Category: General Interest

Conceived and Created by Janet Roston and Cindy Shapiro
Music and Lyrics by Cindy Shapiro
Directed and Choreographed by Janet Roston

Monday, 12 March 2018 to Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tickets FNAC and ticketmaster

Anaïs is a critically-acclaimed work created by composer/lyricist Cindy Shapiro and director/choreographer Janet Roston incorporating music, dance and visual projections into a cutting edge stage production that explores and illuminates the riveting life of famed diarist and literary figure Anaïs Nin and her world of words, sex, passion and creativity.

Anaïs celebrates Nin’s story as one of personal and artistic triumph which continues to influence the world today. Sensuous, probing, compelling and thought provoking, the production is presented with one live female vocalist as Eternal Anaïs supported by six dancers who, with projections, tell the absorbing life story of Anaïs Nin. The dancers bring the controversial author to life in a production that shatters stage conventions in the same way Nin herself violated literary and societal expectations.

Cindy Shapiro’s lyrics and music, with Janet Roston’s intricate choreography and direction, and deeply engaging visual projections by designer Joe LaRue, weave Nin’s story, intertwining excerpts from her diaries and her groundbreaking erotica.

The dancers and vocalist unveil the author’s journey of self-discovery which took her from a naïve young housewife into the café society of Paris, where she emerged as an important literary figure during the 1930s, through her life in the United States during and after World War II, to her death and its aftermath in the 1970s.

These adventures of self-exploration led the author through numerous simultaneous relationships, bigamy, and grand deceptions which she kept track of using what she called her “Lie Box.” Nin believed in living her life as freely as a man and for that she was chastised after her death. Her legacy is currently being revived, she is revered as a multifaceted, multidimensional woman who created her own heat and became her own sun.

Poster Design: James Levy
Photo: Barry Weiss

The production premiered at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles, played to sold-out crowds and extended it’s run to accommodate demand. It was produced by Mixed eMotion Theatrix.

Anaïs has the support of the Anaïs Nin Trust and Nin’s publisher, Paul Herron

The show is designed to tour easily with no sets, limited costumes and props and all music, except lead vocal, on track.

The music and lyrics by Cindy Shapiro, an artist-in-residence at Cité International des Arts and a Tides Grant recipient, blend classical contemporary layering with a rock sensibility.

The choreography by Janet Roston, an Ovation Award-winning choreographer, is contemporary with sections inspired by vintage dance.

Joe LaRue, whose projections amaze and enlighten, is the editor of Nigeria’s topgrossing film of 2014, and a filmmaker whose shorts have been screened at numerous film festivals.

Janet Roston
As Director/Choreographer credits include Midsummer Night for the Tennessee Shakespeare Company and Texas New Musical Festival (co-creator with composers Milburn and Vigoda), Striking 12 ( Laguna Playhouse), Tonya and Nancy, The Rock Opera (ART, Boston), CarnEvil (Sacred Fools Theater), shAme, (King King Nightclub) and The Wanting (Highways Performance Space). Janet created choreography for the hit productions, The Boy From Oz and The Color Purple, Celebration Theatre). She received the Ovation Award, NAACP Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for choreography on The Color Purple. Additional choreography: Justin Love, (Celebration Theatre, LADCC Award); Once On this Island, (International City Theater, NAACP Nomination); Avenue X, Odyssey Theater, Ovation Award Nomination); Psyche, A Modern Rock Opera, (Greenway Court Theater) and Failure, A Love Story (Coeurage Theater, Ovation
Nomination). Her contemporary choreography has been presented at London’s Royal Academy of Music and in Cannes, France. Her work was awarded at the Palm
Desert Choreography Festival and selected for the Los Angeles Dance Festival. She has received two American Choreography Awards, is a proud alumni of the Directors Lab and a member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers.

Cindy Shapiro
Cindy Shapiro is a multi-faceted artist with a rich musical history. She was a rock singer in New York City, and has toured the world with Video Games
Live, a symphonic show of music from Video Games. She has sung with some of the greatest symphonies in the world, including the LA Phil and the London Philharmonia Orchestra. She toured Japan with the Roger Wagner Chorale, and was a Cantor at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. She sings on video game, television and film soundtracks. Cindy was an artist-in-residence at Cité Internationale des Arts where she composed an opera based on the Psyche myth. She is a recipient of a $25,000 art grant from the Tides Foundation for her Psyche opera. Cindy spent many years as a game developer, specializing in interactive fiction and human behavior modeling. She has also been a software engineer and music teacher.

