Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers

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The African voice inspired instrumentalists.  Vocalese was a dialogue between vocalists and instruments.  Each person had an individual sound and instrumentalists imitated the voice’s cries, growls, moans, slurs, whispers, shouts and wails.  Blues was the element of American subculture created by enslaved Africans, singing European music.  Considered crude by classical listeners, Blues liberated singers from precise pitch and calculated rhythms of European music.  Black singers emerged from Spirituals and Blues to develop Jazz.  Their free-spirited songs delivered messages of liberation, signaling to Africans in America that they could be free.  Blues women were the first civil rights workers because their songs symbolized liberty in its rawest form by tapping into the human spirit.  Angela Davis recounted Marx and Engles’ observation that art as “a form of social consciousness [awakens] . . . those affected by it to . . . transform their oppressive environments” (Davis, 1999).  Blues were popularized by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (Columbus, GA, September, 1882 – December 22, 1939), The Mother of the Blues (Cartwright, 2008, p. 9).  A spokesperson for black people, she was a hero to them.  She recorded hundreds of songs on Paramount, putting that recording company on the map.  The most popular Blues singers established a rapport and rhetoric with the crowd.  Ma Rainey took Bessie Smith under her wing and Blues tradition developed as one followed another.
amazing_musicwomen_softcover

This book Amazing Musicwomen has lots of information about Billie HolidayElla FitzgeraldDinah WashingtonMarian McPartland, Peggy Lee, Toshiko AkiyoshiAlberta Hunter, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and other Musicwomen. Musicwoman Radio and Musicwoman Magazine tell the stories of Amazing Musicwomenwho paved the way for vocalists, song stylists, singers, composers, and instrumentalists. Their songs are from The American Song Book that includes original songs like Alberta Hunter’s “Downhearted Blues”, “Handy Man”, and “Rough & Ready Man” plus songs of Broadway composers of the early 1900s, Duke Ellington, Billie Strayhorn, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Fats Waller, and Broadway composers Michel LeGrande, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach and Isaac Hayes. [NOTE, after Alberta Hunter, the absence of women composers. Who were they? Does anybody know?] OK, Barbra Streisand, Carol King, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack, and who else? www.lulu.com/spotlight/divajc

Buy the book

Buy the download

References

Cartwright, J. (2008).  Amazing Musicwomen.  FYI Communications, Inc.

Davis, A.Y. (1999).  Blues legacies and black feminism. New York: Random House.

©2014 Joan Cartwright, M.A.

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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.

The Mimi Johnson Experience

Mimi Woman

Singin' her heart out!

Mimi Johnson a/k/a Michele Serrano Johnson is the CEO of Caustic Entertainment Group in Atlanta, GA.

Her hip hop style has morphed into a Social Butterfly that accepts the title R&B SOUL HOUSE JAZZ SENSATION!

“THE Mimi Johnson EXPERIENCE”!
CAUSTIC ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, LLC

3rd Chakra Positive Visualization

Positive visualizations happens through the Third Chakra and this is why your brow aches when working on the grants, projects and other ventures because you know you’re letting go of SMALL MINDENESS and success is your TRUTH. So, you are bringing your REALITY into EXISTENCE.

The Brow Chakra is associated with the color indigo. It is also often referred to as the third eye or the mind center. It is our avenue to wisdom – learning from our experiences and putting them in perspective. Our ability to separate reality from fantasy or delusions is in connection with the healthfulness of this chakra. Achieving the art of detachment beyond “small mindedness” is accomplished through developing impersonal intuitive reasoning. It is through an open brow chakra that visual images are received.

Identified by Yoga as ‘the seat of the Soul,’ the famous Third-Eye Chakra (or energy-center) is located in the center of the FOREHEAD or brow; and is associated with SPIRITUAL TRUTH. Anytime one must resolve issues of what IS true on an absolute or philosophic level, this Chakra may become ‘stressed,’ leading to pain, abnormalities of hearing, vision and/or psychic phenomena.

Have you ever had a thought and turned around only to have it happen right before your very eyes?

And I’m not talking about dejá vu, here. I’m talking about something you are fully aware of thinking at the moment, even if it was a few days before. It happens to me all the time. Enough so that sometimes it’s downright scary. This chakra, the Brow Chakra has the ability to think reality into existence, when it is in balance. Intuition and positive visualizations are propelled into the world through this Chakra.

Spirit Talk