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 NJ LadyFingers

 NJ LadyFingers

 NJ LadyFingers

How did this new album and overall concept for it come about, and what are your ultimate goals with it?

I actually had written the lyrics and music to several of the songs years ago, but was not ready to record at the time. I had a very busy piano instruction business that took up a lot of my time. When the time did come, I put the songs together on my Motif. I then transferred them to my 2488 Tascam recorder. Even had some musicians come to my studio and record, but I wasn’t happy with the result.

I equipped my studio with Pro Tools, then I happened to run into a musician I used to work with at a local music store where I taught piano. He listened to my work and said he liked what he heard and would like to produce the CD for me. As we say.....the rest is history.

That young man’s name is Chris Spencer. He’s a natural musical talent. Drums, keys, bass, production! I also worked with Allon Sams, a local and national Smooth jazz keyboardist, for mixing and mastering. The vocals were done by the lead vocalist in my group, Sonja Wise.

I was determined that this, my second project, was going to be a radio-ready, top-notch Smooth Jazz project. My first, “Eargasm” was good, but it sounded like a local project. I wanted “This Is What It Is’” to sound like it’s ready for the big time, so to speak. I want the fans of Smooth Jazz to know that NJ LadyFingers is a bonafide Smooth Jazz keyboardist, and I intend to make more music. I’d also like to play a few festivals.

If you were to choose to learn a new instrument that you’ve never played before, what instrument might that be?

I would LOVE to learn to play the bass guitar! I always for some reason, hear the bass line in songs first, and strange as it sounds, I actually write my basslines first on my songs, then fill in the melody, fills, and other instrument sounds. When I perform with my group I play left-hand bass. I’d love to have a four string bass to start!

What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?

First and foremost I have to feel what it’s saying. Any song can be played, but in order for me to be able to express myself musically, I have to develop a relationship with it. An original song naturally can be expressed since I am the writer, but a cover song must give me an “Eargasm” in order to make it mine, so to speak.

The two covers on the CD, “You Know How to Love Me” and “People Make the World Go ‘Round” relate to me very much musically. the first was sung by my favorite female vocalist, Phyllis Hyman, and the other touched me with it’s message, timing, and changes. It was a futuristic sound even when it was first released back in the day.

Who are some of your current favorite artists, Smooth Jazz or otherwise?

So many....Incognito, Fourplay, Joe Sample, Patrice Rushen, Ledisi, Kem, Bruno Mars, Maysa, the late George Duke, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Adele, Bob James, David Benoit, Jill Scott, Kindred the Family Soul come to mind. My iPod is filled with artists from just about genres from classical to old school rap.

What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?

I’m proud that my music has been able to reach the type listeners that I want it to, and also that the neo soul listeners have made two of the album cuts hits in the UK! “Twisted Love” and “You” have been very successful. I’ve been a musician since the age of 7 and now, with the help of a great team, I’ve orchestrated a product that I’m extremely proud of.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to the growth of Smooth Jazz in the future?

The decline of Smooth Jazz radio stations is to me, the biggest challenge to its growth. In the Tampa Bay area where I live, the Smooth Jazz station changed formats about three years ago, and the area has a void.

When the semi-annual jazz festivals come around, you can see how hungry the fans are for Smooth Jazz by the attendance. The lack of the stations make it difficult for artists like myself to be heard on radio.

There are a few Smooth Jazz artists from this area that everyone knows because their music was heard on the station before the format changed. The station was very supportive of local talent. It’s much harder now to put a product out and be heard by an entire area.

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