Music – Work or Play

jcbahamas7aMusic: Work or Play?
By Professor Joan Cartwright
[March 25, 2016] Most musicians begin their careers at four or five years old and continue until they die. Does the term play effect people’s thinking about what musicians really do? Does the action of playing music mean that musicians do not work?

In my 40-year career as a vocalist and songwriter, I have run into stone walls getting to the next level. I started singing at a theater in Jamaica, New York, at the age of four. By eight, I was a headliner in the annual Bernice Johnson Dance Recital. Mother doted on my Shirley Temple curls and my outfits of shiny tinsel and crinoline-lined, lacy dresses, not to mention the ballet, tap, and interpretive costumes my parents paid for.

I studied piano with a woman whose name is long forgotten. But her stern face never encouraged me to learn. I was 27 when I met Gerald Price, the musician whose demeanor catalyzed my growth as a vocalist, pianist, and composer. My harp teacher, Caliope Proios, with whom I studied for two years, listened to my life stories as she showed me the difficulties of changing pedals and string fingering.

In the seventies, my formal education involved music, but I dueled my B.A. with Communications, a new department, separate from English. Television production fell under this banner, with radio, journalism, marketing and advertising, while The Medium is the Message (1964) by Marshall McLuhan led me to do everything to get the message out that I am a musician and I have something to say.

For the first 10 years of my career, I was paid to do what I love – sing. But I was told that singing for free at benefits was good ‘for exposure’ by a singer friend. However, I decided that we would get more exposure standing on a corner, taking our tops off than performing at benefits. Finally, I told people, “I can do it, but I cannot ask musicians to work for free.”

After all, I worked (or played) with grown men and women who had children to feed and bills to pay. Every doctor and lawyer has pro bono cases in their filing cabinet that comprise less than 10% of their case load. But a musician, who plays for a living, is invited to perform at benefits at the ratio of three benefits to one gig. This had to stop and I was the only one who could stop it.

In 1990, I traveled overseas to sing in Switzerland, where I was treated with dignity. Europeans do not see musicians as people who play. Music is work. So, I was paid well and given lots of respect. When I returned to the States, in 1996, people treated me better than before I took the step across the big pond. I determined that musicians must leave the comfort of their homeland in order to be appreciated at home.

Ten years later, I had completed a five-month tour of Asia, and people in Atlanta, who never thought of me as a professional before, seemed to take me more seriously. In China, I worked at two clubs, where I did not make as much money as I did in 1990. Musicians’ pay always reduces, while the cost of living rises. That is ridiculous. People think musicians do not pay bills. After all, they spend their lives playing instead of working like other people.

The truth is that musicians do the job that doctors and lawyers cannot do. In one hour, musicians heal hundreds, even thousands of people. The right song keeps a couple from divorcing or pushes them to see that they are not right for each other, saving thousands of dollars of legal deliberation.

Music permeates the planet, bringing joy to all who hear it. People enjoy a concert more than they do a hospital stay or sitting in law office. Yet, they will pay doctors and lawyers extortionate fees and squint, when they get a high quote for a band of four or five adults to perform at a wedding or office party, where they will be enjoying themselves because of the music!

I am befuddled at what people will pay for and what they want to get for free. Learning music is not free. You pay for lessons. You pay with your time to practice. You continue to learn more music. You must stay in front of the pack in order to be seen, heard, and appreciated. Producing music is not free. Studio time is extremely costly. Paying musicians to perform your music is expensive, even if they are your friends. Mixing and mastering music is expensive (up to $100 per song). Duplicating CDs, producing videos, and marketing music runs into the thousands. But getting paid for a gig can be the hardest part of a musician’s job.

Finally, unlike most professionals, there is little in the way of retirement or insurance funding for musicians, who do not belong to the Musician’s Union, which few musicians either can or will afford. Musicians give joy to others throughout their lives and, unless they have a hit song or record, they have very little income to fall back on in their old age. Most die destitute, leaving little inheritance for their spouse and offspring.

It is uncanny. What brings people the most pleasure, rarely sustains those who create it. But the beat goes on and, somehow, musicians find venues where they can keep the music

playing. (918 words)

References

 

McLuhan, M. (1964). The medium is the message. Understanding media: The extensions of man. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf

