys dominated. Capitol dropped me. I was a has-been, overnight.

My initial success as snatched up in an instant.  Well, it wasn’t the end of the world… we were moving to Las  Vegas, and KENO radio was playing my songs!!  When I arrived, Dennis Hunt asked me to appear on his KENO radio show.

On the strength of my record and radio appearance, I was booked to open for Johnny Crawford at the Las Vegas Convention Center . He had a TOP 10 hit, “Cindy’s Birthday.”  It was my first big show at a stadium, but not my last.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Having access to decision makers is always important. In today’s labyrinth of record executives, getting signed to a label does not happen so swiftly and directly.
  • As exciting as it can be, you learn quickly that you are not in control of your career. You’re being told what to sing, how to sing it, what to wear… in my case, being told (not asked) to change my name ‘for career purposes;’
  • Events were moving so quickly, I barely had time to be stage-ready in front of large audiences. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  • When you’re the flavor of the month, everything is sunshine and flowers. But tastes in music are like fashion. They can change in a moment, and suddenly, you are on the outside, looking in.
  • Every performance is training for the next appearance. And collectively, you move up the career ladder.

Next Stage: The whirlwind begins anew in Las Vegas. Opening for major rock acts.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Beware The Understudy!

Sutton_FosterCarol Burnett was just the understudy for the Broadway show ‘Once Upon a Mattress’,  Bet you can’t even name who the star was, she stole the role from?  Carol Haney!! A wonderful actress,  however, Carol got the job and s lifetime career.
Barbra Streisand  was an understudy also in ‘Funny Girl’

All I am saying is, Go to your GIG!!!  When I was called to Sub for a singer, who  I didn’t know, at Bally’s Hotel, They fired her and hired me.  I had no idea, what or when they told her anything? I was glad to get a steady job  because I had a toddler at home.

Later in life, I was called to sub again.. by a pianist I had never heard of, at Cafe Michelle, a busy local café and piano bar.

Well, guess what!? The owners told the pianist, Ken, to hire me. I had NO idea that a young very good singer would lose her job.

It isn’t always  that you are better, or prettier. Frequently, it just comes down to , who they like for the room, your way with the crowd, and the amount of songs you bring to the table.

Don’t let the Understudy get your gig. Go To Work! You can sing through that cold, or worse.  Take it from me, The gig stealer. I felt awful and thank goodness; both singers are my friends!!!!

‘For you Baseball fans: Don’t get Wally Pipped!’

 

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Hold the Cheese!

CHICAGO PIZZA0_nWhen you sing for a living, there are certain things that make you different from the other people around you.  You can’t go on dates on Friday night, you are the Band!  You can’t party like it’s 1999 and drink and smoke, bad for your instrument. You,,You are your instrument. You have to take care of it.

I didn’t go to my Prom, My band was playing that night. I didn’t go to concerts, I was the opening act, {much better actually!} Good way to get backstage!!!

I had a student tonight, he was not right in the throat,,, he said, I need to clear my throat, I asked “What did you eat?’ “he said Toast with Butter’,  ‘Uh OH…”I said. “REAL BUTTER?  Haven’t you read my “Maintaining your Vocal Health PDF’ ?

Well, he hadn’t, because it is so easy to get substitutes for all dairy products.   Yes,,, it’s true,   NO CHEESE.!!!! OK,,, once in a while if you don’t have a gig for 4 or 5 days, have some Pizza, but that stuff will stay with you.

You have a CHOICE:  To be a great singer in great physical shape and ready to perform, anytime.   Don’t tell me you have  no gig for a week, so you can eat anything, You have to practice, you have to warm up, so don’t eat cheese!  Now, I am updating this post, because   I am saying this too harshly, I mean, in moderation, if you don’t have practice, or a performance, have some pizza, but, in moderation, that stays with you. You will get used to fake butter and soy products, if you serious about being in good shape. So, have a slice, once in awhile!!

