Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Call You Can’t Ignore!!!

I have three main calls upon my life to which I am committed. My Faith, My Family, My Funky Jazz Music! But there was an unfortunate season where two of those callings took immediate and absolute precedence over the other. In hindsight, I was on the brink of losing those dearest to me.
I guess I could use the excuse that I was young and ambitious, in some ways eager to make a name for myself musically and in others, sincerely believing that my faith completely excluded what should have been my first and most important ministry: My wife and three daughters.  But they took the backseat, time and time again, I chose Ministry & Music and whatever rare spare time was left, I slept.
Firstly, I was a Youth Pastor at an Urban  Church where there was a dire need for mentors and role models for Young Black Men. Providing them a safe place to play sports and teaching practical, biblical life lessons was vital. Making sure they were doing well in school, keeping tabs on them with their Moms (most were from single parent homes) and even bailing them out of trouble consumed me. I was “making a difference in my community!” All the while, I could hear my young wife whisper as I rushed to my next appointment, “Save The World, Lose Your Family…” I wasn’t listening.
Things compounded when I decided to release the “Perseverance” CD and I had to put a band together to promote the product. Of course this meant rehearsals (at my house – where else?) booking and playing gigs, learning & growing marketing skills and even more rehearsals. There is no adrenaline like success and with each one, you’re driven to get better, go deeper and fly higher.
My babies were growing up and My Wife & I were growing apart. Ironically, being a Man of Faith saved me from Infidelity. It was the One Line I wouldn’t Cross, but I did walk up to that line and looked over at what was considered ‘greener pastures’ a time or two.
There’s a theological term called Grace that simply means that God spares us from what we deserve. I truly deserved that Lori should have left me many times over. But she’s a profound Woman of Grace. By the time I came to my senses and really listened to her heart, my eldest daughter was in college and our younger two were approaching Middle & High School. It was time to find true balance.
It’s easy to see how quick you can lose sight of what’s truly important. It’s easy to hear the accolades of your peers and feel that another two hours in the office or at the studio is going to make a real difference on the project at hand. It takes hardly any effort to get used to coming home to a dark house, finding your plate in the oven and eating alone. You get up and do it again, kiss your kids when you can, while apologizing for missing the school play or another basketball game.
But that’s not the way to live!
I’ve heard the adage countless times: when you are at the end of your life, you are not going to wonder if you should have spent more time at work, or at the bar with the guys or gals. You won’t feel proud about the new merger or acquisition. You and I will look around for our spouses, children and significant others. We will want to hold them, hug them and pour into them before we transcend. Sadly and I’ve seen it, there are many who take their last breaths alone.
I’ve been blessed that I did not lose my family. In fact I was able to gain a much greater degree of devotion to them, all the while maintaining a very appropriate schedule in which to fulfill my active schedule. My prayer is that you too would be able to enjoy such a delightful juggling act!
I would love to hear how you balance Your Family, Career and Belief Systems.  It Really is The Call on Your Life that You Cannot Ignore!
Leave  Your Comments!
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Opportunities Abound, The Sequel !!

