Thank you, everyone, for the well wishes and for wondering where I went, haha! We are doing great and #completely in love.
I moved to Nashville for three reasons. Firstly, I wanted a backyard. I’d been living in apartments in Los Angeles for 14 years, and I felt like a backyard would make me feel more accomplished and grown up. Buying a house in or around L.A. was impossible – even after saving up for years, I didn’t have enough to scratch the surface. Secondly, I wanted to be closer to my family in Georgia. I’d been on the other side of the country for so long, I started noticing a disconnect, and that’s not how I wanted things to be. Lastly, I wanted to eventually start a family of my own. My ovaries we’re like, “Uh… Hello?? The clock’s ticking. Get it together already!” …So there’s that.
Madly in love, newly married to my English (Hackney) husband, we finally made the move to our little fixer-upper this past August. We camped out in our backyard for a few weeks while repairs were made on the inside of the house. Friends and family thought we were nuts, but we found it extremely romantic. The crickets, the fresh air, the stars… And there’s something about peeing in your own damn yard that’s like a right of passage!
October came around and it was time to go on tour with the amazing Emerson Hart. He gave me an education on Nashville on the long drives between tour dates since he’s been living here for years now. On tour, we stopped in lots of my favorite places – Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta… It was a really special time for me. I knew that I needed to soak it up and really enjoy the ride, because it wouldn’t be long before I’d settle down a bit in Music City.
Once we got back from tour, I was ready to make a plan for the new album. All the songs were there – I just needed to find a great producer. As fate had it, my friends were traveling through, playing shows with Rachael Yamagata, and needed a place to crash for the night. We had an extra bedroom so I offered up some space for them. The next morning, we woke up and they took me to breakfast as a ‘thank you’, inviting their friend, Joshua Grange. Josh showed up, sat down, ordered, then proceeded to dip his toast in coffee, which I thought was a little unusual and kind of grody. He told me about his studio and I was intrigued, since I was fairly new to town and was open to meeting and working with people who seemed legit and non-flaky.
The next day I called him and swung by his studio. There was an immediate vibe. We started playing around with a song called “Pretty Easy” (the demo version from this day is what we ended up putting on the album with a few tweaks, and it’s one of my favorite songs of the bunch). We agreed to record 8 more songs – and I was so excited to finally have a plan!
But wait – there’s more.
Woah Nelly! I’m pregnant.
So many things went through my head like, “Wow, that didn’t take long.” “Is it possible to have a music career and a baby?” “How am I gonna pay for all of this?” “What is life?!?!” After lots of thought and freaking out, I started taking it one day at a time. I was about 2 months in, made a decision to use the crowdfunding tool, PledgeMusic to help cover the costs of recording and chose to have the release date be on my ‘estimated’ due date 🙂
I named the album Moving Day to represent all 9 songs I’d recorded, about moving towns, moving from relationships, moving on to being a big girl, etc. But the real reason I named it Moving Day was that every time I would press the guitar up to my belly to record, I’d feel the baby move. It was exhilarating and new …and THERE was my theme. I confirmed that I was housing a little groover, and it all came together. Life is about to change – like REALLY change. I’m moving on to the exciting and unknown!
So, it’s the day of the album release and I’m due any minute 🙂 Not exactly sure what’s in store for me, but I’m confident that I’ve made a beautiful record (and a beautiful baby) … and as far as the logistics go, I’m in Nashville, a town that seems to embrace family culture and music at the same time, in my house with a backyard and a vegetable garden that I’ve been dreaming of for all these years, and I’m ready for life’s next adventure. Sometimes the biggest leaps are the scariest, but they’re always worth it.
Here we go.
So excited to see The Hapa Tour FINALLY becoming a reality! Click HERE for cities, dates, and ticket links!
Growing up in my tiny town of Roberta, Georgia (population 808), me and my sister were the only ones who were part Asian. Like seriously, the ONLY ones.
I felt so proud to be different, but didn’t really feel a part of
something bigger until I met so many more Hapas later in life. Los
Angeles is to thank for that. I felt like I was part of some sort of
club – and being a singer, I’ve come across some really awesome Hapa artists. I had this idea to start a little tour called The Hapa Tour, so that a few of us could go around and spread the word that it’s OK to be mixed!!! It’s what makes us unique. I grew up on fried chicken and sushi and that’s what I knew as the “norm”. Other people thought it was weird, but I knew I was special 🙂
I met Marié through the Hotel Cafe, the place where I waited tables /played shows. I remember thinking that she smelled really good. Haha! Like baby powder and Jasmine or something like that. Anyway – we became friends and she was super down to make my dream of having a Hapa Tour become a reality. I’m so lucky and grateful that this thing is finally HAPA-ning (huh huh)! Not only is it great to be on tour again, with a friend… But this time it has more of a special meaning. I feel like we are representing for all the little kids out there who’ve felt confused when checking a box that asks what we are. To the ones that chose “other”… This is for them.
In March, 2009, I was supposed to open up for Jason Mraz on a European tour. At the last minute, it fell through. I was devastated but ended up booking some shows at SXSW to make use of my time. I was only there for a few days and had a pretty busy schedule. After I played my very last show (which was a morning breakfast, playing to a hungover crowd and being hungover myself) I got a text from Perez Hilton to hang out. We ended up going bar hopping all day, listening to new bands and drinking Red Bull & Vodkas. When we got to the last spot, Perez disappeared and I looked for him everywhere! I tapped the shoulder of a tall, dark and handsome man, asking him if he’d seen my friend. He said with the most amazing English accent, “Darling, I haven’t seen anyone with that description”. As soon as he started talking to me, I stopped looking for my friend. Me and Roman (who I thought was named Reginald at the time), closed down the bar, saw each other the following day, then parted ways. One week later, I browsed some travel sites and found a round-trip ticket to London from Los Angeles for $499 (unheard of!) …I bought it, emailed Roman telling him that I knew it was sudden and swore I wasn’t a crazy person, but that I would be in London the following week. I saw England for the first time and confirmed that I was madly in love with a man I met, drunkenly, at a bar called “The Rusty Spur”…
We got engaged 6 years later in the same park he took me to the very first time I visited London, marrying shortly after, in my childhood backyard of Roberta, Georgia.
It was very intimate and totally my dream wedding. It’s true what they say- It goes by so quickly. I kept reminding myself to cherish each moment with all the people from all parts of our lives, but- it was a whirlwind, still.
What amazed me most about the whole thing- was how many people came to the rescue to help make it so beautiful. My dad built the arbor. My sister, Kelly, was the MC for the night. My friend’s aunt and uncle provided the dance floor. My high school friend’s BBQ joint, Hudson’s, did the catering. My old softball coach, Mr. Gary, was the officiator. My friend’s mom did all the flowers. A friend of the family let us raid her vintage furniture store (Vintage Junktion) for decorations… Roman’s cousin’s bluegrass band (The Boxcar Bandits) came all the way from Denton, Texas to play the reception and my brother and his girlfriend, made the brunch the following morning. Also props to My sister, Tiffany, who brought 4 boxes Krispy Kreme the morning of the wedding/ helped decorate/ helped clean up the aftermath the morning after! I guess I have a little bit of ‘after wedding blues’- But now it’s on to the next chapter. Life, Part Two. It’s so exciting!
Dress: Love Marley collection by Watters
Makeup: Intensify by Patience, Warner Robins, GA
Hair: Kelly Batchelor of Stranz and Tanz, Roberta, GA
Flowers: Pam Spillers, Roberta, GA
Wedding Venue: My parents’ backyard. Thank you parents!!
Wedding Photography: Amber Gress, www.ambergress.com