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How Love Changed

At the top of the year I released Vol. I of my latest project "The 45 Series" to pay homage to the classic 7-inch record culture. I became acquainted with records at a very young age courtesy of my father's love affair with vinyl. There was something about music and the people who purchased vinyl and I wanted to understand the story behind it...so I decided to ask my favorite girl a few questions and discovered some things I didn't know...

Mom,

I need your help. I have a few questions about people and playing records when you were growing up. I know that most of the homes in Cleveland had a bar setup in the basement (like at Grandad's and our house on Delrey) because people would often throw parties. 

Here are some questions...

In what ways did groups of people get together and listen to records?  

There was always music wherever you went.  If there was a bbq in someone's backyard, someone played music.  If there was a baby shower, someone played the music.  If there was a backyard wedding, someone played the music. There was always music. If you got up on a Saturday morning to do your chores so that you could go skating by noon, someone played music. If you washed your car in your yard, you would knock on your neighbor's door and ask if they would mind if you played your music while you washed your car. If you threw a party at the house, upstairs, or downstairs near the bar, someone played music.  Not only did the young play music, the adults did too. The record player was a piece of furniture.  It was made of wood. It was like a chest made from a beautiful piece of wood. *Big Clint would play his music and sing or whistle.  Mom would play her music. I remember Bill Doggett and the Honky Tonk being played and I was not school age yet. Big Clint thought he could sing better than Elvis Presley. He sang Elvis all the time.

*Big Clint is my grandfather.

Did one person play a record? Or was it a DJ? Or did people take turns?  

No such thing as a DJ. The owner of the house, or whoever was giving the party controlled the music.

I feel like love and records went hand in hand...

Males did not talk a lot about their feelings, so the music served as a means of communication sometimes.  Therefore, males chose their music carefully.  But, you must remember, most of the music was about love and emotions back in the day. The music was about finding the right girl. There were a lot of male singers and therefore, you heard about their desire for a good love. There were few real heartache songs (that I gravitated to) so all of the songs seemed to be about the joy of love. There was always slow songs. That was when most people danced. The young men would ask you to dance to the slow song and it was a nice decent dance.  So you would be waiting for a slow song to be asked to dance. The slow songs were always about love. Being young, sometimes, you did not know exactly what the song was actually about because you had not experienced it, but it was fun to dance to love songs.

Dad played records while you and him cooked together...  

Of course.  There was always music.  Music was a gift also.  It was the first present your father bought me. ( I was not one of those people looking for diamonds and furs.)  My first gift was an album.  (Friends & Strangers by Ronnie Laws).

Sidebar: my Pops was a bad man for buying Moms this record! It's a COLD record that was definitely in heavy rotation in the Abernathy household and I never knew that it was a gift from my father...The title track is my JOINT! 

What other situations can you think of where love was displayed and records were played?

Males did not have a lot of money.  So, you would take long rides in the car.  Music on your transitor radio, car radio, 8 track and later your CD was important.  You would listen to the music as you rode.  You didn't have to have a real destination. You and your boyfriend would go for a ride to the park, beach, waterfront or to downtown Cleveland.  Gas was twenty five cents a gallon, so riding in the car was not expensive.

Sometimes, you and a date would just go for a walk.  But, you would always have your transitor radio on you.  If the talking was scarce, there was the music. In college, everyone had a record player.  That way, you got to see the personal taste of the person.  People brought their albums from home.  When you had company in the rooms, there was always music.  People wanted to see what music you had. When the date was at the home (mom nearby), music was played on the family record player.  Music was discussed.  People would alway ask if you heard the new song by...

During Christmas, music was played all day long.  I cannot remember watching TV. When we went to visit Aunt Stein as little children, music was played. We would go to the record shop, Record Rendevous in downtown Cleveland, just to hang around and listen to the music.  There were so many young folk going to record shops just to listen to the music and not purchase anything that one record shop on Kinsman had a sign in the window that said " Lookers and Waiters - Stay outside."

Just talked to Diane in Linden.  She said, please have some hard copies of your music at the family reunion.  The new song would definitely sell.  But, old people do not download. (smile)

 

My mom's responses gave me so much insight on how different things were and how music and love went hand in hand. The content in the music of that time spoke a lot about love and I believe it influenced the culture of love which makes me question is the content in our music a key factor in how the perception of love has changed?

Does music and love still go hand and hand?

Is the content in today's music influencing today's culture of love?

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Love & Opportunity

I was going to start this blog with a nice anecdote to set the tone but I want to get straight to the point. I hear, see, and read numerous thing that disturb me about the state of mind that my peers possess.

I don't think I've ever had more conversations on relationships, marriage, dreams, and careers in my entire life than I've had within the last 5 years.

Let's talk about what I see my peers saying about opportunity and dreams briefly...

They say it comes once in a lifetime and you have to prepare yourself for the moment it knocks...and when it does....kick the door open and cease the moment. You only get one shot! When you're unprepared you miss your chance...

BUT

Then they say...If first you don't succeed, try and try again...lick your wounds, get up, get prepared, and go back out there and fight for what you want. We've seen this time and time again...singers, actors, actresses, business men and women who have totally failed over and over again and chose not to give up and then BAM! They make it! They finally succeed.

The world dresses it up as overnight success but when you get the back story of the years it took to attain their dreams, it reminds us that they had to fight and sacrifice for YEARS....5,10,12,15 years of sacrifice. Learning and adjusting as they go in order to attain the dream they were after. Now that they've attained it, they have to work even harder to keep it...

Let's talk about what I hear my peers saying about love briefly...

Love is complicated...

Love is extremely trying...

Love is a struggle....

Marriage is hard....

"Love is ______________" you fill in the blank...

When love and relationships are brought up....just take a look at people's facial expressions...followed by their sighs and groans. Just check your facebook or twitter feed and you'll find several statuses from romantic relationships to relationships with friends to relationships with parents...of people who are sick and tired of love and have consciously and subconsciously given up on it.

Here's the status and quote I LOVE!!!

"Men/Women are like buses. If you miss one there is always another on the way in 15 minutes"

That's the one I saw this morning that prompted me to write this...I've heard this before and I'm sure that another bus is coming....My question is how many great buses have you seen and missed?

Let's go back to opportunity and dreams....

When we have our eyes set on a specific career and dream...there's a determination and discipline you have to possess to attain it. A willingness to be successful by any means necessary. Extensive training beyond measure that will leave you physically and mentally sore until your body becomes accustomed to it...until it becomes second nature. When you have successfully mastered an area and it's second nature, you move on to training in another realm that you need to master until that becomes second nature...When it comes to opportunity we're taught to never stop disciplining ourselves to attain what he have set our sights on. People go to school for years upon years and spend thousands of dollars to receive expertise in their field in order to be successful. That's dedication...

Let's go back to Love....

What if I told you that love was an opportunity & dream....

What if I told you that love will make you better equipped for your opportunity & dream...

What if I told you that you were taught the basic skills to cease the opportunity of loving someone at a very young age...

I'll come back to that...

QUESTION: Why don't we have that same dedication towards love that we have towards our dreams (re-read the previous paragraph)?

OPPORTUNITY

In order to get a job, you have to send a resume to the company you desire. That resume has to possess a certain amount of basic and advanced skills in order to be granted an interview. The interview is in person so they can see you, ask questions, and determine if you're a good fit for their company based on what you have presented to them.

When you're hired, you arrive at the job not knowing exactly how their system works compared to previous places of employment. On the job training is a must! Your basic skills are your foundation but you have to learn how to use those skills in correlation with the company you're working with in order to make the organization better. Everything that worked at your old job isn't going to work at the new one. They're using a totally different computer, lunch hours are different, meeting times are different, pay day is different, your boss is different, most of the time things are different!

I love how we act when we start new jobs...We're always on time and making sure we're on point in every category. Then slowly but surely you start showing up late...taking longer lunch breaks...and taking the company for granted...

So your boss says something about it and you let them know you'll do better...and you do for a short period of time BUT then you're back to your normal state of being comfortable...

Then you make a major mistake on your job and your boss is pissed off!! You sincerely apologize and assure them that it will never happen again and you do the work because you don't want to get fired! Is it the money that makes you humble when you're wrong?

You're behind on a project that's due at work so you put in the extra hours to make sure that it gets done...staying after your shift and putting in weekend hours so you don't disappoint your boss and the company...

QUESTION: Why don't we treat opportunity & jobs & dreams like we treat love?

