It's January 8th, 2017. Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. Instead, two days from now many of us will mourn the one year anniversary of his passing. My first post in this blog was shortly after that, discussing how his death affected me as a person and an artist. Right now as I write this post, "Rock n Roll Suicide" is playing on my turntable, the encore from the David Bowie Live Santa Monica '72 album, the song I love so much I tattooed a lyric from it over my heart. "Oh no love, you're not alone." "Ho lo ahuva, lo at l'vod."
It's 2017, and one year ago today I was in Jerusalem with a group of strangers, a few of whom had become fast friends. We visited the Kotel and I said a prayer, felt the presence of my Jewish grandfather that I never met, and thanked the city and the spirits for a special day. I wore a Bowie shirt, in honor of his birthday, and thought of all the things I had to be grateful for. Three days later, eleven days into the year, while sitting in an Israeli national park, I found out my hero had died in the night.
It's 2017, and 2016, the garbage year that so many of us struggled and fought through and hopefully survived, is over. My hope is that 2017 will be better, some would say it has to be, but then we look at the state of politics and social divisions in America and I'm not so sure, but I have to have hope. (I tattooed that on me, too.)
It's 2017, it's Bowie's birthday, and I'm remembering Bowie, the icon, someone I never saw live, but whose music and artistry and passion I loved. Bowie was never afraid to be who he was, whoever that was, and was not afraid for that to change, dramatically and often.
That concept is key to me, as an artist - to be willing, able, and sometimes even eager to change. As a Taurus, I am innately opposed to change, so it's something I constantly struggle with. However I think a focus on progress, moving forward, and evolving is important. Letting things die so new things can be born is a part of life. And that idea is why I relate so strongly to the iconography and lore of the mythical phoenix.
Phoenixes, in addition to all the traits above, are most known as creatures of rebirth, bursting into flames and being reborn from the ashes. If ever there was an artist who was a phoenix, it was Bowie, constantly creating and killing new personas every few years, from Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane to Halloween Jack and the Thin White Duke. Ultimately all of these characters became disposable in the face of something new. All simultaneously eternal, ephemeral, and empty.
2016 was full of many goodbyes, celebrity deaths, jobs ending, life changing, and 2017 will be no different. In August Fuerza Bruta, where I had worked for nearly six years, finally closed off-Broadway. Next week I face saying goodbye to my new Broadway family at Jersey Boys when the show ends its historic eleven-year run on January 15th. After performing with the company at Gypsy of the Year last month, I have truly felt a part of the JB family at the August Wilson Theatre, and next week's ending is sure to be a tearful one for many including myself. I admit auditioning and other career moves have been on a bit of a slow track over the last couple months as I've spent almost every day at one job or another and almost every night at Jersey Boys, seeing the run through to its close. But even big Broadway machines eventually die (except Phantom). So now I face two months of less certainty in my work life, another opportunity to reinvent my future, a chance to lay the groundwork for 2017.
Beginning is challenging. Starting new is scary. But if one of the biggest pop stars of all time could do it, very publicly, and right up to the very end of his life, I think I'll be alright. Let's light this fire together, everybody. May your 2017 be full of bravery, risks, adventure, and success.