Tracey Whitney with The AristoKatz Band (Marshall Katz – drums, Calvin Appleberry – piano, Richard “Kcool” Hall – bass, and Eric Dalton – guitar) performing for the “Sunport Serenades” jazz series 1-10-14
Funny thing happened to me Friday. As you all know, I’m madly in love my new home city of Albuquerque, NM. A little known fact about The ABQ (as it is affectionately called here): it ranks #6 in the top 25 big cities for culture. Crazy, I know. People still think of Albuquerque as the Wild Wild West, but I haven’t seen a “real” cowboy since I moved here 21 months ago. What I have seen is live music. Jazz. Everywhere. Which brings me back to Friday. The City sponsors all sorts of wonderful musical events, and their “Sunport Serenades” jazz series are concerts presented at the Albuquerque International Sunport (so uniquely ABQ. After all, why call it an airport when you can call it a Sunport? <3) Anyway, I’m singing with a 4-piece band (The AristoKatz) in the area that greets incoming travelers, and during our break a visitor says to me, “What are you doing here?! With a voice like that, you belong in L.A.!” Which is hysterical, because I left L.A. to come HERE.
I want to share something that happened to me a while back when I was living in North Hollywood. I was walking to a 7-11 store near my house one day, and I passed a young man with a dog. They both looked like they hadn’t had a decent meal (or bathed) in weeks. One my way back, he stops me and asks something profound: “Ma’am, can you please just drive me out of this town?!” Wow. He didn’t ask for money or food. He just desperately wanted to Get Out of L.A. Like countless others before him, he’d obviously been chewed up and spit out by the bright lights of our big city, and my heart broke for him. Well, L.A. is too darned big to just “drive someone out of,” so I wasn’t able to do what he wanted/needed, but I did give him some cash, fed him and his dog (my dog Miss Ginger contributed a grocery-size bag of Kibbles ‘n Bits, which I suspected would later end up feeding them both). Little consolation for a small town boy/musician, no doubt urged by friends to move because he really was talented. I can hear it now: “Man, you need to be in L.A., you’ll be a star there!” We’ve all heard the tragic stories of local “stars” or beauty queens who moved to the City of Angels seeking fame and fortune, only to be eaten alive. It happens. Every day. In L.A.
Here’s the deal: what makes Y.O.U. special in your hometown is (unfortunately) “the norm” in Los Angeles. It’s a fact: California has the most beautiful girls and the best musicians in the world. Why? It’s no mystery – they’ve ALL moved there from somewhere else. Not that I’m trying to discourage anyone from pursuing a dream. People who know me, know that I’m a world-class jumper! A few major examples: (1) I was called on a Wednesday to audition for Ray Charles to become a Raelette. Thursday was my first rehearsal with the band, on Sunday we were in concert at the Playboy Jazz Festival, and by Monday we were in Denver. I was gone. Just. Like That. (2) I had a dream job at Playboy Entertainment for 5 years following my tour with Brotha’ Ray. Then I woke up one morning realizing that I had been so lulled by the awesomeness of my job, that I was not really singing anymore. So I quit…although I had no idea what I was going to do. Luckily, the Angels showed great favor, and less than a month later I was off to Japan! And I remained there for 5 glorious years singing in nightclubs and doing concerts and session work with several Japanese superstars. My last big jump (3) was here, to the Land of Enchantment. I packed up my house and my dog, left everyone I knew and loved, and stepped “back.” At least that’s what everyone around me thought. Why would I leave my hometown of Los Angeles and move to New Mexico, where I knew no one, and had no support system (with the exception of a distant cousin)? What’s in Albuquerque, anyway? Turns out everything. Music, music, and finally, more music. Everywhere. I’m gigging regularly, my cousin Delano is awesome (and distant no more), and I’ve made some truly amazing new friends (love my roommate Allison!), so my ABQ support system is firmly in place. And did I mention how much I LOVE this city?
Testing, 1-2. Is this thing on?
Here’s the deal, part deux: Even given my extensive career, my talents and background are still considered fairly typical in Los Angeles. There are GREAT vocalists around every other corner. Singers who’ve toured and done session work with superstars, or traveled the world singing. Just like me. But I’m very unique here. In Albuquerque, my “standard issue” L.A. career makes me a big fish! So, as I smiled and thanked the woman (who insisted I move back to L.A.) I thought to myself, “No thanks, the grass is greener on this side of the fence…”
Let me know how you’re making it in the music industry. I’d love to hear your story!
Until next time,
“I Am Singing… Songs I Love” CD cover
Much love ~ Tracey
And here are just some of the ways you can connect with me:
www.babydollentertainment.com, www.reverbnation.com/traceywhitney, www.facebook.com/Tracey.Whitney.Music, www.youtube.com/TraceyWhitneyMusic And for more on my family’s musical history, check out The Whitney Family Band website: http://www.thewhitneyfamilyband.com/