The Making Of Hamilton

IT took  six years  for Lin-Manuel Miranda . to write ‘HAMILTON’

Originally, it was to become a Mixed Tape,,,,However, Fate intervened..

MIRANDA  was reading Ron Chernov’s biography of Hamilton. while on vacation.in  St. Croix

Before he left  for his vacation he bought the book on the Life of Hamilton, and the Death of him.,, later saying,’ IT COULD HAVE BEEN TRUMAN‘  luckily , for theater and history buffs everywhere it wasn’t.  We are very glad he picked up that BOOK>

Hamilton  starts writing a poem about the hurricane that destroys ST CROIX, where he  is living.

He writes about the carnage, and this poem gets him off the island. This is how MIRANDA understood the circumstances that made it  hip hop and music. It had to be rapped and sung. The subject was so dark, its had to be spoken and sung,,,he had no doubt about that.   He had written only one song in one year, when PRESIDENT OBAMA in 2009, asked him to perform at the White House.

PRESIDENT OBAMA told him, after hearing the song, ‘ALEXANDER HAMILTON ‘ the theme song, ‘ I won’t forget to remind you that at  the White House,,,,’THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!’

After the WHITE HOUSE PERFORMANCE , it took him another year to write the second song. He walked and walked , rode the subway, that is how he came up with the the lyrics..He wrote one song at a party,, another while riding the subway.

It started as a mix tape and not a musical.  MIRANDA has to be ambulatory to write lyrics. On the move,, on trains, and walking through the New York streets. He began within thinking it would be a concept album, it was easier to think of honoring his favorite hip hop artists. He thought of them when writing.

MIRANDA  then performed from the MIXTAPE at LINCOLN CENTERS AMERICAN SONGBOOK , it started to come together.. He picked up the THE  HEARTBREAK OF AARON BURR, also ‘AFFAIRS OF HONOR, to nail the dueling rules.

In 2014 the  show began at the PUBLIC THEATRE.  MIRANDA AND DIRECTOR THOMAS KAIL went to WEEHAWKEN New Jersey, the grounds where BURR SHOT HAMILTON.  The actual grounds are covered with train tracks now, but there is a small memorial.

MIRANDA really studied other musicals, such as Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR  and  LES MISERABLE.  This taught him where and when to re-introduce a theme. MIRANDA. knew the best way to this was to stick  to the facts as much as possible.  That is why  CHERNOV,  whose novel inspired this  project became historian of the show.

CHERNOV looked at every draft and every song for accuracy.

 

MIRANDA stole a line from. the musical South Pacific, ‘I’M WITH YOU BUT THE SITUATION IS FRAUGHT, YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT’.  in the song ‘MY SHOT’

MIRANDA  cast the show very diverse to make it look like AMERICA looks… Real and mixed.

After this huge success of the show, MIRANDA is actually making his MIXTAPE, This tape will be available this year. It includes a new song not in the Broadway show.

On a personal chapter now, I was working for a short time here in Las Vegas, at the PALAZZO   HOTEL in 2016 to help the OUT OF STATE   singers deal with the dryness and stamina of singing and running and  dancing,  to get the show ‘ BAZ ‘ up and going , which is a Fantastic Mash Up of Baz Lurhmans movie themes of the classics, when it was taking a long  time in rehearsal.   It  was volunteer only, as it was an EQUITY show, you can’t force singers to take time out of thier personal time to work…. it seemed only the real PROS were signing up. The lead singer playing , DAISY, WAS THE BRILLIANT JOANNA  ALEXIS JONES. YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP WHEN SHE SANG.  Here was the best singer I had heard to sign up to meet me??   I had to just tell her she was spot on, and would not have any problems, doing anything , anywhere!

This showed me, that real serious singers , from BERKLEE AND BOSTON CONSERVATORY are the real troupers who even as great as they were, are willing to learn something new.  Sadly, this was before I was taking lessons myself on VOCAL HEALTH  by a LARYNOLOGIST and SPEECH PATHOLOGIST, who I still work with , ERIK LANDRY, DR. JONATHAN SALINAS.  This new information I know know, would be quite beneficial to anyone singing, dancing ,and running while singing!!!

I have learned so much I wish I had known then,.,,, I cannot learn enough and my hunger for this knowledge is never fulfilled,,,, More More More!!!!  So, How does this tie in with HAMILTON. ,JOANNA ALEXIS JONES,,,IS PLAYING    PEGGY AND MARIA,   which requires a MEZZO SOPRANO.  She looks absolutely gorgeous which she is, she is sweet, down to earth and the nicest person.    When she went back to L A she was cast   in the tv production of HAIRSPRAY, and not long after was packing to re locate to New York, for this historic show.

