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My Trip To Uzbekistan 

My trip to Uzbekistan was unreal and unforgettable. I haven’t been able to travel internationally since 2018, so this was quite an entry back into it!

To have the privilege of sharing my music with an international audience and I met such warm and welcoming people. It is hard to put into words. For a summary of what my trip entailed, simply read this article by HDI, the institute that gave me and my accompanist/friend Gyasi Ross this amazing opportunity. 

First Blog of 2022 

Welcome to my blog, ya’ll! I’m going to try to post a blog when I can–ideally twice a month or more. Let’s kick this off by giving you a general life update: 

1. I’m still in Nashville! 

I can’t believe I’ve been living in Nashville for over 2.5 years. It feels like I just got here yesterday, and also like it’s been 10 years. I don’t know about you, but the pandemic really warped my sense of time. 

Nashville has been such an adventure, and if you had asked me 10 years ago where I’d be living now, I would never have said Tennessee! But that’s life for you. Nashville is such an interesting place. It’s got a thriving music scene and some of the kindest people I’ve met. People really look out for each other and are invested in their communities. While it’s quite different from California in a lot of ways, it does have a special charm and I feel pretty comfortable living here overall. 

I’m playing shows locally, sometimes with a full band and sometimes more stripped down. My favorite spot to play in Nashville is Rudy’s Jazz Room. It’s an intimate lounge (perfect for a date!) and fits my music perfectly. Hopefully as I continue to grow a local audience, I’ll start playing in bigger venues! 

2. I’m going to Uzbekistan June 13-17 to play at the United States Embassy! 

I am sure ya’ll have questions about this one, so I’ll answer what I can: 

What? Apparently performing music at US Embassies internationally is a thing! US embassies have budgets for cultural events, and this is one of them. I am performing for their 4th of July event (even though the event is being held in June), to celebrate American independence day. As an added bonus, my dear friend Gyasi Ross is accompanying me on lead guitar! If you think about it, it’s pretty damn cool: we’re going to be the faces of American culture. This is particularly awesome to me because I believe the world might have a one-sided view of how an “American” looks, sounds and acts. 

How? This opportunity came to me through my friend Simon Tam, founder of The Slants Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to underrepresented voices (especially those within the Asian American community.) Simon reached out to me about performing internationally and I, of course, said YES! Simon then connected me to The HDI, an organization that supports cultural diplomacy and works with US embassies worldwide to engage people through music, the arts, and sports. 

Why? To be honest, I never would have thought I’d end up in Uzbekistan of all places! I didn’t know anything about that part of the world because we never learned about it. But after researching and learning more (especially about Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital), I’m super intrigued and can’t wait for this adventure! 

In a way, this is an opportunity for me to literally live my dream. Some of you know this, but when I was a teenager I wanted to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist. I’ve always lit up whenever anyone talks about traveling somewhere new or exploring a different culture, which is why I studied cultural anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. This was all before I embraced my other (secret) passion of being an artist and musician. To travel internationally as a diplomat and an artist (AND get paid to do it?!) That is truly a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. 

3. I’m working on new music (plus a surprise update)! 

The EP is well under way. I’m working on 6 brand new songs for you, and I am beyond excited for this project to come to fruition! This EP is truly a beautiful work of art, backed by some of Nashville’s finest musicians. The team I have behind me is incredibly talented. As I mentioned earlier, Nashville has such a thriving music scene and the people really look out for each other. 

Me and my co-producer Connor Gehlert have been hard at work recording instruments and vocals at his home studio in Nashville. After we finish recording, I plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for mixing, mastering and marketing the project. This will be a big feat and the 2nd time I’ve crowdfunded since my Kickstarter back in 2017 for my debut album, Moon & Sun. I’ll be sending more information and updates about that in June and July. 

So that’s it for now, folks. Thanks again for continuing to follow my musical journey. Remember to follow me on Instagram for the latest updates. 

Remember to take care of yourselves and each other. I love you!

Ellisa

P.S. I just added a virtual tip jar to my homepage! Feel free to donate a buck or two to help me continue to make music.