Posts from the ‘Women’ Category

Survival Tips

Here’s the guest blog piece I wrote in 2014 for London Jazz News as part of their Womens’ Day feature. I think it bears repeating, as it’s all true today and I like to refer to it regularly. Hope you find it useful – enjoy!

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– If you want to survive in music, you have to totally accept that time, (like money) is an illusion. Aim for longevity and consistency and repetition. Never go away, never give up. Think big, whilst attending to the everyday details of what needs doing each day to advance the goal. Trust that people will start to recognise your name.

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– Cultivate solidarity with female projects and initiatives, and mentoring networks. Accept and enjoy professional solidarity from both guys and women.

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– Be aware of reputation. Cultivate it consciously. Your actions are powerful. If you hire musicians, treat them well, speak of others well, be aware that you function as part of a community and that your actions and words reflect upon you. Cultivate connection and right relationships. We draw that which is like, unto ourselves. I have tried and trusted personnel that I work with over and over again. Band members, mentors, engineers, venue managers – we stand the test of time. Build and keep a team of extended and expanding professional family and keep it tight and good-natured. Pay debts, get paid. Work clean.

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– With so much emphasis on social media and internet marketing and promotion and the onus upon the individual artist like never before, we are living on the edge of a business paradigm that changes daily. There is an option (even subtle obligation) to be available 24 hours a day via social media. On top of this you have to practice and rehearse your actual music. It’s brutal. Periodically, allow yourself your regular descent into the underworld. You are an animal, not a machine. Avoid burn-out by getting outside and away from computers as often as possible.

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– Be aware and sceptical about the current plethora of  business advice out there, some of it New Age/Law of Attraction in tone. Much of it is common sense and true but think twice before paying through the nose for it. It may be stuff that you could have worked out yourself. Skim it, apply the principles but stay grounded, stay independent and focus on the content of what you do. ‘Advertising speak’ can be confusing. When people talk about ‘branding’ it just means be clear and consistent in what you are selling and where customers can find it.

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– Successful people tend to have huge ups and downs and have no fear of taking risks. They know that the tools required to survive both poverty and riches are the same. Stay cool, hang on to your hat – know that it’s an illusion and could change at any minute, so be alert, be curious, stay in the arena and get ready to have fun!


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Another New Year …

A massive thanks to all the forces that somehow kept me going in 2017 through ups and downs, feasts and famines. Still getting used to yet another re-location within this great city – but feeling more at home. It’s been a very busy year, what with joining, (and training hard with) a new LGBT martial arts club and at one point also going to three sets of dance classes – Vogue, Hip Hop and Kpop (at my age, can you believe it …) – I guess the theme has been movement and pushing to new limits of endurance and self-discipline. The ongoing aim of the Mexican Toltec shamanic practices that I also study, has been to evoke the hummingbird energy. The ability to do the impossible. To expand and keep on pushing through – with joy and curiosity.


 Not surprisingly, like many other artists in this current climate, I’m also involved to a degree in grassroots politics and civil rights issues, mostly LGBT and anti-racist, which feels like a priority, though the work I really admire and wish for the courage to engage with, is environmental and ecological work. ”Taking it to the street” seems non-optional with so much at stake these days. My best thing ever of 2016/17 was being able to stick up for a refugee friend in court and help win her case – and her right to life. Few personal successes this year came close to the immense honour of being part of such a meaningful process. Talk about getting things in perspective.


The year rolled on with regular gigs at my usual haunt – Camdens (multi-award winning) Green Note  and a wonderfully rock ‘n’ roll week in  August performing at Manchesters prestigious ‘Rebellion’ nightclub with the ‘Shit Lesbian Disco’ crew. Who are neither shit, nor a disco. They are an all-female and lesbian musical collective, (DJs, tech crew, session musicians) of truly awesome industry credentials. Great mates and connections to have made. September was lean and mean as is often the way, then the season changed again, with prodigious songwriting and guitar playing, university teaching, private students, gigs and enormous worries about the UKs ongoing cock-up with Europe. Not to mention our future with the USA. And finally, the shocking, wasteful Christmas suicide of one of my favourite Korean musicians. The gifted fall, filled with doubt and self-loathing, whilst those who only destroy, wake up feeling great about themselves.


