It started with a text message from an old friend;
“You know Tonya is in Europe… You should see her show.”
My first thought was to rant about how people assume that living in Europe equals having super easy access to the world. While this is kind of true (LOL), just because I live and work (YES I HAVE A JOB) in Europe doesn’t mean that I can go to an Irish Pub in Ireland every Sunday or to have pizza in Naples every time I’m craving pizza.
It didn’t matter because I knew from that moment that seeing Tonya perform in Europe was going to be my top priority. I mean, I’ve been loving this woman since her days as a school teacher performing at Cafe Istanbul in New Orleans.
I even remember the day when she tearfully announced to a crowd full of her loyal supporters that she was leaving her teaching job to pursue her passion. A few years later, I watched as Tonya wowed the crowd and judges of NBC’s The Voice.
When I found out that Tonya was touring Europe, I knew that I had to see her and the show.
Fast forward a few weeks and TBC was sitting across from me in a famous Prague cafe. We were sitting there enjoying each other as always. Just two NOLA girls with a table full of delicious food. It was one of those surreal situations when your company has the ability to make you feel like you’re at home (in NOLA) when you are actually a million miles away. (5,200 miles to be exact)
Bundled up in a fabulous scarf and winter cap, Tonya Boyd-Cannon (TBC) indulged me in one of the best conversations I’ve had since moving to Prague. We talked about everything, from missing home to our recent adventures abroad.
On tour with the world famous Italian singer, Zucchero, the always modest Tonya seemed more humble than ever. In a short period of time, she had visited more countries and places than most people will see in a lifetime.
And while I was able to dazzle her with tours of famous bridges, castles and impromptu Starbucks concerts… She amazed me by just being herself, Tonya Boyd Cannon!
What’s been the most challenging part of your journey abroad?
One of my biggest challenges was adjusting to the climate in Europe. I struggled for a couple of weeks with sinus issues, coughing and sleeping. Once those issues resolved; I was able to focus on the bigger challenge, which was “communicating fluently” with band mates and the locals.
What’s your favorite place in Europe and your favorite performance so far?
It’s a tie between Italy and Amsterdam. My favorite performance(s) were on the stage in the Historic “Arena di Verona” and on King Charles the 4th Bridge in Prague.
You’ve spent a great deal of your time in Italy, how does the culture relate to home? How is it different?
Italy’s culture is rich with History, Arts, LOVE and FOOD. I love the “family” style of eating. There’s a lot of conversation and laughter that surrounds the room. Everyday felt like a “holiday.” I love the similarities of food, Arts and history, but I would have loved to see and hear local artists performing throughout the streets of Italy, like they do in NOLA.
What have you learned from Zucchero?
I’ve learned to NEVER STOP LEARNING! Zucchero has been in the industry for over thirty years, and he continues to “BE THE STUDENT” in and out of MUZIC!
What has he learned from you?
LOL. I really don’t know, but I have a feeling that, “You’ve got to have your heart and soul in whatever your passion may be; because you never know when you’ll meet someone that shares that same drive/passion with you!”
What will you take from your interactions with the tour members and crew?
I will take rehearsal etiquette, our conversations, and musicianship with me. I am building long-lasting friendships and business relationships with them. As much as we laugh; I love how we celebrate each other’s ventures, ideas and opportunities! It’s truly a family with a ton of wisdom.
Do you have any fears when you are onstage in front of a foreign audience?
In the beginning, I was fearful of the language barriers which is no longer an issue. Zucchero speaks of “MUZIC” being a “World Language” you may not understand the lyrics (words), but it’s the feeling that captures your heart and ears! Those words are the reason I titled my sophomore album “MUZIC Is Life!”
What has been your funniest or most interesting experience in Europe?
The funniest thing was, learning to speak Italian, German and Spanish in one day. I found myself saying, “Ciao, bueno danke, si may I have a duo espresso!” I almost forgot English!
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