Here you will find details of my upcoming performances at the top of the page and if you scroll down a bit you will find my blog entries. Thank you so much for your visit and support!
Monday, January 5, 2015
Music! Jazz to Broadway!
6:30 to 8:30pm
With the “Supper Club Six”
(clockwise from me) Bill Ramos, Kathy Holly, Kat Fitzgerald, Marilyn Cooney, Dorothy Donnell
And Special Guest: Mark Shaw
* David Miotke, Pianist
* Francine Passa, Violonist
The Villa D’Este
2623 Ocean Ave. @ 19th Ave. San Francisco
Telephone: 415.334.0580 for Reservations
Don’t Forget the First Monday of Every Month We’re Here!!!!
Special Dinner Menu on Supper Club Nights! $25.00 three entrée choices, salad and dessert. Plenty of Street Parking!
Phone the restaurant directly for reservations! Our audiences have been large lately, be sure to make a reservation to join the fun.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you might have guessed that I like yoga and enjoy nature very much, so you can imagine my excitement at finding out about a daily drop in yoga class that takes place near my place of work in Sydney Walton Park (at Davis and Pacific.)
Last week, I decided to give the thirty minute class a try and I’m smiling at the memory of it. I attended class on Monday and Wednesday. On Monday, it was spittingly foggy out as I walked the six blocks over to the park and when I arrived, I realized I’d forgotten to change into my yoga gear completely. I was wearing a dress over my short yoga pants. With the encouragement of the teacher and because I was the only student, I decided to stay. Once I got over feeling a little silly doing downward facing dog in front of the noontime strangers eating lunches on nearby benches, I found myself relaxing and enjoying the fresh air and the songs of the starlings in nearby cypress trees. I was touched when a pleasant and skillful young instructor named Evan, approached me during the final resting pose (shavasana) and placed his hands in a grounding way for a few moments on my feet and shoulders.
Wednesday was another foggy morning and I hesitated to leave the comfort of my warm office. My co-worker encouraged me to ’Just do it!’, so I took her a dvise and walked briskly to the park for the 12:15 p.m. start time. This time I found three other students, another instructor, named Kristen and her friend’s young dog, a sweet brown lab mix named Ellie. Class started, and while we were holding plank position, Ellie ran up to each one of us in turn offering to lick our faces. She then bounded around the area, showing off her amazingly limber body by rolling joyfully in the grass and beautifully modeling how to enjoy every single moment. Towards the end of class, I noticed the instructor, leaving with Ellie for a moment to go to her car. I guessed she was picking up a treat for Ellie, but it turns out she was going to get her wallet so she could replace a salad that Ellie had wolfed down on one of her passes around the park. Apparently, the owner of the salad had been too engrossed in her smart phone to notice Ellie’s approach.
By the time shavasana came around, once again I was relaxed. I also noticed that this time my mat was wet and muddy in places. After we completed the official class with a Namaste, Ellie came over and offered me her paw again and again and offered more kisses. Her paw was also wet but for some reason, it didn’t matter so much, friendship is friendship after all! I will continue with these outdoor yoga classes. As with many new endeavors, it may take me a bit of time to work out the kinks, like figuring out a way to keep my mat clean and dry, dressing in a way that would make it easy to quickly change into yoga gear, but I think the positive experiences I’ve already had far outweigh the challenges. Now if Ellie had gotten into MY lunch, that might be another story! (You can find out about this class and other drop in classes like this around the Bay Area, by downloading the free app: YogaBuddy. Suggested donation for the class I took is $5.00.)
This article includes some musical ideas!
By Sonia Choquette
Let’s face it. Life is stressful. And when we are under stress we suffer. It’s bad for our health. It leaves us feeling drained and tired. It fogs our brains. It causes us to disconnect from others. It makes it difficult to concentrate and robs us of the ability to respond creatively in life. It’s not good for us, and when under stress, let’s face it, it’s not good for those around us either. So it’s helpful to have a few stress-busting techniques to reach for when it starts to creep up on you and take you hostage. Here are a few of my favorite busters. They are easy to do and work wonders when I need them most, like right before I give a public presentation, or when running late to catch a plane, or find myself stuck in traffic, or when talking to someone who is being very difficult, or when I find myself running behind schedule and am afraid I am going to get in big trouble for it. In other words, at least once a day, every day. Try them yourself and see if you find them as helpful for relieving stress as I do.