The world is shaking up. The years don’t get easier. Nor does the music industry. I worry about the march of tech, ‘smart’ devices that require our stupidity and passivity and the lack of discernment between organic and artificial realities. In all my activities, I work steadily to strengthen the muscle of courage, which like all muscles, improves with use. I believe in understanding beyond borders, love and friendship, spirit and soul, intellect and art, self-education and reliance and music above all. Everyday. No matter what. To those sensitive ones out there, who create and live beauty but never think it’s enough, please don’t commit suicide. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes it’s alright to have a break or even a break down. All things change eventually. Let’s remember Bruce Lees example and try to ‘walk on’ and see something new.


Click HERE to read my recent interview with jazz author Debbie Burke

She writes a fantastic jazz blog and is the author of ”Glissando, a Story of Love, Lust and Jazz” – to be published in July 2018.

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 If you are in London (or even if not) come and see me and my talented band members – billed as the FAYE PATTON QUARTET – at  jazz club Toulouse Lautrec, Sat Jan 20th. Click here to book.

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 I’ll also be playing Camdens Green Note, (as a duo, myself plus drummer) on Sun Feb 11th. Click here to book.

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 Happy New Year and bring on 2018!


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Cry Me A River …

 

 

“Tears are a river that takes you somewhere … Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better.”

 

The above quote is from Clarissa Pinkola Estes ground breaking book – ‘Women Who Run with The Wolves’. In this work, about the power of story, dream and myth, she also describes tears as being what makes – literally manufactures as though it were a substance – that mysterious thing we call, soul.

 

What follows is no scientific treatise on grief, gender, tears or emotions. Tears defy science, logic and explanation.

 

Crying is such a powerful experience and social significant act, it’s hard to really describe. In some cultures and situations, to cry is a sign of extreme weakness and will be punished. Elsewhere, it’s not just expected, it’s required. The legitimacy of tears depending on gender roles and expectations is also a minefield of different meaning, with different rewards and punishments. Crying goes in and out of fashion – seen as both soft and strong. As a man, do you repress tears because you were told that boys don’t cry? Women do you repress them too ? We are also shamed and attacked if we cry, especially if we do it in the workplace. Our crying is seen as not ‘real’ but something manipulative, ‘turning on the waterworks’ for sympathy and worst of all, ‘proof’ that we are weak. These days, male crying is increasingly seen as something attractive – a sign of modernity, vulnerability and metrosexuality. Again, there are huge cultural variables. In North Korea, people are conditioned to cry, in ecstasy or grief depending on the fortunes of their great leader – and there are penalties for not crying on cue. And in the South, male Kpop idols breaking down in sobs at the end of their gig is absolutely de rigueur.

 

So go ahead, cry. When’s the last time you did? Are you someone who prides themselves on not? Can you no longer – or are circumstances such that it’s all you can do? How many songs have crying as a subject? What’s your crying style? Do you weep, wail, bawl, sob, boo and hoo or are you more of a silent tear rolling down a stoically stony face kind of crier? Are you a secret crier or a public one? Do you feel empowered or weakened if others see you cry? What’s the evolutionary function of tears? How do we navigate the connection between social shame or stigma and crying?

 

That moment when we know, suddenly and unexpectedly, that we are going to cry – especially if others are present, has a frisson of danger, of taboo intimacy to it.  It represents a surrender, a small death of illusion and of control. Like vomiting, or falling in love – there is a moment of no return. And in those moments we are as honest as we ever can be. No hiding. No pretending. Feelings don’t lie, they simply are.

 

The last time I cried was on my own this Saturday, in Ronnie Scotts, listening to bass player and singer, (and pianist and producer/band leader) Richard Bona. He settled into a chord progression that hit my heart and made me bury my face in my hands and practically choke. it was a moment for me alone. I can’t explain why or what it was about. Just the sheer beauty and intensely high quality vibration, I suppose. I know that I felt better for it. And soon I was laughing too. I have had parents in my music for babies and toddlers classes literally weep when I sing ‘Puff The Magic Dragon.’ Which is definitely a mystery to me! It seems that some melodies or frequencies just set us off.

 

Go ahead and cry if you want to – and cry for those that can’t. It’s natural and normal. You might just add years to your life.

