Musicwoman Radio is a service of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc.
Host: Diva JC @ 515-602-9603
Musicwoman Radio is a service of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc.
Host: Diva JC @ 515-602-9603
Over 10 years ago, it was my fortune to connect with the founder of Fondazione Adkins-Chiti: Donne in Musica, Patricia Adkins-Chiti, who became and remained my mentor throughout the development of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in the USA to promote and support women musicians, globally. Beyond her encouragement and motivation to do the work for our organization, Patricia mentored me through my doctoral process and provided me with material to include in my dissertation – Women in Jazz: Music Publishing and Marketing. Also, in 2013, I was invited to be among 40 women composers at the WIMUST Conference in Fiuggi, Italy, where I met Patricia in person and enjoyed spending time with her.
Today, I was tagged by Irene Robbins in this post from Silvia Costa:
Patricia Adkins Chiti: A life for women in music [June 13, 2018]
On June 12th, Patricia Adkins-Chiti left us. A great pain, a huge void. An extraordinary woman, a musicologist who dedicated her life to the exploitation of women musicians in the world with the women’s foundation in music/women in music which marked the 40th year. For me, for 35 years, especially a special, generous, sensitive and loving friend. Irreplaceable. But also a wife who adored her Giampaolo, musician, and composer, who combined her common passion for music and a great love made of understanding, tenderness, and complicity.
Mezzo Patricia was awarded by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of the title of Commander of the Republic for Cultural Merit. Her pioneering role in historical research on the presence of women among musical composers and as interpreters or crew had at the base a rebellion united with a deep sense of justice: denying a historiography that in fact denied it and returning identity and honor to so many women artists and authors. For this, Patricia had been on the UNESCO Music Council and, in 1978, created the international foundation of women in music, recognized by the Italian government, UNESCO, EUC, Arab Academy, and International Music Council UNESCO.
Thanks to Patricia and her foundation, many of us have been able to meet in person hundreds of musicians and contemporary interpreters from around the world. Through its publications and extraordinary research we have discovered wealth and cultural diversity, the creativity of musicians that without her would not have come into international music history. Passion and competence brought Patricia as a young mezzo, to snoop and study in the innermost archives, in all places in the world where she first went as a singer and then as musicologist. From this capillary work was born, in the 1990s, the foundation archive based in Fiuggi: Foundation Adkins Chiti: women in music. And in the municipality of Frosinone, which she so loved and where she had a beloved house, her retreat, started a very important initiative, the International Symposium of Women in Music in Fiuggi, where the historical centre of the town filled with music and meetings of extraordinary musicians.
But her very important work of research, which led her to write over three hundred essays on the history of composition and musical guidelines, was aimed at a mission that committed her whole life and that, even yesterday, with a thread of voice from her bed she reminded me of in the hospital. That is to return memory and honor to women who are often ignored in Italy and Europe by official history. And so, in the first encyclopedia she wrote with Aaron Cohen, she discovered 21 thousand women of which 1200 were Italian. Patricia’s foundation promoted contemporary music through calls for young composers.
Together with you, I have experienced the commission’s adventure, equal opportunities with the presidency of the council and President, on horseback at the end of the s, when as president I demanded that an artist be inserted, a choice I made, after I met her in the 1980s, and I understood her great value and commitment. From that friendship, there are many things including some of her most beautiful publications such as
These three books accompanied several seasons of my life, always with Patricia close, from my experience in the Italian Parliament to the role of regional councillor to the European Parliament, where we presented it with a small concert of women. I was a member of the foundation board with dearest Gigliola Zecchi. When we were talking to Patricia about our friendship and our common commitment, we remembered two great initiatives that had seen her extraordinary creativity.
The first was in 2000, “Special Envoy” of the National Commission equal to the UNESCO Conference on cultural rights as a member of the Italian government delegation, Patricia convinced a distracted assembly, mainly male, singing in full plenary a lullaby of Schubert followed by a strong appeal “for your mothers, first teachers of music,” Patricia said, “I ask you to vote on our amendments in favour of recognition, exploitation and role of artists and musicians.” This was a success and the vote was unanimous.
The second, great project that at first seemed impossible was when she announced that she had asked for an appointment by the Secretary-General for the Jubilee of 2000 to celebrate on 12 September the feast of the Madonna with a great show of music, interreligious, entitled “Maria mater mundi”, dedicated to Maria, Myriam, and Mariam of the three great monotheistic religions.
