I was opening night headliner. The gig was that I perform 2 shows in one night for 2 seatings in a luxurious theater with state-of-the-art facilities. Then I would be off for the rest of the week to enjoy the cruise. RSVP is a great company who enhances the cruise experience for the people of LGBT. I loved the whole experience. It was incredible!
That first night was a bit nerve wracking for me because slight adjustments had to be made to the show to accommodate an oncoming bout of laryngitis. It seems just before the flight I developed a cough that had been going around and it was starting to make me hoarse. I got through the show ok, but I know I could have been so much better if only I had not come down with that nasty cough. But necessity is the mother of invention and I was able to come up with a NEW set list that I thought was kinda cool:
HISTORY REPEATING......Jimmy James Tribute to Dame Shirley Bassey with authentic original track from songwriter Alex Gifford of The Propeller Heads.
SUMMER SUN.......Jimmy James w/Holland America Dancers in bathing suits and beach balls.
I WANNA BE EVIL....................Earta Kitt
I WILL ALWAYS LOVE U.........acappella short tribute to Whitney Houston
LOVE IS A LOSING GAME.......Amy Winehouse
WALKING IN MEMPHIS...........Cher
PRIVATE DANCER.....................Tina Turner
SINGLE LADIES..........................Liza (from Sex In The City II)
WHAT'LL I DO..............................Judy Garland
MARILYN YEARS TRIBUTE (DVD)........Jimmy James
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (Bette Davis)
8 DIVAS.........................................8 Voices in one song.FASHIONISTA ............................Jimmy James & Holland America Dancers.
Feb. 11, Saturday evening when I landed in Ft. Lauderdale before the cruise, my gang and others boarded the hotel van to take us to the overnight hotel. I had a gig to get ready for in Ft. Lauderdale that night called Bill's Filling Station. While I was in the van, I was texting my friend Billy in L.A. when he suddenly texted me back that Whitney Houston died! I immediately texted back "You are kidding right?" He replied "No! It's on CNN right now!" I was in the front seat of the van and I immediately looked back to see if anyone was realizing it too on their smartphones. But the news was too fresh at that moment and people were just enjoying the evening ride to the hotel. Although I'm very shy with strangers, I had to blurt it out. It was so shocking and astounding. Audibly everybody was stunned and in disbelief. Gasping. NO!
With all of her spirituality, beauty, talent and support, she could not overcome that nasty demonic addiction. Somehow she couldn't. As of now, the toxicology reports are not in so I really should NOT assume.
When I was at a serious turning point in my life (mid to late '90s) in New York City trying to make my music happen (trying to break away from the the "drag" and go a different direction) there were so many naysayers discouraging me. So many said, "Why are you trying to get out of drag?" "You can't record music you're too old" "You can't just stop doing Marilyn Monroe...." "Why are you sabotaging yourself?" etc, etc, etc... I needed, at that time as always to really BELIEVE in myself. I needed to stay the course and keep the eye on the prize. It was around that time that Whitney Houston's recording of "Step By Step" was released just in time to inspire me. The lyrics by Annie Lennox gave me hope to take it step by step and bit by bit, to achieve my dream - my vision. I needed this song to hold me up. It helped me keep the focus. In fact, VH1 did a piece on me and my journey and about what the song meant to me. I wish I knew where that tape was.
My dream for my music and a turn-around in my career did happen. No longer do I have to perform in "drag." I have explored and enhanced my show with the release of several recordings and Billboard charting songs. I have developed and gone beyond just being a sound-alike - I'm an artist. I'm not just an "imitator" but I'm an accomplished songwriter - Published!
I stayed the course and did it - STEP BY STEP. BIT BY BIT. MILE BY MILE. And I went MY OWN WAY through my journey.
As I said in the VH1 piece, "Thank You Whitney for the inspiration."
Now I've got Whitney on YouTube and her spiritual soulful singing will live on.
May you & "the Voice" Rest In Peace.