Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rachel Levitin Music: A Rock Star Moment

There are very few moments in my life that I've felt like a true rock star ... even if just for a little while.

Those moments include: the first time I ever played a song I wrote in front of an audience of people my own age (at age 14), when I recorded my first album of original music (at age 18), when I played a VIP reception for a D.C. film festival in which Rider Strong aka Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World was an attendee (at age 21), when I opened for my high school friends Filligar at a D.C. rock club (at age 22), when I played on stage with Big Sam's Funky Nation live on trumpet (at age 23), when I auditioned for American Idol (at age 23), and then tonight ... at age 23.

What happened tonight? Well earlier today I was working on my review of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's concert last Thursday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. at a Starbucks near my apartment. When I was placing my coffee order I perused the limited C.D.'s for sale at the counter and found the new compilation record of Norah Jones' top collaborations between the years of 2001 and 2010.

Now me and Norah, we go way back. I was once a skeptic of her talents. I didn't like her much. I thought "Don't Know Why" was a boring version of "Yellow" by Coldplay but with a girl singing instead of a guy. Then I wised up and listened to the Grammy's. Jones earned five Grammy Awards in 2003 including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.

Needless to say, I bought her debut album "Come Away With Me." Upon further review I deemed it worthy of all of the Grammy's love and adoration.

Later that summer I spent eight weeks at the world-renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts studying Jazz Trumpet. Interlochen also hosted multiple touring concert series' throughout the summer with big-name acts like Hootie and the Blow Fish, Josh Groban (an Interlochen summer alumni) and fellow Interlochen summer alumni Ms. Norah Jones.

The summer of 2003 was Jones' stopped at her music alma mater -- she was also a Jazz student there -- to perform during her summer tour. Since she was an alumni, Jones offered to do a question and answer session with a select group of interested students before the evening's public ticketed event (which meant outsiders, not just students and summer faculty could attend).

I, being the big fan and music nerd I was ( the way, I still am, but that's besides the point), drafted a thoughtful and insightful question asking what it was like as a woman songwriter and performer in a male-dominated genre of the music industry. My question was selected and I got to ask it at the Q&A.

Just hours before that Q&A, I ran into Jones after my rehearsal and her sound check. Lucky for me I had my guitar strap with me. She signed it after answering a question about being a songwriter and making music theory jokes that including talk about mixolydian mode.

Rachel Levitin and Norah Jones - 2003

Long story short -- my appreciation for Norah Jones was born in 2003 and still exists today. When I bought the "...Featuring Norah Jones" compilation album today I did the first thing I always do when I buy a physical C.D. -- open the C.D. jacket and read the song details.

I love knowing who wrote the song, when it was first performed if it's not an original, who's playing what instrument, how many vocalists are there, what sort of instrumentation is being played, and any other detail that's provided. So I read through the listing on this album (see picture below).

Rachel Levitin and Big Sammie Williams of Big Sam's Funky Nation - 2010

That's when I saw Big Sam's name on track six "Ruler Of My Heart." He was the trombone player for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band before starting his own band. He's performed with Norah Jones. I've performed with him. Therefore -- thanks to the transitive property -- I just had a mini-rock star moment.

...Not a bad way to end the weekend.

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