Knowing her extraordinary ability to convince and her diplomatic skills, I never doubted that she would succeed as with the extraordinary show of dance and music in the church of Minerva in Rome with Liliana so dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a few years earlier, Bringing the dance back to a church! I still remember the emotion and extraordinary beauty of the show at the packed hall, beyond every prediction, in which they blended singing, music and dances of women from different parts of the planet, opening with the jubilee hymn from her commissioned to candeille through with an international notice. There was also a diplomatic incident because someone in the Vatican did not want a group of Iranians to sing the sacred verses of the Quran. But Patricia preferred to give up live TV rather than the singing of Iranian musicians, supported in this by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe. In an interview, she remembered that TV came from all over the world, including CNN.
Her commitment in recent months has been dedicated to carrying out the prestigious task entrusted to her by the United Nations High Human Rights Commission to organise in Rome as the only Italian foundation of the universal declaration of human rights devoted to women’s cultural rights. In the public notice launched by the foundation for women composers and creating music of all ages, nationalities, and musical training, she confided in me, the day before her death, with a special light in her eyes, that 196 replied from participating countries and 120 would be selected. She was very proud of this result and told me that the songs, which will be selected by an international commission, will be presented at the Argentina Theatre in November 2018 in a grand gala with UNESCO, UNHCR and the Italian government. This project had the official recognition of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and attributed the logo of the celebration.
Patricia’s commitment must become the commitment of all of us to bring this extraordinary event to a successful conclusion and dedicate the day of November 5 to her bright testimony of passion for music and women’s rights. I would be happy if women and in particular the musicians in Italy, Europe, and worldwide, would acknowledge European International Music Day on 21 June. I will do so on 26 June in Brussels at the high-level Conference of the European Parliament for the European Year of Cultural Heritage and on 27 June at the opening of the event dedicated by the delegation of pd to the 150th anniversary of death By Joachim Rossini.
Photos of the WIMUST Conference in Fiuggi, Italy in July 2013
By Dr. Joan Cartwright
Jazz journalist Lara Pellegrinelli’s recent article Women in Jazz: Blues and The Objectifying Truth (2017), commiserated on the marginalization of women musicians in the Jazz/Blues genre, stating that the cultural assumption is that women are merely the passive vessels for male sounds (Pellegrinelli, 2017).
In response to Pellegrinelli, Terri Lynn Carrington said: When I started teaching and hearing the stories of the young women at the college, . . . I realized just because my experience was not the same as theirs, I am a part of this community and have to work toward or fight for change in any possible way that I can. I feel great ownership in this art form and know that I belong here, and want my female students to feel the same way.
In a Huffington Post article, Carrington wrote, “On issues of racism and sexism, there can be impatience from progressives, expecting that after all this time everyone should just know better and stand on the correct side of consciousness” (Carrington, 2017). She continued with, “feminizing or masculinizing music can be counter-productive. The studying, composing, and performing of music should be gender neutral, and I think the greatest musicians are musically ‘gender fluid’.”
I do not agree with Carrington’s statement because I have found few Jazz musicians, and certainly even fewer Classical musicians, who are willing to push forward music composed by women musicians. My fortune was that Freddie Hubbard recorded my composition Sweet Return in 1983 on Atlantic Records. Even though his half-German wife, the publisher, did everything in her power to stop the progress of this album because she felt there was something romantic between Freddie and me, which there was not, that composition made it into the Freddie Hubbard Song Book, much to my surprise. Since then, I have had no other opportunities to get my music performed or recorded by any gender fluid musician, even though I have gifted several male musicians, band leaders, and arrangers with my song book.
In Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (1970), Frank Kofsky expounded on the words of Professor Archie Shepp, an articulate spokesperson for African-Americans. Shepp said, “the United States is culturally backward because white Americans have been unwilling to give credit to African-Americans as innovators of jazz, which he refers to as American realty – total reality.” Shepp contends that whites “think they have a right to jazz instead of being grateful for jazz as a gift that the Negro has given.” He said even white Americans in the jazz world “deny that jazz is first and foremost a black art created and nurtured by black people in this country out of the wealth of their historical experience” (Cartwright, 2009, p. 56).
For three centuries or more, white men have used the physical and cultural production of Africans in America to enrich themselves and their families while white women reaped the benefits in silence. White men raped African women, continually, producing a whole new group of people who were sold regardless of their relationship to their white fathers. The transition from cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane to jazz and blues as a money-making venture was as smooth as Smooth Jazz! Festivals and clubs around the world raked in millions of dollars while disowning the very people that the music came from. White musicians and educators dot the halls of conservatories and universities where jazz is taught by rote just like the classical music that issued from European concert halls.