I find it very similar to myself, when I got into a Broadway show six months after it opened,, I was cast in the rock musical HAIR when I was 17.   I found it so life changing..  The similarity was , that after going in after the original cast, you  miss out on the original cast recording,,the pictures of the exciting opening night, and all the T V appearances.. It is like being Prom queen but missing the Prom…. But the excitement of coming and going into the backstage, where fans want you autograph and they want to just touch you, and be next to you, because the life you are living, is their dream too.  WE are living the DREAM… I follow JOANNA on INSTAGRAM  watch her videos, of that amazing voice!

The moral of this story, is, audition for everything you can. You never know if it will be a huge historic hit!  HAMILTON AND HAIR are two the most historical musicals ever.  HAIR being the very first Rock musical with a political message and nude scene. Hamilton   a Rap and sung musical, also Politically charged. With my years  in HAIR I got to have lifelong friends who I still am close to. It is an experience only those who were with the shows can know.

I’m so excited for JOANNA’S career. She has prepared with great trining, and many performances where she got great reviews. .  Be prepared , Study, Be a triple threat, when you audition let them know you are Ready!   They can tell, they know what they are looking for.   Good Luck if you are on this journey, I am still remembered for Being in HAIR, and that will never change.  Musicals come and go,,, they are infamous, but only a few make history, so these are important shows everyone should be interested in.

LALA LAND was a good musical,, but the cast were  actors and so so singers,,,, most musical do not require huge talent in voice,,, a good actor can put a message across… I truly feel Gosling  and Stone did a great job,,, passable dancing  but the art great acting made me love them.         

I believe HAMILTON will be around a very long time,, and I also Believe JOANNA ALEXIS JONES WILL BE AROUND AS WELL, good Luck JOANNA,  and to all future Broadway actors!

 

Singing in Las Vegas and L A

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Our family move to Las Vegas, was traumatic for my sister and I. Being raised in Los Angeles, you get used to a certain culture, access to the beach, and the mountains. We lived in North Hollywood, then Northridge, Sherman Oaks, and Van Nuys.. I went to Van Nuys Jr. Hi.  This was a real blow,, I was only 3, when we left New York for L A, so  this was HUGE.  My sister and I were never closer and we clung to each other for survival. I was lost when she went off to live in San Fransisco for the rest of her teen years with my aunt and uncle.

Not long after the move to Vegas, I found that my record was a little popular there, and Dennis Hunt on KENO Radio had given it a lot of play.  I went to Odyssey Records and even found my record in the sale bin!!!!! Talk about a blow to your ego!

I found out, I was to open for Johnny Crawford of the TV show The Rifleman at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Odyssey Records

Odyssey Records

His hit song ‘Today is Cindy’s Birthday’ was huge at the time  and this was the biggest venue in Las Vegas, where The Beatles played.  I was to lip-sync my 4 songs, because the last two were not really mixed, and completed  when I was dropped from the label. I still have the demos,  the vinyl, but they didn’t make it to the radio.

I was so nervous!  All these young girls screaming Johnny… Johnny… and I come out!  They were polite enough, but bored stiff until my set was over. Whew, my first big concert. Alone! Over with! I think if my opening song hadn’t been ‘Johnny Let Me Go’ they would have killed me!

I was  at Valley High , here in Las Vegas. High school started  at 9th grade, for four years. in Los Angeles it was 3 years. So here I was in high school, after a half semester at Roy Martin Middle school.

The bands were all male dominated. NO chick singers. A band, ‘The Little People‘ asked me to join them.  YES, after doing that concert alone, being IN a band was a great thrill for me.  This was when I honed my performing skills, and we worked every weekend.  We even did the  Jerry Lewis Telethon, during MORNING PRIME TIME!!!! After a  few personality issues, we morphed into another band, ‘London Fog’, adding on more talent.

teenbeat-clubThat band was an improvement; we were getting older, and working better places, The Teenbeat Club and many frat parties. We even played the only casino in Searchlight, Nevada, a mining town, about an hour outside Las Vegas.

Then the best thing happened to me. A college band called ‘Free Circus’ asked me to come aboard. Wow, I was so excited to do originals, and songs by Traffic, Yes, and Jefferson Airplane. The band had great musicians,, and two singers in addition to me.

