In this life we come across many people. Some walk alongside us on our path to the next and the next. Some walk with us and share experiences until the next. There are the rare few who, while making their own path, intertwine theirs with ours.
As a new year begins, I am reminded of that. Paths have ended, new ones have begun to show themselves, with known and new adventurers.
These experiences affect us, there's no denying that. To the extent that they affect us determines how important they are to us.
In living what I love - Poetry and Music - I have been fortunate enough to build relationships across the world and with spirits from all walks of life. I love diversity and live diversity.
One such experience is a project that I was asked to take part in recently. I don't recall how we met, but Mark Mendoza is not only a friend. He has been one of those people whose adventures have intertwined with mine.
His experience in Music extends quite a way back. I pulled the following bio from his Resident Advisor Profile:
"As a Music Business & Technology major at New York University, Mark attained an internship and was subsequently hired at Jane Brinton and Duffy Macri's famed management firm, "This Beats Workin'. By 1991, Mark secured an A&R position for the hypnotic, jazzy dance label Kaleidiascope Records, located in Newark, NJ. Under Mark's tenure, he brought some of the hottest dance music artists to the label such as Ce Ce Rogers, Jovonn and Jephté Guillaume. Always the "forward thinker," he used this opportunity to launch his production company, "280 West Productions", named after Route 280, a main highway that cuts through Essex County… and where most of his musical ideas would originate while driving home from work, as well as some of NY/NJ’s hottest clubs! Under this moniker, Mark churned out several smash hits: "Love's Masquerade" with Diamond Temple, "Scattered Dreams" with Kenny Bobien, "Got Me Groovin" with Sha'ron and the frenetic instrumental goodie, "The Dip".
He later joined forces with one of NJ's innovative DJs, the legendary Hippie Torrales (Club Zanzibar/Dock's). Together they formed MenTor Productions (synchronization of the first three letters of their surnames). Under this tight-knit production outfit came several original projects and countless remixes such as: Rosie Gaines - "I Want U" and "Closer Than Close" (over a million copies sold) and Kimara Lovelace - "Circles" (#1 Billboard Dance Chart) along with remix work for Jocelyn Brown, Evelyn "Champagne" King and Lisa Stansfield among others.
Mark later went on to partner at Phuture Sole Recordings and put out some soulful gems, including “My Words” (Jon Pierce) and “Don’t” (Monday Michiru). In addition to A&R duties, Mark continued work in the studio with his remixes of the label's first 2 singles and original productions with Diamond Temple: "Fly" and "I Never Knew" featuring the backing vocals of Ray, Goodman & Brown. He has now moved on and formed his own business under his production name “280 West”. "
In 2005 he was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer and went through the regiment of chemo, surgery and recovery. A couple of years ago he made the decision to go back to school and complete his degree in music. Inspired by fellow DJ & producer, cuñao Adam Cruz' jump back in to complete his education, Mark threw himself wholeheartedly into this milestone. On December 4, 2014 he presented his final project for graduation.
He asked me to be part of that. Humbled that he considered me part of his journey I immediately said "Yes". His fiancée and my friend, Flora Cruz, partnered with Mark to share the story of another part of this journey, love and marriage.
When we first discussed this collaboration, Mark explained how he came about the music and what his vision was for the final product. A week or two in, the view point altered to something much more personal.
Mark, familiar with my advocacy on Cancer awareness and knowledge, asked that the piece relate to his winning battle against this "merciless contriver"
His story, as each spirit who fights for life, is an incredible testament to resilience, belief and a strong sense of LIVING.
Here is one piece of the result of his story and passion.