The music comes first at NAMM Show

ANAHEIM, CA-The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) annual playground held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, is a sight to behold. For the local musician wanting to network and find some of the latest music equipment, NAMM has been an oasis of resources.

For the rising singer or the next upcoming great band wanting to get more eyes and ears plugged in to their music, NAMM is the place to be, especially when you consider this yearly get together of industry types is the largest gathering in the country.

Comedian Sinbad (Left) attends the 2017 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show on Day 1 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Sinbad is flanked by Stephanie Richardson and musician Paul Cannon. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

Vendors are generally happy. That’s because when you have roughly 100,000 people coming through and walking past your products for three full days, that’s good enough news to keep a smile on your face.  NAMM is a smorgasbord of pianos, guitars, violins, drums, mini-concerts, celebrities, and some of the latest tech gadgets being introduced by industry insiders.

Bobbing and weaving through a huge crowd like NAMM can be intimidating trying to navigate through. Finding a celebrity or two is not too hard. An accidental bump allowed for a chance encounter, although brief, with comedian and actor Sinbad, turned out to be short and sweet. It was just long enough for pleasantries to be exchanged and a couple of photos getting snapped up.

The incredible vocals of Shelea Frazier was on display at the 2017 NAMM Show. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

Since he was about to sit down and grab his lunch, you might say that it probably was not the right time to schmooze. But being the good sport that he was, Sinbad went ahead and obliged our crew with some unforgettable moments. And when you’re speaking of moments, the chance of an icon walking right into your space can be somewhat intimidating.

Especially when that icon happens to be Stevie Wonder. Wonder, surrounded by a team of bodyguards, walked in and around he convention listening to different floor presentations by keyboard vendors. And for those individuals hoping to see Wonder perform, they were just out of luck. At least, we were.

For those Wonder admirers and fans who missed out on the music legend breaking out with “Superstition” or “Isn’t She Lovely,” they still got their live music fix on as artists, little or well-known, were filtered sporadically throughout the convention center’s three levels.

Hearing musician Natalie Cadet is like listening to a breath of fresh air. Literally. Signed to Breath of Life Air Records, Cadet is a vocal combination of Alicia Keys and Lalah Hathaway with her jazz-laced sound. Though she and others may differ on that assessment.

“It’s been described as very jazz-based with R &B rthythms,” Cadet said. “I’ve been described as a combination of Take 6, Janet Jackson and Corrine Bailey Rae.”

For Cadet, NAMM represented an opportunity to meet and greet with fellow musicians like herself.

Natalie Cadet gave the 2017 NAMM audience a performance to enjoy on Day 2 of the yearly conference. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

“I think what it means is finding connections, re-connecting with people I know, just getting an understanding of a bigger world of musicians out there. There’s a lot to connect with. I heard that NAMM was like a Disneyland for musicians, so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

When it comes to her biggest musical influences, the wonderfully talented Cadet is still finding that out. According to her website, Cadet is the oldest of six sisters, and spent a lot of time during her formative years singing Christian music with her siblings. Now that she’s branched off into another genre of music, those influences are expanding, she said.

“Right now, it keeps evolving,” said Cadet. “I was not allowed to listen to too much except classical music and some gospel music growing up. So when I tell you that there is a whole world of music that I’m getting to know, it’s an understatement. So it keeps evolving. Right now, I’m crazy about James Taylor, Kenny Loggins. I’m obsessed with Michael Jackson. I love Brazilian music, Latin jazz. Jazz outside of the U.S. is something that I’ve really learned to love. There’s a bunch of other people that I that I think are just as influential.”

Dixie Jade performs at the 2017 NAMM Show. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

One of the biggest things artists can hope for at NAMM is picking up an endorsement or two, said Dixie Jade lead vocalist Andrea Crisalli.

“For musicians, it’s endorsements,” Crisalli said. “That’s what we’re going for because we’re artists. We’re not endorsed by anyone yet. She has a couple of endorsements, but we’re looking for some others as well.”

The two-member group, which is rounded out by lead guitarist Dominique Ruiz, spins a unique and contagious country soul sound that kind of rubs off on you like a nice slow fire. The heartwarming “Grit and Amazing Grace,” embodies the Dixie Jade sound. After Dixie Jade performed their hit single on the NAMM Sennheiser Stage, Crisalli said the overall experience at NAMM was incredible.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Crisalli. “But it’s exciting. It’s very exciting.”

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