It has become a New Years tradition for me to write a little something to help me be grateful for the year just passed.
This year, this little blog has been somewhat neglected, and it looks like the last post I did was the equivalent of this, 365 days-or-so ago. Nevertheless, I can’t miss the opportunity for a little reflection and a lot of gratitude. 🙂
This year, in many ways, has been tough; full of challenges and changes. It has also been pretty amazing, and as always that is what I hope to focus on.
Musically, 2014 has been pretty good. The Honeybirds have had a pretty amazing time. We recorded our album in February, having received the full funding for it in advance via an indiegogo campaign and the generosity of many backers. We have had some great gigs this year too – weddings, Jazz Festivals, 1940s events, Birthday celebrations and the most exciting of them all – THE RYDER CUP! That was a pretty impressive moment for us. 🙂 We also introduced Molly Marie Walsh into the mix, who has been an absolute delight, personally and professionally. Not to mention, she’s married to one of my favourite folk. 🙂
The Applejacks have gone from strength to strength too. Having found my ideal 5-piece lineup, it expanded to a dream team of 6 in September, as the incredible trumpet talent, Lorne, joined us at Edinburgh Lindy Exchange. As well as ELX, we headed to Cambridge again in June to play for Skye and Frida’s weekender there; Hullzapoppin in May, Leeds Swing Exchange in August, Swing Revolution and Sheffield’s Seven Hills Hop in March, up home in Riding Mill in September and many other lovely engagements beside. I even did a whole 1920s-style evening down in Derby to ring in this New Year! It has truly been a pleasure, and I look forward to many more opportunities in 2015.
Choir work has continued to play a large role in my career this year too. As well as High Spirits carrying on in fine form, and my 2 school choirs in Bradford who continue to do me proud at every school concert, I ran the first ever Chapel Allerton Arts Festival Choir in the Summer. They sounded great! On the back of that (and having also been booked to repeat for 2015) I have been running the Jazz Voices Choir for Seven Jazz (also continuing in 2015), had a few deps for other choirs in the area. I have also added 2 new choirs to the mix for Huddersfield University! That’s 7 choirs in total! And a lot of repertoire to sort!
The job at Huddersfield Uni was an unexpected and very welcomed offer, affirming that Yorkshire is the place for me for the foreseeable future, after I had been starting to wonder a little… I gave up 2 teaching positions in July, and started September with new pupils, both privately and in my 2 learning institutions.
Dancing has played a large role in this year too; in November I ‘graduated’ as a teacher at Lindy Fridays, which means I am now insured to teach Lindy Hop! I had a gig in December to celebrate, teaching a few Harrogate folk to swing out! Teapots and Twirls has again been a joy. We had our 2nd Birthday in June, where pass-the-parcel was played, and Jelly and Ice-cream was eaten, a couple of workshops and a few more tea dances. I hope 2015 will bring just as much excitement for us. 🙂
I headed to New York again in May, for the Frankie 100 celebrations. It was amazing to be back – I love that city SO much. It was an incredible event too; learning about a man who by all accounts was one of a kind. It also made me realise a few things about the kind of Lindy events I like to go to, and the size of events that I enjoy the most.
I had another holiday this year too – the closest I have come to backpacking yet: 2 weeks, visiting Tallin – Estonia, Helsinki and Turku – Finland, Stockholm – Sweden and Riga – Latvia. It was a pretty amazing trip, and I had a wonderful time exploring the cities and strengthening my relationship.
2014 has been a significant year for relationships too. Friendships have been repaired, renewed, created and concluded. It has been quite a reflective and informative year in that respect. My family and friends continue to be pillars of support, and none more so than a gentleman I met in March. I can honestly say that I am a very happy Smith at the moment, and a large part of that is due to the love and respect that Christopher gives me. That, and the purring Hendricks who is sat on my lap. 🙂
As well as a travelling companion, and an occasional cat sitter, I also have in Chris someone who enjoys watching live music. Both with and without him, I have seen some incredible performers and performances this year that I hope not to forget. Amongst them: James Taylor, Gregory Porter, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (and the Ballet Inala), Burt Bacharach, The Lion King, 42nd Street, Matilda (on the West End), Cinderella (on Broadway), and Peter Pan the Ballet. I hope very much to continue this into 2015 (I’ve already got Kurt Elling lined up!)
And so, I think that concludes my little summary.
This year has been full of lessons, and challenges, and unfortunate incidents (like ending the year without a working car!) but it’s also been full of learning, and patience and love.
I hope very much that 2015 brings with it excitement, creativity, adventure, challenge, success, strength and all the greatest things you and I could wish for.
Happy New Year!