Opportunity, jobs, and dreams are like buses...If you miss one there is always another on the way in 15 minutes....

Those other jobs on the way in 15 minutes usually aren't the jobs that will sustain you.

LOVE IS THE OPPORTUNITY & DREAM

We have to understand this concept or we're going to lose. Love is an opportunity that you are equipped to attain and sustain only if you choose it.

We received the basic skills at a young age:

-Be polite

-Say please & thank you.

-Listen to understand.

-Don't interrupt when someone is speaking.

-Verbally express your appreciation for someone and back it up with action.

-When you're wrong, apologize and do better by showing it over time.

These basic skills prepare you to cease the opportunity of love. It's the on the job training that is killing marriages and relationships around the globe. What worked with your old lover isn't going to work with a new one! Take the good traits you learned in the previous relationships and leave the bad traits behind. Work on your bad traits from previous relationships so you can sustain the new relationship. Learn the person you're in a relationship with. If you don't know how to do something on the job don't you ask your boss? If your boss doesn't like something don't you change? Think about it....

Speaking of bosses...

QUESTION: Why don't we treat our spouse or lover like our boss or our company?

Did you make a mistake with your spouse or lover and apologize sincerely and assure them it won't happen again and worked to make sure that it didn't? When the trust is missing do you decide to get up, get prepared, and go back out there and fight for what you want and gain the trust back?

Have you taken your lover for granted? Not giving them the deserved time? Are you late for what they want to do. Not giving them your all...are you slipping on the job?

Because you're slipping...are you going to show a willingness to let them know they're worth it by putting in the extra hours to make sure that their needs are met...working overtime and putting in weekend hours so you don't disappoint your lover?

Love is the opportunity & dream that will sustain you when your opportunity, job, and dreams won't! But you have to choose to work tirelessly for it like you do for your boss, company, and dream.

I'm thankful that my father taught me that yes...every 15 minutes a new woman will come along like a bus...but the woman you want to catch doesn't come along like the 15 minute bus...you're lucky if you see that bus 2 or 3 times in your life. So if you're on that bus, fight to stay on it...and if you happen to find yourself kicked off that bus, run it down and bang on it and do what it takes to get back on it and stay on it...and if it's out of reach...prepare yourself and pray that if and when it comes back around, you don't make the same mistakes.

This is for men and women. If someone is worth it, don't act like they're the 15 min. commuter bus...

And if you've been that bus that someone took for granted, keep riding and doing maintenance on yourself until the right person gets on. All of us can grow!

Signed,

Ab

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House of Mirrors

Mirrors possess the power to reveal our reflection and we use them daily to examine and groom our outward appearance. Sometimes we like what we see and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we can quickly reverse our dislikes with a change of clothes, new hairstyle, or makeup...while things like weight loss, body toning, and scars take periods of time to change. The interesting thing about the mirror is the emotions you feel about what you see and your choice of addressing those emotions. Most of us shy away from those emotions because we'd rather not face them and focus on our good features. You can only cover up an emotion for so long cause it will only lay dormant until it's triggered again. Those emotions deal with our internal reflection and when it's just you in the mirror, the choice is yours...and yours alone to encounter them.

Last week I spoke about "Changing vs. Stretching" and how you should stretch for someone who has taken the time recognize who you are and what you need to be your best. Everyone isn't going to reach that level with you but the person that does will become your mirror. You are giving them access to examine the parts of you that no one else will see. All of the great parts of you as well as the worse parts of you will be revealed to them.

Choosing the right mirror is tough because it's hard to trust a flawed human being with all of your short comings and hope that they won't judge you. Allowing someone else access to your personal emotions can be scary (Especially when you've chose the wrong mirror in the past). We tell our best friend, family members, and lover our deepest and darkest emotions because we trust them to the standard that they will protect us in moments of vulnerability and thereafter. The people you trust with the deepest parts of yourself are your "House of Mirrors." You grow up with friends and family and they are a constant in your life so it's easier to trust them because you have communicated with them over extended periods of time. The fact that a complete stranger will become someone you are suppose to trust, confide in and stretch for in marriage over anyone else that walks this earth...including friends and family you have known longer than them is interesting isn't it...but that's how it's suppose to be. We've all chose the wrong mirrors in the past....I think it's time we aim to do a better job at selecting the proper reflection that has the maturity to examine your good, bad, and ugly flaws and add to making you a better person.

Take your time...

 

Signed,

Ab

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Changing vs. Stretching

I love the fearlessness of children. I notice how they live in their own world and anything outside of that doesn't matter. You'll catch them in the corner creating a game that only they understand filled with imaginary playmates that are suitable for the situation they have curated. They're very much about their vision and how they see the world and you can't take that from them...well, you can...and when you take it before they're ready, it's usually followed by a holler and a river full of tears.

I was like that as a child and in many ways I still am. I curate my life in a way that is fitting for me. I create a healthy environment for myself that I can operate in and be the best me possible. It was something that I struggled with before...something that took time to grasp and put in motion. I'm still curating this multi-leveled place that I call my life...and everyday I'm making adjustments to make it better. It's a complexed simplicity that is layered and the access to all levels of me isn't given to everyone. That's the challenging part for me...passing out access level codes...who do I allow to see certain parts of me...

After arriving at a place where I feel content with who I am and what I need in order to be my best, I was questioned by a close friend of mine about the way I operate now and how I would be able to continue in this manner when I'm with someone. Will I always be this way? Would I be willing to change to accommodate the needs of a woman? When would I feel okay with changing for someone else?

Answers

Will I always be this way?

Yes

Would I change to accommodate the needs of a woman?

Change...No...

When would I feel okay with changing for someone else?

I'll never feel okay with changing what I need to be the best me for someone else. I have hopes that me at my best is what draws that person to me.

 

We have be careful...Often I see people changing with hopes of fitting into someone else's world at the casualty of who they are and what they need individually or people feeling that there is something wrong with the life they have curated for themselves outside of being in a relationship. You don't have to change who you are and what you need individually to be with someone.

I am definitely willing to stretch for the right person. The difference is the right person isn't everyone. Everyone isn't going to reach the stretching access level. Stretching for someone comes after they take the time recognize who you are and what you need to be your best. They won't take it personal because they've taken the time to reach a level of truly understanding who you are and won't put what they want ahead of that. You'll stretch for them because you see and recognize that they recognize you. I personally think it's a form of someone showing respect for you. In addition, you would hope that they would stretch for you because you are also aware that what they need outside of you is something that they established before you were present.

Changing for someone will always lead to your counterpart being given what they need and you feeling empty.

Stretching for someone fulfills both parties because the act of stretching for someone and receiving someone stretching for you is a give-give situation. I'm stretching for you because you took the time to get to know me and what I need and it shows...I really appreciate that and I'll stretch for you because of that. It's an appreciation for recognizing and respecting who each other are.

It's important to get to know yourself and what you need as an individual to be the best you for the world before you attempt to truly get to know someone else. The right person will respect who you are through there actions and that will be a sign that they are worth stretching for.

 

Signed,

Ab

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2013 | A Year In Review

Christmas is a week away...before you know it you'll be at home, at church, at a party, or a bar somewhere in the world wishing someone a Happy New Year. 2013 is drawing to a close and the conversations about resolutions for 2014 are off to the races. Before you dive head first into those conversations with yourself and others, I hope you'll find the time to review what you've done this year. Often we look at the things we want to change next year without looking at the resolutions we made in 2013. It's important that we celebrate our accomplishments.

For myself, there were several things I wanted to accomplish this year. Although I didn't get to all of them, I'm glad to go back through 2013 and share the moments that have made this year of music great for me. I couldn't have done any of this without your support and I'm truly thankful for each and every one of you that have contributed to my dream.

 

JANUARY

"Forecast" started the year with hopes of instilling confidence in our future and highlight the opportunity received in each new day.

MARCH 

"Call On Me" was a message of hope, assurance, and reliability that we should all be looking for in love.

"High Note. Vol. I" marked my first live performance in 3 years...as well as a new venture.

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APRIL 

I was asked to write and perform the lead single, "Dreaming At The Surface" for Warsaw, Poland, duo "DJ Czarny & Taz's" album titled "Time To Build"

MAY

The Why Radio Team from Porto, Portugal, asked me to create a podcast of some of my influences....I'm influenced by so many different artist and genres so it was a task but it birthed "Treats for The Gospeldelic Funk Children."

