Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blues in the Night show review by Christine Skorepa - PG Citizen

October 22, 2010

Christine Skorepa
Citizen staff

There's something to be said for days gone by when big boxy microphones were used by a bluesy soul songstress as she soothed stressed audience members with her sultry tone.

Maureen Washington performed at the Prince George Playhouse last weekend to celebrate her new CD release Blues in the Night and what a night it was.

Washington floated to the microphone in a siren-red dress and when she opened her mouth the sheer emotion she poured into her music was enough to set my heart stirring.

I know I was only one girl sitting with one boy in the audience but Washington moved me like I have never been moved before. I cried through her entire first set of songs.

At Last my was complete undoing and right along with Peel Me A Grape, Blues in the Night and the heart break of You Don't Know Me left me shattered - but in a good way. It was so moving.

Washington's voice is unique, strong yet smooth and her dulcet tones are those of a familiar friend and a vamp. It's just amazing to me to watch the emotions wash over her lovely face in a very telling way and she connects to her audience by including them in her joys and triumphs, her sorrow and heart break.

Because the album is dedicated and created for her mother Barbara Washington, who was in the audience, there was a dialogue being carried on between the two of them and I don't mean emotionally. I mean they were talking to each other throughout the concert with Barbara sharing some sweet moments with the audience as well. It was great to be a witness to this tribute that honoured a mother well loved by her daughter.

Washington grew up in Prince George and moved to Victoria to further her career four years ago. Because of her strong connections to this town she returns often.

I must say Karel Roessingh the piano player that accompanied Washington was superb. He literally tickled the ivories and I finally got what that phrase meant. His fingers flew so quickly and the notes were so clear and crisp and I get it. He really did tickle the ivories.

Shawn Smith played saxophone and clarinet to lend a lovely tone to the songs. He seemed very experienced and was very good humoured when Washington got a bit playful with him, adding to the performance.

Washington gave the evening her all and left nothing undone. Her performance is something I will never forget and for her finale she chose Georgia because it reminds her of Prince George and finally, I was not alone with my tears. Several members of the audience joined me and I was so happy to see that.

So, Prince George music lovers, don't miss the next opportunity to hear Washington sing. She's coming back to town at the beginning of December.

I'll keep you posted on the details.

In the meantime check her out at

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shan's Smiles & Winks: TI♥T 2: Being Wowed

Shan's Smiles & Winks: TI♥T 2: Being Wowed: "I've mentioned before my beautiful diva friend Maureen - I've been a fan since I first heard her sing when we were teenagers. Maureen transf..."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just my thoughts

I moved to this place to create a better life for myself and my children. I really was hoping to see my career take off, which in my mind would mean more money, which would equal a better life.
I know that money doesn't buy you happiness, but it's sure important... like breathing. I really wanted to have a life where we didn't worry about being able to pay the bills, and when emergencies show up we could cover it, and could eat out how ever much we wanted and be able to go on trips etc.
But here I am poverty stricken once again. Of course I am richer than I think. Heck we pay 1990.00 for rent and 650.00 for private school fees per month. But it's the debt load that hangs over my head. Too much spending, when there was work, too much spending when there wasn't work. Credit cards were at times a way to keep us alive. I will admit there is always frivolous spending.

A year ago I was introduced (on line) to a author named Elizabeth Gilbert. She had some phenomenal book out that went crazy in sales and changed her life. Actually the book was about 'how' she had changed her life from desperation to peace. She had changed, wrote the book and her life changed yet again.

When I first watched her presentation on TED called A DIFFERENT WAY TO THINK ABOUT THE CREATIVE GENIUS, it was mind boggling how effortless she presented. She was in a realm beyond me, and spoke about the creative process I was amazed and I loved it, I ran out bought the book. (Not that the book was about her presentation)
If you know me, you know I LOVE to buy books with good intentions of 'ONE DAY' I'm going to read them all! I will proudly say I have read at least half of this book. It was inspiring, and I felt that she was telling my story on these pages. Yes, it was amazing and inspiring to find someone as crazy as myself in black and white.
I've kept trying to finish it... but after a long break from reading, Ihave lost some of my memories of some of the content.
Happily I found out they made a movie about the book! (more and more I realize that I am a visual learner which might be another reason why I don't fully read the books I buy)
The movie came out and I was on a mission! I didn't take anyone with me, I just needed to be alone. I didn't want someone else to distract me or complain they didn't like it etc...
How was I to remember all the important lessons that were helping her to grow and change to a woman of peace right before my eyes? I immediately made the decision to see it again, buy the DVD and finish reading the damn book. Five days after seeing it the first time, I saw it again. A little less frantic on trying to remember everything that was going to help me change my life, which I took as a good sign; but still determined to learn the freedoms to peace that she found.

