Viewing entries tagged
Ab & The Souljourners


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.





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....


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...



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.