I hope you’re staying safe and healthy out there. It’s a little hard to imagine it’s just been one year since all of our lives felt “shut down” due to the coronavirus pandemic. For me, that meant scaling back any piano performances to my family and friends or – at most – a sparse, socially distant audience. I truly miss playing for more people, and it’s what I hope to get back to doing soon!
All the while, my mom got an unexpected phone call at the end of February from Spectrum News 13. They wanted to interview me as part of their one-year primetime feature on how this pandemic affected life across central Florida. Of course, my mom and I were thrilled to be considered! But we both thought this opportunity would feel incomplete without Michael at least being in the know. A call to him provided another surprise. Not only was Michael excited for me, too, he also wanted to treat this interview as another jam session. What a thrill!
It was so cool to hang out with Michael again in his home studio! While the camera crews were setting up on the morning of the interview in early March, I paid closer attention to some of Michael’s surroundings. For instance, next to his grand piano, Michael has some guitars and shelves full of drums on a nearby wall. He’s also got many framed CDs next to these instruments that he was gifted for contributing to these albums. He’s worked with some musicians several times, such as Melanie Safka, Pat Travers, and Rick Wakeman. One day, Michael, I hope you can add my name to your storied collection…
Everyone from the news station behind the scenes was so nice, whether the cameras were recording or not. Between sight-seeing and playing games on my iPad, I also got to have a short conversation with reporter Julie Gargotta off-camera. She’s as nice and pretty in person as she is on TV! Another person, Ruben Almeida, took some photos of me both performing with Michael and simply hanging out. He’s a great photographer; I’m glad I got to meet him, too!
What was really special, though, was having my mom by my side during this interview. We talked about how before the pandemic, I was performing at big venues such as Carnegie Hall, and that made me “feel proud . . . (and) happy.” Since then, my mom has been posting Facebook Live videos of me playing from home occasionally. The number of likes and comments really cheers me up when it sometimes feels like this pandemic is never-ending. Even though we’re apart, I’ve never felt more connected in knowing my music can still be inspirational.
Through it all, Michael and I were able to jam for a little while this interview was being produced. The camera crew would stop what they were doing every now and then just to listen to us. Whether we were at different pianos or sitting side by side, there was no song that didn’t sound out of sync. Michael and I also did a duet of “Amazing Grace,” which ended up playing throughout the final cut of this TV special! After a year of uncertainty and life on pause, that song carries greater significance to me, not only as a staple of my repertoire but as a hopeful reminder that even a scary pandemic does not last forever. And until the day I can finally play for you in person, please keep the faith, especially in these unprecedented times.
Thanks for reading; I look forward to updating you soon about the other “special project” I’ve been working on lately. Bye for now!