On my drive home from the movie, still in tears, I started to stop looking at my bad and start looking at my good. All the good things that I 'had' done for my children, how I have shown them courage, strength, determination, opportunities that can be created, and survival! I feel like a failure so weak and lifeless most of the time, but this is in my head, probably due to fear. But who I am and what I do is completely different.
How many people would sell their house, pack up their five children and move to a city they've never really been to? Then proceed to create a life, make friends with musicians, land gigs at prestigious venues, record 3 albums within 4 years of being here, still keep her kids organised, fed and sheltered while walking them through some of their own difficult situations, work part time, then work full time all while gigging 3-5 times per month, not to mention while working in and around and through a messed up relationship which cancer enters the picture 2 years in.

Diva M

Monday, August 9, 2010

We Interrupt Our Scheduled Recording...

We Interrupt Our Scheduled Recording to bring you the beginning of 'another' recording!

The adventures in recording part 5

When you are not a full time musician and have a regular J.O.B. & family, it's hard to keep things focused and on track. The summer has come and is quickly coming to an end and we have not been back to the studio since June. Music festivals, vacations and schedules have kept us from continuing with the recording.

The good news is we will be back to the studio at the end of August and hopefully that will allow us to finish things up, at least on the recording end of things. Next will be photos and CD layout and THEN duplication. I suspect that the album will be completed in October! (hoping hoping hoping)

So in the mean time..
I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Karel Roessingh who is a phenomenal pianist. I first met Karel through another musician who was unable to play on my Summertime EP album. Karel was recommended to me as a replacement.
I called him up said who I was and what I wanted, and he said SURE!
The music Karel played on the album was wonderful!!! his solo for La Vie En Rose is exquisite. Many times as I listen to the solo, I rewind it to listen to it over and over. Since that time we've had opportunity to play a couple of gigs together, the caliber that Karel is has pushed me and allowed me to grow more as a musician.

All of this to say, I am beginning another recording with Karel this week!

This will be an easy listening Jazz and Blues album of my Mother's favourite tunes that I sing.

My Mom who truly is my biggest fan, was at each and every one of my performances in Prince George when I lived there. Now that I am an Island girl, she sadly says, "I 'wish' I could be there with you" when I am heading out to a gig.

The wheels in my brain started spinning when I overheard someone talking about Karel’s studio, I thought this would be fantastic! Karel is great to work with, a phenomenal musician and then is able to record as well! WOO HOO HOO!

Next a benefactor came who would loan me the funds to create this new project… double WOO HOO HOO! Chatted with my mom and asked her what songs would she like me to do? And we’ve got a strong list of her favourite songs. (most of them are popular standards) It will be great mix of Jazz and Blues mostly love songs and as she calls them “the breaka my heart songs” too.

This will be a most wonderful experience for me to work with Karel and I’m excited to finally have the long awaited Jazz album.

and my Mom will finally have me wrapped up in a disc to play at home... over and over and over and over and over.....

Diva M

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Adventures in Recording Part 4


We started last week laying down the "bed tracks" (This is the foundation for the album, it consists of the drums, guitar and bass.) The guys were amazing!! They easily settled into great grooves and some stellar musicianship was highlighted though out the day.
We only used a
click track for one of the tunes... it was HILARIOUS,  it sounded like the pings from the old Atari games!

How the drummer kept a great groove with "pong,ping,ping,ping: pong,ping,ping,ping" in his head phones I will NEVER know. 
But all and all after a good day of working hard we were able to finish all the bed tracks. WOOT!

Next session was the vocals: THIS, took a bit more time, as it should.

Hummm, how to describe it?  ahhhhhh, oohhhhh, wellllll... (I've started this sentence at least four times)

Here is the synopsis... I go in looking like this.... (an original from the day)

And I come out looking like THIS!!! 

No, I'm not being over dramatic!! Vocal recording is crazy hard work. You have to hit ALL the pitches perfectly, and articulate clearly... "don sha wanna be wit geen",  does not come out as the sentence should  when it's being permanently recorded!

(please keep in mind for this next part... the singer MUST be totally relaxed)
I go in  to the wee booth or in this case, a 3 sided very short hallway with the head phones on both ears. 

