Many of you may be familiar with the hit song “Both Sides, Now” written by the great Joni Mitchell as inspiration struck while floating over clouds in an airplane in 1966. The song is dripping with rich metaphors and contrasting perspectives on love and life, and gives the perfect framework to share my story.
“I’ve looked at love from both sides, now.” After clouds and before life itself, this core concept is what grips me about the song. I have been blessed and fortunate to gain differing perspectives on love through Savannah’s own world-famous Fabulous Equinox Orchestra and service-based nonprofit organization Equinox Global Missions, co-led by Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson. And with the next installment of our Monday Night Cabaret concert series coming up on Valentine’s Day, themed around love, there’s no better time to share these perspectives!
My journey began with the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra in 2013. Then a double major in Jazz Studies and Music Technology at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, I crossed paths with Equinox while performing at the Savannah Jazz Festival. The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra was the headliner for the night and put on an incredible performance! I met Jeremy and Clay after the show and they acquired my contact information so I could become involved with the orchestra. On top of being incredible artists and performers, these two guys were the most kind and charismatic people I had ever met - they make time for anyone and everyone, and excel at making people feel valued. Upon meeting them for the first time, you will feel like you have known them your entire life!
I performed with the full-sized Fabulous Equinox Orchestra for several years splitting the lead trumpet book and playing in the trumpet section. As our smaller 11-piece ensemble became more popular, I shifted to my current role of full-time lead trumpet player for the ensemble, and also contributed to stage and show production. Finishing my collegiate studies at UNF with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Arranging in 2019, I began to compose and arrange music for Equinox as well. I have been able to travel the world performing in beautiful theaters and venues, record incredible albums in prestigious studios, and share the stage with titans from all over the entertainment industry. My involvement with the orchestra highlighted and developed my first love - the passion for music and performance.
Quickly I learned that the immense power of love extends far beyond connecting musician and craft. Jeremy and Clay, originally hailing from Louisiana, infuse every show with their Southern Gospel charm, hospitality, and personality. In addition to the prestigious performances on an international stage, we also regularly play churches and community events. Growing up in church and finding my passion for music through worship, I couldn’t believe I had found a Great American Songbook Big Band AND a faith-based worship ensemble!
In 2015, I traveled with Equinox performing along the entire east coast, eventually reaching our destination of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition to playing the Halifax Jazz Festival, we also performed for the community and led worship in churches - our sole purpose to serve and reach the Halifax community and spread the Love of Christ. This was my first involvement with the nonprofit branch of the Equinox organization, Equinox Global Missions. I saw our passion for music transform into love for the people, serving not just as a universal language to connect, but also a vessel to convey God’s love and serve those around us. I’ve looked at love from both sides, now.
I moved to Savannah in 2020 to be with Equinox full time; in addition to my orchestra roles, I serve as the Fundraising Director for Equinox Global Missions. My roles in this position focus on grant writing, campaign development, and donor outreach, but are ever-evolving to allow me to serve however possible. At EGM we aim to Entertain, Connect, and Serve through our four main programs: Mentorship 2 Masterclass - educational performances and classes for students of all ages; Thanks for the Memories - concerts for our beloved elderly community in assisted living facilities; Community Connect - shows partnered with other nonprofit organizations to raise awareness and serve communities; and Music Mission Initiative - global music mission trips to serve and reach people anywhere we can. Our most recent campaign was Reminisce & Restore, which focused on contributing 2021 end-of-year giving to our Thanks for the Memories program to provide a concert to an assisted living facility every month in 2022 - we met our goal and were fully funded!
Disaster relief is another passion project of EGM, and a fifth program is currently in development to help us serve the communities of this often spontaneous destruction more consistently. Our most recent trip was to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to aid in the aftermath of the tornadoes. We performed benefit concerts at the Alhambra Theater and Edgewood Baptist Church, and partnered with Buy Local Savannah through president Michelle Rouzer to provide a trailer full of supplies to the community. We were able to raise $16,000 for the good people of Hopkinsville!
As Joni Mitchell expands from love to both sides of life, we too have dealt with peaks and valleys in our service mission. In 2021, through a very generous anonymous donation to Equinox Global Missions and a pandemic-induced halt to demand for national touring, we were able to get a great deal on a luxury 2011 MCI tour bus, previously owned by none other than Bonnie Raitt’s band! Though the bus was owned in house through EGM, we paid rental fees from the orchestra upon use to ensure all Equinox work served our greater mission. Unfortunately on December 29th, 2021 our bus burned down in a spontaneous overnight electrical fire. Fortunately we were not traveling at the time, so no band members or personal instruments were harmed. This bus had become a huge part of our organization and allowed many opportunities to arise, so naturally we were crushed! We were able to salvage the trusty ol’ Equinox tambourine, kept high in the cupboards just enough to partially escape the blaze. Now complete with battle scars, our tambourine - affectionately named “Smokey” - comes to all gigs in memory of our beloved bus.
To close this prose paralleling perspectives of love and life, I am truly so thankful to be a part of the Equinox team from both sides.
I extend my warmest invitation to you and yours to join us this Valentine’s Day, February 14, at Victory North to spread the love in our next Monday Night Cabaret series concert.
This series provides a more fun and casual approach to our theater performances, complete with a unique theme and new compositions/arrangements for each concert - and they sell out quickly!
Visit equinoxorchestra.com today for tables and tickets!