 

Some fun things:

 

Sam Taylor Johnsons famous weeping men photos

 

Only in Japan: Rent a hot guy to make you cry then wipe your tears away

More handsome weeping boys of Japan

 


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Poetic Flow and Gender Fluidity in K Pop

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I am a secret K pop fan. Actually I’m secret K pop addict. Get me talking, or read on and you’ll find I know way more than I should. I know that a SHAWOL (linguistic mashup) is a fan (usually teenage, American, female) who spends too much time on the internet appreciating heartthrob K pop band ShinEE. I know that 2MIN is the slang mash-up for the constant fan speculation over whether Taemin and Minho from ShinEE are gay bromance partners. I know that the Girls Generation members might have surgical enhancements – or so says word on the street. I know that the internet is full of fan made homage to K pop stars, sometimes in the form of wishful written or pictorial pornography embroidering both gay and straight fantasy scenarios between K pop personalities.

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Why is K pop culture so seductive?

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Cursory research reveals the K pop machine to be exactly that – a comprehensive in-house assembly line of picture perfect 20 somethings with athletes bodies and models faces, made even more slick by makeup and in some cases, plastic surgery. The music, lyrics and dance moves, which are shamelessly derivative of US R ‘n’B are created in studio by cadres of session musicians and composers employed by Seoul Media – the centralised empire of K pop product. Seoul Media is its own world, with an olympic sized stadium at which acts ‘debut’, then regularly present shows or ‘stages’ – during which fans chant and wave glo-sticks in ecstatic unison. K pop is often written in English, translated back in to Korean, then peppered with English phrases spoken in American accents, finished off with devilishly slick production and dance routines which inspire mass devotion and group participation. K pop stars may enjoy the celebrity spotlight but they work for their money. Already virtuoso singers, dancers, actors and athletes, they perform and record relentlessly, with an obligatory round of product endorsements, game show appearances, solo projects, soap opera roles and promotional stunts – some of which are deliberately compromising, challenging and embarrassing. Like being made to kiss seedy game show hosts or being hypnotised on national TV. Shows like ‘We Got Married’, (self-explanatory) ‘Hello Baby’ (pop stars get to baby sit a toddler for a month) and ‘Running Man’ (silly sport stunts) really take this to hilarious extremes. Every now and again, boy groups will do their own version of the girl group songs, a few keys down, with the same dance moves. The air hostess glamour of Girls Generation song ‘Genie’ translates into high camp when the boys do it dressed as pink ribboned sailors. It’s hard to say which version is better. (You decide – watch the girls HERE and the boys HERE.)

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It could be said that K pop is uniquely Korean – a national character of steadfast service, obedience to tradition and goodwill, a must try harder and better, (whilst having fun) work ethic – which at the end of K pop concerts erupts into orgies of repressed emotion. Watch any of ShinEEs big concerts – by the penultimate song, lead singer Jonghyun will start crying and can barely sing, to the point where I have wondered whether it’s a stunt.  It’s not, it’s real. Footage of their French tour has them all in hysterics with the entire crowd chanting in French, ‘Don’t Cry.’ (which they must have heard in every language by now)

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But, K pop is also an incredibly skilful mimicry of Western, American pop and soul, with acutely observed and replicated physical and vocal motifs that owe everything to Michael and Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and Prince. K pop singers can also rap like African-American rappers and dress accordingly too – almost past the point of good taste/political sensitivity, with nuances that might well be lost on the performers themselves. K pop is a performance art that has done the West better that  it could do itself – then exported the product back across the water. South Korea as a nation has in the last 20 years seen a meteoric rise, especially in the realm of technology and business and the ‘soft power’ of the creative and entertainment industries. Always in the shadow of the unpredictable North, a war survivor and a ‘catch up’ nation good at copying, not innovation, South Korea has now emerged into an undisputed global contender, with brand names, catch phrases, fast foods and household names that economists foresee will become ubiquitous in the West. K pop is an energy exchange, manipulated, arguably, by the older generation for the young, but in the hands of the young, has a life of its own. Go on YouTube and you will find that US high school girls are learning Korean just so they can understand their favourite K pop lyrics. They are also crushing heavily on the androgynous beauty of Korean men as a welcome contrast to American standards of  hyper masculinity. From the other side, delve behind the Korean fashion industry and you will see beauty products, accessories, makeup tutorials and whole streets of plastic surgery clinics devoted to making Korean eyes look more European. (also prevalent in China)

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Is this East/West love affair unbelievably messed up or – is something potentially more interesting going on?