Spicy food as well, acidic foods and drinks as well. These will burn your vocal chords and you will be hoarse. I have seen it. Of course a are nose and throat Dr. will test this to be sure, But it can be Acid Reflux damaging the throat. It is very common. So, make the right choice. Be your best. Be a caring and smart singer and take good care of your body, it’s the only one you’ve got!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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THEATER AUDITIONS

Audition PressureRecently, there have been many auditions. One of my students traveled to New York to do an all-day auditions for five colleges.  Upon his return, my student, Nate, told me stories about the fantastic trip to the city, and interesting details about the audition process.

He described one girl who came out of the room crying and cursing the woman who ‘Made me do dance steps, I cannot do.’  Nate said, he able to hold it in, but was thinking,,, “Get Out of here. Go away.  You can’t run out of the room because you aren’t prepared for this college for the performing Arts, You are too thin-skinned!  You  will  never  make  it!!!” 

He is right. She is not cut out for this business.  You can’t take rejection personally.  You must develop a thick skin. 

Sutton_Foster

Sutton Foster

These are Conservatories and Colleges for the Performing Arts. As In PERFORMING.  These schools are serious. By the time you are 17, you better have had dance, acting, and singing lessons. You are expected to do a combination dance step, and/or routine. You should know tap, jazz and ballet. You will need acting lessons to do a monologue, and an essay on why you want to act.

Your singing should be Theater-style, using proper breathing. You must know ahead of time if sight-reading is required.  Adhering to a dress code will make you look Professional.

Bring, then wear your Jazz shoes, and attire to show your posture and form.  Ask your teachers to email reference letters to the school ahead of timeNever stop if you make a mistake, never roll your eyes, just keep going.

If your CD music track should stop, Just keep going, do not hesitate. They will be impressed you didn’t let it upset you.

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel

As a singer, No dairy, no cheese, no spicy foods, and no acidic foods or drink. You are an athlete, you must behave yourself, and take good care of your body and throat.. This is something you need to sacrifice for your craft.  Once your day is finished for the day, and won’t need to sing for a week, then have a slice of pizza, not before and not often.  There are foods you must give up to be able to sing freely, and not have complications.

I can tell you this, when I sang 6 nights or 7 nights a week, I ate raw foods, water, and slept. Got up, worked and slept, over and over. After work, I would go to hear a band, and have breakfast but No alcohol, and No dairy. I never ate eggs etc, I would have salads or any raw foods, fruit.

These schools are strict and many people are dying to get in. You are up against odds of demographics of diversity in race, and many entrance obstacles.

You need to have high-energy, be alert and focused. They need to see that you are hungry for knowledge, and you can perhaps get a scholarship to get into the school of your dreams.

So, you have work to do, be prepared, you need lessons, and someone to guide you.  You can be the next Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, but you must have a natural ability that is nourished by professional lessons.  

Good Luck, and Break-a-Leg.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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Audition Tracks and Charts

Frequently, during the year, a student will need 16 bars, or 2 minutes of a song, in their key, for an audition.  I have had students try to buy sheet music, which is rarely in their key, and always about five pages long. One page should be enough.

One cannot simply show up to an audition with five pages of music, and write ‘key of G’ !  The pianist will not transpose it to the correct, and will not know where to start and stop.

I have two or three ways to get tracks for my students.  First we decide what part of the song we are doing? Is there a modulation (key change) in the song? Is there just a pitch note to start or a small intro?.  Are we arranging it, with repeating a coda, or adding an extra modulation?  All these things are possible.

DO NOT buy sheet music, unless you can play it and transpose it at home to work with it.

If you need a special arrangement of a chart, written out, professionally, it can be done for a small fee, $20 to 50 dollar, depending on the complexity of the piece.

If you need a CD of just a piano doing 16 bars, no intro, or an intro, or a one-note pitch,  then can accomplished, too..  For CD’s I have a musician in Los Angeles who provides one-day service and sends a pdf right away. He does need the sheet music, the key and what bar to what bar, which we can figure out at my studio.

