Celebrating the Underdog

There is no feeling in the world quite like seeing people that you know and care about doing what they love to do.  So last March, Nikki and I drove down to Roanoke, VA with a group of our friends to see the band Snarky Puppy film a live recording.

The night was magical, and featured some great singers, including the legendary Lalah Hathaway, who shocked everyone in the room when she sang entire chords.

By herself.

That’s three notes coming out of one throat at the same time.

Just let that sink in for a second.

She even had the guys in the band tripping out when she did that, as you’ll see in the video:


Unbelievable stuff.

The Family Dinner, Volume One CD/DVD was released later in the  year, and the Lalah Hathaway track in particular received a lot of attention on the internet.  A lot of a lot.  The almost 2 million YouTube views as of this morning type of a lot.

Then last month, the song was nominated for the Best R&B Performance Grammy, and we were ridiculously excited for them.

You see, Snarky Puppy has been recording and touring pretty much non-stop for the past ten years.  All independently, grinding it out on their own.  Booking their own tours, sleeping on the van, hoping that word-of-mouth would spread enough to keep their fan base growing.

And they never, ever quit.

Even when they were tempted to quit.

Even when it might have made more sense to quit than to keep going.

They kept going anyway.  They kept moving forward, playing the music that they loved.  For ten years.

I first heard about the Pups a few years back from a musician friend of mine, whose opinion I highly respect.  The initial conversation went something like this:

Him: “You need to come with me to hear this band, Snarky Puppy.”
Me: “What-y Who-y?”
Him: “Snarky Puppy.”
Me: “Ummmm…”
Him: “They’re incredible.  You have to hear them.”
Me: “But they’re called Snarky Puppy?  Hmmmm…”
Him: “TRUST.  ME.”

Against my better judgment, I tagged along, and I was absolutely amazed by what I heard.

Every person on stage (all seven or eight of them) were INSANELY talented.

More powerful than that, though, was the sheer joy that exuded from the stage.  It was like nothing I’d ever experienced in a concert setting before.  These guys loved playing music together, and they weren’t afraid to let that be obvious to everyone in the room.

I was hooked.  I bought all of their music that night, and I’ve been catching them every time they’ve been in the Baltimore/DC area since.

Nikki and I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Michael League (bassist and band leader) and Robert “Sput” Searight (drums) to a small degree, sitting down with them a couple of times and talking about music and life.  And they’re just a group of really great guys who are playing music because they can’t not play music.  They were created to play music.

Last night, Nikki and I sat in front of our laptop and watched the pre-telecast, just in case.  And after a couple of hours of waiting, this happened:

Independent recording artists Snarky Puppy, along with Lalah Hathaway, defied all the odds and took home the Grammy.

The underdog won.

There is no feeling in the world quite like seeing people that you know and care about also get recognized and celebrated for doing what they love to do.

Even if takes ten years to get the formal recognition.

Especially when it takes ten years, or even longer.

May Snarky Puppy serve as an example for all of us who are chasing a dream:  Keep going.  Keep doing what you can’t not do.  Don’t give up.  It’s worth it.

And when your fellow underdog dream-chasers get a win, celebrate it with them.  Big time.   They deserve it.

Congratulations, Lalah and the Pups.  Here’s to much more to come.

See more Snarky Puppy here, and buy all their stuff here.

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