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OK, so pop culture is mass manipulation – which has suckered me along with everyone else – but let me now focus on the positive. I first saw the the video to ShinEE’S ‘Hello’ playing at my favourite Korean restaurant where I sometimes stop before going to my teaching job. I was utterly taken. My first thought was how like Michael Jackson they were, in sound and choreography. Then, what genuinely good singing. But mainly they seemed to have a pink haired drag queen/LadyBoy singing with them – how progressive, unusual and refreshing. How gay! Was this a gay act? Of course it was K pop phenomenon Lee Taemin, youngest member and ‘maknae’ (trainee) of the group, (joined at 14 now 22) whom SHAWOL fag hags all over the world passionately hope is fellow member Choi Minhos gay lover.

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I began to follow ShinEE, to the point of even tracking down imports from now defunct HMV. Their whole act fascinated me. Not just their music, (they are great singers, each very distinctive) but also hilarious fan-made mashups, parodies and mistranslations that gently satirise group members quirks and also manage to reference the down low yet obvious gay undertones of the group. Here’s what was refreshing to me, since I am a gay act with virtually no role models.  I don’t like all their releases or – fashion phases, (blue contact lenses – no!) but at best, their energy is a perfect storm of male and female energy that makes more sense to me than anything I am seeing in the western music world, male or female, gay or straight. As a lesbian person, songwriter and performer – I am craving some sort of reflection back to myself of something that feels like me – a kind of third path. Femininity that’s tough, baggy trousered, streetwise, desirous of female company and not afraid to grab it’s crotch. Masculinity that’s camp, glam, kind, silly, funny, gentle and homo-erotic. They really are my honorary lesbians…

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And what about Amber (pictured above) – female rapper and dancer with K pop group FX? This super fit and bendy dancer was born and raised in the US, and can be under no illusions as to what her style suggests to a generation used to ‘The L Word’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and Ruby Rose. Amber is a pure delight, whether body popping on daytime TV, promoting her cosmetic line, ‘Talent’, filming her army reality TV experience (which positions her as a straight tomboy falling for the male officer – but we don’t believe her) or hanging out with the ShinEE boys singing, (google it) the Llama song. She radiates affability, humour and ease. She’s especially cute hanging out on the Eat Your Kimchi show – eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour beans – which may be a a fictional confection from the Harry Potter books – but also exist as a real product that’s big in South East Asia. She too, has attracted speculation as to whether she was involved with ShinEE members. They all grew up around each other in a celebrity environment so, who knows?

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At the end of the day, K pop kids, your gay fans don’t care that much if you are gay or not – we love that you might be. You make a product that is inspiring and ever so slightly challenging enough that it might just soften up the world we live in. We hope you didn’t have to sleep with unsavoury people to get to the top, that you are not too tired, dieting and working out constantly, and that you are not contractually forced into plastic surgery and that you are not mind controlled robots and that you get to see and spend some of those earnings. In the West we have a LGBT movement with lots of visibility and social acceptance. I understand that in South Korea – for all that Seoul has Gay Pride and a gay district – that things are much more on the ‘down low’ and less accepted in the conservative mainstream, especially with the older generation. Still, like in Thailand there seems to be a very unaffected natural same sex erotic flow that is actually more laid back than in UK media and society. No-one shouts ‘gay’ as a insult if men hold hands in the street (do they?) whereas in the UK, they will. Amber can look like a dyke in broad daylight on national TV and is safe to do so. Maybe visible K pop Bromance is a way for hidden but ‘genuine gays’ to hide in plain sight. Maybe it’s just affection and us ‘real gays’ in the west are guilty of sexualising everything. It’s hard to believe the love between this lot is not real. It comes across onstage as more than an act. And the widely available fan cam, candid and casual footage of these stars just hanging out, is filled with chemistry, attraction and affection. Who knows for sure?  Can these worlds meet? The wonderful combination of not having to call it what it is, but having the human right to do so, and yet one day not even having to. AND YET, being proud. Because love is love. Even as a distant dream – this is a world worth imagining.  So come out when you’re ready, guys and gals.