Roby Bennet wrote a lot of great songs and Danny Barnett was on B3 organ, a rare sound for local Vegas bands. We were so good, concert promoters hired us to be opening act for Santana, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Electric Prunes, Sweetwater, and others, I can’t even recall!

We were stars now, when we would load in, kids would crowd around to watch us, just to be around us because we were going to be close to these headline bands backstage; acts they all loved, and admired. This was a great time in my life.

So, after we were really on a roll, and I was in my senior year, The Viet Nam war was calling our pianist! Yes , Danny had to go, and we just could not replace him. He played B3 for goodness sakes, and that was our sound! When Danny left, I knew my next move had to be for ME, for my career.

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

So, I went to Los Angeles with an agent that my sister had met at the Stardust Hotel. He was quite well known, Bill Loeb agency, and you would think someone that big would behave themselves?  After he read my bio, he just took a shot and took me to Hollywood, and checked me in at the Bel Air Motel.  That’s when my world started to get pretty scary!

I have to add, that years later (which I’ll cover in another post), Las Vegas wasn’t so forgiving to female singers, and I have some horror stories there also. But as a teen, it treated me well. As I made my journey with this complete Stranger to Los Angeles, the rest of my life begins a whole new chapter!

I had a cute room at the motel, with a little fridge.  Mr. Loeb was well behaved up to this point. I had my first audition set for the following week, the Love Rock Musical HAIR, I was preparing my song and dance.  I bought some vintage satin pants at a thrift store,,, a madras blanket and I sewed it into a top,,,that was my Hippie outfit,,,     I auditioned for Teddy Neely, and Kay Cole, Armand Coulet, and I got a callback,,,,,   Then I was called without the callback,,I was to start right AWAY!!!!  I was thrown into the most popular Broadway show in decades,,

I was a vegetarian, and made frequent trips to the market,

On one such trip, a very dark hairy hippie approached me in the produce section, and started chatting me up, said he was a songwriter, come to my car, I will play you a song.

Well, I did, and it was a smelly, beat up old car. He was smelly, too, and seemed a bit crazy… The hair stood up on my arms, so when Charlie, that was his name, asked to to go to his ranch, I declined.

Yes, my friends,, The Spahn Ranch and CHARLIE MANSON was his name.  Welcome to L A

Third installment coming soon.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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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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Michael Bublé with Ease!

Michael Bublé is consistent.  This man could sing while juggling and playing hop scotch. In this video of  him singing Home’, you can feel his ease and his natural ability to connect with his audience. He draws you in, with home-style comfort, as if in his living room.

His television specials are solid. He always has an interesting guest artist; someone interesting and different from himself.  He makes eye-contact with an audience member, smiles, yet never loses his way in the lyric or emotion of the song.

There are just a handful of singers as pure as this, when you are in their presence. It makes you feel a part of the show, and you can’t wait to see them again… like visiting a friend.

When I worked with Bobby Vinton he had loyal fans  who followed him everywhere!  I never knew how anyone could afford to do that!  They attended shows in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, New York, and had expensive front row seats, to boot!  I would bet anything that Bublé has these kind of loyal fans too.  Only a warm and sincere performer has that kind of attraction. People know when you are not comfortable up there, and it is contagious.

If you get a chance  to see him, get there! It’s a feel-good show, and he is never out of sorts. I have seen just a few of performers with this type of mindset, disposition, and entertainment value. Natalie Cole is one, Sammy Davis Jr. was another.

“Going out to hear live music has its health benefits. It keeps you happy, smiling and younger!”

Jessica Marciel

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Your Voice: Don’t take it for granted?

your voiceWe take many things for granted… like going to the dentist, getting our hair cut, brushing our teeth, shaving our legs! Yes, many things we do, you really don’t think about, often.

A musician practices hours every day. A dancer trains every day, as well as working out. eating well, and staying healthy.

  • Why would you take your voice for granted?
  • What makes you think it will ‘be there’ for you anytime you want it too.

Growing up first, in California, I had no vocal problems. The weather was humid, and I was in good vocal shape. When I moved to Las Vegas, the dryness of the city, really took effect. I went to dance class every day, and then the gym, and had a humidifier in my bedroom. I drank a lot of water all day, and went swimming almost every day.

Yes, sure… to maintain your figure when wearing tight, tiny costumes. In show business, in your 20’s & 30’s, it’s as much how you look, as how you sing… Sadly, that is a truth, though I wish were not true.

 

Our voices are the same way. They need to be worked out, stretched, warmed up, and challenged.  Sometimes, you hear a singer and if you really pay attention, you will notice they get stronger toward the end the show. They are warmed up by then, that’s why.