JUNE

I kicked off the summer with my band "Nat Turner" at "High Note Vol. II." One of my favorite performances of the year!! Shout out to my Nat Turner crew Malik Hunter (bass) and Jason "Brother Spanky" Edwards (drums).

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My cover of DeBarge's "All This Love" featuring Phonte arrived the last week of June.

JULY

I released "Prologue Vol. II" on July 11th....a year to the date of Prologue Vol. I.

Nat Turner and I ended the month in front of a sold out audience at "High Note Vol. III."

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AUGUST

I recorded a song for producer 14KT's "Nickled & Dimed" album titled "Toris."

SEPTEMBER

Nat Turner and I went in the road to back Black Milk on his "No Poison No Paradise" North American Tour.

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OCTOBER

I was featured on Black Milk's "No Poison No Paradise" album on a record titled "Parallels."

http://blackmilk.bandcamp.com/track/parallels-ft-ab

At the end of the month, producer 14KT and I released our first single, "Lover's Galaxy" from our upcoming album titled "Saturn Return."

NOVEMBER

I released a full length album for the first time in 5 years w/ producer 14KT titled "Saturn Return" available now here.

In the middle of the month, Nat Turner and I headed to Europe to back Black Milk on his "No Poison No Paradise" European Tour.

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DECEMBER

I'm back in my sanctuary preparing music for 2014...

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Thank you for all of your love and support this year!! I'm praying that all of you have had a successful year and are aiming to make next year bigger and better. If your year wasn't what you anticipated it to be...don't give up! You have time to turn everything around...Don't ever let anyone tell you that you don't have time to accomplish your dreams...2014 is yours for the taking!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

See you in 2014!

 

Signed,

Aaron "Ab" Abernathy

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Dating in the Two-Thousand Teens

I woke up early this morning in Copenhagen, Denmark to discover that our lobby call time has been pushed back 2 hours because our tour manager mixed up the times we have to arrive at the ferry boat to cross the English Channel. So I went down to eat a light breakfast and came back up to my room to check Facebook and there it was as always...

I think we all can agree that you can't get on social media now a days without seeing a post about relationships, dating, and 10 to 33 things you should and should not be looking for in a relationship on your feed or timeline...

I had a really great conversation with my aunt a couple of months back at my family reunion when she asked me what is going on with people my age and dating?

"Dating is suppose to be fun! What happened to mingling and getting to know people? Your generation has it backwards....You date and have fun until you find someone you share a mutual vibe with that is better than all the other people you're dating... Hopefully at that time the both of you can move forward...9 times out of 10 someone will be ready before the other cause that's just how life goes....BUT just because they're not ready doesn't mean you throw in the towel...Keep dating and having fun and they might come around sooner than you think...or some one else will HAHAHAHAHAHA (aunty laugh) but all of these questions ya'll asking....are you dating anyone else? How many people you dating? That didn't fly in my day...that was none of your business...your generation is to NOSEY. Dating was fun in our day and it should still be that way!"

-My Aunt (I'm not gonna put her name out there)

I mean you gotta love the aunty laugh...It's just packed with so much love and makes the statement so much realer!

I agree with what she said though....

I also feel that there's a lot of societal pressures that my generation takes on when it comes to being in a relationship, getting married, and starting a family. Clearly, a lot of us are getting married later than our parents generation and I watch the pressure consume some of my friends. It's rare night if I'm out in the streets hanging out and somehow, someway, the conversation of dating and relationships doesn't come up in the conversation. Then you hear people talk about their dating lives in detail. Most of the time I hear so many of the same things over and over and OVER again...

These are my top 4 dating in the Two-Thousand Teens statement...

1.) I hate feeling like I'm not good enough for him

2.) She's to intimidating for me

3.) I don't feel needed by him/her

4.) There aren't any good Men/Women out here

Let's start with "I hate feeling like I'm not good enough for him."

I don't understand how anyone can make you feel like you're not good enough

EVER. I'm baffled by that one. If someone is treating you like you're not good enough I think it might be time to roll out....and if you know you're good enough and better than the dating or relationship situation...why are you stick around? Not feeling good enough for someone is an internal issue that you have to iron out. Always know that you're good enough for anyone...that's very important.

"She's to intimidating for me"

This is an insecurity men need to work out...How are you intimidated? Because she has a good job, is well versed, can speak a couple languages, makes more money than you, follows her dreams, sets goals and meets them.....I can keep going....

Real talk..that's the type of women you need to be seeking out because she's going to challenge you to be better...It's different if she's putting you down...but If she's encouraging you to do better, has your back, and is helpful...That's better than being with a woman that makes you feel good about yourself because she lets you continue to be stagnant...I'm just saying! Intimidation is an indicator of how you feel about yourself...

"I don't feel needed by him/her"

This one is a simple fix....You don't feel needed because they don't need you to do what you want to do for them. Ask what they need you to do and then do it. You cooked him a buffet dinner by candle light and all he wanted was to a 10 piece from Popeye's Louisiana Chicken. You threw her a surprise birthday party and all she wanted was a quiet night at the house with a red velvet cupcake and a candle. You don't feel needed because you keep doing things that you personally like for people who don't like those things!! And then have the nerve to throw it in their face as if they asked you to do it...Ask them what they like and do that! Know who you're dealing with. If they're not your style....ROLL OUT!

"There aren't any good Men/Women out here"

Lies, Lies, and MORE LIES!!! This one is the most incredible of them all. I'm not saying it's easy to find someone to to date and be in a relationship with...but I am saying that there are a lot of good men and women out here that you can date and choose to be in a relationship with. It's a choice! But most of us pass up that choice constantly. There's probably someone in your life that would be a great match for you but they don't look the part in your eyes, or you may care too much about what others would think if you dated someone different from the style of person you normally date (that has yet to work out cause you keep dating the same person over and over again), or maybe your ideal counterpart is unrealistic...All I'm saying is there are good men/women out here so we need to put that to rest.

I do feel my generation is often looking for perfection in relationships and want the man/woman that has movie star features, is going to sweep you off your feet, and give you that fairytale type of love. Realistically, they're gonna be imperfect, piss you off sometimes, disagree with you, and you'll see somethings that you don't like because they're human just like you. The question is with all their flaws do they love you and take care of you and put up with all your funky flaws too! That's who you need...a friend...not a trophy piece...

Lastly, I understand that people want a companion in life and that's fair...just be careful with the pressure you put on yourself to "have a companion." Have fun dating because one day you won't be able to. Stop dating and acting like you're in a committed relationship. Know yourself enough to know what you can handle...and be responsible and accountable for your actions. Don't do anything you don't want to do so you won't have regrets...And if you do...try your best to not make the same mistakes when you date someone else. Pay attention to your patterns and be honest with yourself about what you're looking for.

I like this quote:

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.

― Virginia Satir

I think that kind of atmosphere is also found in a nurturing relationship...

Signed,

Ab

P.S. Make yourself happy! There's more to life than just dating....

Make sure you check out my new album which is a story about a love relationship and much more here.

 

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Uncharted Waters

I never saw myself playing in a band with Slum Village…my plan was to stay focused on how to make Ab & The Souljourners the next big thing. On the other hand, God had other plans and had taken me outside of my comfort zone.

As the Slum Village European tour continued, my expertise on putting the show together also continued. Our first night at London Jazz Cafe was great but we were facing a dilemma the night of our show at Paradiso in Amsterdam. On the way to sound check their manager told us we had a 90 minute set that night and our current set was only 60 minutes. I remember that day like yesterday....Paradiso was like a big cathedral house with a balcony surrounding the entire place. It looked like an old church turned into a performance hall. We were sound checking and I was on stage playing and singing Ab & The Souljourners material to keep that fresh in my head while T3 and El Zhi discussed possible songs that they could perform to extend the set time.....and that's when it happened! T3 was listening to me playing and singing and asked "What is that?" I told him it was a cover song that I sing during my set with my band. He told me right then and there that I was singing that song in the set tonight. Then he asked me to come up with an instrumental part that me and Dez could perform after I sang. I was thinking to myself...he has to be kidding...this is the Slum Village show, not the Ab show so why would he give me the spotlight two weeks into the tour?

I was constantly being put on the spot and lots of pressure was on my shoulders. That night at Paradiso they were expecting 1,000+ people to attend. I had never sang in front of this many people before. T3 told me that him and El Zhi were going to leave the stage when I sang as well. It's one thing when you are performing with a popular group that people are coming to see but it's totally different thing when you have to perform by yourself in front of people who don't know you at all.

