Tuesday, October 23, 2012


So here it is Mid Semester at Morgan State University and I have taken my place on vocal faculty as the university's first Artist in Residence. I have been received with genuine warmth and sincerity from the entire institution.
I was assigned some fifteen students, all who have extraordinary vocal gifts. The vocal faculty members, are all very fine teachers and are active performing artists. Camaraderie amongst us makes for a very strong department; as head of the vocal department Vincent Dion Stringer is a gem. Totally supportive, forward thinking and creatively motivated. Always working toward helping us to turn out young artists who can step up to the plate well prepared. He wears many hats and they suite him well.
It was Vincent who sang my praises and urged the performing arts Chair to move toward hiring me as a full time faculty member.Vincent and I share a very special bond in that, some years back he asked me to be a member of his renowned "New England Spiritual Ensemble".  We toured the United States and were overwhelmingly received.         

Leading the company with his divine Bass Baritone his dream of  preserving the African American Spiritual had become a reality. Opera Houses of the world had long been fortunate enough to hear his rich Baritone. It is that experience then, that has led us to this very special time in both our careers.  Having great respect for the beauty of each others gifts.

Dr. Eric Conway is Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Conductor of The Morgan State University Choir.
 His duties as administrator are overwhelming! He seems to breeze through the maze of departmental machinery with absolute aplomb. What was so exciting for me,was experiencing his musical gifts.
An accomplished Harpsichordist and Pianist of absolute excellence, I felt honored to be apart of his staff.
Both Mr. Stringer and He have made it clear, that my experience and knowledge were an important asset to Morgan State University, embracing me with love and care.
I fell in love with Baltimore when I was asked by Vincent to come and give a Master Class and later The Summer Opera Workshop, well over a year ago.
I still commute to New York to teach but my home is clearly here in Maryland. Etta and I have very busy and exciting lives. She being hired in the Maryland educational system long before myself, is head of the music department in a school for special needs children in Parksville MD. A job that requires near sainthood.
We love our new home and as for myself, Morgan State has become a second home. Beauty abounds and I'm more free than ever,  in my position as " ARTIST IN RESIDENCE"


Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Grand Finale

It certainly has been a while since I've been able to find time to let you know what I've been up to!!!

I have completed my spring semester commuting from Maryland to New York City, teaching every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Needless to say it was quite an undertaking which I seem to have ordered with as little stress as possible. It wasn't all that easy; I only wish I had stock in Amtrak.

My season at the New School culminated with a performance by the students from my Wednesday morning two hour class "Story, Song, and Stage." I have to say I was very proud of the sophistication and professionalism they gave. Well attended and well received, their choice of material was a delight. Such interesting pieces as "Ballad for Very Tired and Very Sad Lotus-Eaters" by Fred Hersch to Lady Gaga's  "Telephone". Each one of the students gave a superb performance, but I think it was a general feeling from the class that we all fell in love with the performance of  Dacia King's mesmerizing delivery of  "The Peacocks" " (A timeless place)"  By Bill Evans. This class and my individual classes at the school showed tremendous vocal progress and revealed the hard work they all put in during this semester.

However, following their Thursday, April 26 performance, I  presented some of my private students with my wife Etta and myself in a studio recital Saturday, April 28 at Chelsea Studios Theater Works. Andy Watt, Tenor, sang his first performance: a solo aria and duet with Soprano Alexis Ruiz (Parigio Cara). I could have burst I was so proud!!! Alexis, in her solo aria "Io son lumile ancella" soared to new vocal heights and won the hearts of her audience. Her father, with tears in his eyes, was overjoyed.  Etta's beautifully sung "L'amero saro costante" coupled with she and I singing "the Cherry Duet," "Nocturne," from Don Pasquale, and, myself, "Languir per una bella" made for some lovely well presented moments. 

Last but by no means least, was Dramatic Mezzo  Soprano Wendy Gerbier who literally took the roof off with her rendition of Ulrica's aria from  Un Ballo in Maschera "Re dell"abisso affrettati." She recently sang for one of President Obama's rallies in Connecticut and is making her Paris debut in February 2013. A few days ago she was hired to perform in New York in a full length "Aida" as Amneris. She and I have worked very hard to find the freedom that her magnificent gift deserves.

After all that good singing on Saturday I was to sing again on the coming Monday.  MISTAKE!!!!! Call it stress, nerves, who knows??? Not the GRAND FINALE I expected.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"The Spirit Flower"

That is what Whitney Houston was to me.

As a singer and vocal instructor, there is almost no day that has gone by when I have not mentioned her name. I am like so many, heartbroken, that she is no longer with us.

The magnitude of her vocal gift was a wonder!!!
Like Edith Piaf and Judy Garland, her Spirit and beauty infected the world.

As a bird with a broken wing, Whitney was struggling to soar once more. Only a fellow artist knows the pain of not being able to sing the song that’s in one's heart. Our SPIRIT FLOWER carried a very heavy load.

There is a delicate balance in trying to manage life’s trials, a career and maintaining vocal health. I hear people expounding about substance abuse issues in her life, but for me the greater struggle must have been trying to put her gift back in place. Iconic singers such as Whitney are mentally and emotionally at one with their voices; the person and the gift belong together and should never be separated.

The famous opera singer Maria Callas came to a similar place while still trying to maintain her place in the arena of champions. When her voice was compromised she was said to have responded: “Callas is dead, only Maria is left.” And shortly after that she, too, passed on.

A famous comedian, whose name I will not mention, thought to make jokes publicly in reference to Whitney’s problems. I can’t imagine using someone’s difficulties to get a laugh. I am a loyal fan and, as for that comic, I have written him off.
What entertainers go through to stay afloat and have a personal life is a tremendous undertaking. Whitney's talent was one of the greatest, and her joy in song will live in our hearts and minds forever.

She was our “SPIRIT FLOWER”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"The Prodigal Blogger"

I'm still here for those of you who have been such loyal supporters.

Newcomers to the website may have noticed my recent relocation to Baltimore, Maryland. Moving from one city area to another is one thing, but from state to state is more than a notion. We did it! We're here! And still in love with our choice.
Moving and commuting to NYC weekly to fulfill my teaching obligations was a monumental task, but I'm back in gear and eager to keep you abreast of what's happening.

First, a shout out to Stephen Akaka for getting in touch. His family was a great part of my growing up, and now we've reconnected and I can't wait to reminisce and find out what life changes they've experienced.

An apology is also in order to Loren Schoenberg, who was gracious enough to contact me to share her collection of recordings of my father, Leslie Scott, with Coleman Hawkins. I do hope my slow response will not interfere with our coming to know one another and to share this great musical history.

And to Mr. Cash Calloway a former guitar student of my uncle, Irving Ashby, I'd like to say thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sure we would both agree he was one of the greatest.

One of my recent highlights was being invited to see The Lion King here in Baltimore and teaching several of the company members while they were here. I'm fortunate to have students in both the B'way production and the touring national company.

Now, another semester begins and the commute continues. However, if you may be curious as to the progress of my memoir, make no mistake, it will be done. We had to take a deep breath and forge ahead one step at a time; with renewed energy and optimism we continue. Etta has become a very special entity at her school, and is very excited about the future. Pepe is like a new puppy, free & content.

So my friends, I really didn't stray so far and my joy in sharing my life's experiences are still a large part of the ongoing journey.