Last week, we touched on the myriad of possibilities available to us when we understand two things about our purpose as Entrepreneurial Musicians.
1) We Are Meant to Be Successful, Prosper & Thrive
2) Opportunities Truly Abound when We Look Around (say that three times fast!)
At one time, I was so completely myopic about the success of my band, SounDoctrine, I could no longer see the forest for the trees. Being so caught up in writing, producing, recording, rehearsing, booking and performing, I neglected incredible opportunities vying for my attention. This included time with my wonderful family, which I deeply regret and which I am glad that I finally wised up! I’m definitely going to address the family issue in a separate post.
I also failed to realize that my potential was being stifled by my one track mind. When we headlined the original Youngstown Jazz Fest back in 2006, I was approached during a break by a young lady named Cheryl Goodlin, who told me I should be in movies. I politely told her I was married, thinking perhaps she was trying to advance another agenda. She laughed, gave me her card, made me promise to call her and the next thing I knew, I was in Cleveland a month later filming “Greater Threat.” What began as a non speaking part ended up being three pages of dialogue! Although you can clearly tell I’d never acted before, I put on my best Samuel L Jackson!
That step of faith landed me the lead and an opp to score music for director Art Byrd’s film short, Magnify.” Art had previously blessed SounDoctrine back in 2004 by filming a documentary of our debut release entitled “The Road to Perseverance.” He sent the film to the Black Hollywood Film Fest, where it became a finalist. We flew down to attend the fest and I made many great industry friendships that continue to this day.
As an EM, I try never to miss an opp to network. The most unlikely contact turned out to be a transient blessing as I sailed international waters in 2010 as part of DJ Triple J’s “I-Jams Jazz Series
I played drums for some of the most dynamic indie artists out today, including Dean James, Lenora Jaye, Cecil Rameriz and Buddy Jordan. We were out for 10 days, stopping among some of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take my family on that trip.
In the fall of 2010, after SounDoctrine’s summer schedule, I was contacted by director Johnnie Howard, who selected me to play Joshua King in the Youngstown Playhouse production of David E. Talbert’s “Fabric of a Man.”
Being totally vulnerable, without the aid of my drum kit to hide behind, or a director to yell “Cut” after the 22nd take – I had to go for it “all the way live” night after night. This stretched me in ways I never imagined and gave me an appreciation for the true professionals, who are light years better. I still can’t ‘cry on cue’!!
I recount these experiences, definitely not as a means to brag or blow my own horn. I share them because these types of opportunities exist everyday for Ordinary, Entrepreneurial Musicians like you and I.
One day, I’ll tell you how I became a marketer for my fellow musician friends Jim Couchenour,
and Phillip K Jones as well as the origins of this blog.
I would love to hear how you are stretching yourself beyond the music! Just hit “Comments” and share your stories!
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Honoring My First Born!

I  became a Teen Father 30 years ago today. I was 17 and a Senior in High School.

A Lot of Words Come to Mind: Fear. Doubt. Confusion. Uncertainty. Mistake? Not a Chance!

Tejai Lee-El Davon Beulah was born 3 months premature at 2 lbs and 12 oz on January 12,1983. The Doctors were skeptical, the Nurses hopeful and many in our collective families were praying. Seeing that little bundle with needles in her head & legs and tubes attached to an isolated bubble of an incubator to protect her. For the first few weeks of life, we had to hold her through the barrier of gown and gloves. She wouldn’t be released until a full five pounds was achieved. During the seven weeks of her stay, we witnessed a few parents who would never take their little ones home. Sympathetic, we prayed all the more.
Bright. Gifted. Exceptional. Focused. These were the words that Teachers bestowed upon this little one from pre-school on through high. Never a Moment of Trouble. Always Understanding what was expected of her, Tejai seemed to know she was blessed and had a purpose to fulfill. Debate Teams taught her it was OK to argue with her Dad, respectfully, but skillfully – frequently winning.
As an Undergrad at Xavier, Tejai graduated with honors. She received her Masters at Ohio State and garnered yet another at Ohio Methodist Theological Seminary. Never content, she is pursuing her Ph.D at Drew University in Madison, NJ and soon her dad will have to call her “Dr.” (see below)
He couldn’t be more proud of the woman she has become and is becoming. Her character and warm personality far outweighs her accomplishments. Her Faith, Disposition and general outlook on life is curious and confident and makes for engaging conversation every time we talk.
It’s hard to believe 30 years has passed and my little girl is well within the throes of womanhood. Always a Lady.
Her Aim is on Target. Her Future is Secure. Her Purpose Defined.
Happy Birthday Sweetheart!
Daddy Loves You!
Tejai Beulah: Studies

PhD, American Religious History, Drew University, anticipated 2016

MTS, Church History, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, 2011

MA, African American and African Studies, The Ohio State University, 2007

BA, English, minors: History and Gender and Diversity Studies, Xavier University, 2005

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ABOUNDING OPPORTUNITIES!!!

You Are Meant to Succeed, Prosper & Thrive!

