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My interview with Mike Howard, jazz guitarist for Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Peggy Lee
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I can only muster up one word to describe my interview with jazz guitarist and my friend Mike Howard. "Resolve".
Anytime I find myself overwhelmed about my own business or my own personal stress, I think of Mike. I think of what it takes for someone who just only recently recovered from Myeloma cancer and a double leg amputation to maintain such a positive outlook on life.
I was there in the hospital after he went in to diagnose the problem and was there right after they took his legs. I never saw fear in his eyes - only resolve. I had a sense that the one thing getting him through this ordeal was to get back on stage to perform again. Mike told me time after time how excited he was to get back to work and his plans to record again.
This is the guy who had played with Donny Hathaway on the heralded live album. Who played with Marvin Gaye and Peggy Lee. Who would have plenty of opportunities to dwell on the past but is choosing to focus on the future.
As Mike pulled up to the studio for our interview, I immediately noticed something different as he got out of the van. How could I have not noticed? He was now walking on his new prosthetic legs. (He even did a little dance as he entered the studio.)
It was during the end of the interview while Mike played a few licks that I noticed what was happening. Mike was clearly releasing what has probably been bottled up for some time. His release came from his soul through his guitar and amplified not only by his amp but a potential audience who could share in this experience with him.
I always like to find a message in all of my interviews. What I was able to pull out of this experience was a lesson for all of us. First, you can meet adversity head on or cower from it. If there was anyone who deserved a reason to be negative it would be Mike Howard, but as he told me. He chose life instead.
Secondly, communicating our own experiences can be a wildly powerful force in our lives. I know deep down Mike wanted this interview for more than vanity reasons. Mike knew it was time to share his experience to help himself and quite possibly many others.
I am proud to call Mike Howard my friend and I know many others who have stood by his side through these difficult times share in his excitement as he begins the next step of his journey. (Legendary Jazz guitarist, George Benson dropped by Mike's house recently to visit which Mike thoroughly enjoyed.)
I recently sat in on a jam session and have to tell you that Mike has never sounded better. He is working with a group of top notch players and in the process of working on original material which I am certain will lead to a recording studio in the near future.
If you are interested in learning more about Mike or would like to offer a donation to help with his medical bills, please consider visiting ww.MikeHowardJazz.com.