Cardio is not enough, you need to EXERCISE IT. Not Sing!  Singing is not warming up!  Do not confuse singing with doing proper vocal exercises.

Many students say when they get here, ‘I warmed up on the way’.  I ask, ‘ Really, what did you do?’  They reply,‘ I sang in the car’ 

No…. singing is the result of warming up, not the other way around.  If you maintain your voice properly, it will be there for you, and you won’t have to wait til the end of your show before it suddenly becomes strong for you.

It takes the proper balance between your lip, and your stomach InterCostal muscles, the muscles all the way down to your waist,  These Intercostal muscles play an important part in the way the body movement functions.  Muscle fibers range in length from a few hundred thousandths of a centimeter,to several  centimeters. Each fiber has it’s own nerve impulses,  and releases Glycogen, to give fuel for energy. Intercostals are one of five muscles that run from the rib above to the bottom rib on the rib cage,, The  Subcostal muscles are found in the inferior portion of the thoracic wall.   And you thought it was all from your Vocal cords and vocal folds, Didn’t you???   Think again….

It takes certain body movement, neck and mouth tissue massage,  along with extreme breathing technique.       You shouldn’t even Sing without knowing what your body is supposed to be doing….ONLY Then,,,,, Only, Then will it be as Strong and beautiful as it can be.

 

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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Aileen is a 9-year old wonder!

AileenAileen is a mature, and solid singer. At a pint-sized nine years old, she blows my mind every week. She has good pitch, taste, and emotion! I am always hesitant to take students this young, but I am sometimes surprised, and take them on with excitement.

She gets better every week, and her dad, as he sits in the den waiting room, can hear a little and always is so happy that he influences her choice in music, like Muse, and ZZ Ward

That music is hip and cool for someone who not quite in the target demographic for the recording industry. If they all had taste like this, we would have great music out there, instead of these auto-tuned videos and average singers lip syncing so they can dance around.

These videos are like an old Las Vegas lounge show! Thanks to her dad’s great taste in music, she will always sing great songs and sing them well.

UPDATE;   Aileen is 13, still with me,, also studying acting at Hollywood Access inc where I teach as well..      She is singing in public and so gorgeous!!!!  She has a bright future…

Way to go!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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Life is Short: Go For It!

I had the pleasure of seeing the “Just Imagine” John Lennon tribute show, based at Planet Hollywood. I was the most animated person in the room. This was about a Beatle, this is John Lennon music. How can people sit still? Why am I so different that when a drummer starts drumming? I feel it in my bones. This band was so good, I couldn’t possibly sit still.

Speaking to the keyboardist, my friend Cosmo Topper, who came in from los Angeles to do the Las Vegas-based show, I said “Vegas audiences are the worst”, the drummer overheard us, and said “no, L.A. is the worst”.

Well, if that is the case, Why is live music still alive at all?  What has happened to people’s souls? I thought the music of The Beatles was universal. The theatre was 1/3 full and half were too young to remember the Vietnam war, the 60’s and the whole hippie movement.

But music is music, it heals the soul, it reminds you that  you are alive. The musician/singer/actor who played John was very very good. I felt like I was at a John Lennon concert.

He mentioned the lost Beatle, drummer, Stuart Sutcliff, who died of  brain cancer. He speaks of the loss when his mother pawned him off on his aunt and then his mum died from an off duty drunk policeman. His father left and seemed to never come back, unclear if he died in the war or something else.

He admits to being a bad husband to Cynthia and worse father to Julian. Then Later on, when the love of his life Yoko gives him a another son Sean. HE is the love of John’s universe. I hope Julian doen’t see this show. He doesn’t pay tribute to anyone but Paul, mentions Ringo and omits George. entirely. But the reason it inspired me to write this because he constantly reminds us that he was unhappy. Success and fame do not bring happiness.

That is what I want to talk about when the show is over. It should be enough to leave a body of work that you are proud of and leave a legacy that will define you. You don’t need the stress and pressure of superstardom.  If that happens to you and you want it, you need to be ready.

You need the right support group around you and advisors. You shouldn’t step on people on your way up.  All the voice coaches, dance and acting coaches that helped you get there should be not left in the dust.  Remember who you are and that is who you need to stay. When you are on stage,  think  “Miley Cyrus” and fans are screaming your name,when the concert is over, and you are alone in your hotel room with 22 more hours until the next show, you need to lead a life that you can be proud of.

You need to be well read, and able to converse at a party with record execs. You need a good education, both in history, english, and the industry. Who was in the “Who”… or the “Doors”? “Traffic”what band members branched out from what bands to be huge stars on their own?