Janet Roston, Director/Choreographer, Cindy Shapiro, Composer/Lyricist of “Anaïs” offer workshops in dance,
theatrical movement, choreography, vocal training, music composition, collaborative creation and research techniques,
journaling as a creative tool. Workshops tailored to all levels and ages. Many of these workshops can be open for large
group community events.

For full reviews, photos and
videos please visit:

Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet

Visit Laurie Anderson at Facebook and iTunes

Visit Kronos Quartet at Facebook

Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet have partnered to produce a superb and exceptionally intelligent 1 hour and 9 minute (30 tracks) recording. It is which is nothing short of excellent. “Landfall” relates the story of Hurricane Sandy found on Anderson’s very personal experience with the storm, the flooding and the great destruction. Anderson is well-known for her performance art has turned to what is narrative music in the sense that it meets the understood criteria, i.e, the music guides the listener, not only with respect to the story, but with respect to feeling or mood as well. this is not simply “background” music. These tracks take us through emotional moments alert, fear, and anxiety working along side with the Kronos Quartet, well-known for excellence in innovation and experimentation working in genres which extend from minimalism to contemporary classical. The Quartet delivers on the complete disorder and confusion attached to the storm. Taken as a whole, Anderson’s narrative, the violins, viola and violincello of the Quartet as well as special effects create sublime texture taking you on a sonic journey not to be missed. For the educated ear, there is much to consider, e.g., not only texture, but counterpoint and dissonance. If you feel compelled to simply “sample” the recording, go to the 9:38 minute “Nothing Left but Their Names”. It is early in the year, but “Landfall” is clearly in the running for HorizonVU Music’s best pick for 2018.

Louise Goffin
Good Times Call
Majority of One

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Louise Goffin has released “Good Times Call”, a single that’s sure to lift you up smiling. You’ll recall that since 2002, she’s recorded “Sometimes a Circle”,”Where You Lead” with her mother Carole King, “Bad Little Animals” and in 2014, and she recorded her sixth studio album, “Songs from the Mine”, featuring Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp on the single “Watching the Sky Turn Blue.” Over the holidays we joyfully received “New Year’s Day” featuring Billy Valentine. Louise has an affinity for recording songs that are just incredibly winning and pleasurable. “Good Times Call” is pop/pop-rock that’s got a great beat, melody line, and hey, it’s fun. Surely you afford .99 cents in exchange something happy!

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Your Body-Your Instrument-is Smarter Than Your Mind
by Sally

Your body is smarter than your mind. Your body is your singing instrument. So why does singing seem to be so difficult? Sing Like You Speak™ is here to teach you it ain’t necessarily so.

Breathing is completely natural. You are reading this, so your breathing is working – you are alive.

And yet when it comes to singing, we second-guess or even doubt the body’s natural ability. We actually override nature by overthinking the process and relying on the mind to ‘figure it out’ instead of trusting the natural process of breathing and phonation. We actually invite the mind to participate in a perfectly natural process.

Does this sound familiar?

You take an inhale and you immediately think, that isn’t enough air to get through the phrase! So you push and pull at the muscles of your abdomen to “help” your singing process.

But guess what? You run out of breath even faster!

That’s what happens when you take a subconscious process – breathing – and make it a conscious process.

The purpose of your inhale is to open the whole instrument. It is to open your resonators, release the jaw and larynx and open all the way down to the lower back and abdominal muscles, thus activating those powerful muscles that will naturally work to propel breath and sound easily through your open instrument.

When I was developing Sing Like You Speak™ my contemporary vocal technique, I could not ignore the fact that singing is natural. And if singing is natural and breathing is natural – what makes singing so difficult?

Makes singing difficult…

Voice teachers who tell you to manipulate and force the physical instrument

Trying to imitate most singers recorded after 1997 where the singer has been recorded (first was Roy Vedas Fragments of Life) and then a sound engineer has manipulated the voice for better pitch, tone quality, rhythm. You are not listening to a voice but to an electronically altered sound that cannot be imitated by the human instrument.

Myths or false thoughts about the effort involved in singing

Trusting the mind and not the body

Sing Like You Speak™ always uses the natural physiological process for simple, healthy signing. Your inhale is to open the instrument. Done right, releases the jaw, tongue and larynx, opens resonators and activates the very intelligent low abdominal and back muscles. That sounds like a lot to do but it can be achieved with one thought.

