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I am Changamiré, a Jazz/R&B singer in Washington, DC, USA. This story is about my performance at the 8th Annual Georgian International Festival of the Arts (GIFT), the weekend of June 11, 2004, in the warm and charming city of Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. I have always wanted to perform abroad, and Tbilisi was the perfect city to first partake of such an endeavor.
Tati was still sleeping when I returned to the room, and I tiptoed around to keep from waking her. She had been so supportive and such a great help that I didn't want to make her feel she had to come to the second performance if she was tired.
About 8:20, Clifton and I went down to the room where we were told to wait before being called to enter the restaurant and perform. Andro came into the waiting room and told us that the show was being delayed because a big shot businessman had not arrived. This performance was for Ambassadors and other V.I.P. types.
Finally, it was show time. Andro motioned us into the large restaurant, filled with applause and an elegant audience. I was wearing a black Elie Tahari gown. We performed a shorter set, starting with "Our Love is Here to Stay" and ending with "The Key" from my CD. We were received well. Then Clifton and Tati, who had awakened and dressed beautifully, surprised me with a bouquet of blue stargazers, and the GIFT committee presented me with a beautiful oil painting titled "Night in Georgia." Afterwards, reporters and fans bombarded Clifton and I. It was thrilling all over again!
While people were surrounding us, I would occasionally glance around the room to marvel at all the activity. Youngsters hovered around the piano getting playing tips from Clifton. We discovered that Keti's husband was an extraordinary classical pianist, and he was among the group surrounding Clifton. Once or twice, I noticed a young man staring at me, and I would smile at him. The exchanges were interrupted by Keti, who would want to introduce me to someone. First, she introduced me to the Armenian Ambassador to Georgia. He was the sweetest man. She also introduced me to a tall, American man. He said he was working on a multi-million dollar project in Georgia. He continued to say that my singing made him realize that life was about more than the money. It was one of the greatest compliments I've ever had. THEN he said, "...and I would like to sponsor you." I couldn't believe it!! After years of looking for sponsorship, here it was approaching me. We parted in agreement to contact each other in the near future.
l. to r. Mrs. Harry Molenaar, wife of the Netherlands Ambassador to Georgia, Changamire, and Keti Dolidze, GIFT Artistic Director
After the crowd had thinned, Keti invited us to her home for tea. Tati had made other plans with her friends, so Clifton and I accepted the invitation. I was leaving the restaurant to go to my room to change when the young man who had been staring asked me shyly for an autograph. He handed me one of my promotional postcards to sign, but I remembered what seemed to be his admiration and decided to autograph an 8 X 10 photo for him instead. His eyes popped open wide when I pulled the picture out of my music folder. It was the only one I had given out in this manner. I asked his name and autographed the picture accordingly. I turned to give it to him and saw his admiring expression turn into one prepared for crying, once he saw it. I immediately left. If he was going to cry over the exchange and/or performance, I didn't want to see it. The idea of it made me sad. I was not unapproachable or some phenomenon. He didn't know me well enough to know that we could have hung out together if I were staying in Tbilisi longer. Looking back, I should have told him this.
One Last Hoorah
After I changed my clothes, I returned to the restaurant to meet Keti and Clifton to go to her house for tea. Her sweet, talented husband was, of course, going with us, as well as two of her friends. This was going to be the first Georgian home we had visited, and even though our flight for Washington was leaving in the morning at 6:50 AM, we wanted to see Keti's home badly.
It was about 10:00 PM. Keti sat in the front passenger seat, and her husband got behind the steering wheel. Clifton and I realized that there was little room in the back seat of the small car for four of us and figured I would sit on his lap. But Keti said, "This is the Georgian way! Everyone squeezes in!" I looked at both of her friends and saw that they were not phased one bit by the situation. It was apparently normal, so we all squeezed in without lapping up.