You want it. OK, go for it, but do it with the power of knowledge, and class.

Rock on!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Working singer since 12, no time for the prom at 17.

In 1964, The Beatles came to America, Capitol Records, my record label was also the distributor. Capitol Records, suddenly distracted by The Beatles, left me, and other artists, high and dry. I lost all my clout with the label and was washed up at 14.

Shortly thereafter, my dad was with Juliet Prowse as her drummer and was seeing Las Vegas as his future.  Against the family’s wishes we all moved to Las Vegas and I had to re-invent myself.

Dennis Hunt a DJ with KENO radio had been playing my record, Johnny Let me Go“, and frequently had me appear on his show. I opened a concert for Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman TV show, who had a big hit, “Cindy’s Birthday”. this was my first big concert at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

I was in Valley High School, and there were tons of local bands in town. The  Scatter Blues, The Weeds, The Present Tense, Nobody’s Children, Sioux Uprising, The Teenbeats, Kentucky Blue Grass, Loadstone, Later, Kharisma,with John Sterling, Terry Ryan, Jay Mitthauer. Same band, few changes. and the band that I joined, The Little People.

 

The Little People were, Mike Lyman, Mike Friedman, Glenn Cooper, Steve Harvey, Howard Salstein, and myself. We were very popular and appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Mike Friedman”s father Maurice Friedman was a mob-connected hotel man. The Frontier Hotel. Mike was a spoiled and complex kid. Naturally, I was drawn to him…. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, that was the problem. His parents were always out, and he had a nanny that let us all do anything and everything around his golf course home.

We evolved into a better group called  London Fog. That was Bob Lilly, and Glenn Cooper, Mike Lyman, and Mike Friedman and myself.  We worked the Teen Beat Club, and shopping centers, local parties and even a Hotel in Searchlight.

Free Circus

Free Circus

I outgrew my high school musicians soon, and was solicited by  a college band, The Free Circus. Roby Bennet, Bob Byornsen, and Danny Barnett. This was a great band. We covered Stevie Winwood, Cream, and a lot of originals. With this band we got a manager, Jennifer Joseph, and opened for  Santana, Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, SteppenwolfThree Dog Night, Blue Cheer Sweetwater, and virtually every headliner who came through town. We even spent a summer in Lake Tahoe, and opened for Steppenwolf, again.

I  distanced myself from Mike Friedman at this time, and started seeing John Sterling, who I met through drummer Jay Mitthauer, {Jaybird}  He was taking drum lessons from my dad. John was in Loadstone and a little older, 24,  My parents were thrilled about this, I’m sure!

But shortly after we began, the band Loadstone became Andy Williams featured band on his TV show, and they were slowly transitioning to Los Angeles.  I made a few weekend trips to see Sterling before we drifted apart.

On one of these trips, we were at A&M studios, they were recording and I ran into my idol, Lani Hall. I had always wanted to be in Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66!!! Just seeing her in the restroom of A&M was thrilling.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

Meanwhile, my band, The Free Circus, was getting close to a recording opportunity when our pianist Danny was drafted to  go to Vietnam. He was still in boot camp, when on a  trip to visit him, his parents and brother were hit by a drunk driver and his mother was instantly killed. He got a grief discharge, but we were broken up by then. Danny’s  mother was a beautiful woman and it was so sad.  His dad moved to Morrow Bay and lived on a yacht with the settlement money.

My sister met an agent Bill Loeb, he met with me, flew me to Los Angeles, and my first audition was HAIR. I was blessed! But back to Free Circus. We were close, I loved these guys, Bob had cancer in the 80’s and passed away, but Roby and Danny and I are going to be inducted into the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Little People and London Fog.

 

Actual London Fog

Actual London Fog

Mike Friedman died of cancer as well and I was reunited with him at the end. He had nothing left, having snorted his money away and estranged from his sister, who told me, I don’t even care , don’t call me when he dies. I found a place for Mike to stay while he was sick, my dear friend Rene had been letting him live with her but it was going on way too long. She needed help. He abused my friends apartment with beer bottles and cigarettes, and I too, had to ask him to leave. He went back to Rene’s and died.

But I will add that when I was with Free Circus, I did no drugs. No drinking, I was really a serious singer…unlike my London Fog days, when I was a bit messed up and not very mature.

All this led to who I am today, and shaped my values as a singer. Take care of yourself and be on time! My life has been crazy and wonderful, but I wouldn’t trade anything I did. Even missing my prom!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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