finding stella.

I know I've said this before but as much as I enjoyed planning the wedding and creating all of the little details, I really am relieved that it is finally over. I have this huge chunk of free time now, allowing me to tick items off of my massive to-do list.

Saying that, I have recommenced my project to discover the Parisian jazz life of my dad's mother Stella, or as I call her the other crazy grandma. Good Lord, if it's not a living grandmother calling off a wedding vendetta style, it's a late grandmother haunting me through hipster French radio stations. I could never say that I come from a boring family, that's for sure. I still can't help but wonder if this is one of the reasons why I came to Paris - as if she gave me a little push somehow. She passed away in 2008 (which I found out early 2009 from a Youtube comment of a since removed clip of her performing on French television in the 70s) which was right around the time that I randomly decided to move to France. Who knows...

At this point, I'm piecing together what I can find online, remembering stories my father had told me, and reaching out to remaining living relatives. On the Woodstock '69 footage, I can see my uncle Sean standing on stage during Santana's set where it's rumored that he was a family friend (so random), and Chick Corea worked on a track of a strange album called We Are the Levitts that my entire family (including my father who is on the cover) released in 1968. Knowing well that I must look like a lunatic, I disregarded my inhibitions and reached out to Carlos for confirmation that he knew my family, and to Chick to see if he remembered any stories during recording. Naturally they didn't write back, but it was only my first try.

Several weeks ago, I had a meeting with the French label Heavenly Sweetness who re-released the track 'Notes So High' on a compilation of obscure Parisian artists called Freedom Jazz France. During this meeting, I was also introduced to the head of a jazz Japanese label who not only wants to re-release the track, but wants to release several other pieces of my grandmother's work. Having a sparkling new edition of her music available to a niche fan base of rare and obscure jazz music out in Japan, this is exactly how I want her legacy to continue.

I feel like I have a lot of bit pieces of information but no real direction of what I want to do with it, or why I'm even doing any of this in the first place. I guess this I'm just going to have to follow my heart on this one. I've done it before and look where it got in Paris, France.

Bon week-end à tous!


  1. I love this Lisa!
    I didn't know you also came from a family of musicians, cool.(I think I've missed it)

    Hope to hear Stella singing some time.
    Bon week-end!

  2. ciao bella, I have been reading your blog for probably a year now. you just seem like the coolest, least pretentious lady! your family life seems so family is sooo boring in comparison.....cheers from Boston, from one Italian girl to another!

    1. Hello fellow Italian friend!!

      Thank you so much for this comment and for reading! It's so kind of you to drop a note. I'm a bit behind on responses on this post, so my apologies everyone.

      Adrienne, no families are boring, especially if you're an Italian girl living on the east coast! : ) There's always a story...

      Again, thank you so much and do hope you keep reading!

  3. Keep charging ahead... you'll get more clues along the way and somehow, it'll all make sense:)

    And you know, I think she DID nudge you to go to France:)

    1. I will keep digging up info. I have an email I have to send to my dad's only remaining sister (the second czarina in the family - I'm the 3rd). I'm nervous to do it....not sure why.

      I really think she did nudge me to come. I seriously had NO INTEREST in Paris or anything French (and I had been with a French company for about 6 years at that point) before. Everyone thought it was really random....even me who was adamant about moving here...

  4. How amazing! You continue to inspire me! :)

  5. I traced my family tree and like you became fascinated with finding out about certain characters. Nothing as cool as a famous jazz singer grandmother though..

    Finding out about these people really helped me to understand who I am. I hope you are as successful.

    Love Denise

    1. All family histories are fascinating and "cool"! I hope you made some wild and interesting discoveries as well. : )

      Thank you. I hope to discover something. I do know that my genes are dominated by my mother's side, so anything that isn't linked to the Italian side gets thrown as a trait on my father's side by default!

      My grandma wasn't at all famous, she was obscure with a small following. That's why getting info has been difficult. Has she been Etta James over here, the search would have been over before it even started!

  6. This is all so ridiculously cool, I can barely wrap my head around it. Who has a hipster jazz grandma?! Ella Coquine does, that's who. x.

  7. You're life is so cool :)

    Is it safe to suggest that you can sing , dance or play an instrument très bon???

  8. How cool! Japanese jazz fans though, who knew? :oD