I had to continuously find courage on this Slum Village gig. All this time I had been asking for opportunity to become this big soul artist and T3 was offering the experience I needed to get to my destination but It was always spontaneous. I constantly found myself wanting more time to practice and be comfortable but I refused to voice what I wanted because it wasn't about me. I was in a new world with new rules and I couldn't lose this opportunity because I was uncomfortable.

That night the crew was chillin' in the green room and Pharoahe Monch walks in. Of course they know each other so everyone is greeting and I'm chillin' in the corner reading a book (I wish I can remember what I was reading at the time). T3 introduces me to Pharoahe Monch by saying: "This is Ab, our new Music Director." I thought to myself....Am I?...but I didn't question it, I shook his hand and sat back down and began to think about how this gig was turning into something that was so far from what I expected. I was so nervous about singing in front of all those people mainly because it wasn't my name on the line as much as it was Slum Village's. It was their show and I didn't want to let them down. I left a green room filled with laughter and classic tour stories with hopes of settling my nerves but before I could get a grasp on them It was showtime.

I stepped out on stage to a full house of people ready to see Slum Village. Sad to say I wasn't looking forward to my part of the show but it came quickly and before I knew it....it was just me and Dez on stage with 1,000+ people staring at me....

I was nervous and shaking but I sang....I sang scared....and I was scared the entire time I sang but I made it through...scared and all. My scared vocals were on point though.... People cheered so loud after I was done. I couldn't believe it. It was one of those things in which I was so nervous and uncomfortable that I didn't enjoy the moment but nevertheless it was a great moment for the show, the audience, and most importantly myself.

That night was a stepping stone for my solo career and I didn't even know it at the time. We got back to the green room and everyone in the group was blown away! Especially the manager who had missed sound check. The next day I had a conversation with him and he told me that I was doing an excellent job as the Music Director and he needed me to keep the guys focused. He wanted me to keep bringing my ideas to the table at sound check and push them to perform records that they don't want to perform if I knew it was good for the show. Last but not least he said: "T3 likes and respects you more than you know, this is only the beginning for you....you're a part of this family now." I said ok and the conversation was over.

I have no clue when they decided that I was the Music Director but it didn't matter at that point because that was my title and I accepted. Every night for the rest of the tour I performed my section of the show and became very comfortable with it no matter if it was 500 people present or the big festival crowds of 10,000+ people. Looking back on it, I could've easily backed down from T3's request of singing  an entire song in the midst of their set at Paradiso because I was scared and uncomfortable. The Slum Village tour experience was uncharted waters....but it was in those waters that I learned to swim. I learned the difference between European fans and American fans and that was something T3 knew about that I didn't. He knew from the minute that he heard me sing in sound check that the European fans would embrace me. I learned that in order for me to get to my destination I had to do things I didn't want to do and sometimes I would have to do them scared and all. If I would've let me fear get the best of me I would've missed out on an opportunity to grow as an individual and an artist.

I wonder if T3 decided right at that sound check in Paradiso to make me MD of Slum Village because I stepped up to the challenge...

Are you stepping up to challenges to grow in your life and career?

What uncharted waters are you suppose to dive into in order to learn how to swim?

Something to think about....

Signed,

Ab

P.S. the story isn't over.....

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Outside of the Comfort Zone

Earlier this week I spoke on being prepared when opportunity presents itself in the most random times and really asking yourself Are You Ready if it does? Opportunity is interesting to me...It seems to always show up when you least expect it. I believe self doubt and not being prepared are big culprits of missing out on life changing opportunities.

Picking up where I left off.....I returned from Detroit on high after learning I would be Slum Village's keyboardist/vocalist on there upcoming European tour. I spoke with their manager and was scheduled to go to Detroit for a rehearsal in April. April came and that rehearsal was rescheduled for May....and then for June...long story short we never had a rehearsal.

I recall coming home from work in late June 2006 and receiving a call from T3 that went something like this:

T3: Ab...What up man!!

Me: Wassup T3

T3: nothin chillin....We got a show in DC tonight at this club called Mirrors. Can you come out and perform with us?

Me: yeah (I had a million things to do), what time?

T3: 11pm but be there around 9pm.

Me: Ok cool.

T3: We need you to sing on Tainted & Selfish bro!

Me: Bet! see you then.

This show was so random! You would think I would know if they were coming to town as a fan but I didn't. I showed up at Club Mirrors and everybody I could think of on the DC music scene was there. It was interesting to perform in front of all my DC music peers. It's amazing how people look at you differently after someone co-signs you. It was like they viewed me in a different light after T3 said "I want to bring my man Ab up here to do these next two joints. He's going to be joining us on our European tour so give it up for him." It's not that they didn't respect me before but the respect was different after that. To this day people on the scene ask me how I got the Slum Village gig?? I performed Tainted & Selfish with Slum Village and the evening was really dope.

Fast forward to July and I'm on a plane from DC to London Heathrow Airport. I arrived, went through customs, walked up to the man holding the Aaron Abernathy sign, and hopped in the car with him headed to the Holiday Inn in Camden Town. I had no clue how our first show at the historic London Jazz Cafe' was going to go that night. We never had ONE rehearsal. Hex, the road manager called me when he got to the hotel and told me to be downstairs at 5pm for soundcheck.

We went to soundcheck and literally figured out the entire 60 - 75 minute set there. I discovered that there wasn't a band. The DJ (DJ Dez) doubled as a drummer and we were the duo creating the music. As we were creating the show T3 kept asking me what I knew how to play? What hip hop classics? What soul classics? Do you know how to play this? Do you know how to play that? I found myself adding parts of my "Ab & The Souljourners" show to their show. I couldn't believe he was asking me what I thought about playing this and that as a transition to the next section. We created the show and went through it one time....then time was up.

I believe in rehearsal before shows and lots of it but I was out of my comfort zone on this evening. Out of my element in a historic venue in London performing with a classic hip hop group. Oh...and the show was sold out! Talk about pressure. My expertise was sought out in soundcheck and I was challenged to see how fast I learn...I felt like they were putting me on spot to see how much of a professional musician I was.

I remember the food being really good that night before hitting the stage...Some type of baked chicken, potatoes, and sauteed green beans that was ridiculously delicious....I hit the stage and I was nervous...something that usually doesn't happen. I had to remind myself that this was no different from what I do with my group and being faithful to the little things had already prepared me for this moment.

We hit the stage to a sold out crowd and I played the show we created in sound check. The audience was pleased with the show and wanted an encore. Of course I was excited. I really didn’t know I was a professional musician until that moment. I should’ve known before hand but I was downplaying myself. I honestly believe that T3 chose me for the job because he knew I was a professional musician….I wonder why I didn’t know that….I’m sure it’s because I was looking for approval in all of the wrong places starting with my peers on the DC music scene. In all honesty, I never saw myself playing in a band with Slum Village…my plan was to stay focused on making Ab & The Souljourners the next big thing but God had other plans and this new door he had just opened for me was a door that would keep giving back….

I’ll explain more about this door next week.

Signed,

Ab

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Are You Ready?

From the top of 2003 to March of 2006 I made small decisions that prepared me for an opportunity that I had no idea was coming. My choice to be "Faithful to the Little Things" is the only reason I got this opportunity in all honesty...

I came home from my 9 to 5 at W.W. Grainger on either a Tuesday or a Thursday in earlier March....yeah, it had to be one of those days because my band "Ab & The Souljourners" had rehearsal on those evenings. I remember after rehearsal my manager who happened to be my mother at the time called me and said that she'd been looking for opportunities on craigslist. She submitted my info for numerous inquiries dealing with people looking for wedding bands to songwriters and producers. My mom was and still is faithful to research. I honestly thought it was crazy that she kept searching on craigslist for opportunities because I thought it was a waste of time.....I was wrong.

On this particular evening she was contacted by a woman named Kelli who visited my website after my manager responded to her request of looking for a keyboardist/singer for their upcoming tour. After hearing my music they were considering me to go on tour with them but they needed to hear me play some of their music first. I remember my manager saying specifically: "Aaron they need to hear a recording of you playing their music ASAP and I told her you can do it tonight." It was 11:30pm and I had just finished rehearsal. I had to wake up for work at 6am and I was tired!!! Regardless, I said ok...Where can I hear their music? What's the name of the band mom? She says "they have such a terrible name...funville or something like that...let me just get the name of the group instead of guessing.....they're called Slum Village.....did you hear me?.....Hello?"

