I have called four cities “home” in my life. The first is the city of my birth, Kingston Jamaica. The second is where I was raised, Montreal Quebec Canada. The third is where I was able to solidify myself as a professional musician and where I was able to express myself artistically with other musicians that were already at a high level, New York City. Finally I now reside in Toronto Ontario Canada. I loved growing up in Montreal but it is the third city that was, and still is, magical to me.
It’s an interesting fact that when one lives in a particular city one seems to only visit the best attractions the city has to offer when entertaining visitors. This was definitely the case with my wife and I when we lived in New York City. We lived in Staten Island and then moved down to the Jersey shore for a more peaceful environment to raise our son. One of the things we rarely did was to go to the incredible museums that are in the New York boroughs. We’re staying in Manhattan right now and three days ago we went to MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) with my daughter Echo. She is a talented artist and my wife and I thought she would appreciate it. That was our intention; however, I was absolutely taken aback by the experience. It was incredibly inspiring!
As a musician who endeavours to occasionally express myself outside of a popular musical context, I often feel alone and under appreciated. I often feel like the audience simply doesn’t ‘get it’. As I walked through MOMA I had one pervasive thought. The people who made all of this amazing art were not worried about how universally popular their works would be when they created them. However, many of the artist were, and are, in fact very popular! I was especially struck by this notion when I saw Henri Rouseau’s painting ” Sleeping Gypsy”. He, by all accounts, seemed to be a very normal person. He worked in the toll collector’s office in Paris as a tax collector and led a typical life except that he taught himself how to paint at a very high level. He was eventually seen to be an artistic genius, despite his seemingly ordinary life. A story like that is simply inspiring. He loved to paint and undoubtedly never thought of being an artist as a profession for most of his adult life. He didn’t quit his ‘day job’ until he was 49! That would lead me to believe that he probably wasn’t trying to create art for the sake of popularity. His story has given me a little more much needed reassurance that my quest for the best possible form of musical self-expression is more than worth it. I have endured a great deal in my personal life and I am blessed to still be in a position to create music nonetheless. I will try much harder not to squander my opportunity by continuously doubting myself. I don’t know if my music will every be respected universally but I do realize that in a lot of ways that simply doesn’t matter.