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25

Jul

Timing is divine

About a year ago I met and became friends with a woman who worked as a math teacher at a middle school in Watts (South Los Angeles). In casual conversation she shared with me the kinds of challenges she faces as a teacher largely due to the challenges her students face in this particular neighborhood and community. She explained how those challenges are often reflected in her students behavior, attendance, class participation and in the way they choose to express themselves. It was not all positive.  She was sharing how she was consistently trying, often in the face of blatant disrespect, to continue to be someone to these children unlike anyone else they have in their lives. Someone consistent and unmoving, committed to them and their highest purposes. I was moved by her stories and my need to problem solve immediately kicked in.  My first instinct was…”they need music.”  And once I learned how little was left in their daily curriculum in the form of arts education (due to budget cuts) I knew the need was even more dire than I had originally anticipated.  And so began my quest to offer a FREE after-school performing arts program one day a week at Samuel Gompers Middle School.

My intention was to offer a sampling of all mediums of performing arts, catering to whatever talent or interest the students may already have while also exposing them to new skills. Each week the children would have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals from all backgrounds who are working successfully in music, dance and theater.

I met with the principal early last fall. She was all about it. We exchanged emails. I waited. I followed up. I waited. I followed up. I kept waiting. (Waiting is not my favorite. I am not good at waiting.) I was about to give up and take my program elsewhere and with that looming threat, she finally set a meeting. 9 months went by between our first meeting and our most recent sit down. In that time, due to continued budget cuts, they have let go of 9 teaching positions, one of these being their music teacher, and along with her went their very last arts elective. 

When we met a few weeks ago to discuss my original idea, they expressed how they will obviously need it now more than ever. However they said they were not interested in having my after school program one day a week. Instead they asked if I would be able to design a curriculum and facilitate their having my program not 1 but 5 days a week as an actual class elective for the school year. A real class. Every day. The last period. 5 days a week. For an entire school year. 

My stomach flipped and my negative ‘head voice’ went to work. Everything inside of me said there was no possible way I could make it happen. No was definitely the answer. But instead all I said was: “Yes. I’ll do it.”

I still don’t know exactly how we are going to make it all work. And for free. But I know that I could NOT let an opportunity to provide these children with at least SOME of what they need and deserve pass me by. If not me, who? If not now, when? And so I keep putting one foot in front of the other because not every kid excels in math and science or is a brilliant linguist…but some could be brilliant dancers and singers and drummers, and they deserve the opportunity to be exposed and explore. It’s important that they are made aware that careers in the arts are not only possible but abundant and whether or not they ever pursue a career, it’s imperative that they have an outlet to express themselves, build confidence, discipline, leadership skills and a sense of teamwork and community. Arts education does just that and I am so grateful for the opportunity to join the crusade to keep it alive and available.

I am so lucky to have a huge community of friends at the ready who are unbelievably talented musicians, singers, dancers, actors, poets, songwriters and producers. All are willing and eager to give back and have generously agreed to volunteer their time, passion and knowledge to be a part of my program. We all know what having had an education in the arts has done for us and the thought of that not being available to every child has called us to action. I am beyond honored to be entrusted with this incredible responsibility and so excited to dive in and get started!

This will indeed take a village, and I felt compelled to share hoping that if you are reading this and find yourself inspired or inclined to participate in any way with us here in LA or even to take action in your own city…I welcome and encourage you to do so!!!

Beyond that, I also want to share what a beautiful lesson in patience and perfect timing this process has been thus far. I was dead set on getting my program started this past school year of 2012/13. It didn’t happen. And as each month clipped by with no word and still no program, I grew increasingly frustrated and often felt a sense of failure. But when we finally sat down and as it turned out what they actually needed and wanted from me was something SO much bigger and better and ultimately WAY more beneficial for their students than what I had initially intended and planned…(what I was dead set on)… well there’s just no possibility it would have or could have played out the way that it did one moment sooner than it did.  

This is just a precious reminder that ALL things happen in their time. In their perfect time.

09

Jan

Blood From a Stone lyrics

 I stepped off the bus to the sobering cold

And realized this bullshit is getting old

I reach and you run, I leave then you come

We have mastered the push and pull

If I were a friend of mine I know exactly what i’d say

But a spoonful of sugar won’t make your own medicine easier to take

I don’t believe in giving up without a good fight

but falling for potential ruins me every time 

I’m packing up my tears and all of my false goodbyes

I’m throwin’ em over my shoulder  and closing the door behind me cuz

Tryin’a get love from you baby

Is like tryin’a get blood from a stone

And I been watching myself going crazy

While my broken heart’s still holding on 

Ain’t it funny how the truth can stare you dead in the face

But you’d sooner believe a lie

Well I got my own self in this twice narrowed place

With my ability to justify

A little too much whiskey and not enough sleep

Well it’s lifted the veil now I can finally see

I don’t believe in giving up without a good fight

but falling for potential ruins me every time 

I’m packing up my tears and all of my false goodbyes

I’m throwin’ em over my shoulder  and closing the door behind me cuz

Tryin’a get love from you baby

Is like tryin’a get blood from a stone

And I been watching myself going crazy

While my broken heart is still holding on 

I made you want me

I even made you leave

But the one thing that I just can’t seem to do

Is make you bleed for me

Tryin’a get love from you baby

Is like tryin’a get blood from a stone

And I been watching myself going crazy

While my broken heart’s still holding on 

07

Jan

Blood From a Stone

I know you’re not supposed to pick favorites when it comes to your children, but I have to admit…this song is probably the most special to me on the entire album.