To be taken seriously as a singer at auditions, start building your library of audition music. Everything from Classical Theater, to Modern Musicals, to Pop, and Rock.

Your self-esteem will be solid with sheet music written just for you, with your name on it. You just count off the tempo.  Trust me, I do this for a living!..

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Long-Term Singing Success Requires Smart Short-Term Priorities

Never confuse talent with the applause of intoxicated people at a Karaoke bar It takes guidance, practice, determination, and dedication to really develop natural talent.

I have great singers who come every week, after long days and hard jobs. They know the more they learn, the better they will become. I have single mothers who have scraped for money to fund lessons for a child’s aspirations because they knew it was important.

And other students are now recording, and ready to be signed by a label. They still come every week or twice-weekly because they know they need to build stamina and refine their technique. If they make it to the next level, success at performances and concerts won’t just happen automatically. It will need continual coaching an ongoing honest evaluation

A Mother Is Not A Coach

west-side-story-coverOne mother insisted her daughter learn a difficult song from West Side Storyfor an audition. The girl could not even grasp the concept of the lyric or the degree of difficulty of the music.

I firmly recommended another song be chosen. The mother insisted; we parted ways.

A vocal coach needs to be included in the choice of an audition song. It is that ability, among others, you are paying for.

Singing Lessons Aren’t A Trip To Disneyland

If you have a large family, and the younger ones have to wait a year for their turn, in order for you to supply the gifted one with every tool possible, you must set the priorities to give the older child the proper training, or it will wither from neglect.

There is rarely measurable improvement, when a student takes lessons every other month or every two weeks. It takes study as if one  were learning an instrument. No piano or guitar teacher would take someone twice a month, because there would likely be no real progress.

time of day mattersTime of day matters

Bring a child to an 8pm lesson and they are certain to be tired,..exhausted. How can they absorb and retain the lesson content? Saturday? That’s usually play-day, and it’s difficult to focus on lessons. Well, if Saturday is play-day, parents may be sending mixed-signals to their aspiring child. If weekdays ARE the only time, then make sure the child naps and does not eat before a lesson. It’s important to be alert.

My Saturdays, growing up, were, jazz, tap, and ballet. My entire childhood was lessons. I could play on Sunday, ride my bike, go to the park.

Lesson Frequency and Persistent Practice Matter

If a student has any true professional aspirations, a good teacher, won’t be comfortable with being seen, twice a month (except in rare situations).  The really good coach is hard to find. I know, because I have students who have been to many before me, and moved on from frustration.

That type of teacher doesn’t offer the foundation skill and nurturing a student needs to progress. One can vocalize at home, but you cannot be your own coach or director. It requires a neutral observer and coach to move you along, point out poor phrasing and breathing mistakes. Read my post on “What you should expect from a vocal coach.”

No YouTube is better than Bad YouTube

I have coached some singers who take a couple of lessons, disappear, then post YouTube videos, and tout me as their coach.

I discourage anyone from posting YouTube videos, unless they are original, studio recorded songs.

I would like these people to take my name off the videos, but I can only ask. I can’t compel them.

Occasionally I get it wrong. I have taken on a few students twice a month and should not have. They did not get the progress my other students got.

I no longer accept hobbyist singers as students

If singing is a hobby, I will not take on that person as a student. If one is serious (as an adult or parent, for a child)  you will find a way… cut out a dinner out, whatever it takes, taking voice is a serious pursuit, and potentially life-changing experience.

Taking the stage on Karaoke night is fool’s gold. The applause of friends, family, and patrons is temporarily good for the ego. Don’t confuse that with reality.

A person with sincere aspirations and drive needs quality coaching and the truth about what it takes.

Aspiring students are always welcome. Reality checks occasionally given… This post would be a reality check 🙂

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Bob Anderson Sizzles at the Suncoast

Bob Anderson and the band

Bob Anderson and the band

I have been watching Bob Anderson for decades. Way-back-when, Bob was at the Top of the Dunes, and Lee Greenwood was in a little piano bar, when I was the singing lead in The ‘Casino De Paris Show’ at the Dunes Hotel. Yes, the good ol days!

