Friday, August 25, 2006

And so it begins...

I was up and out the door early on this my day off.

I got home from work last night to several phone calls and three e-mails about the We Care concert. So I guess things are going to be moving faster now.

I jumped on a train and headed down to Columbus Circle to drop off the headshots, resumes and bio. The director left this morning for Fire Island to continue promotion and work on the show. He wanted to take multiple copies of my headshot and resume out with him to start circulating. That can’t hurt.

He will return to Manhattan on Monday and has scheduled a fitting for later that day. The home venue I’ll be singing at sits right on the beach and the dress of the event will be upscale beach attire. For my musical numbers I’ll be wearing an open black shirt, back dress pants and blank sandals.

My only critical note at the audition was that I needed more color between now and September 9th. I’m too white. I burn easily, so I’m going to gradually try and get some sun over the next few days.

I forgot to mention yesterday that when I left the audition, having mentioned earlier that I was from Atlanta, the director said I was bringing “ATL Soul” to the event. I like that label.
That’s it for now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jason's FIRST NYC Gig!

Fun, fun, fun news.

Today I got my first New York gig!

Proving that some time it isn’t always what you know but who you know…I had an a much delayed audition this morning and got gig.

The concert is hosted by a DJ, so all the music has to be tracked. I prefer singing with a piano but this time it’s not up to me – so I’m going with the flow. I auditioned with two tracked songs, Stars and the Moon which I’ve sung many times and the song If I Should Lose My Way which I sang at my last concert in Atlanta.

The storytelling nature and comedic twists of each verse in Stars and the Moon was very well received and in summing up the audition, the director said, “Well..Jason…in a word: perfect.”

The benefit concert titled, We Care III, will be afternoon performance inside a 2.5 million dollar beach house on Fire Island. The concert attracts 300-500 guests, 85% of which are in the theater/entertainment industry. The home has been the venue for several concert and stage productions including an upcoming tribute to Stephen Sondheim.

The event will be September 9th, so expect a lot of entries between now and then as I prepare. I’m an excited buddle of nerves right now. I feel out of shape vocally and as I left the audition it occurred to me that, unless I can get tickets for CeCe and Elizabeth, this will be my first time singing in a place where I know no one!
For this special evening there will only be two performers…a current dance-floor artist from Philadelphia who’s latest single is started to get attention in clubs and me. Of all the people they COULD’VE gotten, I’m very excited to have this opportunity.

Monday, August 21, 2006

FINALLY! A New Post - The NYC Heat Wave, A Song for Katy and a CeCe Moves In

I know…I know…

It has been TOO long since I’ve written in my Journal. I’ve gotten phone calls, e-mails, etc. about updating my life.

I LOVE that people check in with me via my Journal.

I will recap the last month or so:

The heat wave. Incredible. Draining.

I beat the heat wave by a week and bought an air conditioner for my room. What a change to wake up because I was too cold vs. hot and sweaty. I’m glad I bought it when I did. Once the heat wave hit air conditioners were harder to come by and the ones you did find were expensive.

The heat wave hit NYC hard. Several subway lines were closed to conserve energy. All of the bridges connecting Manhattan to the rest of the world were dimmed. The Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium were all turned off at night. I’m sure from across the water NYC’s faded skyline left a lot to be desired.

22 people died from the intense heat. In the borough of Queens, several areas were without electricity for over a week. Brown Outs were a way of life in other areas. A co-worker of mine told me it took 20 minutes just to microwave a Hot Pocket.

On the welcomed flip-side…NYC has already started cooling off, signaling the end of summer. In the last week it has been just beautiful. Breezy days and blue skies.

Elizabeth and I have been getting out more in the evenings. Central Park is not that far from my apartment and I’ve hated that I don’t spend more time there. So…now I do. Some nights I come in and ask Elizabeth if she wants to go walking with me. We’ll hop on a bus and ride a couple blocks down and walk into the park.

We enter at the top of Central Park (110th street) and never walk the same way twice. There are trails, ponds, waterfalls, trees so tall and thick the sunlight barely filters through. As we walk I’m constantly amazed that I’m still in Manhattan. In the middle of all of these buildings there is a park. That I knew…but that within the park there are lush trails and inviting grassy knolls – I had no idea.

On our last venture into the park we took a blanket and books. We read, napped and watched the sun setting over the Upper West Side. It is in moments like that that I wish I had my friends and family there with me to experience this completely different side of New York. The gentle, natural side that is never even hinted at on TV shows like Law & Order.

In this interim of posting entries into my Journal, I finished a song that I’m very proud of. My friend Katy Lewallen is getting married in December and she had asked me if I’d sing at her wedding.

I said of course.

A few weeks later, inspiration started visiting me and I started writing several songs that I thought would be perfect for Katy’s wedding. I called her dad, Dennis, who’d put music to the song I wrote for my brother’s wedding, and told him I was working on something for Katy’s wedding – if it was alright with him. He said it was more than alright and he was looking forward to seeing what I came up with.