These are all simple, easy, silly, effective, and fun. Try them all and see which one works best for you. Most of all, just remember: this too shall pass, and with breath it will pass faster and leave you less stressed along the way.
I’m sipping a cup of candy-cane green tea and listening to Pandora’s holiday channel–a few moments of quiet time, which is quite a rare treat these days. Twinkling petals of early afternoon light dance around my room to the beat of the music. I’m feeling a delicious combination of sentimentality and gratitude. I think I must be having a holiday moment!
Why this overall positive outlook? I believe it’s the effect of two filters I’ve chosen to wear over my lenses this year; the “Stay Neutral” and the “Chop Wood Carry Water.” In other phases of my life, some of the events of this year would have had me spinning in panic and caused me immense anxiety.
Both of my parents took falls this year, Mom breaking a hip and Dad, a shoulder. I consistently reminded myself to continue to chop wood and carry water and not focus too strongly on either wanting positive outcomes or worrying too much about negative outcomes. In retrospect, although my parents’ injuries were extremely painful and caused them immense inconvenience, the gift of their having had them was that they created opportunities to look at how we children and grandchildren could better support them. I can see now that my parents are both stronger and healthier from the experience.
Singing has always been a wonderful refuge for me. Performing is also becoming one. Even though I often feel nervous the day of the performance, I’m always buoyed by the experience of being with all the other performers, interacting with our wonderful audience members and singing from my heart. Performing truly is good medicine!
Has your summer brought you a sense of renewal? I was recently pondering ways to maintain the wonderful sense of renewal that I feel after a long weekend or vacation once I’m back home. First of all we need to figure out what actually renews us. Each of us is unique and our needs change all the time. It isn’t always the things we read about doing or think we should do that offer the best renewal choice. For example, sometimes when I finally sit down to read a good book with a cup of tea, I realize that what my body and spirit really needs is to get outdoors and move. Other times, reading is just the ticket to the relaxation I needed.
I take a daily afternoon break and get out for some fresh air. I may not always be able to leave my desk at a scheduled lunch hour, but I don’t let that stop me from taking a refreshing break at some point in the afternoon even if it’s not until 3:30 or 4 p.m! Whether it’s a walk along the Embarcadero or Crissy Field, a visit to one of the many nearby farmers’ markets, or sitting quietly for a while in a nearby garden, I find I’m refreshed when I return.
I’ve also noticed that although some things are pretty tried and true, like taking a soothing hot bath after a particularly stressful day, its also very renewing to try something new. Recently, I caught on to the Chia seed craze and started adding the seeds to my morning juice and oddly have felt renewed by having found a new, healthy practice. Sometimes especially toward the end of a busy week, it’s tempting in the evening to just be a TV- watching couch potato but I’ve found that if I choose instead to spend a few minutes gardening, going for a walk in the neighborhood, practicing my songs or listening to some beautiful music, I feel more relaxed and also get a better night’s rest.
I’ve become a fan of a little application on the iphone called Lift. Lift allows you to track a list of habits you know give you a lift. If you like the feeling of checking things off a “To Do” list, Lift may be for you. I review it once or twice a day and it acts as a reminder to do things like walking to the farmers market, spending quality time connecting with a friend, taking an afternoon break, or taking three deep breaths. When I do check off the habits, I feel a little lift too. Similar to Facebook’s “likes”, other users on the app can give you props for completing your lift habits which is also fun and motivating.
“So as long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.” Swiss writer, Henri Frederique Amiel
April and May in Italy and France was a painful experience because I just kept having to pinch myself to see if I was really there or if I was in a wonderful dream! I planned the trip back in October and was initially going to be going alone. In January, a friend I’ve known since college decided to join me for the first two weeks in Italy and in February a mutual friend of our’s whom I’ve since middle school decided to join us too. We had such a fun time everywhere we went. We celebrated a birthday in Rome and threw our three coins in Trevi fountain too. I can’t say what I wished for of course but I just know it will come true! We had some beautiful weather some days and rain and hail that looked like snow on other days. We visited Saturnia, Sienna, Monterregione, San Gemingnano, Volterra, Solvano, Soldano, Pittignano, Lucca, Pietra Santo, Bologna and Milano. We ate dinner in the house my grandmother was raised in and lunch in the house my grandfather was raised in too.
