Phyllis’ Story

Mar. 11, 2015

Why now after so many years?

I came back to this country in Oct. of 2000. I’d been traveling the world, making my living as a performer. But I was lost. I hit bottom with drugs and poor choices. My mother had to pull me out of a hell hole in Guyana, South America, and bring me home.

Even though I had sung at Lincoln Center and on many major stages in Europe, when I came home without a pot, a penny or clothes to put on my back, the shame devastated my already damaged spirit. So I did the only thing I could at that time: I decided to play it safe. I recreated myself, putting the performer inside me aside. I began a career in education, and did what it took to make money and survive in America. In the process I became more and more fearful of living my dream: music and acting.

Through every open window, in every church on any given Sunday, I heard voices from the soul that could lift you up beyond the clouds and set you down in a field of hope. And I cringed. My achievements became nothing. I buried my desire to sing, to perform, to step on a stage and be the guiding light

However you can’t hide from who you are. Step by step, guided by the Source, Oldumare, Allah, God or whatever name you choose to call that something bigger than us, I began to try and sing again.

I remember the night it all came to a head. I think it was in 2006 I went to hear Carrie Jackson sing at Trumpets, which is a jazz club in Montclair, New Jersey. I was mesmerized by her ability to tell a story without all of the runs that you hear in top 40 songs. She told the story and a light bulb went off.

I guess you can say I began to stalk her! I went to her concerts. I made a very strong connection to a wonderful pianist, Lou Rainone, who was working with her. I sent him an email and set up a session to jam with them. I was so scared that I was crying on the train from Newark, NJ into New York. When I got to his studio my music was all disorganized, but I had music. Because even though I didn’t have a penny to my name  when I came home somehow I’d held on to my sheet music.

Well, I sang a song. I think it was “Black Coffee”. When I was finished he just looked at me and said, “I thought you said you couldn’t sing and then you come in here and take the roof off!”

So it’s taken me from that moment until now to have the confidence to record a CD. I want my authentic self back. I want to tour Europe. I want to work in Jazz festivals. I’ve invested every dime that I don’t have in the realization that I was born to perform.

Carrie Jackson was instrumental in helping me to get my chops back. She started a Jazz Vocal Collective that gave me a safe place to sing. It has been a very long road with numerous pitfalls, and I’m still climbing over obstacles, tortured with self-doubt, but I’m being reborn again an again, everyday, as I get closer to my ultimate goal.

Why now? Why not?

Responses

Yolanda Hamilton

Mar. 17, 2015 at 3:28 am

The strength of your vulnerability is incredible. You have been a mystery to me for so long, thank you for letting the public in your world!

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Phyllis Blanford

Mar. 20, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Thank you love! The work you are doing is so important and needed in every state. Looking forward to helping in you build your organization where ever and whenever I can.

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Suni

Mar. 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Wow, Phyliss!!!!! Your story is magnificent and I can’t wait for our Great God to honor your choices, beyond measure!

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Phyllis Blanford

Mar. 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Thank you Suni! How’s the baby doing whose getting the bone marrow? So tell me when are you White girls going to write a play?
Ill be recording on April 4th and April 8th.
Please keep me in your prayers

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Cree White

Mar. 21, 2015 at 2:05 am

i have been with you from (almost) the beginning, we embarked upon our musical journeys at about the same time in the same place and alot of our singing we did together. i listen to youu now with great pride and enjoyment, that feeling that you reserve for a loved one that has done well, who has accomplished something worthy of her endeavors.
i’m going to sit on the edge of my seat, perched and ready for the next chapter in your song book!
kudos and light
Cree

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Phyllis Blanford

Mar. 22, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Thank you Cree! Yes we have come a long way. Your words of praise and encouragement are all that I could ask for because you have been there from the beginning.
What a beginning it was…in Rome unable to speak the language and then I met the glamorous “Island Girl” Crystal White who showed me the way.
FYI: Island Girl was written for Crystal and it survives only because she treasured it enough to keep it safe for all these years.
Thank you for our 30 year friendship….we are FAMILY!

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Cree White

Mar. 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm

❤️

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Joey

Mar. 26, 2015 at 2:08 am

Thank you for trusting yourself enough to live and share your experience with us…i am moved and stilled by your sincere humility and inspiring resilience.
keep shining!

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Phyllis Blanford

Mar. 30, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Oh Joey thank you!! I look forward to meeting Crystal’s brilliant man!

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Rain Patton

Mar. 30, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Phyllis is an extraordinary artist. Her songs are both moving and invigorating. Being an artist who not only writes her own music but can revamp the classics is truly an accomplished artist.

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Phyllis Blanford

Mar. 30, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Thank you my blessed one! With the guidance of the Orisha I hope to write and perform from a place of purity, hope, light and peace!

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Carol Ericson

Apr. 25, 2015 at 5:17 pm

One Sat. I Met. Phyllis at skippers for carrie Jacksons workshop. She is dynamic and versatile. Great voice and loves life. Best of luck with all your future endeavors in life and especially. In the music world. Love. Carol erickson

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