Friday, December 10, 2010

Things Remembered!

Some stories just take time to process, and more time to gain a proper perspective, in order to relate them to others. This is one such story for me. It took these 6 years to be ready to share it with you all. It is a story that needs to be told, and I hope to do it justice. The first time I had to be away from family for Christmas, was the most painful experience I had ever lived through prior to 2008, but that is another story I am not ready to tell. 
I don’t think living is what I felt like I was doing, from the moment I stepped onto the plane, until that one Christmas night. I was asked to fill in for a friend on a cruise ship in Hawaii for three weeks and at the time I had not worked in a month. I was trying to decide what I was going to do with my music career while the corporate events world struggled to recover from 9-11. As a matter of fact it was my wife who actually accepted the job for me. I refused to go… If you guys haven’t figured out who is boss in your homes just yet, take it from me your wives all know the truth.

Three weeks before Christmas, I found myself standing in the Honolulu airport, waiting for transportation to the cruise terminal, at the world famous Aloha Tower near downtown. I was glued to the window like a child soaking in one of God’s most glorious landscapes. I couldn’t decide which way to look. The ocean was, and is, breath taking. The mountainous dormant craters were green, like you know God meant, when he spoke Green into being. I was silent and in awe of the beautiful spirits of the local folk, but I was truly, and deeply, sad that everyone I love wasn’t there to experience this wonder with me. My sadness was multiplied by that ever-present desire that my wife be by my side. Yes, I do love to travel, but I never truly enjoy most of it, without her commentary and laughter. I know one day we will travel to all of these amazing places again, so she can walk on the beaches of Hawaii with me, instead of seeing pictures of her name drawn in the sand.

Once I was settled into ship life, (I had never been on a ship before), I was actually happy to perform. Anything to take my mind off of the fact that Christmas was coming and I would not be spending it with my little ones. The performance venue was very nice and the people were very receptive, and yes, I smiled as if nothing was bothering me. That was little help, because from that first night, no matter how much I smiled, not matter how upbeat my songs, no matter the level of reverie in the room, people would sit and cry every night.  Several years after the fact, I ran into one of the people who had been there one of those weeks, and had witnessed the crying, and she told me that she personally had cried because the sound of my voice reminded her of longing for things she remembered. She said one Christmas song I sang actually sounded like a broken heart weeping.  I knew my sadness was well founded and real to me, but I HAD NO IDEA that what was down in my spirit could get past my smile. You know; ‘Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though its breaking, etc…”  

There was one couple, who came every night for five nights, and in speaking with them, I learned that the wife’s sick parents were on the cruise with them, and that this was probably their last Christmas together. I asked why I had not met her parents, and she told me that her older sister had come along to take care of the aged couple for the trip because she was most familiar with their needs. She said they went to bed each night on a regular schedule. The young couple gave me a sense that the older sister was very protective and IN CHARGE!!

Well Christmas day finally came and I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. I lay in bed all morning and well into the afternoon. Why get up?…no Christmas tree, no little children jumping into my bed dragging me to a bedazzled tree, to open presents, no eggnog, no Christmas morning kisses and hugs, no Christmas presents! Did I mention no Christmas presents? ...For the first time in my life I would not be giving a single gift to those I love. I would not be opening a single present. I was finally reduced to the guy providing the paycheck to pay for it all. I was too depressed. Even when I called home my wife would not let me talk to the children she did not want them to be sad, and she would not talk to me because she knew it would ruin her ability to keep the brave face for the children. I WAS ALONE, and let me tell you, IT SUCKS!!! I then understood why Christmas has the largest number of suicides of all the seasons during the year. Though it was an impossible time to be alone, I learned something so amazing that Christmas. 

