“If you think you might be ready for a change, you probably are.”
This was advice given to me recently as I was agonizing over several potentially life-changing decisions.
Looking back, I can see that it has rung true more than once throughout my life and career. Maybe it’s not a new idea, but it occurred to me that it could be helpful to others undergoing similar transitions or questions, so I thought it was worthy of inclusion in this blog.
It bears noting that musicians’ lives don’t necessarily fit a “normal” mode, because of the travel, the obsession with our art, and for various other reasons. The artist’s lifestyle isn’t necessarily thought to be conducive to raising a family, making money, getting up early, living a square or “stable” life… I always thought it was exactly what I wanted, and still do in some ways. But there have been 5 or more years during which I have never been in one place for two weeks straight. (As they say, “be careful what you wish for”). The fact is, I got almost everything I dreamed of and then realized that my dream was changing, sort of… (Young people, take note- your goals and values may change. You’ll be aiming for something you know you want, and ten years later when you’ve got there, find that you’re suddenly someone else, with different goals.)
Eight years ago I had built up a life as a jazz musician in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. I was able to make good money playing music on my own terms mostly, without working too hard. I had a good reputation and lot’s of contacts. My daughter, Camille, was four years old.
I had been trying to grow my carer by traveling to perform, attend conferences, meet influential industry people, etc… Then it occurred to me that if I brought players in from NYC to play with me in Columbus, I could develop meaningful relationships with them and perhaps impress them enough that they would hire me to play in NYC and around the world.
Some of the players I brought to town included David Murray, D.D. Jackson, Greg Osby, and Billy Hart-all big time artists that I hoped to connect with. Luckily enough, D.D. Jackson recognized something in me that he felt he could utilize, and he brought me to NYC to record, rehearse, and perform. While in New York, I reached out to other people and acquired other possibilities to work, with people like Akua Dixon and Steve Turre.
People I met in NYC advised me to move. They couldn’t understand why I would stay in Columbus. NYC is, after all, the center of the universe for a jazz musician. I thought it would be problematic to leave Columbus as long as my daughter lived there. How could I leave my daughter? It seemed implausible, unthinkable. Making such a change just wasn’t going to happen, or so it seemed.