I paused.....

In shock in the middle of my room....

Me: MOM.....SLUM VILLAGE!!!!

Mom: yeah, you heard of them??

Me: YES!!!!!! Mom I gotta call you back...I got to make this demo!

As a fan of Slum Village, I was already familiar with their new album that came out fall of 2005 so now it was time to show and prove. I cut on my computer, plugged in my mic and keyboard, and recorded the demo in 20 minutes. I sent the demo back to my mom and she sent it to their correspondent. I remember it was a Tuesday night now....because that correspondent called me on Weds and asked me if I could fly to Detroit on Friday to meet T3 of Slum Village...Of course my answer was YES!!!!

So I went out to Detroit and we went to the studio and T3 put me on spot. I had to play, sing. and record music. He asked me numerous questions about myself, what I believed in, and what I was doing with my life. I was in Detroit for the weekend and came back to DC with the gig. He told me we would be going on a European tour in July.

When I look back at that opportunity I'm certain that I only got this gig because of the small things I was faithful to from 2003 to 2006.

1.) I had a website where they could go listen to the music, see what I looked like, and learn basic information about me and my career.

2.) I had a computer and equipment to record the demo in house the same night to meet their need for hearing me perform their music ASAP.

3.) I recorded music often so I knew how to make the demo recording sound appealing.

4.) I practiced playing and singing so often with my band and independently that I was very familiar with playing, singing, creating, and performing on spot.

All of the small things were SO HUGE that week. My music career changed in a week based off of my faithfulness to those little things above and now I was headed on tour with one of the Hip-Hop genres most respected groups. I was ready when opportunity knocked and I didn't even know it.

Really ask yourself...Are You Ready? Whatever you're striving to do with your life....Are you prepared to do it if the opportunity presents itself? And if not are you working towards being ready?

Something to think about...

Signed,

Ab

P.S. I was excited to learn who else was in Slum Village's band, looking forward to rehearsal, and excited to go back to Europe... I'll talk about all of that later on this week.

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Faithful To The Little Things

Earlier this week I talked about how taking things "One Mile At A Time" coupled with being faithful to the little things leads us to reaching our big goals. In that blog entry I was asked a question that I want to answer in detail.....As promised I want to touch on the the little things I have been faithful to that led me to becoming a music director and headed out on my 10th tour as a musician/singer.

In 2003, I decided that I wanted to do music full time. My big goal was to be a songwriter. I was faithful to writing as many songs as I could a week after studying for school. I was attending Howard University at the time and I would test out my songs by performing them open mics on campus. I could determine if the songs were good or bad by the crowds reaction. At the time I had nothing but a keyboard and a composition notebook so the only thing I was faithful to was creating music and writing.

I began to study songwriters and discovered that Gordon Chambers (has written records for Brandy, Carl Thomas, Anita Baker, and more) was having a writing workshop in Brooklyn, NY. I made my way up to NY from DC to go to the workshop and performed some of my songs for him to receive constructive criticism. He thought the songs could be shopped to artist if I worked on my structure and then he asked me where is my recorded demo of this material? I was puzzled....I never thought of that. I had to create a demo in order to shop my music. He told me to get my songs recorded and copyrighted so I could shop them to artist.

It took me a year but I was faithful to getting a computer and a microphone to record my demo and copyrighted my songs.

After completion, my roommate returned home one day and gave me some money and told me he had sold a couple of my demos on campus. I was surprised people purchased my music. My intention was to be a songwriter, not a singer! The only reason I sang on the demo was because no one else would sing my songs....Regardless, we burned the demos on my computer and sold so many copies on campus that there was a demand for me to do a show.

I didn't have a band at all! I spent the next few weeks finding band members and studying the greats. I bought Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Funkadelic and Earth Wind & Fire live show DVD's. I searched for Stevie Wonder, Sly and The Family Stone, and Prince live audio shows. I was faithful to learning how to put on a live show. I formed a band called the Souljourners and we performed at Howard and then starting performing around Washington DC.

We use to show up at gigs and people didn't take us seriously at all! Mostly because we didn't have any of the so called "right" equipment.

Shout out to my Casio keyboard that I was played at gigs around town. My drummer (Russell Carter) had a mismatch set and my bass player (Malik Hunter) had an upright bass that was severely beat up. We would show up at gigs around town and based on our equipment we didn't look the part but we could play. The first step in my journey to being a music director (I didn't even consider myself a music director at the time) was being faithful to studying music performances and practicing with my band "Ab & The Souljourners" no matter what! I didn't care if our equipment wasn't the standard....I wasn't going to let that hold me back. Things can always be better but if the instruments made noise....we were practicing and performing on them. We continued to impress people around town the entire summer of 2005 and I sold that same demo at every show.

June of that same summer, I attended a writing workshop in Brooklyn, NY. I was expecting to see Gordon Chambers again and show him had created a demo but to my surprise they had a new songwriter doing the workshop named Eric Roberson (written for Musiq Soulchild, 112, Vivian Green, Dwele, and more). I performed my songs and explained what I'd been doing for the last year and he was throughly impressed. I asked for constructive criticism and he said I needed to record an official CD because the presentation of my demo wasn't good. I can't fake...that made me mad....I was salty....but I went back to DC and did just that! Me and my bandmates Malik Hunter and Russell Carter recorded an official CD and released it in Nov. 2005 titled "Lyrically Inclined 1.3, The Odyssey."

I even had an album release party where me and my band performed most of the new material. In the process of creating the album I reached out to my brother to create a website because I knew someone was going to tell me I needed one eventually. The album was out and we continued to practice and perform....and I continued to write songs and I was faithful to all of these things.

From the top of 2003 to March of 2006, I was faithful to these little things that led to bigger things that I will explained next week....

Signed,

Ab

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One Mile At A Time....

Yesterday morning I arrived at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC with two bags, two keyboards, and a keyboard stand. I was greeted by Tami at the Southwest counter who questioned where I was going with this huge case and bags. I explained I was headed to Dallas to prepare for a tour starting on Friday. We went through your typical song and dance....

Tami: Who are you touring with?

Me: An artist named Black Milk

Tami: What type of music is it?

Me: Hip Hop done in a progressive way....

Tami: My son is a musician...What do you do in the band?

Me: I'm the music director....I play keys as well as sing and direct the band...

Tami: Are you guys playing in DC??

Me: Yes....On Oct. 24th at Liv Nightclub

Tami: I'm going to try my best to come out and support you.

Me: That would be great!

Tami: How many tours have you been on?

Me: (Looks up in the air while thinking......) 9 or 10...

Tami: Before you leave....How did you get to become a music director and tour so much?

Me: That's a long story....I'd have to say being prepared when the opportunity presented itself.

I walked away from the check in counter thinking about Tami's last question....How did I become a music director and tour so much? What is the long story answer to that question look like?

Well..... I recall finding this Miles Davis interview on youtube a few years ago where he spoke about how people thought he had this talent that was so incredible and whenever he picked up a horn he made magic come out of it. He went on to say that what people thought was ridiculous and he's a great horn player because he practices a couple hours everyday and has never stopped practicing EVERYDAY.

Look at this quote:

"I've practiced my tone for almost 50 years, and if I can't hear my tone, I can't play. If I can't play, then I won't get paid. If I don't get paid, then I lose the house, you know? It's like a chain reaction. If I lose my tone, I can't fuck, can't make love, can't do nothin'. I'll just walk into the ocean and die, if I lose my tone." -Miles Davis

His tone....his identity...the way you know it's Miles Davis on the horn when he starts playing with out reference.....he worked on that and continued to until he died. Practicing everyday for 2+ hours seems like a small thing but clearly it was gigantic as Miles Davis is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. Even after finding success he STILL practiced every day on his craft.

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You're probably wondering what all this Miles Davis talk has to do with the question Tami asked me.....

The answer is all in Miles Davis' theory of practicing....Practice is what made him an incredible horn player...not his talent.

The road to doing big things is being faithful to the little things....He continued preparing himself for every opportunity that presented itself by practicing and he conquered them one mile at a time. He was faithful to the little thing of practicing 2+ hours a day no matter his status and over time it led him to the big thing of arguably being the greatest Jazz musician of all time...

THAT'S SO POWERFUL

I'm nowhere close to Miles Davis but I follow this theory.....

I'll answer Tami's question in detail and touch on the little things I've been faithful to that led to becoming a music director and touring 9 to 10 times later on in the week....