I do a lot of praying, and I know God was probably a little disgusted with my watery, and morose prayers. I was embarrassed to be feeling so ridiculously sorry for myself. It could not have been uglier… trust me, but I prayed for joy, and almost anything to cheer me up. What would he send to help me get through this one VERY LONG DAY? Wouldn’t you know it, God in his truly infinite wisdom, also has a serious sense of humor. I turned on the television and there was a movie just starting, so I thought cool, ‘I won’t go out to eat, I’ll order room service, and I’ll just lay here and watch.’ Have any of you seen the Notebook? Apparently I was the only one in the world who hadn’t seen it. When I later inquired of my friends, some cringed, and some just laughed out loud, especially when I told them that I had spent my lonely Christmas morning watching. For those of you who have not seen “The Notebook”, let me give you fair warning. This is not a movie you watch when depressed. 

The main characters of the movie relive their love story of 50 years, as written in a personal diary or as the the writer calls it; the notebook. At the end you realize the storyteller had taken the time to write their story because she knew she was going to suffer severe memory loss with her progressing Alzheimer’s disease. IN the movie her husband reads the notebook story to her until her memory returns, and they have a few short moments of recognition where she know him and they are again as they were, before she floats away again, into her memory loss. He reads it to her time, and time again, waiting for those few minutes when she can remember him and they dance together to their favorite song. In the end they pass away, lying next to each other, during one of her moments of clarity, and are found the next morning by the attending nurses. This is a beautiful story though very sad.

That evening I went to sing as usual, wearing my smile and feeling lonelier than ever. Before I started singing, a beautiful woman in her late 50’s approached me wanting to ask me some questions. She was very poised in her black Chanel suit, blond hair slicked back, and looking very much like an older Catherine Deneuve. She was quite cold in her questioning and stern. She said, “I am here with my younger sister, her husband, and my aging parents.” I did not interrupt her because I could see how intense she was. I got the distinct impression she was scrutinizing even the way I was breathing, so I stood very still and relaxed to let her tell her story.
She told me that earlier that Christmas morning, the whole family climbed into a rental car in Maui and drove the road to Hana. For those of you unfamiliar, this scenic drive is among the most beautiful in the world. The road winds through lush greenery unlike anything I have ever seen, along steep cliffs, and endless blue ocean views. It is a rather long drive and so, during the journey, the family listened to my Christmas CD. She first said to me, “I want to tell you what happened to me today and then I need to you to tell me what you think about my story.” I said sure, not quite understanding what she meant. She told me that Her mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s and that her father was very ill and lost without her. He was very hurt that she did not know him. During their long drive to Hana my version of “The Lord’s Prayer” started playing on the radio. The hard woman's face grew even more ice-like as she told me she had been sitting in the back seat next to her mother, who had not recognized her in four years, when all of a sudden, her mother took her by the hand and began singing along, and singing directly to her, like she had always done, when the woman had been a little girl. She paused in the telling to watch me, expecting something from me… The first thing I said was, “That was a serious God moment you had, thank you for sharing it with me. I am so happy for you. That really made my day.” My comment broke all of the ice from her demeanor and she was completely different at the mention of God. 

She told me that she had refused to allow the situation to touch her fully until she found out whether or not I was believer. I did not understand what the issue would be regardless, but I assured her that God authors such miracles, and not men. I did not wish to debate her reasoning, because to me the fact that her mother woke up and knew her again was vastly more important than any religious opinion. God puts his stamp on many things none of us will understand on this side of heaven. She finished her story, in tears, saying how after her mother finished singing to her, she told her daughter thanks for all of her help, kissed her cheek, and then she vanished again. Everyone in the car knew that special gift was what the older sister had truly needed. She would have that memory long after her mother passed on. She wept, shook my hand, and thanked me for the music and for helping her mother come back to remember her. She thanked me even more that the music had taken her back to a place in her childhood long forgotten. She was overwhelmed that of all the things her mother could have remembered, all of the lost things, the forgotten things now gone from her world; that God had allowed the oldest daughter to be the one of the things remembered.

