Friday, July 17, 2020

Tracee Reynaud

Creator’s Corner: Tracee Reynaud—Singer/Songwriter

By Shelah Moody 

      From New Orleans to Hollywood, Tracee Reynaud’s life has been an amazing journey. Reynaud, a single mother, and activist, survived poverty and homelessness and rose from her disparity through hard work, determination, and the healing power of music. At one point, she began collaborating with the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Reynaud recently shared her new song, “Wake Up,” some highlights from her journey and secrets of success with Streetwise Radio.

Streetwise Radio: Tell us about your background and what brought you from Louisiana to Southern California?

Tracee Reynaud: I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA, the jazz capital of the world. I come from a very large family of 12 brothers and sisters. Some of us had a lot of hopes and dreams. In a small town, it was limited to us.  I started out in my hometown performing in hospitals for terminally ill children and schools as a motivational speaker from city to city.  That was a joy,  seeing the kids' faces light up. I love giving back. I would compete in talent shows,  winning every contest I entered. Use the money for travel and I brought gifts to distribute to the kids in the hospital. I was able to do that impersonating Michael Jackson. Everywhere I would perform,  the crowd loved it! I wanted to do more with my talent,  so I asked my aunt and uncle who lived in California if I could move in with them and they agreed, so I was Cali bound at age 13. That was the best thing that ever happened to me at 13 years old;  moving to LA and going after my dreams.

Streetwise Radio:   What were your first impressions of Southern California and its music scene?

Tracee Reynaud: It felt like the land of opportunity it was great being in a city that was so diverse. The music scene broadened for me and I was open to new adventures. I was introduced to a lot of different styles of music that inspired me to get to where I am today.

Streetwise Radio: Tell us about some of the songs you’ve written and recorded.

Tracee Reynaud: The first song I’d ever written was the song that I wrote for my daughter, who at the time was four years old. Titled “Giovanna,”  It was a love song to my daughter;  people everywhere just loved it and I adore that song.  I worked on a song called “I am Somebody” with my brother Jeffrey.  “I am Somebody” is a very encouraging song.  I wrote it to inspire people. “I am Somebody” is one of my favorite songs;, it needs to be heard today. “Nuvision”  I wrote because I wanted to see a new vision for the children, a new vision for myself, a new vision for single moms who are struggling, and a new vision for the homeless.  A new vision for the frail elderly;  those who have no place to call their home; my heart goes out to them. “Judging Me,” I wrote after seeing how the tabloids would publish fake stories about Michael Jackson just to sell their papers. I wanted my listeners to hear the lyrics and stop and think that this man,  Michael Jackson, was a human being just like you and I and to turn all that negativity into something positive; that’s what he was about. “I Feel the Spirit of Love” is a beautiful love song about falling in love. When someone falls in love with your inner beauty more than your outer beauty,  now that’s true love.  In 2005, my hometown was hit by Hurricane Katrina and I wrote a song entitled “Do You Feel What I’m Feeling.” I had to give back. It’s a  heartfelt song that touched a lot of lives.  I was able to donate my time to different fundraisers,  performing the song. It was very rewarding! My latest song is called “Wake Up.” I wrote it because I want to see a change for all humankind. I want people to be able to listen to my song and be enlightened and inspired and to help make a difference which is so needed today! I started working on a new spin,  which is inspirational gospel music. I  just completed two gospel songs, “Hope of Glory” and “My Trust is in God.” With all my songs, my hope and desire are to encourage people and inspire them. My hope and dream are that I am given the chance to be heard.

Streetwise Radio: How would you describe your style of music?

Tracee Reynaud: My style of music is very soulful and motivating. When I write,  I put my heart and soul in every song because I want the listeners to be able to feel what I’m feeling and to touch their hearts and inspire my listeners. 

Streetwise Radio: Tell us how you came to meet Michael Jackson and how he impacted your life and music.

Tracee Reynaud: I met Michael Jackson when I was 17 years old In Encino, CA.  I had a nanny job in Encino, I was on my way to work in the morning and Micheal was driving down the hill and I was headed up the hill he saw me and stopped to pull over and he said to me:  “I know who you are!  I want to thank you for all that you’re doing helping the children.” Somehow, he had heard about me impersonating him at children’s hospitals,  schools, and convalescent hospitals. I was in a lot of newspaper articles because of all the charity work that I was doing We talked for a while. He wanted to see my photo album of all the places that I have entertained. Michael Jackson was one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever met. He would also give me gifts to give to the kids in the hospital and schools, like autographs and other items. I had the opportunity to visit Neverland ranch many times.  I also was able to invite as many people as I liked and he made sure that they were treated very well. He truly inspired me,  not because of his fame and fortune,  but because of his compassion for people and his wanting to make a difference in this world. That’s what I want to do today, continue to strive to make a difference; writing music to help bring about a change, and to uplift people of all races and creeds with my gift.

Streetwise Radio: What did you discover about Michael Jackson that most people did not know?

Tracee Reynaud: Michael was humble. He was one of the biggest entertainers of all time and I’ve seen him shop at the thrift store in our hometown at times, haha.