I had known him earlier when he and my sister were in a relationship, so we have a lot of history. Bob had his start very fast, with appearances on Johnny Carson, and performances with George Burns…  too many to mention, here.

He is not only an impeccable singer, but a superb impressionist.  The art and style of the cabaret singer is a gift, and completely natural. This rings true when you see Bob’s show. He is at ease, and has a beautiful audience rapport.

I could listen to him sing standards all night, however, his loyal fans expect the impressions Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr;, and Tony Bennett among others.

When you witness a true talent such as Bob, it takes you back to the time in Las Vegas, when headliners dominated.  When the lounges were percolating 24 hours a day, with great bands. I feel badly for the younger people who come here, and find a new Disneyland of mostly mediocre lounge bands, and too few of them.

Bob Anderson Suncoast

Bob Anderson & Jessica Marciel

In the days of true Vegas Glam, you could find, Keely Smith, Kenny Rogers, Lou Rawls and Sam Butera in the lounges, Yes, the lounges. They had cover charges, dress codes, and little round tables with , yes, you guessed it, SERVICEWhat? Service, in glass , not plastic cups. Now how much money do you think is saved by using plastic cups, instead of glass?

In the audience at the ‘Suncoast‘ Friday night, was Pia Zadora, Monti Rock III, Steve Rossi, and even Joe Williams widow, Jill.  I was there with two great singers, we could have been 10 if we had gotten the word out faster. next time we will.   If you haven’t heard Bob sing ‘Guess Who I Saw Today? ‘ , ‘Midnight Sun’ or ‘Angel Eyes’, you haven’t lived.

Besides Bob’s talent and superb backing musicians, the more subtle elements that lift his show include:

  • Designing a show set that includes standards and less familiar songs, that all hit the mark.
  • His recognition of important performers attending the show, never leaving the feeling that he is ‘name-dropping’.
  • Band interaction, particularly with Musical Director, Vincent Falcone, is familiar and comfortable, allowing Bob to change-up a song choice, on the fly, without missing a beat.
  • Embracing his fans, through relaxed banter from the stage, plus lingering after the show to pose for photographs.

So, next time you read about Bob Anderson, appearing anywhere, do yourself a favor, and go see a real pro, a consummate entertainer, with a band, that included legends, like guitarist, Joe Lano, bass, Bob Sachs, Musical Director Piano, Vince Falcone, and drummer, Mike Meechem. 

You can thank me later:) See you there.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

 

2013 A Year of Remembrance

2013 has been an emotional roller coaster, filled with remembrance. I can remember last summer (2012). My daughter’s grand stepfather Neil Turner passed, and the family gathered for a memorial service at Donnell Lake in the Northern California Mountains.

I decided to drive, because if I flew to Oakland, I needed to rent a car to drive way up to high altitude of my former mother-in-law’s house; then up another 15 miles or so to the memorial site.

I remember this event well, because it was the last summer of my ex-husbands life,  Greg Marciel; father of my daughter, Alexandra (Lexi).                                                                                       Her half-sister, Ariana and Greg, and Alexandra flew in together. I was the very first to arrive , driving all night, listening to great music, enjoying the solitude mile after mile, and long stretches of empty desert and sandy roads.

I drove through Northern California farm land, and saw cows, and smelled the fresh-cut grass and sometimes not too pleasant smells! I drove next to big trucks in the morning, and it was quite challenging after being up all night.  I was weary from the all-night road trip, but being a night owl, I thought leaving at 2 am would get me there around 11 am. Then I could catch a rest before the arrival of the family.

Greg Marciel with mom, Pat Turner, early 1990s

Greg Marciel with mom, Pat Turner, early 1990s

My brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Katy, live in Castro Valley, California, and have a cabin near Pat’s house. Pat is Greg’s mother and the loveliest mother-in-law anyone could wish for.  She is beautiful and so sweet. You simply don’t divorce a family, when you have a child, you try to stay in touch. Pat always came to Las Vegas for the girls’ birthdays. She drove up with her sister Ginny. they were inseparable. Like me, they enjoyed the drive. Long stretches of highway and  nothingness. These were the closest sisters I have ever known. I was glad to arrive first for the memorial because it gave me some one-on-one time with Pat.