Signed,

Ab

P.S.

BLACK MILK | NO POISON NO PARADISE | USA TOUR DATES

Featuring my band Nat Turner, Quelle Chris, and DJ Sober....

SEP 20 – DALLAS, TX – Dada

SEP 21 – ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Sister Bar

SEP 22 – LAS VEGAS, NV – Beauty Bar

SEP 25 – FRESNO, CA – Fulton 55

SEP 27 – LOS ANGELES, CA – The Echoplex

SEP 28 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Brick & Mortar

SEP 29 – SAN JOSE, CA – Pagoda

OCT 01 – SANTA BARBARA, CA – Velvet Jones

OCT 02 – PHOENIX, AZ – Red Owl

OCT 05 – AUSTIN, TX – Red 7

OCT 06 – HOUSTON, TX – Fitzgerald’s

OCT 07 – NEW ORLEANS, LA – Hi Ho Lounge

OCT 09 – NEW YORK, NY – Santos

OCT 10 – PROVIDENCE, RI – Fete

OCT 11 – BOSTON, MA – Middle East

OCT 12 – BURLINGTON, VT – Signal

OCT 13 – MONTREAL, CANADA – Cabaret Underworld

OCT 14 – OTTAWA, CANADA – Ritual

OCT 15 – TORONTO, CANADA – Mod Club

OCT 16 – DETROIT, MI – St. Andrew’s

OCT 17 – TOLEDO, OH – Frankies

OCT 18 – ST. LOUIS, MO – Blank Space

OCT 19 – CHICAGO, IL – Subterranean

OCT 20 – IOWA CITY, IA – Gabe’s

OCT 21 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN – 7th Street Entry

OCT 22 – CLEVELAND, OH – Grog Shop

OCT 23 – PITTSBURGH, PA – Smiling Moose

OCT 24 – WASHINGTON, DC – Liv

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Balance Creates Inspiration

Early this week I spoke about my challenge to find balance within my world. I'm aware that I'm a workaholic and at times I'm in desperate need of escapism from that realm. So I made my way to the E Street Cinema in downtown Washington DC to see a film. After arriving to earlier to the cinema I took a trip to Barnes & Noble and read a magazine article that really made me think about my life. The thought of "Who's in My Circle?" ran through my brain as I made my way back to E Street Cinema for the 5:40pm start time of a film called "In A World."

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There's something about E Street cinema that's special.....

1.) It houses mostly independent films big theater companies rarely pick up (Regal, AMC, Cinemark).

2.) The theaters are located in a basement so it's hard to get cell reception....Thank God! No distractions from that one person whose phone is going to ring or has to text  during the film (Ma'am/Sir....That white light from your phone screen is lighting up the theater during a dark scene....ruining my experience).

3.) It caters to the adult audience so you don't have to worry about loud teenagers (HALlELUJAH!).

4.) They have food and alcoholic beverage options that other theaters don't offer (even though I rarely drink it's something great about the option being there).

I frequently visit E Street cinema because I know the environment is calm and I can enjoy the experience of watching a film without distraction.

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I arrived inside the theater to see a few previews of what's coming to the cinema and most of them looked pretty good. As an indie soul music artist, I have a connection with indie film makers. We aren't limited in our creation and we're free to tell our stories from the way we see life. There's something freeing about the experience of creating your vision! I love theaters that show indie films because they have created a forum for these artist to share their work.

I was inspired by the film "In A World." While it was hilarious, the story line was really good. I don't want to ruin it for you so I won't go into detail but the story centered around a woman following her dream of being a voice over artist in the film industry. It's a refreshing story as I've never thought about that career (I love indie films.....Who writes a movie about this topic!). The voice over industry is dominated by men and she has to prove she belongs in this world after someone she really loves and wants approval from says it will be impossible for her to be successful in the field. It's a great film and I recommend you go see it if it's playing in your city.

I left the cinema inspired by the film as it reminded me that everyone won't see my vision or believe in it. No matter how much your friends and family love you, there will be times when you'll have to prove them wrong when they tell you it's impossible for you to do it. Most of the time they say it out of love because they want the best for you....just remember they don't see your vision and your vision might just be what's best for you....so go for it! The film and the bookstore were the balance I needed. I returned to work inspired and refueled to drive forward with my vision and keep my circle in mind while doing so.

Signed,

Ab

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The World Is Yours.....Only If You Take It.....

I've been there before....staggering....lost.....trying to find my way through this world where nothing is promised. A place where disappointments can leave you with a broken heart and a crippled brain. A place where dreams are uttered but seldom followed and life is nothing but a cycle of mediocrity. I know this place well and occasionally find myself back at square one....lost trying to find my way through a world where nothing is promised....

I remember my final days at Howard University. My dean Dr. Dawkins called me into his office after my exit exams and said: "You had a great run here in our music department, the world is yours and anything that you want to be, you can be!" He followed that statement with: "Aaron, you should go to business school or even law school. You have the grades and the potential. I think that would be great for you after Howard." I told him I'd take it into consideration knowing that I was done with school. I had just formed a band and my plan was to work this summer camp job at Langdon Park Recreation Center in North East DC and get a job at W.W. Grainger in the fall and that's exactly what I did. My parents wanted me to move back to Cleveland but I knew if I did that, I wouldn't make it in music and that was my one and only goal.....To make a living creating, singing, and playing music.

Fall came and W.W. Grainger became my first place of employment as a post graduate. I hated the job but I loved my co-workers. We all had dreams and supported each other. They're an incredible group of people that were placed in my life at the right time. We went through rough times at Grainger and the only thing that kept me from going insane besides Jesus Christ himself was my choice of keeping my intention for working there in perspective. I would tell myself every day before walking in there, "Aaron, you are here to earn money to fund your dreams of becoming a full time musician. You are here to make Grainger work for you!" And that's exactly what I did. I worked as hard as I could for me and not for my boss that cared less about his employees and treated us like trash. I used my paychecks to pay my bills and purchase the music equipment I needed to build a better studio. To this day, I have ALL of the music equipment I purchased when I was working there and it's still turning a profit for me. I worked at Grainger from 7:30am to 4pm, Mon - Fri and worked for Aaron Abernathy from 5pm - 12pm either rehearsing, playing gigs with my band, or recording. Grainger was nothing but a means to earn capitol to build the frame work around my dreams.

This weekend I met up with two of my co-workers from Grainger that I hadn't seen since I left the job in Dec. 2006. It was great to see how far we have come from that place. We reminisced on how we used to sit in that call center and talk about how this wasn't the final stop for us and how we had bigger and better things to do with our lives and now we're doing just that. It's my co-worker Tiffany that I am most proud of. As we sat at the dinner table in the Nation Harbor celebrating our other co-worker Diane's 40th Birthday, she told me she finally left Grainger this past April. That was the best news I had heard all week!!!

She expressed how hard it was for her to watch all of us leave Grainger and she knew that she had to get out of there. Our boss was stressing her out and still treating employees like slaves and I love how real she was about noticing that the stress on the job was effecting her relationships outside of work and that really convinced her that it was time to go. She said she began to make Grainger work for her and went back to school on their dime to finish up her degree in accounting. Then she contacted our co-worker Jay who had left Grainger in 2007 after getting a much better job at NASA, to see if there were any openings there. Thank God they were hiring in her field! After three years of total focus, non-stop prayer, and working in that hell-hole while finishing up her degree, she was hired by NASA making way more money then she did at Grainger and she loves her job. I love hearing that!! I love that she made Grainger work for her until she didn't need them anymore. She gave our old boss her resignation and he was shocked! He told her "I never saw this coming!" Of course he didn't! It's interesting how some people will never see you as better than the position you're in. It's your job to shock them and I'm ecstatic that Tiffany did and chose to make life better for herself.

I love Tiffany's story because it's much like mines.....

I left Grainger in Dec. of 2006 for a substitute teaching job in Prince George's County, Maryland to give myself more time to work on music. Then I moved to Los Angeles in Sep. of 2008 to pursuit music on the West Coast and while in pursuit I was the operations manager of a funeral home in Watts. Then I returned to DC in Dec. of 2009 and recorded music, performed live, toured the world as a music director, and got a record deal in 2010 just to be told Soul music wasn't in. I lost the deal in 2011....the same year I got a vocal polyp and couldn't sing again until Dec. of 2012.

