Japan, here I come…really!

Hello Kitty.
Bullet Trains.
and love of Jazz.
Yep, Jazz and Japan go together like peanut butter and jelly or tempura and more tempura. And the cool thing is that I get to go and experience all of the above first hand this month. In a few days I will be in Kobe Japan. While many know Kobe as the land of delicious beef, few know that it is a jazz hot spot.
Kobe and Seattle are sister cities and have nurtured that relationship thru a musical exchange. Since 2000 winners of the Kobe Jazz Vocalist  Contest held in Kobe have visited Seattle to perform at Dimitrious Jazz Alley. In 2005  Seattle through a competition at Dimitrious Jazz Alley  began to send an American jazz vocalist (1 adult and 1 high school student) to Kobe to perform at the contest. It has been fruitful and still continues and
high school student Kristina Buno and myself will be going to Kobe.

I hope to share some of my discoveries and adventures with you. If you are not on FB you might want to friend me because I will be sharing pictures and such. (http://www.facebook.com/LaVonHardison )
I have a feeling that the associative list above will expand and grow and I would love to tell you about it!
In the meantime, enjoy the new buds of spring
and always continue to be fabulous!

Upcoming shows

Sunday May 22nd 7pm
with guitarist Vince Brown
McMenamin’s Edgefield Winery
2126 Southwest Halsey Street
Troutdale, OR 97060
(503) 665-2992—————————————————————–

Thursday May 26 9pm
piano- Randy Halberstadt, bass,-Osama Afifi, drums-Jeff Busch
Vito’s Seattle

927 9th Ave,
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 397-4053



Japan, Here I Come

I love spring in the Northwest. The slightest hint of sunshine causes folks in these parts to remove any clothing that would get in the way of experiencing the elusive elixir of free vitamin D.  The earth erupts with crocus and daffodil as well as weeds and the very air is a fuel for promise and new possibilities. That was how March felt for me this year. That new sun felt good.

March was made even more tasty this year by new travels to come. Monday, March 28th I participated in the Seattle-Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle. The evening gave 4 high school students and 6 adults the opportunity to  take the stage for 12 minutes and do their stuff.  There was a full house of family and friends cheering on participants as well jazz well wishers. The audition participants were all talented, beautiful, creative and sassy in their own individual way-it was really  an honor to be in this wonderful and historic venue. with the future and the present manifestations of jazz.

Personally, it was such a thrill to be on that stage, even it was for 12 minutes! The mood of the audience was warm, the sound was great and I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of musical ancestors. I was acutely aware that some great singers had graced this stage, and I had to the opportunity to shuffle around in their dust.

I am very humbled and grateful to announce that I will be going to Kobe Japan to represent Seattle in May. I will be performing for 18 minutes while the Kobe judges deliberate on the Japanese singer who will come to the US to perform.

I will keep you posted about Japan and probably post photos and updates on Instagram and Facebook.
Thank you so much for your support!





Growth Happens!

I recently came across the obituary of Sr. Nirmala Joshi who died in the spring of 2015. She was the the nun who replaced Mother Teresa as head of the Missionaries of Charity. Reading her brief obituary, I was intrigued as to what Sr Nirmala must have felt stepping into the enormous shoes of Mother Teresa whose works with the poor and dying made her worthy saint material.
While I know few details of how Sr Nimala was chosen for her new task, the article mentioned that 6 months before Mother Teresa’s death Sr Nirmala was given this new assignment. Talk about a hard act to follow! Can you imagine the voices of doubt, real or imaginary that she had to contend with? Being human, I suspect that she must have had an intimate relationship with her own fight or flight response.
Living a creative life, whether cooking a divine meal, painting a love affirming mural, or wrestling with bronze to give it the illusion of flight requires a willingness to change shoes…constantly upgrading our response ability. Sometimes external circumstance forces expansion, but when we are truly listening and if we are honest with ourselves we feel the nudge of our own inner spring, don’t we? We know when the soil of our day to day life is packing a little too tightly around our roots and the only response is to spread out or grow up and out regardless of whether it is convenient or not.
Spring often brings little prickles of discontent, nudging us to move into something new or unexpected. Every season spring reminds us that “growth happens”, in all of its sloppy, uneven and eye-rollingly humbling ways. May you wear your growth well and may your shoes never fit.

New CD and lessons!




Cover Art by Jeff Busch/ Design by Scott Stevens


Well last week we sent my newest CD “Come Together” to Nyberg Mastering in Seattle. Please don’t ask me to explain the science of mastering, but know that it makes the CD sound really cool! The process softens the audio rough spots and brings more to the forefront the whorls and designs of your sound.