Pat arranged for me to stay with her neighbor, Maxine, a lovely widow. When I reached her huge custom-built cabin, I was truly amazed. I drove about three miles up the mountain and then turned left up, traveling a curvy, narrow road,; a private road with a beautiful stone custom-house.  Just its stone patio, rafters, and staircase to a loft would be showcased in a magazine if anyone knew of it.  The loft circled the entire downstairs, and could accommodate ten people, if needed.  The kitchen was a cook’s dream; with storage and pantry to die for. I had the most cozy bed and down comforter. But the best thing about the house is Maxine! She is a joy, so wonderful. I hope to see her again.

The day started out with family arriving slowly, and dinner. Greg was the middle child of three boys. Older brother Glenn, and youngest brother, Gary  his beautiful wife Katy and kids, Kirk and Emily.  I shot some photos of Greg and his two girls , our daughter Alexandra, and his daughter with his last wife Ellen, Ariana; a high school senior at the time.

Remembrance

Greg, Lexi, Ariana

I took pictures that night and the next day at the service up in the look out point of Donnell Pass. How fortunate, because those two pictures, would be the last photos of Greg with his daughters. Less than a year later, I discovered that Greg had suddenly, and shockingly died in his Henderson townhouse.

The bright sun shone on Greg and the girls. he squinted his eyes and beamed with pride being with his two girls. Greg and I had a warm friendship and called each other on birthdays, Mothers Day, and Fathers day.  He was kind, and soft-spoken, I never heard him raise his voice, and called me “Hon.”

He was one of the top trumpet players in the country, having played with Buddy Rich,  Sam Butera & Keeley Smith, just to name a few. People were surprised by our friendship and working relationship. You see, I lead a horn band, and hired him when he could sub out his gigs with the Rat Pack Show.

That day, at the pass and lookout view, was the last time we were all together. How could we predict that, at 61, a very healthy, very active jogger with good eating habits, would just,,,,,die.  alone, in his condo.

I left the service first,  and decided to just head home over the mountain through Yosemite  National Park.  It was a winding, tricky road, so I wanted to drive it in daylight, before I got to the lake at the base of the mountain.  I pulled over in a remote spot, under some huge sequoia trees, changed into warmer clothes, because it was  going to get a little chilly.

The drive home was tiring, and I was regretful I didn’t stay an extra day. But I found a Subway store, around midnight, just before closing time. A foot-long sandwich sustained me for the final stretch home. Long, long night, but it was well worth it. It was a beautiful drive.

If I hadn’t been alone, I would have stopped at the lake and one of the restaurants for a nice scenic meal.  It was tempting, but I hate to eat alone in a tourist resort. So, against my will, I kept driving, through this gorgeous area that was calling to me to stop and enjoy the sights!

After losing Pat’s husband, Neil, the year went on with nothing out of the ordinary until December. Our daughter and her boyfriend, David, came to Las Vegas from Chicago for the holidays.  The two of them felt strongly about their future so she picked up and moved to Chicago with him two years ago. They stayed a week.

Pendants of Greg Marciel and Irv Kluger

Pendants of Greg Marciel and Irv Kluger.. joining Lexi for her walk down the aisle.

Late one afternoon, David called and asked to see me. I said I had a vocal student in 15 minutes, would he like to come another time? he said “I am outside”  OH, well, I opened the door. I really was baffled.  He said, “I need to ask you something very important.” OH, I got it now!  NO one does this anymore, what a gentleman!

We proceeded to the couch where he asked my blessing to marry my daughter. After excitement and hugs, he said the ring was being designed.  David was trying to reach Greg for his blessing, but wasn’t getting his calls returned.   He wasn’t going to do it until he talked to Greg.

