Why Clara Ponty Should Quit Performing and Give Up Music
Clara Ponty and her music is bad. Not bad as in poor quality but bad like Michael Jackson’s moonwalk when he sung Billie Jean. Bad like Beethoven’s Fifth. Bad like Jesse James when he jumped on a train and said “Stick em’ up!” Clara Ponty is one of famed jazz violinist Jon Luc-Ponty’s daughters. But she needs no assist from her father’s celebrity because her CD’s, entitled Echoes and Into The Light, confirms her as a pianist par excellence. She was one of those kids we love to hate, like Mozart or some of them other ones, because she sat in the Muse’s lap and started playing piano at an age when the rest of us were still working on toilet training. By the time she was eight she was writing music, leaving childish things to the less gifted. Born in Paris but raised in LA, she cut her teeth as a musician at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, the youngest ever chosen for their coveted ‘Tour of Stars.’ Her enrollment there was portentous of her genius. After maturation at the Maryland Conservatory she went to the University of California where she picked up licks from some of the masters such as Nelita True, John Perry, Hans Kemmerling and Elena Varvarova. A firebrand performer who talks softly but carries a big stick of talent, Clara played her ass off at a remarkable 2 hour recital of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussey for an awestruck piano jury at USC. She then bowed to destiny and began playing for a living and thereby took her place among the ghosts of great pianists like Monk, Pinetop Perkins and Arthur Rubinstein at the ripe old age of 22. She shoved off to Manhattan where her debut recording for Philips Music Group / Universal Records which is self-titled Clara Ponty, was recorded and released in 1997. It featured her performing original works for solo piano. She followed that up in 1999 with her second album, The Embrace, on which Ponty revealed her versatility as a composer, pianist and vocalist with ten new original works. Both recordings were met with critical acclaim. Featured prominently in mainstream media such as People and Forbes magazines; Clara’s appeal surpasses genres. Her star began to rise when the Embrace reached number 1 on New Age Voice’s “Airwaves Top 100”, a playlist reported by radio programmers across America. Following the release of these recordings she performed concerts in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Fond of Indian culture, one of Clara’s dreams materialized in December 2002 when she performed in Bombay and New Delhi for the first time. Clara wrote 12 new pieces for her third album, entitled Mirror of Truth, which was released in America in August 2004 and in Europe in 2006. Her father, Jon Luc-Ponty, co-produced this new project with her and contributed a couple of violin solos and strings arrangements, besides the collaboration of cello, guitar, bass and percussion. A compilation album called Echoes was released in Europe November 2010. This jazz album of 13 instrumental pieces was also written by Clara, as if merely playing brilliantly was not enough for her. She has also collaborated with renowned European jazz musicians Wolfgang Haffner, Dieter ILg and Ernst Ströer. Guest trumpet artists Sebastien Studnitsky and Nils Wulker also appear on a couple of tracks. In 2011 her new vocal album Into the Light was released in France and Canada. It was released worldwide in April 2012. Usually behind a person’s stellar accomplishments reside peculiar facts that gives their biography its intrigue. Clara Ponty is dedicated to her art but she also has quit that art in the past, not just once but on three occasions. The fact that she rediscovered her passion and eventually kept returning to her jilted art and went on to achieve such greatness, should give hope to the world’s frustrated wannabes. Many musicians have quit music just like Clara did and some never returned to it. As a result, the world has sacrificed many would-be musical greats to the bane of discouragement. Discouragement is an evil talent thief that mercilessly devours all but the staunchest and most determined aspirants. On the subject of breaking through discouragement, blocks and barriers to achieve one’s dreams, Steven Pressfield refers to those impediments as ‘resistance’. Steven put it like this in The War of Art: “Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of Yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of what you could become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.” It appears to me that Steven Pressfield has most of world’s people pegged, including myself. Most of us have been cowards and more afraid than we are brave when it comes to following our dreams. But not Clara Ponty, Michael Jackson, Beethoven or Jesse James. Nevertheless, since they all belonged to the human family I am sure they had their moments when they waffled and thought the gods of talent had abandoned them. But something inside must have told them they were too good not to be bad, so they continued. It appears that each time Clara Ponty quit she seemed to have returned with even more talent that she had before. Here’s how she explained music’s magical spell and its hold on her: “ Music is my most important tool towards achieving my well-being. There is something so valuable and rewarding about long-term relationships, whether they are with human beings or with a craft. Composing music enables me to express a deeper part of me that I can not express with ordinary words. I assume if I was a poet, I could express this deeper dimension in me with words but I express my inner feelings more precisely with music than words. Music making and creating music is a therapy for me, this process of opening my heart no matter how hard that may be at times in my life and working through my feelings helps me evolve emotionally. As an example, when my dear grandmother was in the hospital passing away, I wrote a piece which was like a eulogy for her. I dedicated the piece to her, it’s called the Embrace.” How about that? Even Beethoven could not have said it better than that. That is why I recommend that she quit performing and give up music one more time. That way she can return with an even bigger sack of talent, and stick a purer form of her bad-ass music in our ear holes. All hail queen Clara for showing us the gold-laden valley of persistence.