Sing through the song: The engineer now tells me where I "was a bit pitchy."  ok. 
I remove one side of the head phones, (ahh yes this is how all the stars do it... they look soooo cool. Look at me... looking cool!!!) 
Sing through: "ahh, still pitchy here and um, here".
I now stand taller and work at holding my rib cage higher.

Sing through: "Pitchy,".
I now lift up both arms and hold the other earphone slightly away from my head, and press both elbows on the walls for support.
Sing through...
"stop... no...let's start that again that first phrase is off now"... 
I open my eyes wider and try to smile through the singing. "OK that was good, do you want to listen?"  
I am no longer relaxed and feel quite exhausted. I untangle myself and leave the head phones to go and listen, mean while my hair is now all matted and my (pits) have worked up a good sweat. Song #One done! ONLY Six to go! 

After 1 1/2 days of singing seven tunes I think vocal recording should be done in a bathing suit!!
on second thought....
I think I should have been a librarian!

Diva M \o/

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some thoughts on Social Media!! IT'S GREAT

I've been working as a musician for a few years now, and have mostly just stumbled onto things that have worked to build recognition and my fan base.
The newest things that I have been intentionally working on are in the area of online social media and marketing.

Twitter has become an AMAZING resource for me as a musician combined with using the software HootSuite. This is a great way to build friends, fans and more recognition.
I've met some amazing social net work gurus who have already invented the wheel, I've connected with some of them and have asked a few questions, now I just have to apply it to my life and business.

In Particular, HootSuite has been great to link me to all my social net works, such as Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Facebook Pages. The software is simple to use and connects you to your status updates in all those applications.
"It's a one stop status update shop!" and I can designate which status get updates and with what particular content. This has saved me time and has made my 'alive and active' presence known, which in turn has connected me to more people.
I've only been tweeting for a short time and have seen how my tweet from my city in Victoria Canada was retweeted by a woman in Nashville USA and then retweeted again by another organization in Nashville. These happen over and over again.
Music and promotion isn't the only thing I talk about on Twitter either, I am a real person with ideas, stories, jokes, questions just like everyone else. So in 140 characters or less, I can share some pretty neat ideas, and have some fun.

I also use Reverbnation as my main music website. This free software is amazing, again easy to use and the features it has are to many to list. It also is connected to Twitter and I am able to update my twitter, facebook and myspace from within Reverbnation too. I wish I could encourage more musicians to catch on to this amazing free software and sign up. So easy to use and as I said covers so many areas that a musicaian needs. Once all your information is inputed, it's done and It allows the musician to focus on being that, a musician.

Lastly I have found the more the applications and software connects to each other the closer your connection and online presence becomes huge.
I have added as many connected links to each site so that they connect each other. So CDBABY, ReverbNation, my Blog, Website, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Myspace, are all connected to each other in at least one way and some 7 ways.
Putting in this effort to work hard connecting all my dots is really paying off, I have almost doubled my fan base on Reverbnation, increased my followers on Twitter and made some amazing new friends online from all over the world!

Now the easy part, sit back connect and sing my heart out!!
Diva M

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Adventures in Recording Part 3: I'm sooo EXCITED

I just had to stop what I was doing and write an update!

I'm SOOOO EXCITED, we've booked our dates for the recording. It was seamless!
Daniel emailed the musicians and engineer with the dates that we thought would be good, and everyone said YES! May 23, 24 and 26 for the beginning bed tracks!
There was no re-figuring or having to go back and forth with dates or schedules.
I wish I could explain what a relief this is and how it just brings another level of excitement! This makes the recording more a reality that "IT'S REEEEEALLLY GOING TO HAPPEN"!

Daniel and I meet once a week to connect, rehearse songs, and create new ones. This time together helps me find more of an attachment to the new songs, which is so important to me. I like to find the truth of me in each song, as it's always my goal to live the story of the song and bring it to life... (even if it's not my story) The more I sing them, the easier the picture I am able to paint for myself and the listeners!

The new songs are WONDERFUL, and I can't wait to share them with you all! I KNOW you will love them. We will be re-doing two songs from the past adding new life and spice to them I CAN'T WAIT!!

Our plan for the next session is to do a rough recording of the tunes for the musicians to learn.

I'd love to let you have a listen to the snippets but that would spoil all the fun!
No one likes a fun spoiler!

Diva M

Friday, April 9, 2010

Adventures in Recording Part 2

Light Camera ACTION!
Actually this is the wrong media, but I like how it brings to attention the start of something and makes it feel exciting.
In recording I don't really know what they say, I think it's just, 'go' or go head, I'm rolling. Not so exciting nor does it really doesn't evoke good imagery.