Streetwise Radio:  Tell us about your new song “Wake Up” and how you are using your music to create a healing space during the current pandemic and social unrest.

Tracee Reynaud: “Wake Up” is about bringing awareness to the need for change. I want people to not only listen to the lyrics but understand the deeper meaning behind them.  Music is universal and the message is about love and unity and I feel that is what people need during these hard times.

Streetwise Radio: As an artist, what inspires you to create?

Tracee Reynaud: There are a couple things that have inspired me to create as an artist. First would be from the influences of other artists such as Michael Jackson, Arthea Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston, Patti Labelle, Diana Ross, Celine Dion and so many more. Another inspiration would be my experiences in life and what has shaped me as the person I am today. I always had to work extremely hard for the things that I wanted and have been through so much in life and I feel like so many others can relate to what I have been through as well and know that you should never give up.  Music is one language of universal love. My music is about triumph over life’s painful experiences and overcoming life struggles and challenges.

You can listen to the music here on Streetwise Radio and download her music on YouTube and other streaming services: 

“Do You Feel What I am Feeling” 

“No More”

“My Trust is in God”

“Hope of Glory”

And then look up my name on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Jubba White Interview

Meet Jubba White. The prolific drummer and producer is one of the artists on the frontlines continuing to make quality music with conscious messages in the age of the COVID 19 pandemic. Streetwise Radio’s Creators Corner: A Chat With Grammy-nominated Reggae Producer Jubba White. Check it out here on the Big Splif 420 Blog Page.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Betty Wright

“In order to get something
You got to give something
In order to be something
You got to go through something
Be a cook in the kitchen, a lady in the streets
You can't show your teeth to every guy you meet
It's alright to be a little sweet
But be a mama with the kids and you know what in the sheets”— Betty Wright

Check Out Shelah Moody's Blog on the Soul City Page

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Second Line For Ellis Marsalis

By Shelah Moody

On April 1, the music world lost one of its greatest influencers, New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis. At 85, Marsalis died of complications from the coronavirus global pandemic. 
Media tributes poured in worldwide from his four successful sons,  Wynton (trumpet), Branford (saxophone), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums) as well as Harry Connick Jr., Herbie Hancock and the many musicians he tutored and mentored. 
         On April 6, Wynton Marsalis, despite executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center,  despite grieving in isolation, ( used his live digital intimate weekly conversation,  “Skain’s Domain” to pay tribute to his father with special guests Terrance Blanchard, Joey Alexander, Andre Carter, and others. 
“He went out the way he lives: embracing reality,” Wynton posted on Instagram.
“My daddy was a humble man with a lyrical sound that captured the spirit of place--New Orleans, the Crescent City, the Big Easy, the Curve,” Branford posted on Twitter. “He was a stone-cold believer without extravagant tastes.”

           Easter weekend,  Delfeayo took to Facebook for a live check-in thanking well-wishers sending their condolences and honoring his father. Delfeayo was quarantined at his home in New Orleans after being tested for coronavirus. 

As I reflect on the 1st Easter without my dad (well in fairness he wasn't one prone to much celebration about things) and the 3rd without my mother I'm reminded of their resolve to honor their commitment to family and sacrifice for their sons. Today I'll raise a glass to D & E  (Dolores and Ellis) with love in my heart and a smile on my face!”


During the summer of 2018, I had the privilege of experiencing Ellis Marsalis's legacy as a musician and educator first hand. I  volunteered at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the jewel of Ninth Ward, which nurtures the next generation of singers, composers, dancers and players of instruments. During youth piano recitals and new artist showcases, Marsalis was often on hand to lend his inspiration and support and then stopping for a cool glass of lemonade afterward.
Shortly after his passing, Michele Brierre, executive director of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, reflected on the passing of her friend.

“A true legend has passed but not without enriching the lives of so many of us whom he touched,” said Brierre. “Ellis Marsalis was a master educator with a unique ability to share his gifts and wisdom. As important, Ellis defined character. In how he lived his life, he set a worthy example for us all. It has been my life's great fortune and pleasure to work under Ellis' guidance for the past decade as the executive director of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. The Center lives on to fulfill the passion and to uphold the legacy of this great American treasure.”


That summer, thanks to  Delfeayo Marsalis, I worked in Ellis Marsalis’  household as a caregiver for his adult autistic son, MBoya. I believe God placed me there for a reason: to learn humility, grace, and compassion. I would iron for elder Marsalis, aka Pops,  and wash the dishes and make coffee, trying to work carefully and quietly around him as he read the morning paper, watched CNN from his favorite chair in the den or kept council with family members. One afternoon, I was lucky enough to hear Mr. Marsalis rehearsing on the piano upstairs! One Sunday morning after I arrived for my shift; he decided to make pancakes for the household and he asked me if I wanted some, too! They were delicious! I will always remember his kindness, generosity, good sense and good humor! Plus, he was one of the calmest people I’ve ever met. Real soulful.
During the summer of 2018, Ellis Marsalis’ Friday night set at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street was the hottest ticket in town. As soon as he hit the stage at Satchmofest, people rose to their feet. During July Fourth weekend, I accompanied Mr. Marsalis and his family to his performance at the 20th Annual Patriotic Music Fest at Trinity Church, where he jammed with the Marine Jazz Trio (see clip).
Ellis Marsalis, an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Jazz master, was a strict and beloved educator at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana. He was a scholar and intellectual whose home was filled with books. On “Skain’s Domain,” Wynton remembered him encouraging him to read “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramhansa Yoganamda. 
 “We lost a great pioneer in modern jazz piano artistry and music education advancement in Ellis Marsalis,” Herbie Hancock posted on Instagram. “He instilled in others, including his sons, led by Wynton and Branford, the fruits of his legacy, creating their own.  May he Rest in Peace.”