There have been plenty of times between leaving Grainger in Dec. of 2006 that I have hit rock bottom and had to ask for help and take a 9 to 5 to survive. I remember tucking my pride in and calling Tiffany in 2011 to ask if Grainger was hiring.......and her telling me that our boss said they had no positions open for me. I had to fight through those times of regret when I second guessed my decisions cause my dream seemed so far out of sight that I felt......lost.....as I staggered trying to find my way through this world where nothing is promised. A place where disappointments can leave you with a broken heart and a crippled brain. A place where dreams are uttered but seldom followed and life is nothing but a cycle of mediocrity. In my final days at Howard University, Dr. Dawkins told me the world is mine and anything that I want to be, I can be.....but I'm telling you if you want that world you have to take it! You have to make it work for you cause no one else will and few people, if any, will care about you. I'm just like Tiffany.....

In 2013, after years of struggling....we both discovered that the world is ours only if we decide to take it!

Are you doing what it takes to make the world yours....

Something to think about.....

Signed,

Ab

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Who's In Your Circle?

I had forty minutes to spare before making my way back to E Street Cinema to catch an indie film. In my mind the movie was scheduled to start at 5pm...clearly I misread the 5:40pm start time...

Balance is something I've been working on this year since I have failed to master it in my past. I'm a slave to my world of soul music and work in general....so I left the house in search of serenity and inspiration through film. I was granted the perfect opportunity to sit in the cinema and relax my brain before the movie started but I'm not one to sit and wait anywhere.....it's just hard for me to sit still. So in typical Aaron Abernathy fashion, I left the cinema and made my way to one of my favorite places...Barnes & Noble.

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I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this free time... 1.) Find the latest issue of the Wax Poetic Magazine. 2.) Find an article I was interested in reading 3.) Read it!

I love Wax Poetic....I'm always interested in the artist they feature. Truth be told...I have high hopes of being a feature in their magazine one day...It's the dreamer in me...

I read the index and discovered an article on hip hop group Slum Village. This group holds a special place in my heart because they're the first band I ever toured with and MD'd (Music Director) for. The article focused on the conception and early days of the trio (J Dilla, T3, Baatin) and how they dared to be different.

Slum+Village
Slum+Village

In the article, Slum Village's close working partner "Phat Kat" speaks about working with the group in those years. His quote struck a major chord with me:

"It was like a small fraternity that you really had to have your shit together to be in. It wasn't easy being in that circle. You really had to have some talent."

I questioned if my circle is similar to the small fraternity he speaks of? Is my circle to easy to be a part of? Is my talent bringing growth to my circle? Who's in my circle and why?

I headed back to the cinema knowing that answering these hard questions will measure the outcome of my future.

Something to think about....

Signed,

Ab

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A Classic Love

I recall spending the first twenty five years of my life in deep conversation with a wise man named Garlen Abernathy Sr. He was my grandfather, and his life was rooted in daily conversations with God. Garlen and his wife Elizabeth (my grandmother) possessed a classic love. They kept the vows of “til death do us part” for 57 years until Elizabeth took her last breath on a cold January night in 1998. It's not the years that made their love classic but the fact that the duration of their marriage was filled with acts of love.

I never saw my grandmother in a healthy state. I remember her wearing an oxygen tank 90% of the time and staying in the house due to her collapsed lung. My father told me that doctors said she wouldn't live past his 7th birthday and that my grandfather spent most of his adult life taking care of his sick wife and never complained about it. HE NEVER COMPLAINED! I never heard him complain a day in my life about anything now that I think about it. I wonder how he felt about her being sick? Was he upset about the hand his wife was dealt? How did she feel about being sick for most of her life? Was she upset? Did she feel some sort of way about not being able to help as much as she possibly wanted to?

At the time of my grandmothers passing I didn’t have the mental capacity to ask these questions as I was 14 years of age, but in retrospect I know that both of their actions showed the love they possessed for each other. They seemed like honeymooners in their elder years. The love was so strong! They never argued and assisted each other with whatever their counterpart needed. They focused on what they could do for each other. My grandmother was a strong woman who fought for her life, raised four children, and did everything she possibly could for her husband. My grandfather was a strong man who catered to his wife's needs, raised four children, help run a church, on top of being a head mechanic at a thriving car shop in the city. I only saw him cry one time and that was at my grandmothers funeral. I remember him telling me he did good by his wife and he loved her and had no regrets. Powerful words from an elderly man that fulfilled his vows and knew it! I hope I can be the man my grandfather was when I get married. Willingly faithful, dedicated, responsible, and accountable for his wife in ALL circumstances. I hope to have a wife that no matter the circumstances, she's willing to fight for the love that we vowed to each other before God.

On top of health issues, I'm sure uprooting a family of four children from Linden, Alabama to Cleveland, Ohio, because of lack of opportunity and safety due to Jim Crow laws and injustice for black people was more than difficult. Being the man and woman that they were defined their love. Their individual decisions to grow and be mature laid the foundation for them becoming one and working together no matter what life brought to their door step. They chose love amongst many other choices. They chose each other even when things looked bad. They fought for each other and that’s what makes it a classic love. Two people enduring with God even when the situation looked unbearable instead of taking it out on each other. Although it wasn’t easy, they were accountable for each other and I admire that.

With divorce rates going up I question are we still fighting for each other? Are we still doing what it takes to create a classic love?

Signed,

Ab

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The Road to Success

It’s interesting how success starts. More interesting than that is how we individual weigh success. I remember a fall morning in 1996. I was walking down Fernway in Shaker Heights, Ohio at 6am on a Wednesday delivering papers for The Sun Press. My mother must have been concerned about me cause it was cold and rainy. I saw her 96 Grand Prix creeping up on me but the music was so loud that I knew it couldn’t have been her. As the car approached the driver window slowly rolled down and my brother told me that he was going to trail me while I did my route. I had no clue what he was listening to but I liked what I was hearing. After completing my route I got in the car and we rolled around before going home. It wasn’t often that he got to drive my parents car because he had just got his drivers license that summer so he took advantage of the opportunity. I asked him who is this that we’re listening to and he replied:

"Jay-Z, you know who this is!"

I pondered…..

He said “the guy on Biggie’s album.”

I looked confused…..

He said “the guy who was in that Big Daddy Kane video with ODB when they’re outside rhyming.”

I really looked confused….

He said “the guy in the Hawaiian Sophie Video with Jaz-O they use to play back in the day”

I was ready to give up….

He said “you know him, he’s the guy with Foxy Brown in his new video!”

Then it connected! I thought that was Foxy Brown’s song but turns out is was Jay-Z. Had I read the video call I would’ve known that. I remember the first time I saw the video I didn’t see it from the beginning and drew my conclusion that it was her record.

I was intrigued by this Jay-Z album “Reasonable Doubt” and borrowed my brothers cassette tape and wore it out.

Looking back on this moment it’s crazy to see all the places he pulled from to get me to recognize who Jay-Z was. His point was I knew him, I just didn’t realize it. In 1996 Jay-Z put out his first rap album but who knew him prior to that? Who knew him in 1996? Initially I didn’t. He starting rapping in 1989 and 7 years later he put out his first album on his own label after being signed to a major label who failed to work a previous single the way he saw fit. Him along with two of his friends left that label to form Roc-A-Fella Records and began a journey.

Who were fans of Jay-Z before 1996? Who was inspired by Jay-Z before 1996? Who was Jay-Z before 1996?

I believe before 1996 Jay-Z’s fans were his friends. I believe his friends were inspired by him and he was inspired by them. I believe Jay-Z was a dreamer who saw a vision and learned after signing with a major label and letting them control his destiny for a short period of time to his disliking, he decided to control his own destiny and parted ways with people that couldn’t see what he saw. The great thing about all of that is I know for a fact that Jay-Z couldn’t see who he would be in 2013 in 1994 when him and his friends started Roc-A-Fella Records. That alone is the incredible part of dreaming and believing in oneself…..

The unknown that awaits you…….

Becoming more than you ever thought you’d be…..

Watching your dream become bigger than yourself….

