Thank you, Chester.

I remember the first time I heard Linkin Park. I was still living at home, watching MTV – back then they did something unheard of now – AIR MUSIC VIDEOS. And I heard this song, this really loud, loud, song. I looked up at the screen and I saw this intense looking young man, with bleach blonde spikes (it was the early 00s..a lot of dudes did that to their hair), brown eyes but with this stare and intensity that has yet been unmatched to me with any other singer. He lip synced, “Everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the edge and I’m about to break.” And from that moment on, I was hooked. He sang everything I was feeling. I was a broke graphic designer, who no one would listen to despite having an education. I was frustrated, angry, disappointed, and done with the world. Truth be told, that’s not too far from how I’m feeling now but that is beside the point. He was angry. I was angry. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. I watched this very very weird conceptual video and waited to see who the band was.

Linkin Park.

My first thought was that they were from DC, because there is a Lincoln Park here, and they just changed the spelling to be cool. But there is pretty much a Lincoln Park everywhere in the US. My bad. I kept watching MTV that night because I KNEW at some point, they’d show the video again (remember, this is when MTV knew that the M stood for “music” in their name). And rest assured, they did air the video again and I watched it. I was fascinated with the visual imagery, and the lyrics spoke to every young person who was just fed up with life, and what little it had to offer. “One Step Closer” was the name of the song. I learned all the words and sang along every time I saw the video. I just couldn’t get over how melodic the song was yet so dark, so heavy. Everything made sense lyrically. And there was no turning back for me. I later did a search for the band, and found the band names online.

Chester Bennington.

He was my everything. His voice was so strong, so hard, and passionate. You could hear the pain in his voice, the anguish, yet sound so gentle at times. I honestly hadn’t heard of any voice like that since Chris Cornell (and yes, I see how creepy this comparison would become). The name of their album was Hybrid Theory. Songs like “Crawling,” “In the End,” “Runaway,” spoke to many people my age – pain, isolation, frustration, and not knowing if there was going to be a light at the end of a very dark – for many extremely dark – tunnel. Listening to Chester’s voice was comforting, even when he was screaming his heart out. The fans got it. They got the lyrics. They got his personality. And so did I. Chester was such a commanding presence on stage. And he got our attention. Each and every time. His music was a way of battling and overcoming his previous demons in life. I had no idea Chester was molested as a kid, and it explained so much behind his actions from that point on (drugs, alcohol, etc). But from where fans were standing, he seemed to have his act together. And the music seemingly proved it. Seemingly, being the main word.

From Hybrid to Meteora, A Thousand Suns, and so on, Chester gave us his all. Some songs were not pretty, and they weren’t supposed to be. They were a way of cleaning out a toxic system that had a negative effect on his life. And fans were along for the ride. For those coping with similar demons, or other demons, Linkin Park and Chester were are saviors. No one else understood, but LP got it. Even though their musical style changed dramatically with this recent album, “One More Light,” the lyrics remained true – fight, battle, tooth and nail if you have to – to overcome things keeping you down. I can respect that, even if the music behind the lyrics sounded like the everyday dance pop you hear on the radio (a bone of contention from old school LP fans like myself). We still loved LP though, no matter what.

Finding out on July 20th, 2017, that Chester Bennington took his own life left me and millions of fans heartbroken, confused, hurt, and pissed. We don’t understand why someone with so much promise and still had a LOT to offer to the music world, took his life. I believe the demons that he fought for SO long, took over and the pain was just much too great to bear. I understand. I’m dealing with quite a few myself. I understand the route to take to end it. But he was so loved, by his wife and family, and the band, and friends, and fans… it’s just hard in that regard to wrap my brain around it. I guess I never really will. Nor will the rest of fans.

So. I hope Chester found peace. I hope he knows he was loved by so so many people. I hope he will watch over not just LP members and his family, but fans too. Because we love him. Always will. He helped us. I just wish we could’ve helped him in return.

RIP Chester. You will always be in our hearts. Your star will most definitely shine bright everywhere.


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Thank you, George.

Dear George Michael,

I am writing this to you to say thank you so much for everything you’ve done in music and outside of it. I like many became a fan of yours while you were in Wham! I loved your voice – so soulful, and your eyes – so sad, and your stare. The words to your music were more than just pop fluff that had been released at the time. You were no ordinary talent, that’s for sure. I admired how passionate you were in your performances and with one stare into the camera, you made me feel like I was the only one in the room, even at 9 (I realize you were much older, but still…my heart was filled whenever I saw you.).

I admired your power to change your image from boy bander, to sex symbol. You were just drop dead gorgeous from head to toe. No one could escape your beauty. I remember vividly classmates in school on Halloween coming dressed up with a fake cross earring and grey makeup on their cheeks and fake leather jackets – an homage to your “Faith” period. It took a lot of courage to break away from a goodie two shoe image in Wham! and go for self. But you did it, and the world took notice. As the years went on, you challenged your record label because you didn’t want to be constrained to a long term record deal. And in return, you changed your music. It became more thought provoking, and edgy. I still say “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. I” and “Older” were some of your best work. You focused more on the topics of love, hardships, regrets, and the hope for things to get better in time – a far cry from the sex symbol image of previous years. You were a philanthropist, an activist, and a good natured individual who realized you could do good in this world with your celebrity.

Despite your trials and tribulations behind the camera, you always had a sense of humor and a “lesson learned” type of attitude. I was rooting for you to overcome your demons and share more music. When you had a serious bout with pneumonia, we fans were praying and pulling for you. And when you emerged from the hospital, a little weak, but still alright, I had hope that you would return to the world stronger and ready to release new music – which you did, a few singles here and there. And I was grateful.

Fast forward to now. I am heartbroken. This has been a very rough year of losses in music – Prince, Natalie Cole, Leon Russell, Bowie, the list goes on and on.. and now to add you to that list is just so overwhelmingly sad. The idea that no more music will come from you is just hard. No more creative songwriting – something so desperately needed in the music realm today. No more smiles and twinkle in your eyes in interviews. My only regret is that I never saw you in concert. You were definitely on my list to see. And it’s always going to be hole in my musical heart in knowing I didn’t have the opportunity. I hope you are at peace George. I hope you realized the impact you had on me, and others. Your music was filled with fun, loss, introspective wisdom, and creativity. And for that, I will forever be thankful.

You were the best. And I’m glad I had the chance to be a fan.



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Lianne La Havas’ Reign – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC 9.23.15

I’ve said there seems to be a lack of true r&b and soul music in this day and age. But there is one artist that disputes my theory – Lianne La Havas. I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. She’s a London born talent, with more talent in her little finger than many of the pop stars who call themselves singers today. She put on a perfectly smooth show, making quick and easy transitions from song to song. She’s on tour to promote her new album, “Blood.” She performed songs from that album, as well as her debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” She’s a guitarist, an arranger, a songwriter, and quite the vocalist. She combines soul and a little bit of folk and thew in a LOT of her heart to make for a beautiful show hour plus show. Here is a clip of one of my favorite songs, Au Cinema. I suggest you listen to her two albums, and catch her while you can. You won’t be disappointed. Standouts include, “Unstoppable,” “Au Cinema,” “IYLBE,” “Forget,” and “What You Don’t Do.” Her voice is heaven. Her presence is commanding. It was a beautiful night, full of beautiful music.


LL1 LL10.1LL44


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