This began a very unusual time, a strange time, with Greg NOT returning Davids calls. Then, started calling Greg to prompt him. He said, they don’t need my blessing, they can do whatever they want.  This wasn’t like him. I said, “Greg, he wants it this way, why can’t you call him. Please…”

What happened next was very strange. He called our Lexi, who knew nothing of this, and said to her, “You guys don’t need my permission to get married.” She was amazed and astonished because she was clueless. The cat was now out of the bag.  I called David, and said, “Look., you have Greg’s blessing, just go ahead and trust me, there is something not quite right.”

Now, in hindsight, I question why I didn’t say something to his family? I think his thinking… his logic… was out of kilter. Could  this have been a symptom related to his death? We’ll never know, but in retrospect, it haunts me.

Billy T

Remembrance

Jessica and Billy T – 12/31/12 at the Las Vegas Hilton

I sang on New Year’s Eve at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel for the last decade, with Billy Tragesser on piano. Billy had been battling cancer, and this time, I made sure we had a picture taken, Just a few months later, Billy passed away.

I had plans to attend Billy’s memorial service on June 1st, when the night before (March 31st), I discovered Greg’s body. I never made it to Billy’s service, Saturday morning. Instead, I was at the airport picking up my grief stricken daughter. She had previous plans to come to Las Vegas on Wednesday ,for Ariana’High School Graduation and to look at wedding venues.  The entire family was coming for Ariana’s Graduation Celebration, but now, with Greg‘s sudden passing, everyone arrived early.

Together, we worked madly to plan a service for the following Saturday. Most family members were here, with the exception of Gregs dad, who was too ill to travel, and brother Glenn, who had to work, couldn’t come.

The service was organized in a week; not a long time to prepare and let people even know he was gone! Frankly, we were all in shock. It was something of Twilight Zone experience, but, we went ahead and the memorial was lovely.

Group TherapyGreg’s old band ‘Group Therapy’ played some of his original songs, and family members share stories and said some wonderful things, but the fog of shock still permeated the service.

Some weeks later on, the family did a second service in Oakland, so the people who couldn’t make it to Las Vegas, plus his high school and college friends could gather. Greg’s final resting place is in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.

I was so sad, and still stunned. In part, I suppose because, he was a little younger than me, and I knew him to be in good health. I didn’t see him frequently, now that I was teaching singing more than singing on the Strip. But I kept in touch with him about our Lexi. He always sounded fine. Greg was teaching at the Las Vegas High School of Performing Arts. Coincidentally, I had three vocal students who were in his class.  They talked of him, and when he died, they called me to express their condolences.

Jim Belk

Remembrance

Jim Belk

I was still pretty catatonic, when a drummer friend, Jim Belk who had worked with me for over a decade fell ill… very ill. Jim had been a member of Michael Grimm‘s band, and was now rehearsing a new show.

Jim’s decline was fast… too fast.  His cancer was very aggressive. His friends thought Jim would recover. He went to UCLA medical center for treatments, and you know that is frightening.

Jim was only in his forties, with a beautiful wife, Megan and two adorable girls… daddy’s girls for sure. They adored him.

You could how much Jim loved Megan by the expression on his face when she called. Her picture would pop-up on his phone whenever I saw him.,

Now, here I was, again, attending an excruciatingly sad memorial.

In spite of the sadness of the memorial, it was also a festive celebration of Jim’s life…with singers and violins and really great talent.

2013 was filled with loss, and then renewed with the wedding of David and Alexandra on November 10th.  But it wasn’t smooth sailing before the wedding. Pat, my mother in law, was planning on driving with her sister Ginny, as usual. Then Ginny had a stroke.

And in a matter of days, Ginny was taken off life support, In the course of year, Pat had lost her husband, a son, and now her sister.  We continued the the roll up to David and Alexandra’s wedding celebration through a challenging and difficult confluence of loss… and periods of extreme and contrasting emotions for all of us.

This would be a challenge.

Part 2 is coming:   Renewal and Hope

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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