__________________________________________

Diva Joan Cartwright is an internationally-known vocalist, composer, and author of 11 books. She holds a BA in Music/Communications from LaSalle U, in Philadelphia, PA; an MA in Communications from FAU, in Boca Raton, FL; and is a doctoral candidate for a DBA in Business Marketing online at Northcentral University, in Prescott Valley, AZ. Since 1997, Joan has been the CEO of FYI Communications, Inc. and, since 2007, her non-profit, Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. with 304 members promotes women musicians, globally. In 2016, WIJSF released its 6th CD of the music of women composers. Joan hosts an online radio show, MUSICWOMAN, featuring women composers at www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman. Joan’s personal CDs are Feelin’ Good (1995) and In Pursuit of a Melody (2005). She owns MJTV Network with her daughter Mimi Johnson and she is actor in the sitcoms Last Man and The Siblings produced at www.mjtvnetwork.info. In 2014, Joan was honored in Atlanta, GA, as the first Lady Jazz Master. In 2016, she was honored as one of the Top 25 Women of Color in Business and Leadership by Legacy Magazine. She has two children (Michael Serrano and Mimi Johnson), five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. She is retired from music performance and resides in Sunrise, Florida. Currently, Joan is a professor of Speech Communications as Southeastern College in West Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Diva JC Online:

 

Advertisements

Travel and Earn

Dear WIJSF Members,
As you know travel is a large part of what many musicians do. Personally, I’ve performed on 5 continents in 16 countries. With 196 countries on the planet, that leaves 180 countries for me to visit.  Places I’d like to return to are Athens, Greece, Taormina, Sicily, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Capetown, South Africa. Also, I plan to visit Tahiti, Santorini, Greece, Fez and Marrakesh, Morocco, and Barbados.
I am now in my 60s, not many clubs, festivals or jazz societies are reaching out to me. But my wanderlust continues.  So, I am now a Referring Travel Agent (RTA) with my own home-based business at www.fyitravel.us, where I just booked my hotel room, when I went to Birmingham for the Steel City Jazz Fest, where I met our member Gail Jhonson with Jazz in Pink on June 7-8. I made a commission on that booking, which is something I NEVER received, since 1990, when I began touring.
 
When I joined the travel biz in March, I paid $249, plus $50 a month for my website.  Starting on Monday, July 14, YOU can join my team for $99, and you will not pay for the website until October 1 and, if you bring 3 people on to your team, you will pay $0 for your website as long as they remain active.  Check out my blog – www.fyitravelclub.wordpress.com.
 
WHY have your own travel site? Go to this link www.60mba.com and see what you like best about it.
 
By the way, our immediate past Vice President Lydia Harris introduced me to Lucretia Daniel, who is our Travel Director.  Lucretia became a member of WIJSF on June 1, 2014. She supported our organization the same way I supported her organization. Now, we are planning a Women in Jazz event at Sandals all-inclusive resort in Turks & Caicos in 2015.
As all the musicians in WIJSF know, living on a musician’s income can be extremely challenging. We all must supplement our income, somehow.  So, I encourage you to go to www.60mba.com and, if you see something that interests you, respond to this email or call me at the number below and THANK YOU for supporting women musicians, globally. 
Thanks,
1fyitravel-us-bizJoan Cartwright, Executive Director
(276 members, 148 musicians, 51 men)
FYI TRAVEL, Referring Travel Agent
954-740-3398
Support women musicians!

I AM JAZZ

Of course Jazzmen are dynamic.  So are Amazing Musicwomen!

jazzmen womeninjazz

Freddie Hubbard is an icon!  He recorded my tune SWEET RETURN (1983) and put it in his Song Book making me historical (herstorical). I sat at the feet of Miles, Diz, Buhaina, Shepp, Yusef, Rahsaan, McCoy, and Ron Carter, learning all I could about the art of improvisation. I sat with Helen Morgan 3 years before she shot Lee. I AM JAZZ!

Image

Joan Cartwright, Freddie Hubbard, Jerry (owner of Allotria in Munich, Germany) Jeff Chambers, lady, Ronnie Matthews circa 1993

Image       Image

I’ve been in conversations with Ella, Betty Carter, Irene Reid, Ruth Brown, Abbey Lincoln, and Dorothy Donegan. I was THERE at the Blue Note, Slugs in the Far East (Village) with Lee Morgan, Buhaina, Miles, Frank Foster, Charles McPherson, Bill Hardman and Joe Lee Wilson, Village Gate, at the Galleon (Bronx), and the Village Vanguard with Lou Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith who recorded my first demo tape with me that got me gigs all over the European continent. Ellington’s bass player Aaron Bell first listened to my tune “Loneliblue” and said the musicians would love playing it.

