Monnette's Blog

Monnette's Blog

You be Rumblin' Cuz!

Written by: Monnette Sudler-Honesty

My grandmother and I often sat at the kitchen table together. My two sons and I moved in with her after separating from my husband. That was when my children really began to understand family time at the dinner table.  Prior to moving in with grand mom, we ate at the coffee table watching television most of time; missing that special time to commune and have conversation, learn table manners and the like.  I am not saying my sons were heathens at all but they were missing this experience. Seldom would we eat as a family before moving with Grand mom. Now grand mom or G mom as I liked to call her was setting the tone with prayer and prayer cards at the table. As time passed I went from no work to working three jobs, it seemed that ever time I thought I was getting ahead something else would happen. That little extra money or extra time always got absorbed. So one day I asked the question,

“Grand mom do you ever get a break? Do the challenges ever stop coming?"

She quietly looked at me and said "no" you just get to rest between bouts."

 That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear because it was so frustrating but once I accepted that fact, it was on. It's always been on in my subconscious because as a child I was always challenged for good and not so good. It is true that children are resilient. The main thing is you fight to win or fight to survive and fight to love another day.

Now my sons have grown into fine men. I am writing while sitting in karate class with my grandson. It's interesting that the only girl in class started crying while she did her routine. The class was being tested individually for their next belt. The Sensei explained to the class in response to her tears,

“When you take your test you have to be ready to weather the storm. I’m not going to be easy on you and neither is life but you learn from everything you experience good or bad, right or wrong.”

One day I pulled up to the toll booth and the toll taker said to me...

"You look like you never had a problem in your life" I smiled and thought to myself you just don't know. Things happen; you deal with it and move on. You don't need to carry your baggage on your face for all to see. No one will pity you; most likely they will try to avoid you because you could drain their energy.

As a musician I started out with a group called the Sounds of Liberation. They did not cater to my being female at all. I had to carry my weight literally. I had to carry my equipment and help others. No one carried more then they could handle. But all the feminine etiquette was out the window. For years I didn't know what it was like to do a gig out of town and sleep in a hotel. Except the time Mr. Gilmore was our manager and he took us to NYC. He did it right but right was expensive. So I /we slept over friends homes/apt., in the studio, on a chair, on a sofa, on the floor, with heat or maybe not. Now, it has to be correct or not at all. I think they call it paying your dues or just being broke! I learned that musicians live in multiple worlds. The persona we create for our audiences and the reality we live in each day which may be prosperous or in poverty or working a day gig. You know, like superman/woman Clark Kent by day, super musician by night.

There is a price to follow one’s passion, but happiness was not one of them. I was happy!

It's ironic that in my career the people that have angered me the most have made me the strongest. The disrespect can be difficult to take but baby let me say thank you for my increasing determination.

My friends, my family, the people that are genuinely loving, caring and in my corner, I can't thank enough. Life is not an easy road to travel without love.

When my musician friend Squirrel said to me "you be rumblin' cuz".

I looked at him puzzled, but he knew the road I'd traveled and yet I'm still smiling, giving thanks, and doing my thing. Resting between bouts but when the bell rings..."I be rumbling cuz"!


Inspiration Comes in Many Ways

Written By: Monnette Sudler-Honesty

On August 15th, 2014 the world lost a wonderful, outstanding musician and man violinist/pianist John Blake. I remember John from way back when I first started out. My first gig  as a leader was at the Black Tea House run by pianist Alfie Pollitt and his wife. Even back then Alfie was into eating healthy and he continues to be on that journey. I heard John jamming on piano and violin at the Black Tea House. He was amazing. Over the years we played together on different events which was always a pleasure. He always seemed to be working on a project in addition to his gigs with McCoy Tyner for example. I admired John. I can't say we spoke often mostly in passing. The thing is that last year the later part of 2013 when I needed help he was there along with many others. My friends/sisters Trapeta and Denise planned a benefit for me, Jazz Bridge also was of a great support. I was diagnosed with IPF, Idiopatheic Pulmonary Fibrosis. The benefit was per-transplant, Denise called John to play among others, he agreed and contributed monetarily as well! The entire club had prayer lead by Veronica Underwood and Steve Green. It was amazing and so moving! Two weeks later I received a double lung transplant! God is so good and prayer works. So when I received a message saying John was in the hospital I made sure I visited him. I had known he was having health challenges so I would call him periodically to ask how he was doing. Sometimes we would compare notes about our health issues, like giving ourselves a belly shot. The thought of it creeped me out. But with the help of Trapeta's sister Dun-weah I did it.  Giving myself a needle in my belly was a challenge and John was about to go through the same thing. He wanted to know what it was like. When I visited him at the hospital the first time he was having his dialysis treatment and was not in his room. I stayed and talked with Barbara his wife. She is a lovely person. As per the family's request I called prior to visiting and made no big announcements on social media and such. John and I had a good visit the following week. I had never had the opportunity to talk with John other then on a superficial level on the job or in passing. We talked about our health compared notes, talked about music, life experiences. When I talked about finding a job, right when I was about to correct myself we both said not a job but opportunities. John nodded in affirmation. In speaking to others about John he seemed to have the ability to make everyone feel special. What a gift. Each individuals health issues have different challenges. I tried to encourage John but I could see he was tired. We all deal with illness in our on way. I was still surprised to learn of John's passing. I had a message from Akif saying Kenny Kellum called to say John had passed on. Then he called me. I had just left a rehearsal with Barbara Mills in Chester when I listened to his message. I pulled over and thought to call Sumi Tonooka because she was friends with John. We had only spoken about John a few days before planning to visit Him together while she was in town. I was shook up. While attending John's funeral I learned so much about John the man. At different times in my life I have been inspired by someone who probably without their knowledge had encouraged me to fight. My sons Erik and Lemar Honesty have always been my muse. John is now my inspiration. I keep his program/obituary close. I look at his photo holding his violin, his bow seemingly pointing at me, with his infectious smile, motivating me to get off my butt and get it done! I can do it, create opportunities and be ready when an opportunity arises. I have another chance. I cannot waste it. Not  now, not ever. Not anymore.

John Blake


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