Dan and I are making great steps to solidify the things we need to get this recording completed.
Recording Date (check, well almost)
Musicians (check)
Engineer (check)
Songs (check)

When choosing musicians it can be very difficult as there are so many amazing ones out there, and some who have become close personal friends. I truly want to give the work to all of them. But in the end it comes down to; availability, sound, feel, personality, price, speed at which they record, and just good gut feelings. Sadly, many of my musicians friends STILL fit that criteria. Plain and simple, It's hard to choose.

We have chosen our Drummer and Bassist which will be our foundation. Daniel has chosen the Engineer. If our budget allows for it, we will hire horn players etc. but this will be after the main portion of the recording is done.

Our plan will be, to do one evening of rehearsing then jump into the studio with both feet, we figure sometime towards the end of May.

April is a busy month gig wise for me. Daniel and the Bassist will perform at many of the gigs with me. This will allow for a bit more pre rehearsal time for the three of us and also allows me to work out the phrasings and feels of the songs. Believe it or not a song rehearsed or performed in front of a live audience has two distinct feels to it. The energy that draws from the listeners is so vital to my performance. Hopefully I will be able to take the energy that I feel from a performance and bring it into the studio.

At our last gig, Daniel and I were excited to see our original tunes come to life as they were acknowledged positively by our listeners, a proud feeling for both of us.
Truth be told, they are Daniel's babies cause he writes most of the tune... I just go along for the song.

Diva M

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adventures in Recording.....

Part 1!

I have just begun a recording project with my good friend and musician colleague Daniel Cook. It will be 'sort of' the second recording that we have done together. The first being the BOP album which was a collaboration of our 5 piece band 5 years ago.
This will be a duo project right out of the gate... which all decisions and funding will be made by ourselves. Exciting, with glimpses of stress muddled in there.

To begin, we each have brought some money to the table and understand that our budget will dictate a lot of our decisions. You can have a wonderful wish list of hiring the best Engineers, Producers, Masters and every stellar musician you know, but at the end of the day when you are an independent artist the BUDGET WILL tell you what you can and can not have.

We are recording an EP:Here is the definition of EP
EP stands for "extended play" as they are longer than the original single 45s,(vinyl)and usually containing 4 tracks. Artists usually release EPs before their whole album comes out. It is to give the fans a taste of what is coming. It could include anywhere from 2 to 10 songs often depending on the length of the full album. The EP would come out anywhere from 2 months to a year before the full length album.

A good example of an EP containing 4 tracks was the Beatles' 'Twist and Shout (EP)'. The format was also used as a low-cost way of showcasing new artists.

In appearance, the EP was similar to a 7" Single but played at 33 1/3rpm rather than 45rpm.

So, even though the music industry has moved to digital CD's etc. we've kept the same description of a 'short' album and EP.

Our new CD will have 6 original tunes written by Daniel and myself, featuring a variety of different styles and stories. As Daniel and I work together we seem to finish up songs quite quickly and keep adding them to the list as we go, knowing some might be cut due to the BUDGET.

We bounced around some ideas of the title for the album and some ideas for the album cover. It's not always easy making these types of decisions since there are two very different personalities and distinct ideas. We will work hard at compromise. As I jokingly say to Daniel... we will do whatever he decides and I'll go along with it!

One wonderful new technology for independent artists are download cards. This is an awesome way to sell music with very low over head for the artist. I am uncertain of how they are being received by the general public, if they (general public) will miss having the jewel cases, thanks yous and lyrics sheets.I think as time moves on, download cards will become more and more common.
Who knew that we would go from an etched vinyl record to a simple download card????

Diva M

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Could be repeating myself, I could be repeating myself!

I truly wish I would take this blogging more seriously. I seem to let my mind stray from being focused on writing something profound or somewhat ear-catching.
Always making plans to write.... later, asking other writers & musician friends what keeps them focused at writing. And let me say, when I get on that path, this quest could keep me preoccupied for months. I just keep asking and asking and not getting the answers that I think I want to hear, or just the answer that says 'they have no idea either'.... this of course helps to hold me back from.....

It's not like I have a boring, hum drum life. I've 5 kids: who are either adults or on the verge of adulthood. That in itself is a bizarre roller coaster of life. Lots to write about there.
I'm a singer trying to build a music career to sustain myself and my family in this crazy economy AND, at my age. (again so much to write about that)
I have a partner who is battling an extreme rare form of terminal cancer. This again has much content to write about, but yet at the same time is difficult to write out the pains of the heart.

