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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.
Changamiré at GIFT
While touring the old city our first day, we saw a street lined with people selling wares. Marina had told us it was the Dry Bridge. Tati and I decided to check it out on Friday. It would be our first sightseeing venture without escorts.
My performance was at 10:00 PM with an 8:00 PM sound check, so around 1:00 in the afternoon, Tati and I headed out on our way to Dry Bridge for some shopping. Georgians speak Russian as well as Georgian, so Tati was able to get directions for us as we walked closer and closer to Dry Bridge. We passed the U.S. Embassy, which was closed because of the U.S. national mourning of Ronald Reagan. After walking down steep steps through the landscape surrounding a bridge, we landed on the street filled with craftsmen and painters, and were in heaven. We bought small ceramic hanging pieces with "Tbilisi" on them, handmade purses and clothing, pottery, and horn sculptures.
I was at the hotel realizing that my performance was upon me. Nerves were settling in. Tati and Clifton had ventured out; I stayed in my room and ordered room service. After eating, I practiced scales and got my minidisc recorder ready for the show. My vocal chords felt good, and I thought I sounded pretty strong. My red Ralph Lauren gown needed pressing, but the hotel had a 3-hour turnaround to do this and I only had one or two hours before time to leave the hotel, so I pressed the gown.
Tati returned to the room and began getting dressed. Her friend from Moscow, Kaha, had arrived in Tbilisi. Kaha was a native Georgian in town on business, and he wanted to take us to dinner after the performance. Near 8:00 we knocked on Clifton's door to let him know we were going to the lobby to meet our driver. Clifton came out in a black suit and a tie with his dreadlocks tied back into a ponytail. He looked so handsome and different because he had worn tee shirts and his hair out up to that point. Tati and I showered him with compliments and snapped many pictures of him. Then we left for Hotel Old Tbilisi.
Once there, Clifton and I took to the stage and warmed up. Keti was there, beautifully dressed, smiling ear to ear, and told us that she was receiving lots of calls about the performance and was expecting a full house. Shadow Productions, a Georgian production and publicity company, adjusted the sound and rearranged our positions on the stage. Andro, head of the company, put my minidisc recorder in place to record the show. He explained that he would record the audience a few minutes prior to Keti introducing us, to give the whole feel of the concert.
Then, management of Hotel Old Tbilisi directed Tati and I to the dressing room. Occasionally, Keti would come in and get me to introduce me to someone who had just arrived. I would see the performance room filling up, and this made me more nervous. But I would return to the dressing room with Tati to continue dressing and makeup. Eventually, Clifton knocked on the door and joined us, and Tati left and sat in the audience. It was show time.
We could hear Keti speaking Georgian to the audience then English. Then she introduced us, and Clifton and I took to the stage under a warm applause, with Clifton in his handsome black suit and me in the red gown. We opened the show with "Summertime", which brought greater applause after the first lyric. We went on to perform "Killing Me Softly", and "Only Human". Then Clifton played two solo pieces, "Equinox" and "Prelude to A Kiss". We continued
We could hear Keti speaking Georgian to the audience then English. She introduced us and Clifton and I took to the stage under warm applause. We opened with "Summertime," which brought greater applause after the first lyric. We went on to perform "Killing Me Softly," and "Only Human." Then Clifton played two solo pieces, "Equinox" and "Prelude to A Kiss." We continued this way for an hour, where at concert's end, we took our bows under great applause. So, we performed "God Bless the Child" as an encore. Keti's husband brought a beautiful bunch of calla lilies to me on the stage and another gentleman brought a bunch of red roses during the applause.