Family & friends, welcome! :)
After several of you responded to my lengthy emails with gentle suggestions to simply put my updates in blog form, I finally decided to go through with it. And I'll keep updating you here on two conditions:  you mustn't share the link with anyone before consulting me (I really don't want the entire world, or even randoms, to have access to such personal information)  kindly post your comments, if any, at the bottom of the post as opposed to emailing me your response and flooding my inbox (I promise to read and respond to your comments as quickly as I can!).
(Btw, the main photo you see at the top of this page is the view from my balcony! And I love it!)
Now, on to the actual updates:
My general update is mainly that I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. Classes are enlightening, professors are brilliant, quirky, and so kind, my classmates are interesting, the food is amazing, the weather is still not as hot as I was expecting it to be, and the mosquitoes are still nowhere in sight! So, yay :)
My more specific update deals with the bravest thing I've ever done to date: uploading a cover video to YouTube - of not just my singing, but my [way below average] guitar-playing as well.
For those of you may not have heard about it or seen the video yet, here it is:
To my complete surprise, the video has gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback, despite the obvious audio/video quality challenges, and it managed to get over 80K hits within just 6 days!
Most of the credit goes to the brains behind the operation, Jacklyn Mathew, and my new personal promoter and favorite sister, Varsha Thomas. Here's the backstory:
Ms. Mathew sent me the links to both the original song by Magic! (http://youtu.be/PIh2xe4jnpk) and the dad's response cover by Benji & Jenna Cowart (http://youtu.be/TzyQx6AL1MQ), told me to watch both, and then casually suggested that I be the first to write/record the daughter's response. Of course, my initial reaction to that was, "WOW I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS SONG! ... Geez, this couple is really talented and their response is brilliant. ... Sure would be cool to try my hand at the daughter's version, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT that means I'd have to:
A] rewrite the lyrics (who has time for that? Not I.), B] learn the chords (again, who has time for that... it would take me forever...), C] learn the strumming pattern (this is definitely getting to be too much), D] figure out how to sing the new lyrics WHILST playing the chords that I will have just learned, E] record the damn thing, F] do it quickly, before someone else beats me to it, G] do it in such a way that I wouldn't mind it being shared with other human beings.
And somehow, this, like many of my past musical endeavors, turned out to be a truly divine, spiritually-led experience, despite the many initial fears and insecurities that were holding me back. I hesitantly (very hesitantly) decided to start playing around with the lyrics, and then, it was almost like magic (no pun intended lol)... They just came to me... When I attempted to learn the guitar chords, I discovered that they were the same exact ones that my dear sister, Salena Jacob, had taught me just a couple months beforehand...
So I pulled out my laptop, recorded about 9 or 10 takes, ended up using the final one for my upload, and the rest is history.
There were, of course, a few technical glitches that were worked through quickly with the help of Varsha and our good friend David Verghese... and then it was up to my amazing promoters, headed by Jackie and Varsha, to spread the word and get the views up.
Oddly enough, the views have been steadily increasing (we're well over 100K now!!) and just about all of the comments have been positive - which is crazy considering that random YouTubers are generally not afraid to spew negativity everywhere and that the overall quality of the video is severely lacking... People, especially dads, have really taken to the lyrics and have been so openly appreciative of the message of love and respect my version has given to the song. Truly amazing. And I'm so grateful.
This experience is teaching me so many things... Most of all it's making me want to be a better, braver artist - and I'm ready to do work extra hard to improve my craft so that I can continue spreading the joy and positivity of music with a world that so desperately needs it.
Grateful. And glad that I don't have to do it alone. :)
Big hug to all of you,
:: a l i s h a ::