As for me, that was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received with the exception of He who is the reason for the season. It taught me Christmas is definitely about anything but self and I was ashamed that I wasted the day in bed. God did however, give me “The Notebook” to show me, he was thinking of me, had a plan for my day, and no matter what he was going to be there for me. He made sure I knew that particular Christmas, that my heart was one the things He remembered. May it be so all of my Christmases. May you find ways to remember God and others this Christmas and may you see and recognize when God makes your world, and your hearts, part of His wondrous Things remembered. Grace, Mercy, and God’s Favor…Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chills in Summer!!

For this down home Texas boy, Hawaii is quite an experience in itself, but imagine it's cool sun and crystal clear surf in combination with an amazing evening of romantic music from extraordinary voices, and you will be imagining a combination that sent chills up and down my spine for three solid hours.
Live from the historic Hawaii Theatre in Downtown Honolulu, World Entertainment Group, offered the screaming locals and regular tourists a truly eclectic concert of sound and story telling. If you know anything about Hawaiian culture, then you know that these lovely people thrive on the power of 'talking story'; as they say in their native pigeon english. This simply means to tell the story in words that paint lasting images on the hearts and minds of the listening audience. Though I was onstage performing during the 3 hours, I was equally caught up in the moment like all other ticket purchasers. Benny Mardones of 80's fame, John Ford Coley, Joe Puerta of Ambrosia, Angelli Callo, and myself, were backed by the amazing J. Michaels band, for the evening of performances.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Benny Sang his mega hit song; "Into the Night" after which he told the story of how the song came to be written and for whom. Benny took a stance of sheer humility as the audience screamed their accolades and adoration like Michael Jackson had walked out before them. I could understand their appreciation because I now know why they call him the voice. There is nothing like singing for an audience full of people who love the message of true love. There was that moment you always hope to see as a concert goer; where the audience and the performer connect on a level that is pure emotional magic. I am fortunate to be able to tell all of you I witnessed such a moment. I saw this Rock and Roll Hall of famer, finish his last note, the band stopped, and there was that pregnant moment of profound silence. You could tell Benny was very moved by the audiences appreciation and in that moment I saw him decide to share a very candid moment with all of us. He tells us all that he has never been married after the traditional fashion; wedding gowns, cakes, receptions, and a preacher. It was the courthouse the first time. He calls his long time girlfriend up onto the stage, gets on one knee, with ring in hand and asks for her to marry him. No one seemed to breathe in anticipation of her answer. There were tears, shocked surprised gasps, and then a sigh of joy that erupted into a deafening roar as he stood and kissed her with a kiss for all time. She said yes. I have been to many concerts and I can tell you here and now, if you did not attend the "Love Rocks" concert three saturdays ago, you have missed a soul moving experience.

This down home Texas boy loves his romance under the Hawaiian moon. I love Great music with a delivery that I can feel and taste. I like the story telling this culture is known for. Wait, who am I kidding? I LOVE HAWAII PERIOD; who wouldn't? Most of all, I love my music with chills on top of a romantic summer sizzle.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


"Love Rocks" Returns to Hawaii at the Hawaii Theatre ! Tickets on sale July 9th!

For six years I have been busy with family matters and traveling in the cruise industry; to see the world and to build my fan base. I can safely say it has been both challenging and rewarding at the same time. It is now time to pull all things together, throw it up in the air, and trust God. To all of you wonderful people who appreciate my music, CREATIVE MEMORIES, BeautiControl, Mary Kay, Home Interiors, and my AMWAY friends out there, I am finally bringing you the music. The new website will be live in ONE WEEK or less. My travel schedule is winding down with one last tour through the Hawaiian Islands, ending on SEPTEMBER 25th with a wonderful concert at the HAWAII THEATRE!!
Join me and a host of Stars much more famous than I. See the details below!! 
                                                        I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

Love Rocks 2010 Hawaii Theatre Promo (low res) 