Image

Joe Lee Wilson and Joan Cartwright, Brighton, England

Image

With Lou Donaldson at Jazz Inn, London, UK

Image

Image

Joan Cartwright and Dorothy Donegan, Marian’s Jazz Room, Bern, Switzerland (1996)

Image

Abbey Lincoln and Joan Cartwright, Montreux Jazz Festival (1993)

Image

Joan Cartwright and Betty Carter, IAJE Conference, El Paso, TX, 1993

In Philly, Gerald Price taught me composition and piano, and in New York, Barry Harris was my teacher on piano and vocals. Budd Johnson was my babysitter from 4-8 years old. Milt Hinton (The Judge) was my cousin’s Godfather and he got me my first gig in Berne, Switzerland, at Marion’s Jazz Room, in 1990. I sat on Jay McShann’s lap and asked him to marry me. I proposed marriage to Quincy Jones just before I interview him for my Master’s Thesis, The Cultural Politics of Commercial Jazz, in 1993, which explained why I had to go to Europe (1990-1998) to make a living. In July 2013, I gave my book A History of African American Jazz and Blues to Quincy with the interview I did of him in 1993, 20 years earlier, in the exact same building – Stravinsky Hall, in Montreux, Switzerland [photo].

I AM Jazz!

Image

With Quincy Jones, Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, at Claude Nobs’ Chalet, 1993

I am the Chronicler of this music. While everyone else was PLAYING, I was documenting it. I met Quincy Troupe, co-writer of Miles’ biography. I penned lyrics to A NIGHT IN TUNISIA, TUNE UP, BLUE BOSSA, and BESSIE’S BLUES and sang them all over Europe, the East Coast of the USA, and in China and Japan. I Am the female Jazz Messenger, who sang on Jazzmobile with Buhaina, Frank Foster, Frank Wes, George Coleman, and Charles McPherson. The first person to take me on the road was Philly Joe Jones, who took me to Baltimore to perform with Shirley Scott, Arthur Harper (bass), and Sonny Stitt, in 1978. I AM the only woman in the world with a Jazz and Blues Song Book that I submitted to the Guinness Book of Records.

JoanCartwrightSongBook               jc-historybook

Google me – www.joancartwright.com. But, more importantly, I am the foremost authority on Women in Jazz and Blues and I will not be quieted about the role of women as the Mothers of the Blues and the innovators of Jazz.  That’s why, in 2007, I founded www.wijsf.org to promote women musicians, globally! That’s why, since 2008, I’ve interviewed over 200 women composers at www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman

amazing_musicwomen_softcover   amazing_musicwomen_hardcover

That’s why I created the Jazzwomen Directory  that features 90 women musicians that most musicians, let alone people, do not know about and I put 40 of them in my book Amazing Musicwomen that I taught over 10,000 students (3-12 grade and college) in the U.S., Switzerland, Sicily, China, and Japan about.

I AM JAZZ!

Hear me SCAT!

Joan Cartwright and Dizzy Gillespie, Sunfest, West Palm Beach, FL 1985

Joan Cartwright and Dizzy Gillespie, Sunfest, West Palm Beach, FL 1985

READ my books:

In Pursuit of a Melody by Joan Cartwright  In Pursuit of a Melody

 

www.joancartwright.com

 

Singer

The Luxury of Being a Singer equates to being on the top of the food chain in most societies.  The musician sits at the table of the Chief.  In the court of Kings and Queens, singers are held in the highest esteem.  The 10 greatest benefits of being a singer are:

  1. Sleeping late
  2. Invitations
  3. World travel
  4. Applause
  5. Recognition
  6. Appreciation
  7. Good pay
  8. Good treatment
  9. Financial surprises
  10. Spiritual upliftment

Sleeping late is, by far, the best benefit of being a singer. Although I’m a morning person, most of my colleagues who perform around the world revel in sleeping until noon.  Since we work at night, usually between the hours of 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., we have the luxury of turning our phones off and sleeping well into the day, if we choose to.

Invitations are a large part of our relationship with other people, who love to introduce us as “Our Diva”.  It’s very flattering to go to a party or event and have the host or hostess bring their friends over to us, while declaring, “And THIS is our internationally-known Diva of Jazz!”  Happens to me all the time and I must admit, it’s a very good feeling to know that people think so highly of you.

World travel is not only a privilege but an eye-opener.  I’ve always believed that travel educates people to the ways of others, worldwide.  Having had the pleasure of living in Europe, South America, Mexico, China, Japan, and three African countries – Ghana, Gambia and South Africa, and around the U.S., while on tour, I know there is much more to life than going to work and coming home to watch television.  I started my travel blog, in August 2006, while living in China.  Since then, I’ve logged 29 cities and 8 countries.

Applause is the drug of musicians and singers get most of the fanfare.  Actually, many musicians hate singers simply because they get more applause.  That’s because singers bring the words to songs, connecting with the audience on a deeper level than most instrumentalists.  It’s just logical that lyrics tell a story that gives people a reason to understand the music being performed.  Even though American audiences tend to be a bit fickle about their artists and they talk during a performance, which can drive musicians nuts, you can get addicted to applause, when it comes.  European audiences are far more polite and attentive, while Asian audiences will smoke you out of the club.

