Your stunning new single/video "Light the Way" is not only beuatiful from a musical perspective, but, far more than that, beautiful in its relevance for where we are today in our World. How did this song and overall concept come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?
I am very much inspired by nature and the outdoors. Being surrounded by the natural beauty of Sonoma County helps me to tap into my spiritual and creative voice.
Growing up in Miami Beach, I developed an affinity to nature. We always had pets in the house; cats, dogs, birds, turtles, hamsters and fish. I spent a lot of my childhood at the beach enjoying the sand, sun and the ocean, swimming, feeding sea gulls and pelicans. I loved to climb trees and watch palm leaves swaying in the autumn breezes here in South Florida.
I was inspired to write "Light The Way" when I began reading about the environmentally progressive work being done around the world by major corporations. Their missions are to integrate sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.
Since I believe music can have the power to move people, I decided to write a song in the spirit of the incredible work they are doing and use my talents with the intention of inspiring others to participate in the healing of our planet.
What would be five things that all of us could do right now, from where we are this very moment as inhabitants of this Earth we call home, to start showing support for our environment in effective, pro- active ways?
I believe one of the first things we have to do is to educate ourselves and our children. I recommend reading Silent Spring, the seminal work of Rachel Carson. She was one of the first voices of the environmental movement, in order to understand how these problems began. There is a plethora of resources out there on global climate change and what we as individuals and communities can do about it.
Make sure our children have programs in their schools on how to make a positive difference in the healing of our planet. There are Roots and Shoots clubs and the Kids Ecology Core. Be a good role model for your children on how to respect the dignity of our beautiful planet.
Once we learn that everything in this planet is interrelated and everything we do impacts other people and other things, ideally we will experience a conscious shift that will inspire us to make better choices with regard to energy use, recycling, and the way in which we conduct our everyday lives. The way we think, changes the way we act.
From a political standpoint we can form groups to meet with our elected officials and let them know how urgent it is for them to support the funding of research for alternative fuel sources and to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and fossil fuels.
Ceres.org is a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Their mission is as I suggested earlier is integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people. If you are a business, consider joining. If you are a consumer, consider buying from their member companies.
Consider a Bike and Ride Program. One day each month the people in Cambridge, Massachusetts are encouraged to walk, bike, or ride the T to school or work, instead of driving. Through Green Streets Initiative, a grass-roots organization Janie Katz-Christy has promoted Walk/Ride days at school meetings, business association meetings, and just about anywhere anyone will listen to her. Walk/Ride days are also in place in Boston, Somerville, Medford, and Portland, Maine. Many people do this now more than just once a month.
Find out if your city is participating in the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. If not, contact your mayor and urge him to do so. If your city is participating, ask what their goals are and how you can help.
On February 16, 2005 Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels initiated the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action. Two years later, Under the Agreement, participating cities commit to take the following three actions:
- Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns;
- Urge their state governments, and the federal government, to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and
- Urge the U.S. Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system
- Plant trees in your yard. Buy produce from local organic markets.
Music has, from your early childhood, been an incredibly important and vital part of who you are. Is there one song... one performance heard as a young child... that stands out as life-changing from the standpoint of deeply felt inspiration?
At 5 years old I was in love with a local pianist who played classical music every night at dinner time in a hotel my father owned and operated on Miami Beach. Listening to music brought tears to my eyes as a small child.
Later, Marvin Gay's Ecology Album and Laura Nyro's Christmas and the Beads of Sweat became the inspiration throughout my life. When Marvin sings "Save the Babies", when he asks, "What's going on" when he laments, "Oh things ain't what they used to be" he is urging us to awaken and take responsibility and seek solutions for our social and environmental problems. Had we listened then in the 1970's perhaps we would not be where we are today.
Laura sings about the Brown Earth and peace, about social injustice and asks that we look inside and find our loving inspiration.
In the early years of smooth jazz I loved listening to the relaxing sound of One on One by two time Grammy award winning keyboardist, Bob James and smooth jazz acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh. I recall floating in my swimming pool in the evenings staring at the stars and allowing the music to soothe my searching soul. I loved the grooves of jazz icon, composer, and pianist Ramsey Lewis and the sweet and soulful sounds of the late jazz-funk and smooth jazz saxophonist. George Howard, the virtuoso guitar work of Lee Ritenour and a whole slew of the early greats.
One can't address musical inspiration without mentioning Sade. As an artist she changed everything. As a vocalist and composer I know she changed me.
Like so many of us, you fought much of your life through feelings of inadequacy, of not being good enough, of not having what it takes to succeed in living your most closely-held dreams, and yet you've come out succeeding, of finding who you really are and living your life now with joy and abundance. Even though we all know it's not a "quick fix" mentality that enables one to find themselves, is there one "baby step" you would suggest to us all that would start moving us positively in the direction of fulfilling our dreams?
Set your intention to do it. Find a place every day where you can be quiet, even for a minute. Breathe naturally and be still. Let the answers come to you. Something deep inside speaks to you and guides you. Find one person who believes in you, what you are doing and what you are about. Surround yourself with positive people who value you and support your goals. When you throw in the towel because you feel discouraged from negativity, return to your quiet place, and hold on to your friend for dear life, cry, pray, remember the big picture and your intentions and pick up where you left off. You will be better than you were the day before.
If you were asked (and you are right now!) for your advice as to what the Smooth Jazz format could do moving forward to insure its relevance and success, what would your suggestion be?
When a system becomes too homogeneous, when it is closed and nothing new is allowed to enter, the system dies. I think it is important for smooth jazz as a format to be open, as smoothjazz.com has been to new artists, new ideas, and artistic creativity. This is what allows music and every discipline and art form to maintain its relevance and flourish.
Stepping back from your music and professional pursuits, and your efforts as an environmental activist, when it's time for total relaxation and renewal, what do you like to do just for you?
Oh my God. I can't believe you asked that because I love what I do when I'm not doing animal rescue and music. I love to stretch and meditate at the beach in the morning. I love feeding the sea gulls and watching them at the shore or dive for breakfast
I love to read. I am passionate about reading. I like science information about the creation and the universe, historical and archeological work about biblical and ancient times. I love spiritual books and learning about health and nutrition. I'm still fascinated by the brain and contemporary evolutionary biology.
I love going to Key West and the smaller middle keys like Marathon and Islamorada with Paul, eating breakfast of berries and yogurt at poolside in the morning reading and looking out onto the lagoon or wandering through the art galleries and bead stores where I can buy jewelry made by the local artisans.. I love taking my 15 year old wakeboarding and snowboarding and experiencing vicariously his great joy in "getting some air". I love going to Paul's performances and listening to him tear it up on the keyboards. I love walking around in flip flops and shorts taking care of my garden. I love lying in bed reading or watching the news. I love renting videos or going to the movies.
And of course I love visiting with my married children and spending joyous times with my magnificent grand children. All 9 of them!!