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 ShinEE fighting! 화이팅 ! Amber too! Gay Icons (or not) forever! 

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Resources:

Eat Your Kimchi  Hugely enjoyable quirky travel and culture show by straight, but gay friendly Canadian couple Simon and Martina.

What the Pineapple  Ambers recently launched entertainment channel.

Sweet and Tasty TV  Language lessons, travel, food, culture and ‘KWOW’ (Korean word of the week) from sweet and tasty, age-defying, gender-bending Professor Oh.


 

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A Woman’s Worth…

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(The picture is of Norma Jean Wofford, also known as ‘The Duchess’ – lead guitarist with Bo Diddley from ’62-’66. She doesn’t appear in the book I’m talking about here, but this image goes very well with my blog post title. There were dozens of artists that I could have envisaged in the project. Would I like to see Giving Birth to Sound volume II and III and beyond? Yes.  Also a CD compilation and a dedicated music festival? You bet. I’m dreaming big…)

This post is about the worth and significance of musicians – female ones in particular – our capacity as story-tellers, mediums, healers, visionaries, agitators, collaborators entertainers and communicators. Every week, I am still riding the wave of momentum generated by ‘Giving Birth To Sound’ – the new book by Cologne jazz publisher Buddy’s Knife. With a foreword by legendary jazz pianist Amina Claudine Myers and featuring 48 female musicians – including myself. Over a year ago, I was approached by the editor, Renate da Rin. Would I like to be interviewed for a book about female musicians in jazz and creative music? I was up for it of course, and now suddenly the book has arrived and it’s an absolute dream. I am honoured and happy to be sitting side by side with some of my influences and industry legends. A rich collection of personal histories and records of incredible achievement. The contributions have all been translated into English but each artist tells of a very personal relationship to sound, with a diverse range of nationalities, cultures, languages and instrumentation.

All the artists in the book are receiving our copies at different times and reading the final creation at different paces. Needless to say, with a sense of unfolding wonder and high hopes for further contact and projects. This feels unstoppable! For my part, I feel determined to draw attention to what has been achieved here and why it’s important. Despite distinct differences in age, race, language, education and geography, attitude to music, society and concepts of ‘womanhood’, there are common themes amongst the participants – which speak volumes about the times we are living in. An awareness of injustice, a recognition of global inequality and an economic climate where poverty is being demonised and money worshipped, the natural world being destroyed. A recognition that things are in some ways worse not better. A proud, fearless independence, but love of collaboration. An almost mystical, ecstatic reverie that comes from the creative process. Early exposure not just to musical stimulus, but to the worlds of the imagination. A generous passion and hope for the music above all – often expressed in words that are non-linear, poetic, idiomatic and rhapsodic. The book actually reads like a piece of music itself.

Women and girls have been told so many times that we can’t do stuff – either that we’re weak, incompetent and decorative … or in other periods of history and geography, that we are only good for sex, childcare, menial labour and social scapegoating, physical/emotional punchbags, with no access to self-improvement. I don’t say that lightly. In some areas, women have lower status than a domestic animal. Though happily, neither extreme is my own personal experience – the reality of worldwide abuse of women and girls is now so widely known about, that the concept of  female emancipation can no longer be ridiculed as some special interest feminist minority issue. It’s affecting the gender which is actually the majority. So it brings me joy when I see initiatives that really celebrate women. Our stories need to be heard. Some of them are shocking.