Now, this – white women are complaining that they are marginalized in the world of Jazz. What a surprise. These same white women and their foremothers never found it odd that the music that spoke of freedom for Africans enslaved in America has become the popular music of today, without the input of African musicians. A survey of jazz educators will result in a very low number of African professors at universities with Jazz Departments. Professor Archie Shepp at Amherst, Dr. Larry Ridley at Rutgers, Dr. Karlton Hester at UCLA San Diego, Dr. Linda Williams at Southern University, and the handful of African-descent professors at Berklee – Terri Lynn Carrington, Patrice Rushen, and the late Geri Allen do not comprise a long list of instructors that teach the music that actually came out of their communities.
Do white people have a right to perform and teach Jazz and Blues music? This question is moot since white people believe they have a right to appropriate EVERYTHING FROM EVERYBODY and that no one should ever say anything about it in the negative. Well, my book A History of African-American Jazz and Blues (Cartwright, 2009) discusses how The Music was appropriated, packaged, commercialized, and serendipitously stolen from its originators. Besides the theft of the publishing royalties of great composers like Duke Ellington by publishers like Irving Mills, who managed Duke’s band for 13 years because African musicians could not belong to ASCAP or manage themselves outside of TOBA, Jazz and Blues musicians of African-descent were exploited in every way possible.
Of course, like cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane crops, Jazz and Blues were new crops that white men felt entitled to exploit to their personal benefit. Musicians of African descent had no choice because they were barred from owning anything that they produced in the United States. Most prolific musicians died pennilessly and their families rarely benefitted from their cultural production. The following excerpt attests to that fact.
The financial pressures were exacerbated by another familiar pressure which had afflicted jazz musicians right from the start of the music – their reliance on the largely white businessmen who ran the clubs, record companies, management and booking agencies, and, most significantly, music publishing. The shaving of bands’ fees by clubowners and agents, and the practice of managers and agents adding their names to the publishing rights of tunes – and thereby claiming a share of their often lucrative proceeds – had begun early in jazz (Duke Ellington’s manager, Irving Mills, is a famous example, and while Ellington himself was never slow to claim a co-credit on works instigated by his sidemen, at least he had a musical hand in them) and, according to Dizzy, had grown no better by the time of the bebop era.
People with enough bucks and foresight to invest in bebop made some money. I mean more than just a little bit. All the big money went to the guys who owned the music, not to the guys who played it. The businessmen made much more than the musicians, because without the money to invest in producing their own music, and sometimes managing poorly what they earned, the modern jazz musicians fell victim to the forces of the market. Somehow, the jazz businessman always became the owner and got back more than his fair share, usually at the player’s expense. More was stolen from us during the bebop era than in the entire history of jazz . . . (Mathieson, 1999).
So, for white women to declare that they are barred, unfairly, from making a living in the Jazz scene is ludicrous. White men have maintained control over the cultural production of Africans and they have no intention of relinquishing that control. The rub is that African men will embrace white women musicians far more readily than they will women of African descent with a few exceptions like Dexter Gordon and Melba Liston. However, Regina Carter and Teri Lynn Carrington managed to eke out a place in The Music for themselves and their art.
But most women of African descent who appeared on the Jazz scene, until recently, were shoved in a corner, rarely to be heard from. Some of the most profound of those women were Vi Redd, Jeannie Cheatham, Dorothy Donegan, and Trudy Pitts. Other talented musicians, like Shirley Scott and Hazel Scott, found favor because they had notable husbands – Shirley and Stanley Turrentine and Hazel and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Today, Mimi Jones, Shirazette Tinnin, Lakecia Benjamin, Camille Thurman, Jazmin Ghent, Gail Jhonson, Karen Briggs, and Esperanza Spaulding are making some headway.
Meanwhile, white women are courted by musicians of African descent with valor and pleasure. For instance, Christian McBride partnered with Diana Krall and Prince endorsed Candy Dulfer (and the two white women in his band). Perhaps, white women can pay to gain credibility by recording and performing with African-American musicians, while women of African descent cannot make that monetary layout.
As far as sexual harassment is concerned, what is it that white women do not understand about the sexual energy of white men who raped African women during slavery, while their white wives languished in plantation mansions? Today, white men are being called out in great numbers for sexually harassing women in the workplace. This is their modus operandi. Is that to say that African men do not rape and sexually harass? Heaven’s no. It is the nature of man to hunt women like prey.
My career as a Jazz/Blues vocalist and composer spanned 50 years. I remember several instances when I was targeted by male musicians. However, I was able to extricate myself from the situation or rationalize why that happened. One white man told me to take my clothing off. When I refused, he told me I would never be anything but a secretary. I asked him to call me a cab and went on to have a charmed career, performing in 20 countries on five continents, without ever taking my clothes off for one single opportunity to perform or record.
