24 Hours in NYC w/Dave, Holly & Soraya

Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner brought their mini tour of the Northeast to New York City on Saturday night at the Fez, and after warmup shows at The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA on Thursday and at The Call in Providence, R.I. on Friday where Holly played opening act to audiences who knew little of her material, the Fez show was a homecoming of sorts where Holly headlined and gave what may have been her best performance ever. I'll leave it to Dave Curtis to cover the details in a review he plans to write for Holly's website, which I will also post here as soon as it's done.

The pressure was on me to record the show on Holly's behalf, as arranged by Dave, Holly, and her manager. Having never done this before (at least in a professional capacity), I quickly realized what I should have brought (more sturdy tripod, headphones, flashlight), however in spite of the limitations, I managed to record a beautiful looking video using brother Paul's Hi-8 Sony Handicam, and we also got a perfect recording of the board feed using my CD recorder. The next move will be to join the board audio with the video on the computer as soon as I determine what studio software to use. We also have the same quality video and audio recordings of Emm Gryner's opening set. Paul also did a nice video shoot of Holly's show at the Point, with excellent quality sound recorded by the microphones in the camera, which I rush produced to DVD and audio CD packages which were much appreciated by Holly and Dave.

On Sunday, Dave & I attended Latino Expo at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square, to see Columbian-American singer songwriter Soraya perform. I consider myself extremely lucky that Dave happened to notice Soraya's first album back in 1996 and bring it to my attention because it is unlikely that I would have found it otherwise. Her first two albums in both Spanish and English language versions are pure singer-songwriter brilliance, and her latest album also approaches that same level of excellence. After the first album, the English versions have not even been released here; the second album was released in English only in Japan, and we just learned yesterday that an English language version of her latest was released in Canada; Soraya's manager generously offered to send copies.

With small U.S. sales, most likely none outside the Latin music community, and no U.S. appearances that we've ever been aware of, this is an artist that I never expected to have an opportunity to see perform, which is why this was a rare Sunday where music trumped football on my priority list. It was even more of a happy surprise to be able to meet Soraya before the event, arranged by her manager due to Dave's position at Sony. The conversation was great and went way beyond the typical pleasantries of the average meet & greet.

After about a half hour of tedious welcoming remarks by various New York City politicians and a patience-testing recruitment presentation by Walden University (an online college), Soraya took the stage with her acoustic guitar to sing "Casi" from her latest album Soraya (2003), for which she won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Singer-Songwriter Album. In addition to being a talented musician, singer, and songwriter, she has recently undertaken to work to further breast cancer awareness as a result of her three year bout with the disease. She's traveled throughout the U.S. , Central and South America speaking on the topic in her capacity as spokesperson for livingwithit.org, an online resource for women dealing with breast cancer, sponsored by Aventis Oncology.

During the next two hours while she did a breakout session on breast cancer, Dave and I went back to the hotel to check out and get the video camera which I used to record her 3pm set of three or four songs which included "Casi" again and the wonderful single "De Repente" ("Suddenly") from her first album En Esta Noche (On Nights Like This). Despite some audience jostling of the tripod, the video came out looking great with excellent audience sound recorded by the camera; thanks again to Paul. Judging by the crowd who wanted Soraya to autograph her CD single provided free at the Expo by Aventis, it's safe to assume that she won a number of new fans with this performance. After a quick visit to yet another great New York Thai restaurant, Pongsri (near 48th & 8th), we hit the road, dropping Dave off and getting home in time to watch the Eagles on tape delay, improve their record to 9-1. It may sound like I've seen one too many beer commercials, but I can honestly say that it doesn't get any better than this.


William Kates said…
Daniela from Guayaquil, Ecuador sent one of the nicest comments I've ever gotten on this blog; this is definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of writing a site like this. I haven't really processed Soraya's recent death either, and hope to soon publish a feature article describing her career, her recording history and all her work on behalf of global awareness about the disease that wound up taking her life. Thanks again, Daniela. Here is her note:

Hello William. As I read your post / comment at your site, I got capture while you were describing meeting Soraya. I´m not sure if I got the right idea, but were you able to record that performance on video ? If so, you have been lucky and there you have a treasure.

For sure you might know what happened to her just 3 months ago, still 3 months later.. it hasn´t been enough time to process that new.

I have been a fan since her first album, it was something charming without explanation, she simply captured me with her voice, and it is even more unexplainable to say how much every single thing, step, word and action she did... mean to me.

Regards and smileys from Guayaquil, Ecuador...

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