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Day the Music and High Fives Died 
(Or Paused by the Coronavirus)
By Shelah Moody 

       Grammy-winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant was scheduled to perform her new piece, “Ogress” at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland on March 11. But due to the panic caused by the coronavirus pandemic,  the concert was canceled by SFJAZZ.
     “In keeping with the mandate from the governor of California and the City and County of San Francisco to not hold public events or large gatherings, SFJAZZ is, effectively immediately, postponing all shows and education events through April 5 including the NEA Jazz Master events,” the nonprofit posted on
         That night, McLorin wound up performing “Ogress” at a private concert in the home of renowned author and activist Angela Davis. She was fortunate.
    The music industry is definitely taking a hit, with concerts and festivals around the world being canceled or postponed due to health concerns and widespread fear over COVID-19.
        Goldenvoice announced that the wildly popular Coachella festival, at the direction of the County of Riverside, announced on their website that their event has been postponed to October 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 2020. 
     Also, at the direction of City of Redondo Beach officials, the Beachlife festival, starring acts such as Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley, has been postponed from its original May 1-May 3 dates. 
    In San Francisco, Broadway SF was forced to shut down productions of “Hamilton” at the Orpheum Theatre and also, “The Last Ship,” musical, featuring British pop icon Sting, at the Golden Gate Theatre.   
      In Berkeley,  Ashkenaz music and dance center, known for presenting reggae, folk, world, and indie music, decided to close its doors until April of 2020. 
      Though his shows have been canceled, Grammy-winning roots music artist Fantastic Negrito, based in Oakland, took the opportunity to write a song about the coronavirus and share it on Instagram.
       Stephen Marley announced via Instagram that he postponed his Washington D.C. show, which was scheduled for March 12, to October 1 of 2020.
   For Dan and Amy Sheehan and Jeff Monser, producers of the annual California Roots Festival, the coronavirus cannot stop the music. Last week on Instagram, they declared that Caliroots will move forward from May 22-May 24 2020 as planned at Monterey Country Fairgrounds. However, this week, Caliroots, too, decided to postpone until October of 2020.
     “We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 and how it may affect our event, our artists and our fans for weeks now. We feel like we’re on a really shitty roller coaster and it’s taking us into uncharted territory. Between the media, several other major events canceling and ensuing panic over purchasing toilet paper and soap has left us all a bit weary.”  
       For many, live music is a source of healing and uplift and it provides a sense of camaraderie. The cancellation of concerts and music festivals may be a crimp in recreation plans for some, but for touring and working musicians, it is a loss of livelihood and revenue.
       In New Orleans, one of the country’s music Meccas, the coronavirus fear has led to the postponement of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival until October 2020  and cancellation of other events.
           “Lots of gigs were canceled,” said trombonist and educator Terrance Taplin, a member of the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, who perform Wednesday nights at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on Frenchman Street.
         “I have a little in the bank plus my wife has a nine to five, so we aren’t worried yet, but I am concerned. I give pounds to people I don’t know but I still hug my family.” 
    The pandemic has also caused a phenomenon called social distancing, limited physical communications such as handshakes, hugs kissing and touching to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
         “It’s all discouraged, but hell, u got to go some time, some kind of way,” joked NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis, founder of the Uptown Jazz Orchestra.
           Harpist and music teacher  Jesse Autumn, a California transplant living in New Orleans, said that her Thursday night gig at Silk Road restaurant is still on.
         “I was in CA last week playing, but that was right before things got really crazy... Now I am hunkering down and teaching online. and my students that come over haven't canceled yet, but we shall see. I am cleaning and disinfecting everything constantly!”
      Guitarist Robert “Dubwise” Browne is a composer and producer who makes a bulk of his income touring with internationally known musicians such as Shaggy. Currently, he is riding out the coronavirus panic at home in Kingston, Jamaica.
   “When I saw how widespread the virus is, 
I started having concerns about travel and the realized if I can’t travel, that part of my earnings would be on pause,” said Browne.
      “Public gatherings have been put off or postponed until further notice in a lot of cities, which means no shows, tours or performances. So earning as a live act presently seems very uncertain. I’m grateful to have other streams of income as a musician - studio sessions, royalties, etc which hopefully can maintain my day to day until this situation is all figured out. In the meantime, I can focus on finally completing my next album and figure out how to market and promote it better than my other projects.” 

Check this article from CNET on E cancelations.