Posts tagged ‘Faye Patton’

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!

 

 

 

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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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ROOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHH!

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It’s the fag end of August and I’m on the prowl, times are lean and my stomach is rumbling.

This is for my fellow lions and feline relations. Including leonine honorary citizens and ‘Leos rising’, of which I am one. For bob cats, tomcats, alley cats, kittens with mittens. Ancestral, trans-dimensional cats. Ultra, hyper and über cats. Space cats, fractal cats.  Camouflage or Kamikaze cats. Martial cats. Spotted and striped, bright burning cousins, Bengal tygers and Black Panthers. BIG CATS. Catwomen. Rhythm cats or solo cats. Cats who swing, blow croon or strum. Jazz cats and hip cats. It’s about art, pleasure music and self-expression, royalty, nobility and sovereignty. It’s for my fellow female artists of all persuasions, and for those whose art does not fit into a category, or who are inventing a new one and owning it. Anyone feeling like a total diva attack coming on? Anyone feeling severely underappreciated? I need to say the following. I always err on the positive (Of course! Don’t we live to entertain?) But …snarrrrrrl.

Don’t we all want and need some appreciation, some applause, some encouragement, some recognition, some praise, some (yes!) adoration, some reciprocation, some recognition, some acknowledgement? I have an appetite for a little more in return for my art and am considering (yes!) going to live in a different country very soon unless I get it. There is a difference between the genuine humility of being in service to ones art and being a servant. They are different things.

Audiences – I wrote my music with you in mind, to please you, uplift and nourish you. Therefore, please clap. Be bothered. Bear in mind that the music may be free. Therefore I need your applause to continue since it may be all I am getting. That’s the relationship. If you want it, show me that you like it. IF YOU WANT ME, SHOW ME THAT YOU WANT ME. Make some noise. Lifting your hands together to clap is the very least you could do. Can a performing seal not do as much? As a rhythmic, musical task I am actually doing something far more demanding – so could you at least make the effort. If you don’t applaud, at least don’t talk so loud over the music that actually you are drowning me out. If you must look at me like an unwelcome eyesore, rather than warmly into my eyes and soul as I want to do with you…at least don’t talk about me loudly, whilst I’m playing. Especially don’t turn to your neighbour and discuss loudly whether I am a guy or a woman, whilst looking displeased and miserable. (By the way, please cheer up!) Don’t you realise that I can hear and see everything? Whilst you’re watching me, I’m watching you.

Venues/venue managers/bookers/promoters/festivals/industry  – PAY THE PIPER. If you like it, if you love it, if you keep saying how much you like it and love it – FEEEEED MEEEEE. If I bring you the raw material of my soul, consistently, reliably, professionally, punctually…if I deal with your shoddy PA system, (even try to mend it and buy spare parts) lend your other performers my gear, if I am patient and humorous with your late or absent payments…if I bear with all this, at least don’t blank me. At least don’t ignore me. At least don’t ignore me and then hire someone else cheaper in my place without telling me. Do I need to teach you how to treat me, with each and every interaction? Do you forget, in-between?

Funding bodies/Government and Arts organisations –  I know you are trying and I haven’t given up on you. It’s so marvellous that  some of you have special awards for women and women’s art. I do hope your female staff are being paid a decent wage to administer them. Can I just say it…the amounts you offer are derisory. The requirements illogical, the forms incomprehensible. On my current lifestyle I can’t afford the calories spent going through the paperwork and the award, were I to get it, will just about pay for the hours of office work spent trying. And then you want some art on top of it? For me to hire studios/venues/session players…and eat? And also somehow prove (sometimes, in advance!) that I have indeed met the needs of new audiences and am viable as a financial unit? Is proof needed? Is it still about proof? Can we take a moment to appreciate the irony here?

Friends/colleagues/ punters, fans – I love you all. I know your intentions are the very best. But please stop asking me what I am doing lately to advance myself. Stop asking why haven’t I done or thought of such and such. Believe me, EVERYTHING  you can suggest, I have already thought of and done, or am doing. To be an artist is to be rejected and blanked repeatedly. Punters, I’m so happy that you enjoyed the music but please stop asking ME why you haven’t heard of me and advising me what to do. Instead write letters to radio/TV/festival/venues asking THEM to book me. If you are dying to see fresh talent, new voices, unusual voices, viewpoints, lyrics and styles break through, (and I know so many of you are hungry for this) then take hold of your power as a consumer and demand that the industry wake up. Then get yourself on my mailing list, and get your bum on the seat and create the demand, which these days I am required to prove, just to get a booking.

A note about wages – Everyone loves music. Everyone agrees that live music is lovely. It’s organic, immediate, irreplaceable, ephemeral, magical, of the moment, uplifting, catalysing and healing. Unforgettable. It gives ones a special feeling. Priceless, one might say. Therefore how ironic that the musicians wages are considered, last and least. Even the toilet cleaners at festivals get a wage, and so they should. Likewise, the toilet manufacturer, the sewage collectors, the electrician, the sales staff and of course the administrators. Never have a I met an administrator who didn’t get paid. Yet the musician comes in, does a skill that no-one else can do and is the thing upon which the whole event rests – and not only is expected to do it for free, but expected to pay for the privilege and do it in a hostile, or indifferent environment. For the joy of it! Did we mention irony yet?

Roar. Snore. Bore. Yawwwwwn…

Give me a reason to get out of bed, shake the cobwebs from my heart and head. In my world I am both King and Queen. I live in parallel, magical realms and dimensions where I am respected and even feted, fed and nourished, shined and polished. I walked the earth before, and am used to self-respect and mutual respect. I give and receive willingly, art with a big heart. I will sing the endless song of my soul, that tells of teeth sunk deep into life, and of pulsating vitality giving itself in sacred surrender to an act of love. But give me a reason. Give me a reason not to retreat into the secret invisible borders where the fairy folk go – unseen, unheard, unloved, disbelieved, uncelebrated. (They are fine. They play for their own amusement and pleasure. They understand themselves, they are not lonely.) But what have you shut yourself off from? I have something you want. I have medicine. I have something wild and golden and beyond riches. It’s worth far more than any coin you care you exchange. Yet I am willing to share my kill. Give me a reason.

 


 

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