 (Here’s what I wrote to the editors:)

”The more I read of the book, the more I am blown away, with love and inspiration, heart quakes and shakes, tears of solidarity and empathy and also a fair bit of socio-political outrage. Today, reading the story of the musician who was accused as a child of being a liar – (TWICE) as her work was so advanced they didn’t believe it was hers… (this happened to me at school, with a play I wrote.)”  * I remember too, after a performance at the Isle of Wight Jazz festival, being approached by the (drunk) director of another prominent UK jazz festival. He accused me of not being the author of my own songs, which he threatened to  research and expose as classic standards which I had in fact plagiarised. Talk about a compliment and insult at the same time. I later received an apology …

 (I also wrote this to the editors:)

”I have to say, a book, (so much more than just a ‘book’) of this nature could not have happened at this time in the UK. We’re beset here with a governmental drive towards austerity that is unbelievable. But there are valiant pockets of rebellion and creativity resourcefulness, generosity and people-power all the more amazing, as we are operating against the odds here. A common theme amongst some of the contributors seems to be the increasing punishment of the poor and of poverty by government and media, affecting all artists – so maybe this economic trend is worldwide. BUT I am so thankful to you creative jazz loving folks at Buddys Knife – for your intellectual courage, determination and artistic integrity in doing this project.
Each one of these 48 contributors is not just a musical creator, but leader, visionary and dare I say it – shaman/sorcerer/witch/wizard/world-bridger and changer of epic proportions. Each with her own networks of international creativity. There are some global possibilities here. As with all creations – a mixture of strong desire/intent and a trust and ALLOWING… the inevitability and momentum of dreams coming to fruit : ) Thinking big. Loving large. Powering the imagination. Women are rising again.”

Here is the intro on the back cover, which says it beautifully. Here’s why you need to read this book! Please order it and buy copies for your friends, libraries, schools, jazz cafes. By doing so you will be helping to support the next stage of our journey – you too will be ‘giving birth to sound!’

”Giving Birth to Sound is about Her-story as told by some of the most brilliant and creative women musicians in the world. Individual thinkers and movers who have been brave enough to devote their lives to the making of music the way they hear it. They were not afraid to sing and speak in the name of sound, showing us that they are a family of unique individuals, separate but united. Read their words and listen to their music whenever you can – it will take you even closer to the great mystery called life.”
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   How to buy the book:
   http://www.buddysknife.de/our-titles/
   info@buddysknife.de
   Available on amazon.com and amazon.de.
Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

Giving Birth To Sound

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This month I am pleased and proud to announce that I am featured in this amazing book, Giving Birth To Sound. Created by specialist Cologne jazz publisher Buddys Knife and a host of contributors working in the field of music – not just jazz, but uniquely personal interpretations of jazz, improvisation and creative sound. The line-up includes some major artists of the 20th century, some of which have influenced and inspired me greatly. What an honour – and I can’t wait to see what happens next! Here is some background from the website:

”Renate Da Rin and William Parker have invited 48 creative women sound artists to share their experiences in the process of creating music and living as an artist. These women come from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.”giving birth to sound” is about Her-story as told by some of the most brilliant and creative women musicians in the world. Individual thinkers and movers who have been brave enough to devote their lives to the making of music the way they hear it. They were not afraid to sing and speak in the name of sound, showing us that they are a family of unique individuals, separate but united.

Read their words and listen to their music whenever you can – it will take you even closer to the great mystery called life. Foreword by Amina Claudine Myers.

Among the great musicians we find Jay Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Claudine François, Terry Jenoure, Joëlle Léandre, Marilyn Mazur, Nicole Mitchell, Maggie Nicols, Angelika Niescier, Lisa Sokolov, Ijeoma Chinue Thomas, Fay Victor, Jessica Williams … ”

Excited? Like a copy of the book? CLICK HERE  to order.

 


 

 

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Faye Patton Camden ‘mini-tour’… ‘Gilgalive’ 11th March

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Just a quick bulletin – I am really excited to be appearing at Gilgalive @ Camden’s sumptuous Gilgamesh club on March 11th.  I have dates at the Green Note on March 22nd and April 19th, so am going to be glad to warm up and gather a cool Camden crowd around me! Come on down – it’s free entry and if you haven’t visited Gilgamesh yet, it’s a beautiful venue and vibe.

GILGAMESH LIVE! is a regular Wednesday night showcase of some of the most talented acoustic musicians in the UK. Hosted by Rachel Rose in the Gilgamesh Lounge.

Come and enjoy 2-4-1 on selected drinks from 6pm, with performances kicking off from 8 ’till late.

Enjoy a mid-week beverage and some pan Asian aperitifs to the accompaniment of live music. To book a table, call 07534676008.

Gilgamesh, The Stables Market, Camden Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH 020 7428 4922


 

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