When I have new voice students who has studied voice with another teacher in the past there’s always a conversation that goes something like this.

Student: That’s it? That’s all you do to inhale?

Sally: Absolutely! A simple opening inhale.

Student: But how do I get enough air to sing a long phrase or to sustain a pitch?

Sally: With a simple opening inhale. It seems you want to feel how much effort you are using to breathe.

Student: Of course. The effort tells me that I’ve gotten a good inhale.

Sally: Aren’t you taking lessons to learn how your singing can be effortless?

Student: Well, I didn’t really believe that it could be easy. My last teacher taught me to push out on the inhale and pull in like crazy to exhale.

Sally: Yes, that’s typical old-school teaching. Let’s experiment with a simple, opening inhale.

First step is a simple, opening inhale…

Align your instrument collarbones wide, head on top of the body
Release the jaw and tongue
Feel as though you are opening your instrument all the way to your bottom
Blow the breath out and simply observe how the abdominal and lower back muscles are working – just observe to not interfere.
Use the above breathing process for our experiment proving how brilliant the body can be. No pushing or pulling of belly muscle allowed!

Experiment 1

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying an FFFFFF
Observe what muscles are working
Experiment 2

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying a VVVVV (be a motorcycle)
Observe what muscles are working
Experiment 3

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying a ZZZZZ (be a bumble bee)
Observe what muscles are working
Experiment 4

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale sighing an MMMMM
Observe what muscles are working
What did you observe?

If you were able to perform the simply opening inhale then with each experiment you felt a different set of muscles working. The physical intelligence of your instrument chose which muscles to use. Your physical intelligence simply knows what to do. Your mind cannot possibly figure out how to use different muscles for different consonant sounds.

I love the fact that my physical intelligence takes over the singing process when I allow it to. Taking the process out of my mind and putting it into the body where it belongs lets me focus on the music, on phrasing, on character, on enjoying the massive vibration of my sound and having a blast doing so!

For many more tips and much more practical vocal training, join the Sing Like You Speak™ Academy!

Hollie Cook
Vessel of Love

Visit Hollie Cook at Facebook and iTunes

We’ve zeroed in on Hollie Cook’s third album, “Vessel of Love” as this week’s pick. Whether you want to categorize Cook’s work as roots, rock, reggae, or “tropical pop”, it really doesn’t matter. Her enticing vocals are very smooth and creamy making this release every bit worth adding to your collection. You can have a look and listen to “Survive” posted below, but there are other outstanding tracks. In particular, check out “Stay Alive” and “Lunar Addiction”. Producer Youth (Martin Glover) worked on the album bringing his exceptional competence with dub and electronic music. Go for it!

Rough Trade

Visit Starcrawler at Facebook and iTunes

If you’re out for smack-you-in-the-face rock, Starcrawler’s self-titled release is just what you need. Arrow de Wilde is frontwoman, and while she’s been recognized for her raucous stage performances, the album gives her vocals a chance to break through on their own, which they do beyond doubt. Her power delivery brings to mind the better days of Courtney Love and she has plenty of power so as to not lose coherence surrounded by the muscle provided by band members; Henri Cash (guitar); Austin Smith (drums); and Tim Franco (bass). Yes, there’s plenty high-powered, raw energy rock with shades of soft metal and post-punk to make you jump up-and-down. The opening track, “Train” will bring you on board with tough and loud, but go on to “I Love LA” and “Full of Pride”, which are softer without loss of delivery and give the band what you might find to be a core identity. The album’s closing track “What I Want” is rock-rock featuring Arrow’s reverbed vocals accentuated by power chords and Smith’s drumming. Finally, multi-talented Ryan Adams deserves credit for having produced the album. If you’re thinking about the first download of the year, go for “Starcrawler”.

Tapete Records

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We’re back with our “Pick of the Week”. We haven’t been slacking off over the holidays, we just didn’t see (or hear) new releases that made for a good HorizonVU fit. Jaguwar, the Dresden trio of Lemmy Fischer (vocals/guitar), Oyèmi Noize (vocals/bass) and Christoph Krenkel (drums) have released their LP “Ringthing” (as in the Electro-Harmonix single sideband modulator) and the album’s content certainly stays in line with its title. The band offers up a cornucopia of special effects ranging from noise and sweeps through to inventive applications of dynamics, which are truly notable. There are also some great vocals from Fischer and Noize on “Night Out” and “Whales”, for example. It is the case that while the all the effects tracks swirl and twirl through the songs they don’t leave much room for the vocals to live often getting in the way. Nevertheless, the LP is solid and offers up some well written and well-executed tracks. It’s likely that you’ll enjoy the melodies, and frankly, the album might serve as a reference work for alternative/shoegaze.

