Stephanie Hancock's Blog

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Change the world around you by being true March 28, 2014

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StephanieYesterday I was listening to legendary trumpeter Miles Davis. I am so amazed by his artistry and was struck by his consistency. The man was an innovator in Jazz, but what really got me was the simplicity of his playing. All throughout the telling of his artistic story, his stamp is recognizable, no matter what tune he is playing. There is a certain phrasing and note selection that he used that is Miles. As artists we develop a “style”, a “signature” and “message” that is uniquely ours. It doesn’t matter what form of art we express ourselves in. Painters have it, singers have it, writers have it. The taste of music may have changed, but Miles was able to adapt and yet keep his unique “signature”. You always knew it was Miles playing. He collaborated in different genres, but he never changed his signature. He changed the world around him, he stayed true.

As artists, we should not ever amend our style, signature and message to fit the ever changing tastes of popular culture. When we stay true, we never fall into compromise. We impact and change the world around us.

I think of Jesus, he ate dinner with tax collectors and sinners, He also taught in the synagogue, He never changed his style, or His message, He never changed who he was, he stayed true. As a result He changed the world!

We are uniquely equipped to deliver the message that God has placed on the inside of us. Lets stay true to it. Don’t be distracted or discouraged because you don’t deliver the message like someone else. There are many voices in the choir, many colors in the spectrum, many words in the poem, we need every single part to bring the work to its completion.

So, go forth and create! Don’t Quit, Keep Going! Stay true to the style, the signature, the message that God, the ultimate artist has given you.

Until Next time,
Blessings & Peace

 

The Soundtrack of Life August 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — steviehanc @ 8:25 pm
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StephanieAfter  Christmas 1966, the years moved on our family dynamic became  strained and everything in my small world changed.  More new music entered my life.  Hanging out with to my older cousins, I got to hear sounds I’d never heard before;  like music of the Temptations, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson 5 and one of my favorites, Sly & the Family Stone.  Like a lot of young people of the   70s,  these groups became part of the sound track of my  life.

By my pre-teen standards, Sammie Davis Jr, Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and such seemed  like classical music. Thanks to Chuck,  my step dad (after he and Mom got married, I just called him Dad) I gained a real appreciation for that music.  Dad couldn’t sing, or play an instrument, but he could whistle!

We lived on 2 Continental Way in a sort of duplex off the main part of a dead end street, back in an alley that faced the back of Lincoln Elemtary school.  When Dad got off the bus down at the end of the street, you could hear him whistling all over the block.  At least it seemed that way to me.

He passed over 20 years ago, but in my memory I  can still faintly hear him whistle coming up  that back alley.

There were a few times, we would sit for what seemed like hours listening to a favorite singer or two.  He would point out the impeccable phrasing of the vocals or the way a singer would  express a feeling.  He is why I am so picky about singers today. He wasn’t very impressed with how many notes a singer could do in a run.  He loved how a singer could hold a note, like Streisand did or add hit a low note like Billy Eckstein.  He and I became completely immersed in the music, the arrangement, strings, horns everything.  It was when I felt closest to him.

Today, I have the same passion for music, singers especially; since I am a singer its really not a stretch.  One thing I appreciate now in addition to vocals, arrangements, phrasing is lyrics.  What are the singers saying.  What are they adding as they deliver a song?

I am very particular about the  songs I choose to sing.  What am I saying with my voice. I know how powerful music is and understand that it is more than just the “beat”.       The words of a song get down in your soul and stay there, I think forever.  I can remember tunes from when I was 5 years old.  You know,  songs that take your spirit somewhere,   back to your first car, first date ,  the first time you felt the presence of a power greater than yours.

Music is not just background, it does affect and effect change.  It  starts movement!  Think about the protest songs of the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War for example. Or songs of   revival in the church that spread all over the country.

Music  ignites the spirit.  They can  put you in a prayerful, reflective mood, reminding you of how good life can be.  I   listen to all types of music, I choose songs that feed my soul in a positive way.  Songs that just make me want to dance and holler and jump!  They are a kind of release.  Some of  my favorite songs   are those that lift up the name of the One who changed my life.  Jesus did it all for me, so I can sing praise to Him without reservation.

It all goes back to Him, back to my beginning as a Believer.   I want to  share what I know about Him through my songs.  I am simply giving Him back what He gave me, my reason for living.

So next time you plug up the iPod or wax nostalgic for music from “back in the day” think about how the words make an impact on you.

Until next time,

Stephanie

 

Music and Christmas 1966 August 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — steviehanc @ 9:41 pm
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StephanieIt was Christmas Day 1966, looking back, it was a pivotal day in my life as a young artist. My Stepfather got me the most amazing gift ever. It was a cassette tape recorder. As I opened the box, the space around me was filled with the smell of new plastic and excitement as I put in the batteries, snapped on the microphone and put a brand new cassette in its place. He showed me how I could not only record my own voice, but my favorite music as well.

My Mother had just married Chuck, my Stepfather a few months earlier, so this was our first Christmas together. She was very religious at the time and only allowed gospel music to be played at home.  I realize now, that she was trying to protect me.  She knew the power muisc had, even if she  wasn’t able to express it.  Most evenings, the music of Tony Fontane, James Cleveland, The Soul Stirrers – before Same Cooke left the group to sing secular music, and country gospel filled our home. Occasionally she would listen to classical music or Henry Mancini on the radio.

Looking back on it today, my stepfather introduced a whole new world of music to me. The music of Wes Montgomery, Earle Garner, Count Basie, Duke Ellington. Singers like; Sinatra, Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis and his personal favorite, Sammie Davis Jr.

That Christmas Day was spent recording, rewinding, and recording again. I recorded and assortment of music, my sister and I singing, family conversations. I even tried flushing the toilet to capture what I thought were space ship sounds. What fun!

I recorded Wes Montgomery’s album “Bumpin” and listened to it in my room late into the night, until “Alright, turn that thing off and go to sleep” came from my Mother downstairs.

It was the best Christmas of my childhood. That Christmas, our family was new, we were happy, I had a Dad.

It was the last Christmas we were intact.

When I feel sad and hurt and lonely, I go back and listen to some of those old gospel songs.  They bring me comfort.

Now as an adult,  a musician  trying to walk out my life as a believer in Christ, I understand the power of music.  How it can be used to influence people.  I realize the responsibility I have to sing truth and life into the people’ lives.  I share the gift God has given me.

When God created Lucifer, He gave him music, instruments, beauty.  When lucifer was cast down from heaven God didn’t take those gifts from him.  So consequently, he uses them for evil to hurt us.

It is our responsibility as Artists and Believers to use our creative gifts for good and for God.