Love Rocks line up 

WT Greer 
1. Fall into my arms 
2. Hello 
3. Promo 

Joe Puerta of Ambrosia 
1. You’re the only woman 
2. How much I feel 

John Ford Coley 
1. Love is the answer 
2. Really love to see you tonight 

Benny Mardones 
1. Into the night 
2. Let’s hear it for love 

J Michaels Band 
1. Smoke from a distant fire 
2. Oh darling 
3. Drift away 

Love Rocks 2010 Hawaii Theatre Promo (low res) 

Mike Doran
Honolulu USA Office  808 833 0056
Las Vegas USA Office 702 560 0274
Makati Philippines Office  +63 2 899 1812
Worldwide Line (USA number)  615 732 5708
Manila cel +63 917 916 9121
          "create reasons for success, not excuses for failure" 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Michael Jackson

Will We Still Not Dance?
Will we ever know the truth of Michael on this side of heaven, and does it really matter once we hear the beat?

Will we still not dance? 

How many hit songs will now be released previously held back from our ears, because of shame and speculation? Does it matter once we hear the beat?

Will we still not Dance?!?!

How many reports will be rendered and how many tears will be shed? How many arguments will be exchanged over his innocence and or guilt?  How many of us really care about all of that once the music starts?


The reigning king of pop had the greatest and most highly anticipated appointment of his existence on June 25th and I hope it was all he hoped it to be. I hope when the angels heard his song of revelation and honor to God in heaven... THEY DANCED!!

We are sad because we will miss him being alive and dancing for us. We will miss the one who taught us all to dance. We all feel in some small way we know him. FOr those of us who love him for his music and his magic perhaps all the frenzy over his death will be because we realize that through his music we really did know him. We don't need more than that.

When his private world was partially exposed we found his reality too fantastic to digest and so we vilified him. ‘A mile in my shoes’ is the phrase that come s to my mind. We did not need more of him than the music and that was all he freely gave.

I once worked with a lady who grew up down the street from the Jacksons in Gary, IN and her words were quite revealing. She says Michael was too young for the spotlight and did not have proper counseling and did not have mature and constant adult supervision. He was simply not handled properly. She said he was abused in ways that make a child never want to grow up.  Children abused like this feel safest with other children who have no hidden agenda. Was he too old to spend so much time with children? I wonder why they never talked about the fact that he gave to more charities than any other person in history... it IS IN THE GUINNESS book of world records.

Other industry people have told me that several of the adults in Michael’s life truly abused him. Perhaps he had a broken place in his soul which caused this fear of adulthood and this ultimately manifested an overwhelming fear of, and fascination with death.
Perhaps his heart could not face growing up and when it was time to really lay it all down, and we all know that his body was trying to tell him the same, Michael found it too hard to face. 

His personal revelation and subsequent announcement that this would be his final concert tour must have really shocked him to the point of a determination to work harder and to shine even brighter, but we saw that it proved to be too much. Some cutting edge psychologists who study the emotions behind actual physical pain say that a heart problem stems from a fear to face life’s realities. Whether any of this be true or not and whether it makes any difference once the music starts …

The king of pop demands our respect and requires an active show of appreciation not with bows and personal praise but simply by the swaying of hips and rhythmic movement of feet! The lip service he requires are repeating his songs with a smile of joy. He is not a hard king to appreciate. 

Who can sit still when Michael sets the groove? Who can resist raising their voice when Michael starts to sing? Have we not all sang “Cause it’s the Thriller” “Say you wanna be startin something, You got to be startin something” “Because I’m Bad, I’m bad, really, really bad!”? Have we not all sang “We are the World, We are the children!” 

His is a name that is only unknown by the very young. Even the farthest reaches of the earth know the name Michael Jackson and it is because the music has a sound that speaks to the deepest part of our humanity. It touches us in a place more rudimentary than language. If music is the universal language then nobody has ever spoken it better than Michael Jackson. We have all run to the dance floors, packed arenas, and crowded around our televisions to hear and see him speak it with the greatest effect and finesse. We have allowed him to cast his spell over us, for truly it was magic, and we love magic.
So come now Sony music!!! What unreleased treasures have you hidden in your vaults for those of us who love the music beyond the legend...