Watching your dream plant seeds for other dreams you have as well as the dreams of others…

My friends inspire me. You might not know who they are but I do. They have these amazing dreams that they’re working on everyday. When I talk to Scooda and he’s telling me he’s close to getting his invention out to the world and has investors in Japan I’m inspired. I was there with him in Los Angeles in 2008 when he told me he was getting a patent on this idea he had. When I hear that Ayah is in culinary art school in bay area after years of knowing how great of a cook she is and finally taking the next step I’m inspired. When I see Chris deliver his first novel “Shadow Precinct” for the world to read and spoke with him yesterday and he’s already completed follow up and is working on a short story I’m inspired. When I received Tanekeya’s Neon V magazine in the mail and attended the release party to see a packed house of supporters I was inspired. I remember when it was just an idea. When I talk to Shannon and see her working daily on the lounge she’s opening and her growth as a photographer and entrepreneur I’m inspired. When I watch Curtis program drums and create music that only he can make I’m inspired. When I see Malik pick up his bass and play so effortless I am inspired. When my mother makes quilts and gives them to me I’m inspired. I remember when she joined the quilt club. When I see Anthony being a think tank for Nike, one of the most powerful brands in the world I’m inspired. I’m a fan of my friends and I have no clue what all of them will become within this world. Perhaps they’ll be as big as Jay-Z or maybe they won’t but they’ll be as big as themselves and that is incredible to me.

We don’t know what will become of our dreams but we’re working towards them and that’s where all of us are successful….

That’s where the road to success begins...

Signed,

Ab

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Love from Porto, Portugal.....

I was given the opportunity to create a podcast for The Why Radio (thewhyradio.com) based out of Porto, Portugal, where I was asked to pick some songs that inspire me. The records I selected give me life and help keep me steady on the path of the gospeldelic funkbox legends who sang and played with all of their soul. Their music continues to inspired me as I start almost everyday with headphones on listening to all types of music. The music I create is influenced by so many different artist and genres but there's something about funk music that my father instilled inside of me from his record player that I'll never be able to shake.

I'm proud to present to you....

TREATS FOR THE GOSPELDELIC FUNK CHILDREN

1.) Treats In The Streets - Wagon Christ 2.) If I'm In Luck I Just Might Get Picked Up - Betty Davis 3.) It's A Man's World - James Brown 4.) Every Time He Comes Around - Minnie Ripperton 5.) Mother/Son Theme - Donald Byrd feat. The Blackbyrds 6.) Baby You're Gonna Miss Me Pt. 2 - The Montclairs 7.) Tell Me What Do You See - Unknown 8.) Harlem River Drive - Bobbi Humphries 9.) Close To Me - Bill Withers 10.) If You Want Me, Say It - Love Unlimited 11.) Cookie Jar - Parlet 12.) Frisky - Sly & The Family Stone 13.) Luv N' Haight - Sly & The Family Stone 14.) Let Me Have It All (Alt. Version) - Sly & The Family Stone 15.) Family Affair - Sly & The Family Stone 16.) If It Were Left Up To Me - Sly & The Family Stone 17.) Jane Is Groupie - Sly & The Family Stone 18.) Babies Makin' Babies - Sly & The Family Stone 19.) Thankful N' Thoughtful - Sly & The Family Stone 20.) Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken - Unknown 21.) Thank You Master (For My Soul) - Donny Hathaway 22.) Spirit In The Dark - Aretha Franklin feat. Ray charles 23.) Thighs High - Tom Browne 24.) Tight Rope - Junie 25.) Sideways - Rufus & Chaka Khan

FREE DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE HERE: bit.ly/17AVbnc

Photo taken by Shannon Evans

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New Beginnings | High Note Vol. I

"We wait so long for conditions to be right to make a move unaware that going ahead and making the move creates the right conditions." –Patrick McBride A week from this past Saturday, I sat in the green room deep in thought. It was the first time that entire day I had a moment to myself to just breathe. I had just finished praying with my band and watched them walk out of the door headed towards the stage. As I heard the introduction and the music start, I knew I was closing in on the last two minutes of personal freedom before I would enter into creative freedom. I'm glad to know the difference between the two now.

As a slave to my creative freedom and the artist called Ab for years, I'm glad to know who Aaron is and what Aaron Abernathy needs in order to be Ab. I won't get into all the details on what I need but I will say that in order to be Ab the artist that night,  I needed those two minutes to breathe and think about where I came from, where I was going, and why I decided to do this series called High Note.

My mom is a genius. She is the ultimate think tank full of ideas and willing to share them with me daily. Fearless in her approach, she often plants seeds in my ear of what I should do even if she doesn't know how to fully execute the idea. Over the years I have turned down plenty of her ideas and could always find a reason to do so. She would tell me that you can't wait for things to be perfect......you have to take control of all your situations and stop waiting......time waits for no one.

The week after Thanksgiving she pitched this idea to do a concert at my home on NYE. In my mind I shot that idea down really quick. It's impossible......my home isn't big enough and to be completely honest......I don't want to invite people into my private space. I told her to let me think about it. I took the idea to my friend Shannon Evans and we started bouncing thoughts back and forth and the think tank started rolling. As we continued to develop the idea......NYE had come and gone and we were staring March in the face. We had missed 3 deadlines and still hadn't secured a venue.

Then there was March.......

I sat and watch God start putting everything together. We partnered with three different organizations, a venue was solidified, Appleton Jamaican Rum came on as a sponsor, the website was created (www.highnoteseries.com), the website was launched, and the show sold out in 12 days!!!

I sat in that green room flooded with thoughts of this process.....The four months it took to create this moment. In those two minutes.....I almost forgot I was performing. A new beginning.....performing at a show where I was one of the promoters....but this time it was more than a show......it was more than just Ab......It was about how Aaron sees things......It was about how my High Note team sees things......it was about how we could share our experiences with you.

The personal life creates the creative life and vice versa. Who I am will always show up in the creative If I choose to remain authentic. I'm glad to continue my growth on the journey of who I am. I'm glad that my creative life has added onto experiences in my personal life. In those two minutes I was glad to be walking into a new chapter of my life and sharing a part of me with others......and then those two minutes were up.

I gathered myself and walked down the steps to the sound of music I created. I walked  into an experience I was glad to share with a room full of classy women and dapper gentlemen dressed to the nines! I must say the greatest moment of that evening was coming down those steps and seeing everyone looking extraordinary. It was surreal. The whole night was surreal!

To think that I never would have received all the great reviews from attendees, or watched people mixing and mingling, or them enjoying the entertainment, the venue, and the complimentary cocktails......if I waited for things to be perfect. They were very imperfect but that's what was great. We made the move with hopes of making the conditions right as we went along.

I walked down those steps after my two minutes and sat down at my Wurlitzer....

Glad to be in my new home for the first time......

Glad to be embarking on a new beginning.......

Welcome to the High Note.

Signed,

Ab

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Behind "Call On Me"

It’s something about the morning……

It was something about that morning….

God woke me up and……

It’s something about waking up to someone…..

Lately I’ve longed for that……..

That longing had me reaching for my notebook a couple of months back as I rose before sunset. I know sometimes I’m afraid to walk through the valley of my fears. Upon entrance I peek around at the tall mountains of doubt and uncertainty. My brain was racing with thoughts of what I wanted……with thoughts of what I am willing to offer to create the right situations….Wondering if I will be granted that opportunity or if the opportunity had come and gone.

After putting the thought of possibly missing out on the opportunity of loving someone out of my mind, the words began to flow freely…..

It’s one thing to express what I’m willing to offer in a relationship…..It’s another thing to know if a woman is willing to accept what I am offering……

If she’s willing to be loved in that way….

If she sees me and reaches back through her actions….

Actions that say I’m willing to receive…..

I see what you’re offering and I want that love….

I want to give you that love as well and I am in a mental, emotional, and spiritual place where I am capable to do so….

Knowing that I am already in that space, I offer with hopes that she’s already there….

And if not, challenge her to get there hoping that upon arrival she would think to……Call On Me

CALL ON ME

written by Aaron Abernathy

VERSE 1                                                                                              

Chocolate kisses when you rise

Laying on my chest looking in my eyes

Yes I’m willing to compromise

Let me feed you before you go to your job

If honesty’s a big concern

Well transparency I dig that

Cause bonds are deeper than beauty

And if you want that love

Call On Me

HOOK                                                                                                              

If you want that love call on me

When you want that love call on me

If you want that love call on me

When you need that love call on me

If you want that love

VERSE 2                                                                                                      

A journey where we both can grow

Never be afraid you can talk to me

The thought of you makes me emotional

Glad we are each others security

With you I am a better man

Glad you feel I make you a better woman

You’re confident that I can lead

So if you need that love

Call on me

HOOK                                                                                                           

If you need that love call on me

If you want that love call me

When you want that love call on me

When you want that love call on me

When you need that love call on me

If you want that love call on me

If you want that love call on me

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