In Paris, I spent two weeks with my friend Sandrine. I met Sandrine while vacationing here on the West Coast two years ago. She is a Parisian native and much like me here in San Francisco, lives a very full and rich life in the City of Lights. I took in almost every walking tour offerred in Paris and visited museums I’d never been to before like the Cluny Medeival Museum and The Montmartre Museum which had a very interesting exhibit about the Black Cat cabaret theater. One of the highlights of my time in Paris was being invited to perform on May 2nd at the Swan Bar in Montparnasse. It was very exciting to prepare for the event and the show itself was lots of fun! I spent a few days visiting old friends in Montpellier, in the South of France. One day we saw pink flamingos and had a delicious lunch by the Maguelone Cathedral on the Cote D’Azur. Another day we had a lovely time hiking around a medieval village called Sauve where R. Crumb lives.
The night before I left Paris, I attended a concert of jazz icon, Jon Hendricks with his talented daughters, Michelle and Aria Hendricks and scat improvisor virtuoso, Kevin Fitzgerald Burke, who just happens to be the son of Kat Fitzgerald, my dear friend and fellow Supper Club Six member.
I’m back in San Francisco now and looking forward to a June “busting out all over” with music, flowers and love!
On May, 6, 2014 I performed at this excellent jazz club in Northern Italy.
RSVP on Facebook
Performances and Guest Appearances by:
Nicolò Sergio Cantautore
Location: Via Mascarella 4/B, 40126 Bologna, Italy
|Dear friends, I don’t know how your month has gone but I know for me it’s been a mixture of moments of feeling super overwhelmed with not having enough time to do all that I’d like to do for the holidays and also many moments of happiness and joyful connection. When I practice the lyrics to the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, I sometimes jokingly exclaim to myself, “Not!” and at other times say, “Yes! It certainly is!
What are the true gifts of the season? For me they are spending time with some of the sweet people I have in my life, they are spending time with friends and loved ones and enjoying the sights, tastes and sounds of a magical time of year in a myriad of ways:
(marshmallows roasting on an open fire…)
What, to you, are the true gifts of this season? As I consider this question, I realize that for me, the season’s gifts are not about the striving for perfection in baking or decorations, it is mostly about time connecting with new or old friends and family. So as I go into the final stretch of 2012, I think I’m going to just lighten up on my unrealistic expectations for what I think I need to do, or would like to do and focus on enjoying the times I have with the people I care about and the rest will fall into place on its own, it always does.
Enjoyed my first solo show in Paris on THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2013 JEUDI, 9 MAI, 2013 PERFORMANCE AT 21:30, 10E
165 BOULEVARD DE MONTPARNASSE, METRO VAVIN, RER PORT ROYAL
I sang SONGS FROM THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK AND BROADWAY
JULIEN DOUMENJOU on piano
"Debra, an enchanting chanteuse, delights audiences with playful and seductive performances of her charming repertoire." -- Bonita and Bill
"Savor the sultry fashionings of Debra's jazzy renditions of classic confections."-- Linda
"Debra is an amazing vocalist who has a special ability to connect with her audience. She brings passion and a bit of flair to every performance." -- Leslie and Michael.
"We enjoyed dinner at the Villa D'Este in San Francisco last night accompanied by a great show. They have a diverse troop with varied talent styles, each a treat. The best way to describe Debra's performance is a true reincarnation of one of my favorite singers, Clara Bow, the IT Girl, characterized as Betty Boop. She hit every note and stayed in perfect character. If you haven't yet, you have to experience this event, held every first Monday of the month at the Villa D'Este, a classic Italian family restaurant."
"Debra made Bob Sarlatte's surprise birthday party so wonderful! We all enjoyed her choice of music and songs. She really made the party a special occasion!" --Catherine Sarlatte
Debra Mugnani sings in a style that is both sophisticated and emotionally direct. Her interpretations of the Great American Songbook show a deep love and respect for the material while adding a delightful spark of personality. Debra’s influences are Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McCrae and Morgana King. A native of San Francisco, Debra has also been greatly influenced and inspired by vocalists and vocal instructors she has been fortunate enough to study with; Kitty Margolis, Faith Winthrop, Jesse Foster, Madeline Eastman and Dena De Rose.
"There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."