This particular sound baby has been incubating since July of last year and will be available on Bandcamp really soon. I am a little giddy about it to say the least! Not just giddy for the sounds to share with you but giddy with the lessons learned while planning, recording, editing and figuring out how to do this. Strangely the lessons learned on this project can be applied to any part of this life journey; but good lessons are like that, they are very versatile as well as carrying a strong sense of deja vu.

So here is my top 5 list of what I learned while making this CD. It could easily be longer but as the youtube celeb Kimberly “Sweet Brown “Wilkins said “ain’t nobody got time for that”!

Number 5-Unfolding vs whip-cracking scheduling

Calendars are very helpful, so are deadlines but sometimes deadlines are approximate. Creative ideas unfold in their own time and “life happens”! Flexibility and open mindedness are welcome at any party.

Number 4- Say no to perfectionism

Perfectionism is exhausting and such an energy suck. The goal of the CD is to share with the you (the listener) a moment; it is a journal entry for that day. Of course the final project could be different or…better, but note to self: just enjoy the moment.

Number 3-Trust others who are experts at what they do.

I am very fortunate to work with people who know how to play their instruments well, navigate their recording console ease fully and know how and what to listen for. I know how to sing and sometimes I know how to listen. There are moments though, when I don’t know how to do either and wise counsel or a new perspective is a breath of fresh air. Did I mention that I work with some great musicians? Did I mention that the recording engineer that I worked with rocked?

Number 2-Patience, Patience, Patience.

There were times in the process when I wanted my dessert now! I wanted to just “hurry up and get it done, dammit”. But I know from experience there are few things things that benefit from that attitude, and patience is usually the best response.

Number 1-This CD is a “we” not a “me”

You might have noticed that I started this post with the words “…we sent the CD out….” I am very fortunate to have a wonderful husband who helps me with many of my musical endeavors. He is the guy who drives me to gigs, posts pictures on FB, proofreads posts, designs and maintains my website, talks me off ledges, develops marketing material, and is the best cheerleader/partner that a gal can have!

And finally, thank you for your support faithful reader. If you are getting this email you are someone who has come to shows, bought CDs and supported my endeavor for world domination through scat (smile). Thank you for your encouragement and support, I hope you like the CD.

Making Peace with Time

Ahh, the New Year. Thus begins again our eternal courtship with time. As a new January rolls around, I gussy myself up with new goals and spit-polish my new intentions. Honestly, by the time I have stopped habitually writing the previous year on every document that requires my signature, it is no longer January. My proposal to go steady with the new year becomes a rather belated inquiry : “ 2016, would you be my valentine?” The current year shrugs a little as if to say, “sure I’m game” and I confidently post on Facebook that I am “in a relationship.”

Like most people during the holiday season I was battling. I seemed to be in a constant tug of war with time and “to do” lists. Perhaps you have had this problem? The list of things to be done “mysteriously” gets longer and time is no longer loping along but behaves like one of the mean girls from grade school. Fighting with time is a terrible pastime. Exhausted by the end of December, I realized that something needed to change. 2016 needs to be seen, acknowledged, and appreciated unconditionally of whether she is instrumental in crossing off things on my “to do” list.

The thing about time, is that when I am into what I am doing rather than into “to-doing,” time is a leisurely companion. This weekend as I was frolicking in the snow with family, attempting to learn how to snow-skate, Time whispered, “this is what I want.”

Now, it took me a moment because what was happening was me standing on the snow skate moving at a speed that felt like 50 kilometer per hour but was actually better measured in centimeters per hour. Also, there was some falling down. Repeatedly. Winter aerobics: stand up, tip over, and fall. So I was puzzled when Time said, “this is what I want.” The conversation went a little like this:

Me: Yeah but, wait til I figure out how to do this and…

Time: no that’s not…

Me: I mean right now, it’s not that great because I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but…

Time: no I mean…oh please do be quiet. Would you like to know what I want?

Me: (rather resentfully) ok

Time: I want this (pointing at my snow covered self). I like it when you just fall and try and dust off and laugh and fall and fail and not try to conquer me.

Me: Huh?

I will leave out the rest because time used a lot of expletives and rolled her eyes in exasperation, but the general gist was that Time does not appreciate being conquered. Time just wants to be present, and included equally in all the activities.

Wishing you a Happy New Year! What are you going to do with your full year of time?

May All Be Well with You!