Well…a couple months passed. I had bits and pieces of 3 songs but none of them seemed like Katy.

One night, while I was at work, I started thinking about Katy’s wedding and what marriage is. Outside of the paperwork and all, what does it mean to join your life to another person’s. I know, for me, it is discovering a person who will truly share my life and vice versa. Someone who sees your life through their eyes. Your life becomes each other’s testimony, in a sense.

With that thought, I had it.

Katy isn’t a butterflies, red hearts and bubbled-letters kind of bride. She’s a beautifully honest young woman who values the people in her life. I knew this would be a different kind of wedding song.

And it was.

In about an hour – over two different days – I wrote a song called Testimony for Katy. Don’t let it get out…but when Katy read it, she cried. Later she would tell me that it expressed her perfectly and that her engagement response had been that she wanted to reach the end of her life and know that she’d shared it with someone she loved.

The other songs and ideas were scrapped and this song became The One.

Since so many different people ask me about my writing and what I’ve written lately, I thought I’d share the lyrics with you:


For Katy

8/2/05, 8/3/05

Lyrics: Jason Daniel Hood

Here you are
And here I stand right beside you
Finding this road, Beginning this life
With the love we feel
Holding us together
And I know that this is
What it feels like to start forever
There are untold journeys that have brought us to this day
Woven into this, now we are here
And I can finally say…

Come share this life with me
Let my life be
Your life’s testimony
I am here beside you
I am the witness to your life
A keeper of your hopes
A holder of your dreams
For today and forever
And all that falls betwee
That I love you
Is my life’s greatest testimony

Here we stand
In the middle of theses moments
When our two lives become one
And the love we feel
Is more than enough
And the stories we tell
Soon become of the story of us
The For Better is here and For Worse seems a million miles away
When those days come, look in my eyes
Hear me when I say…


Bridge:In this life
I choose you
In this love
I want you
This is the beginning of the story of our history
Wrapped around this day
When I looked into your eyes and can say…

Last Sunday, the 13th, my friend Thomas (CeCe – a nickname given to him back in Atlanta that has endured for years), moved in with us. He’s made a temporary residence of our living room as he looks for a job and a place of his own. It’s a lot of fun having him here. Our days have been filled with mini-adventures and our nights with wine and lots of laughter.

On Friday, my day off, we did some exploring. I decided, on a whim, that I wanted to find the Cloister. I wanted to just get on a bus going uptown and see where we ended up.

We got on the bus and it wound its way around the outskirt of Manhattan and then cut across and started heading north to the far end of the island.

CeCe and I got off the bus and walked a few blocks to the gates of Fort Tryon. There was a sign pointing to the Cloister, so I knew we were close.

We ignored the Cloister sign and walked into some lovely tiered gardens that sloped down and overlooked the Hudson River. The garden was packed with flowering shrubs and blooming stalks.

As we walked the garden led up to stone steps that went up to a tree-covered area of park benches, also facing west to the Hudson River.

I looked at CeCe and proclaimed that we’d found the Cloister.

I would be wrong.

As I walked through the trees I noticed an older man sitting on a bench looking out into the distance. I noticed that he folded and re-folded his handkerchief. Wiping his eyes between every few folds. As I walked closer I noticed he was crying.

I felt like a voyeur to his heartache. My mind and heart immediately started writing his story. Had that spot been a favorite of his partner or wife? Was he moved by the beauty of the sunset?

As we walked between the wooden benches, we came to a stone post of some kind with a flag pole stretching into the sky. I believe this is the highest point in Manhattan. I need to do a little research to see if that’s true.

I corrected myself…this view…this height…this must be the Cloister.

Still wrong.

We walked down, through stone arches, onto the a collection of narrow, green lawns that were sprawled out in front of us. As I looked down the lawn and above the trees, I saw a stone monastery on top of a hill.

The Cloister.

Every corner and path of this park let us to another discovery. The weather and sunset were perfect backdrops for the day.

The Cloister itself was closed but the grounds were beautiful. I want to go back and spend more time there. I may even go later today. Take a blanket, my iPod, a couple books, and my Journal. I think I, this entry is over...I'm heading out the door.

Central Park...on the Uptown end...just a few blocks from my apartment. I've fallen in love with Central Park all over again.
A NYC cab as the backdrop, Thomas Isaac "Ti" Kennedy, arrives in his new home.

Off the bus near the Cloister. I loved the way the setting sun was hitting the water fountains in a small park across the street. I also liked this old fashioned Subway sign.

The winding flower gardens just inside the gate of Fort Tyson.

The stone steps leading up to the overlook, the crying gentleman that I can't get off my mind and the grand George Washington Bridge that connects Manhattan to New Jersey.

The Cloister.