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

3 Steps to Prevent Vocal Damage
by Sally

Singers who are not familiar with vocal training or have had bad experiences with a voice teacher who does not understand the natural nature of the voice, have good reason to shy away from singing lessons. I’ve heard horror stories from singers who after these bad experiences find their way to my studio.

So you would rather do permanent damage to your delicate vocal cords than to sound “trained”? Not the wisest choice and so not necessary! Video training.

3 Steps to Prevent Vocal Damage straight from the Sing Like You Speak™ workbook:

Inhale to open the body – your instrument. Use your inhale not go haul breath into the lungs, but to open the airways that breath and sound flow along as you sing. Open in this sequence…

1. Widen the nasal passages
2. Unhinge the jaw
3. Open the throat
4. Feel the opening all the way to your bottom

Note: Focus on opening one step at a time. Eventually the whole instrument will open with one thought.

2. Exhale to release breath and sound. Release mean to let go, not to push or strain or struggle. Release the breath and sound along the open path created by your opening inhale.

1. Resist the urge to push and allow the muscles to strengthen that will make your voice powerful.
2. Consonants connect your to the deep abdominal and back muscles that propel the voice through your body effortlessly. Use them!
3. It can feel like you are releasing so much air that you’re going to die. Not to worry. No one has ever died from singing however the feeling can be very strong. Just keep releasing and you will eventually crave the luxurious release of breath.

Note: Voice training takes time and laser focus on the task. You are changing habits developed over your lifetime. You are challenging the beliefs that you have held in mind about singing. Hint: those beliefs are all lies!

3. Communicate! It’s all about communicating through the music, lyrics and rhythm. Audiences respond to and bond with a performer’s clearly spoke words.

1. Begin by knowing what you want to say with the song.
2. Figure out who you are saying it to and picture that person right there in front of you.
3. Allow the song to speak through you.

Note: When you sing like you speak communication happens naturally. When your focus is on telling the story of the song, it takes your mind away from your “that’s not enough” thoughts and releases breath and sound.

Communication is compelling, captivating and charismatic. It does not require that you hurt yourself.

Incorporate the above tips to begin your journey to vocal health.

What would you like to learn about singing? Ask me a question in the comments section below and I will answer with another blog post – especially you DIY musicians. Get answers before you get vocal damage!

For many more tips and much more practical vocal training, join the Sing Like You Speak™ Academy!

Dirty Hit

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New York guitarists-singers Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz have released their 10-track album, which opens with one rockin’ track “Rodeo” (released last year as a single) and closes with the exceptionally well-crafted “Salvation”. Great male/female vocals combine with solid instrumental performances to deliver often brilliant compositions/lyrics. Though the recording was actually done in London with London with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, the duo (or foursome seen live) really is New Yorker and there are most certainly some “Lou Reed” flashbacks to be heard. “Dress/Undress” is our selected favorite track for all of the above reasons with emphasis on the finely executed vocals. Besides, it does bring to mind day-in/out life in The Big Apple”.

The Staves / yMusic
The Way Is Read

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Visit yMusic at Facebook and iTunes

The Staves are an English folk rock trio of sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor from Watford, Hertfordshire, England. yMusic is a sextet chamber ensemble from New York City. Consisting of a trumpet, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello, the group was formed in Brooklyn in 2008. The collaborative release “The Way Is Read” might take some extra effort to appreciate, but the album reveals both the musical differences between the two groups as well as the anticipation the music creates by bringing together consonance and dissonance. The perpendicularity of the groups is evident in the first two tracks “Hopeless” (an a cappella track from the sisters) and “Take Me Home” (art music progressivity from yMusic). The collaboration comes together and bares fruit over the remaining ten tracks. The final and title track “The Way Is Read” is unequivocally the highlight; a beautiful recording in which all talent shines through. If you’re really wanting to appreciate the collaboration, one approach is to listen to the two groups on their own. For example, have a listen to The Staves’ “If I Was” and yMusic’s “Beautiful Mechanical” then have a listen to “The Way I Read”. Realizing this might be more effort than you care to invest, go with the collaborative release, but again, be patient and have more than one good listen.

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