December and January are the chestnuts roasting, champagne toasting months! At its best it is a time of celebration, gratitude and gift giving. At its worst it is a time of emotional over-stimulation, consumption, and materialism. While I may often swerve and stumble between the two extremes, I find my mental rest in the latter. In lieu of New Year Resolutions, I tend toward meditating on the gifts of the closing year — and there have been many. I  am grateful to all of the venues in which I have performed this year: Harlequin Theatre, La Gitana Pizzaria, Swing Wine Bar,  PLU Jazz Under the Stars,  North City Bistro, Mcmenamin’s Troutdale, Shuga Jazz Bistro … just to name a few. Thank you to those venues who support live music, who understand that a good meal tastes better with good music.
Thank you to those of you who came out and continue to come out to support live music. The pull of sofa entropy is great and the lure of channel and web page surfing is hard to resist. If you made it out of that gravitational pull, bless you! I and my fellow musicians hope that we did right by you!
And lastly, I am so fortunate to work with some wonderful folks, fellow musicians who get giddy about sound. Aural playmates who made the work of making music a pleasure.
So I suppose I put the cart in front of horse and chose to “toast” before “roasting” but it seems to fit. So just as I have had the opportunity to raise my glass to the joys of this closing year, I pray that you may do the same. May remembrance of your “thank you’s”  make the wine of this life sweeter and may your cup be full and overflowing!
May your holiday be joyous,
and I will see you in 2016!

Thank you!

Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday (now observed by many outside of Mexico) that celebrates and remembers those who have gone before us; family, friends, acquaintances-all of the people who have touched our lives. For the last couple of days I have been remembering friends, local artist and musicians who I am forever grateful that our paths have crossed, no matter how briefly. Folks who have left the planet and are rocking in the after-world. I invite you to take a minute to celebrate those who made you laugh, made you grow, made you love life and living even more. Remember the ancestors who are our blood as well as those who have made up our spiritual and artistic family!

“I am Beautiful”

I was recently helping a young woman, just 17, and she looked at herself in the mirror and said out loud with a massive smile on her face, “I am beautiful, isn’t that right Ma?”

Her mother smiled and nodded and I was blown away in that moment. It is radical to say such a thing isn’t it? It’s  heart-expanding to witness self acceptance and healthy self love. The inner critic that abides in all of us sputters and clears it throat at the affront of the  certainty and joy of such a statement. This young woman was not saying it out of vanity, she was saying it because it is information that she knows is true! And she was not afraid of that truth about herself. The fact that she has a developmental disability ( or rather in this case an wonderful ability to cut to the chase) made no difference to her, or to her mother.

Her enthusiastic candor made me think about how we  shy away from what is good or beautiful in us. How many times do we deflect a compliment or speak negatively about ourselves, unable to rest in accepting that another finds something within us beautiful?

This young woman and her mother were so open and settled in this knowing that it was healing to everyone who was within hearing distance.

So go forth my friend, rest in your beauty, it is healing to everyone!

Until next time,
Be fabulous and be kind!

You say Toh-mah-to….

I don’t know about you, but I have been so busy enjoying and holding on to the last tastiness of August, so much so that September took me by surprise! I held on to the second box of peaches destined for the food dryer. I hugged the second crop of raspberries and sang love songs to the Pink Berkely tie-dye tomatoes from the garden. A tomato that set the record straight about the righteous-“ness” of the solanum lycopersicum family. They are a fine species to know in season. There may be a toe-tapping song about the seductive beauty of a fried green tomato but a sweet 100 can cause much bootee shaking-let me tell you!
This is a short missal. I will leave you with a few clips of documentaries that I have enjoyed in the last month (see below). Perhaps I will write about them next month, if you are interested. If you have seen them already I would love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for coming out to the summer shows! More shows coming up, with a few in Seattle!

Please continue to be fabulous, you are so necessary!

What Happened Miss Simone?

Who is Harry Nillson? (And why is everybody talking)

Muscle Shoals

A Letter from Camp

Happy Alan Sherman day! No, it’s not his birthday or his exit day; today in 1963 “A Letter from Camp” was released. Those who have taken a few more trips around the sun as well as aficionados of musical silliness probably remember “A Letter from Camp” as the “hello muddah, hello fahdah” song.
Oh the milk that could come out the nose while listening to “Seltzer Boy” or “My Zelda”! Even at 5 or 6 I knew music was necessary and it made me feel good, but I didn’t know music could make you laugh. And Alan Sherman made me laugh. Heck, Alan Sherman made my parents laugh–if Alan Sherman could do it….maybe I could make my parents laugh too. A performer was born.
When I finally got to experience summer camp and could call home, quoting the first line of “A Letter from Camp” would get a chortle from my dad. That was the beginning of my performance life–“borrow” good material; know your audience; and timing, timing, timing!
Happy Alan Sherman Day!