A manual for up-and-coming Divas, Musicians and Composers

Recognition as an artiste is most important for the continuation of the craft of music.  Musicians thrive on recognition.  They compete for recognition and, if you’ve got your marketing techniques honed, you can outrun another singer simply by getting good press or distributing shiny fliers.  Of course, giving a good concert increases the recognition you get.  It’s all in how you do your business.  My book So, You Want To Be A Singer? spells out the steps necessary for a singer to take in order to be successful and recognized as a professional.  What I learned in 20 years of being a professional, internationally-traveled singer is contained in this book available at this link.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the information with children in grades K-12, bringing them information necessary for them to know before they jump out into the world of musical performance.

Appreciation is all most people want from others and singers get it every time they perform.  It’s so nice to have people walk up to you and say, “You have a beautiful voice,” or “I love the way you sing that song!”  If each person in the world got this kind of appreciation just once a month, the world would be a happier place to live in.  To be appreciated is to be seen and loved.  We all need to be seen and loved and appreciated.  But singers get more than their share of appreciation, especially if they are good at what they do.

Good pay comes with the territory.  However, recently, people have been trying to trim the fat from the pay of musicians. Budget cuts and financial downturn dictates that musicians are becoming less necessary.  Truth is music is what brought people back from the devastation of wars and financial crisis, since the beginning of time, and more recently in the 1920-1930s and in today’s volatile economic climate.  Music is the universal language and healer and the voices of powerful singers have always made people forget their troubles, if only for a few moments.  So, as Abbey Lincoln declared, “You Gotta Pay The Band!” and usually, the singer is the bandleader.  She or he is the one who got the call, the contract and the check.  Most musicians make in four hours what most people make in 8 hours.  Problem is they may not work five days a week, so their salary has to stretch a little further. In the end, it all balances out – but it’s still nice to be offered $300 to $3,000 for one gig.

Good treatment is paramount to good performance.  That’s why many contracts have riders stipulating that the musicians must have water, food and other comforts in their dressing room.  People jump to provide musicians with what they need.  The term “Diva” is applied to the female vocalist who is held in higher regard than musicians because she demands to be treated with respect and good treatment.  Of course, being spoiled can be the downside but it’s all worth it once she steps out on that stage and opens her mouth to tame the beast among men.  The envy of other women and most musicians, the Diva brings to life what only she can bring and being treated well is a perk of that ability to transform the audience.

Financial surprises ensue when a musician is on her or his job.  Tips can almost double the pay received.  I remember being in Zermatt, Switzerland, where I almost froze my buns off for four days.  The pay was minimal, only CH900 for four nights per musicians, which is very low pay in Switzerland.  We lived in the hotel that had no heat and this was at the top of the Alps.  We ate very well, but the pay was still very low.  However, one gentleman placed a CH1,000 bill in my hand, which I didn’t discover until he’d left, before I was able to thank him.  I was so thrilled that I called my father in Florida on the hotel phone to tell him. He said, “How much is that in U.S. dollars?”  I said, “About $750!”  It was CH100 more than I was getting paid for the entire four days of performance.  It definitely made up for the freezing nights and low pay.  Another time, I had a man pay$75 for my CD because it was the last one I had.  It was like an auction and the man gladly paid.  Then, after singing a very sultry, sexy blues, a man handed me his American Express Gold Card and left, soon after. I was baffled. What should I do with this?  My girlfriends said, “Go shopping!”  But I just couldn’t see myself signing on the dotted line for anything with this card.  I simply called him, got his address and mailed it back to him.  It was the thought that counted. I was truly flattered and now have this wonderful story to tell.

Spiritual upliftment is the ultimate reward for being a singer.  Not only does the ability to sing and bring music to the world life my spirits but it puts a light in the eyes of audience members.  I can recall feeling very low on the morning of a performance and feeling totally elevated the same night.  Music is the balm of ages that brings love, light and delight to millions, sometimes, all at one moment in time.  Ask Pavarotti, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle how they feel about bringing such joy to other people.  I’m sure they feel like me.  I am delighted to have come into this life as a singer.  I love what I do.  I love who I am and there is no better position to be in. I’m convinced!

To book Joan Cartwright go to her official website.

Musical Mentors

As a child, I visited the home of Milt and Mona Hinton, my cousin Pamela’s godparents. Their daughter Charlotte was our age (14-15) and we were invited to her birthday party one year. In 1990, I met Milt and Mona in Switzerland at Marion’s Jazz Room in Der Schweitzerhoff in Berne. They remembered me from 1961! Milt must have given the green light to the owners of the club – Marion and her husband because they booked me for a week, some years later, at their new location atop a hill in Berne, where I met Dorothy Donegan, another fascinating mentor in my musical career.

My musical mentors are part of who I am. Who are yours?
Diva JC

In Switzerland, I had the immense pleasure of singing with Dorothy Donegan at Marian’s Jazz Room. THAT was an evening to remember!