It echoes a sentiment of something I think we are all guilty of at one point in time or another. A refusal to accept and see things as they are, a need to control or judge or change, manipulate or force…and while I wrote it at the end of one relationship, I find that it still rings true at the end of another. (Apparently your girl still has some habits to break.) I wish I could say this behavior was exclusive to my intimate relationships, but if I’m being really honest, it applies to my life and the way I’ve been known to do things across the board.

What I am continuing to learn is that the best things, the most natural, the most meaningful… .they take very little effort at all. There is a beautiful ease involved.

As difficult as certain moments of this recording and creation process have been…there has been an overriding joy and an ease present every step of the way.

When I heard the final version of this song I sat and sobbed. Listening to it I was transported back to my childhood home where the records that inspired this album were on constant rotation. I was reminded of long drives with my dad who would play a song that he really loved over and over and over and over again until he was sick of it.  I always imagined if he felt how I feel about music, that he was just trying to get that song inside of him. In his body…as close as possible. Like to consume it.

With Blood From a Stone my team and I achieved exactly what I initially intended and set out to do both sonically and emotionally.   I honor and give gratitude to my producer, my musicians, my singers, my loves and my heartbreaks that make things like this possible.

It is a privilege to share with you. 

xoxox

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/blood-from-a-stone-single/id590688628

22

Nov

You can’t kill love…

“you can’t kill love. you can’t even kill it with hate. you can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. you can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can’t kill love itself. love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it’s a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.”

Heard this in Yoga this morning and wanted to share. As giving thanks, being in gratitude, it’s all really just love. Giving and receiving love. Wishing you all a day FULL of love:)

xoxo

Sho

19

Nov

michyellie said: can you take me on a [abridged or long version] timeline of how you got started with singing and theatre? vocal lessons? went to college? took acting classes? or none of the above - just winged it and made it happen? i'm such a fan of your voice but i know nothing about your background. do you recommend going to school for it, or just taking lessons on the side and focus on something that's a back up plan?

dance lessons, theater groups, professional shows,  voice lessons, high school theater, college for musical theater, new york.

krctosstoss said: Hi Shoshana! I just have to say that you were one kick-butt Elphaba when you were in Wicked, and you are truly one of Wicked's "urban legends" to me! Ever since I saw Wicked I knew I wanted to be Elphaba and I wanted to have a career in musical theatre. Do you have any advice for me?? I know this business is really really hard, and I really relate to Elphaba in so many ways. Also, I'm Jewish too! :) (And my Bat Mitzvah party is Wicked-themed, ironically) You're so inspirational!! :))

well thank you so much! my advice is always the same, hard work and perseverance. 

ifyougetthis said: If you could go back and re-live one of your life's happiest moments, what would it be? and why?

oooo, good question. there are many i’d love to experience again…but i’m in the business of creating bigger and better ones! i guess i’d go back to hairspray opening night. :)

spoonerknife said: I know you get pple asking you to play near them all the time, but I was wondering if you'd ever even played St Louis? Theres a little place called Off Broadway that I love and its totally a sign you shiuld play there plz plz. Or crash Murney and Alli Mauzy doing wicked divas here in March heh srsly There is no way I could afford flying to see you anywhere and itd be pysically impossible with all my medical crap as well. So I just hope you consider it if it ever comes up :) 💗💗💚💚

well i’m sorry that won’t be possible, but i do do these stageit.com shows where you can stream a live show on your computer, if you missed the last two stay tuned for the ones to come. but i have faith i’ll make it somewhere near you in the near future!

differentflavors said: I live isolated from the world in an island, which sounds wonderful at first, but it doesn't give me the chance to do a lot of the things I want to, like learn to sing. What basics things - if there's such - from singing would suggest me trying, like a exercise or something... Right now I try to imitate you, the facial expressions, breathing, body language. I think I've chosen someone way out of my league to start, so it would be deeply appreciated, if you could help me. You're Awesome!!! S2

ahhaha, definitely don’t imitate me! if you can download an app called vocalizeu…you can learn all you need to know as a beginning singer!

shezza-holmies said: How did you get the guts to pursue your dream of singing? It terrifies me! x

it’s my passion, what my heart and guts want to do…I didn’t feel I had a choice!