My Handsome Man is an exceptional pianist. As a teen he even made a living as a musician, but it wasn't the career path deigned for him. Instead he entered into the forefront of the IT field. It is very difficult for someone so musical to suppress that part of themselves, but he thrived in IT. He has produced other people's musical and creative works over the years and has played in some rocking hobby bands but nothing to the extent he craved. Recently he decided to hire a wonderful local musician to teach him jazz piano and is throwing himself into it heart and soul (or should I say Body and Soul?). He has dabbled in other projects over the years, but the fact he chose as an adult to dive into something creative he's always wanted to explore really inspired me. In fact, it was the catalyst to me starting this blog. I have wanted to write the book so many people have asked me to write for many years now, but have quite frankly been intimidated. Handsome Man making his musical dreams come true inspired me to do the same with my own artistic craving. This may not be a book, but it is a fabulous venue to recount my tales, my very own creative outlet and I must admit I'm loving this journalistic journey.
Handsome Man is not the only person in my life whose choice to explore their creative side has inspired me. Below are the stories of two wonderful and very different people whom I respect, admire and in terms of chasing my dream, try to emulate. I hope you'll learn to love them as much as I have!
Rachel Elizabeth McKim
Rachel is the daughter of someone quite special to me. She is bright, witty, and a tad sarcastic (she would fit easily into my own family!). I have adored her from the first moment we met.Working full time in a stressful career, supporting herself, she still finds the time and resources to take Hip Hop classes, write raps, look amazing and have fun. Like birds of a feather, Rachel attracts and surrounds herself with quality people. Its hard not to be impressed and love anyone in Rachel's circle. She is a beautiful young woman, inside and out.Rachel comes from a musical family, and has an exceptional voice, but it is her recent foray into comedic writing/directing/acting/producing/promoting that has truly amazed and inspired me. Last fall, with a total budget of ZERO DOLLARS Rachel, along with her equally talented friend and co-conspirator Victoria (I call them the Dynamic duo) created what turned out to be an LA WebFest award winning comedic web series titled Please Don't Fire Me (clips are embedded in the video bar on my main page). All this at a time in her life when most people are deciding what club to hit, and while struggling through a health battle that had her regularly in ERs for pain management. Anyone else would have put off their creative dream for a less stressful time. Not Rachel. She made the decision and dove in. To top it off, Rachel hopped off the plane from LA, awards in hand, and promptly jumped into another project! Nothing stops her!
Rachel's latest collaborative project is Vic and Rachel, another comedic web series. The writing is exceptional and the laughs alternate between smart and slapstick. A great mix that leaves you craving another episode.
I could not understand what made a young woman, self sufficient and BUSY, embark on such a time and money consuming project as a web series. Seeing Rachel thrive in the process and then seeing such an exception product at the end was truly inspirational. Watching her throw herself immediately into the next project was like getting an amazing birthday present, then someone saying "But wait, that's not all!" (Handsome man does that a lot! Yes, I'm spoiled!) The wait for the next episode is always excruciating!
Rachel's business acumen combined with a highly creative bent has been a source of pride for me, a deflected glow I guess ( "Oh Rachel McKim of Please Don't Fire Me and Vic and Rachel? Oh yes, just chatted with her last night, she and I are tight" ) and the real psychological kick in the butt I needed to get me to follow my own dreams. I tell her often how impressed I am with her but it can never be often enough.
Rachel is a delight to be around and a name you'll be hearing a lot more of in the future.
She is a creative force to be reckoned with.
It took the death of my dear friend Jeff Healey for me to reconnect with my sense of purpose, my spirituality AND my singingI met Darlene on facebook. We all have 'facebook friends'. People we 'like' and send meme's to, but never actually connect with. Darlene is different. She is a completely open book and I truly love that about her. There is never any pretence with Darlene, just honesty and a tell it like it is attitude that I love and admire. I just had to get to know her in the real world! We finally met in person at GNO, and have caught live music together. She is fun, funny, and fabulous!
As a child of 4 Darlene sang publicly for the first time on Tiny Talent Time (anybody else remember that show? Its coming back!). Her love of the spotlight was formed that day and she performed often for years to come.
At 15, while singing at a coffee house, she noticed a man in the audience.Wheelchair-bound and unable to speak, his delight in listening to Darlene shone on his face and was palpable. Darlene came to a realisation thanks to this appreciative stranger. THIS is what she was put on earth for. Her voice made people SMILE.
Unfortunately life was to get in the way of her musical dreams. The same qualities that endear her so much to me have made her fodder for some of the nasties out there. At the tender age of 16 she survived a sexual assault, only to find herself 3 years later fleeing an extremely abusive relationship. She escaped,but not alone. Darlene's baby boy was just 6 months old. Her son had been born with hydrocephalus and had numerous health and developmental challenges. At a time when most girls are prepping for the prom Darlene was trying to find a way to make ends meet as the single mom of a child with special needs. She was to receive blow after tragic blow for many years to come. Darlene's strength and resilience, and her dedication to both her sons is awe inspiring.
In 1985 Darlene met a young Jeff Healey, who encouraged her to return to singing, which she did with a vengeance. When their relationship ended, albeit on good terms, Darlene found it too painful to return to the same stomping grounds they had shared together and stopped singing.
Luckily for us in 2007 a friend introduced Darlene to Jazz. She did some workshops with Rita di Ghent getting her 3 octave pipes back into shape. Jeff's much too soon death the following year was the push Darlene needed to pursue her creative dream. She found out about GNO and has been a regular at their open mic jazz jams ever since.
On November 11, 2012, the day she turned 57, Darlene finally made her professional singing debut at Gate 403.
Its never too late to pursue your dream. You GO Girl!
To learn more about Darlene's long road to her dream, click here