So, why on earth could I be avoiding these blogs? (this is where I really think I'm repeating myself) I have no idea why I block and censor myself on writing.

I especially want to write music again and I truly feel a regular blog will help get the cobwebs cleaned out......
Maybe I find the cobwebs comforting.......

Diva M

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yes I "think" I'm still breathing

Time seems to keep speeding up. Especially when I'm not paying too close attention.
I can't believe how each week just bleeds into the next.

I work my two days at the J.O.B. and while I'm there my mind is focused on all the things that I am not doing to encourage my music career. 'Aha' moments of what I will do when I'm on 'days off' plans plans plans.. and so many good intentions.
plans to score music
plans to write original music
plans to blog
plans to exercise
plans to eat right
plans to sus out new venues for music
plans to cook exotic tasty dishes for my family
plans to clean.... up the entire house
plans to plan a music career that will invite a richer income
plans to network with new musicians
plans to record an album

But I must confess that once the days off are present, I find myself busy watching the cooking network. So many shows, so many chefs, so little time to take it all in.

The good thing though, at least I'm consistent and still breathing... in and out.. in and out.. in and out...

Diva M

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Can I Ask A Question?

I need to ask an important question. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of followers on my blog, actually I don't have any. *sheepish smile*
But, on the slight chance that you, YES you might be reading this, I would like to ask you this question in hope that you will be able to comment with an answer.

How do you stay motivated?

When you start out on your race, plans, goals, dreams or ideas, HOW do you stay focused and motivated and keep going? Could there be tricks to stay the course? Is there ways to stay strong and not become defeated and give up when the goal seems just out of reach and so far off or when you feel just too damn old?

I would love to hear some of your ideas on what helps you to stay on your game.

Diva M

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Which Way Now???

I'm a little stuck on what steps to take in my life.
My desire is to be a full time musician.
Financially it's not the easiest thing to do as you have to be very well known, selling lots of merchandise, and gigging at the she she poo poo, high-end venues and events.

2009 I was working a j.o.b., actually I was working for two to make full time work. December 4th I was let go from the more substantial one. (It wasn't the best environment anyway)but it has left my pocket book very empty and now the bills are beginning to pile up.

A few other things have changed in my home as well. The mister has recently 'retired' from work and will be receiving a disability pension as he is unable to work from the medication he takes to battle cancer. (this is a whole other blog)
Once his payments kick in, it 'sort of' allows me to not have to work full time at a j.o.b. which also brings the possibility for me to focus on crafting my music, writing, and the idea of traveling to other cities to perform.

Just after Christmas I had obtained a second j.o.b. but felt the learning curve strain, and the stress of the pending cancer wouldn't allow me to continue.
Since then I have had other job offers and opportunities to work other j.o.b.s. My dilemma is that I don't want to give up the possible freedom of being able to work my music business, and allowing me to make money as a musician.

BUUUUUTTTT THEEEEENNNNN on the other hand, a good paying j.o.b. would bring financial relief to our home, and allow for us to do and have... and have and do.
My pastor told me to take baby steps... but, baby steps into what??? my career or into a new j.o.b. I just don't know... hummmmm
I think I should take a N.A.P!

Diva M

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Be the Grasshopper Let the Masters Teach!

I'm on a new quest to learn and understand more of how to utilize the internet to promote myself as a musician.

I have my website, facebook pages, twitter, utube, myspace(s), a couple other promotional sites and my favourite... my reverbnation site. reverbnation/maureenwashignton
If I could encourage musicians with any of these sites, reverbnation would be my first choice to start.
On reverbnation, the features (which are free)are wonderful, super resourceful, and extremely user friendly. It is a musicians dream for a website as it helps promote your career allows you to network with musicians and fans, creates electronic press kits and it tracks everything that you do... instant resume.
I love their stats which keep track of each musician in the reverbnation world. Today I am #1 Locally, #1 Nationally and #29 Globally. My goal is to get into the top 25 global, which will be done by increasing fans, music plays, and communication with my fans.

Much of what I have done via internet promotion has been trial and error and mostly just stumbling along....
I've realized that I have stumbled on a couple of gold mines!! and in turn, I am enjoying little mini master classes with two wonderful people.

Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby) sign up to his blogs... they are crafted and inspiring.
Honestly just google his name and read, watch and learn anything that you can.

Ariel Hyatt
Sign up there, and then watch her many informative videos here

it's the age old saying... don't reinvent the wheel... just watch and learn how it is made and watch your career grow!

Diva M

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