Cement that truth into your Head & Heart Right Now.
Say it Over & Over and OVER Again until it gets into Your Spirit.
Once you take it for granted that you are on this earth to be a success and to leave a legacy for generations, you will begin to notice how many different opportunities actually come to your door step.
It’s amazing how this happens!
I used to think it was rocket science and while there is a degree of science to it, those most successful in their fields have first accepted that they deserve the prosperity they are pursuing. They are confident that their abilities will lead to even greater opportunities.
Most of us are endowed with more than one talent or skill set.
You Sing, Dance & Act. You Own a Production Studio, Play Drums and Teach Trombone. Perhaps you are a Radio Host, Music Blogger and a free lance Web Designer.
The key is to create a platform for each of these talents and make room for people to discover them. You may be concentrating so hard on your guitar playing that you neglect your acting skills, forgoing the opportunity to play the lead role in your community theater’s production of ‘George Clinton: The Funky Homosapien!.’ Or, you could be so into writing music for your own personal projects that you neglect the opportunity to write for others and do session work. When you look around, you are able to discover a plethora of moments just waiting to happen.
This is not to say that you are going to be perfect for each endeavor, but experience has taught me that if you approach every opportunity with the Spirit of Excellence, doing your absolute best, it opens the door for another chance to hone that talent on another level.
Next time, I will share a few experiences I’ve participated in which continues to lead to new journeys.
In the meantime, write back and share how you have utilized your gifts to create vibrant opportunities you may have never noticed if you didn’t lift your head up to see them!
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What Do You See?

It has been said that Truly Brilliant Men and Women who changed – and continue to change – the world are able to see things neither you and I are able to see. They are visionaries in every sense of the word who are able to look beneath the surface to draw upon all that innovation offers them, simply because they were willing to look for it. These Visionaries do not settle for the obvious and they painstakingly pursue the potential of what could be, while the rest of us wallow in what already exists.

The success of your musical career will squarely rest upon what you are able to SEE. To truly see, you must not look with your eyes. You must look within. Original, huh?

Are you ‘just’ the bassist in your band who writes occasional lyrics and sing second harmonies? Or do you compose music for four other bands, while doing session work at night?

Perhaps you study music during the day? Between your studies and occasional gigs, why not look at booking entertainment for the local club?

Teaching Drums at the Local Community Center can be a great networking tool to start classes at ALL of the leading Centers in your city. You definitely know enough drummers to fill the teaching spots, while you apply for the available grants to fund the project which benefits the entire community.

Reaching out to Major Artists who may have been “on top” a decade ago are still performing and are always looking for new material to release independently. Many of them need a Kick Butt back up band…

Opportunities are vast plenteous for the Entreprenuerial Musician who is willing to open their eyes and see!

Looking Forward!

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Expectations & Declarations 2013!!

I so vividly remember last January. I rushed to my video camera, positioned myself in front of my keyboards and computer screens. I taped an awe-inspiring 2012 to the SounDoctrine Friendship. I promised new music, remixes, performances and completed productions. My Newsletter was jam packed with potential projects I was taking on and listed how I would be more interactive with our base throughout the year.

Six weeks later, I was flat on my back having severely compressed my L4 & L5 disc, with one doctor predicting that my quality of life would decrease to the point of my needing surgeries, spinal shots and probably never playing drums again. For the next nine weeks, I was mostly bedridden (on my living room couch), in bitter pain and until I began decompression treatments, had to depend on my beautiful Lori for absolutely everything.
But I had hope.
I totally believed that this was not going to be my life. Boy how I prayed! And asked many others to do so as well! I believed for a real, honest to goodness, biblical miracle! I crawled up the steps to my home studio and plopped myself in the chair to listen to my music and to play simple chords. I had Lori drive me to Listen Studios in Girard (my home away from home) to sit in on sessions and then limp over to my drum throne, just to hold my sticks. I would attend impostant meetings via Skype, just to keep my head in the game. Lo and behold, by the grace of my God, I healed and recovered!
Now I stand on the threshold of 2013. Not knowing what this year will hold, but confident, emboldened, optimistic and encouraged. My Dreams, Goals, Aspirations and Faith remain intact. I am expecting to pursue great exploits and WIN. I intend to Attempt & Achieve, Plan & Progress, Grow & Gain, Pursue and Prosper. My Resolve, though it may be challenged many times this year, will always be that God will fulfill His Plan & Purpose for My Life. I Will Live Out My Potential! I Will Finish Strong!
So what about You, My Friend?
Aren’t You Looking forward to Persevering, Enduring, Climbing & Inspiring? You have Everything Winning Requires!  You inherently possess the Qualities to accomplish the Impossible! You have been Created & Designed to Carve out a great Destiny and Leave a Legacy for Generations to Come!
2013 Anticipates Your Initiative! The Universe Awaits Your Answer! Life Is Calling….
We’re Ready for You to Join Us!
Let’s Go!!!!
PS. The Three Words for My Family This Year are:
Excellence
Extraordinary
Eternal
More on those later!
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