Maybe I am a very strong woman with principles that do not allow me to cave into the taunting of males. One of my band members suggested that I engage in fellatio with him in a closet at a New Years’ Eve gig that I hired him for. I did not speak to him for two years after that and I never hired him again. Women have recourse. Sniveling about sexual harassment without speaking out about it means nothing. It’s a man’s world only because women allow it to be that.
Women fail to create camaraderie amongst themselves. For 10 years, I have been the director of a non-profit organization that promotes and advocates for women musicians. It is like pulling teeth to get women to support this organization. They think that supporting Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. detracts from who they are. Women are not joiners or supporters unless they think they will get something from an organization. They expect me to be their agent, to get them gigs, to promote them even though they refuse to pay $50 dues per year. That’s insane.
I spent the last six years writing my dissertation Women in Jazz: Music Publishing and Marketing. My research showed that women lack sufficient business skills to succeed in the monstrously competitive world of Jazz. Most women musicians resign themselves to teaching rather than concentrating on branding, networking, teamwork, negotiation, and accounting. Few are adept at writing grant proposals to win financial awards to produce and perform original music.
Then, there are those that know my organization exists but minimalize it because I am not a white woman. Well, Blues and Jazz came from the experience of African women and men in America, and just because white musicians think they own it, they never will. They may play all the riffs and copy all the solos of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Marylou Williams, Hazel Scott, Melba Liston, and other prolific Jazzwomen but they will never understand the burden that led to the expression of the Blues and, subsequently, Jazz.
White people harm each other – yes – but the harm they did to Africans in America was counteracted by the Blues and Jazz and they can never understand the full meaning of that because they are unwilling to give credit to African-Americans as innovators of jazz, which [Shepp referred] to as ‘American realty – total reality.’ As Shepp contended, whites ‘think they have a right to jazz’ instead of being grateful for jazz as a ‘gift that the Negro has given.’ He said even white Americans in the jazz world ‘deny that jazz is first and foremost a black art created and nurtured by black people in this country out of the wealth of their historical experience’ (Mathieson, 1999).
Carrington, T.L. (2017). Sexism in jazz: Being agents of change. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sexism-in-jazz-agents-of-change_us_58ebfab1e4b0ca64d9187879
Cartwright, J. (2009). A history of African-American jazz and blues. FYI Communications, Inc. (www.lulu.com/spotlight/divajc)
Cartwright, J. (2017). Women in Jazz: Music Publishing and Marketing. FYI Communications, Inc. (www.lulu.com/spotlight/divajc)
Mathieson, K. (1999). Giant steps: Bebop and the creators of modern jazz, 1945-65. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books
Pelligrinelli, L. (2017). Women in jazz: Blues and the objectifying truth. Retrieved from https://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/2017/12/12/women-in-jazz-blues-and-the-objectifying-truth/#comment-5707
Dr. Joan Cartwright is a Jazz/Blues vocalist, composer, and author of books on Jazz and Blues and Women in Jazz and Blues. She is the founder of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes and advocates for women musicians, globally! www.wijsf.org
Regarding an article posted on a UK Blog – THERE ARE NO GOOD JAZZ GIGS, I would like to address some of the comments in this article:
1. The huge increase in the number of jazz festivals over the last decade as proof that it’s not nearly as bad as some people would have you believe. D C Dowell of www.apassion4jazz.net says that the number of jazz festivals has increased tenfold over the last decade and www.jazzfests.net has over 1,000 jazz festivals listed for Europe alone. MOST OF THESE SO-CALLED JAZZ FESTIVALS USE THE WORD “JAZZ” TO KEEP THE COST OF INSURANCE LOW. THEN, THEY BOOK ARTISTS THAT ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING JAZZ ARTISTS – THEY ARE R&B, ROCK, REGGAE ARTISTS – BUT THE WORD JAZZ IS USED TO ATTRACT A MATURE AUDIENCE. IF THEY SAID IT IS A R&B OR ROCK FEST, THE INSURANCE WOULD BE SKY HIGH.
2. Much of the jazz musician’s malaise probably stems from his own experiences – playing an endless round of background music gigs where he is largely ignored or at conservative venues where he feels obliged to play standards in a mainstream style. These gigs often form the majority of his performing life and venues that actively promote jazz seem to be depressingly few in number. THE MAJOR PROBLEM IN THIS COUNTRY AND IN EUROPE IS THAT JAZZ IS A “HE/HIS” GENRE – A GOOD OLE BOY CLUB. WOMEN PAY 53% OF THE TAXES ON THE PLANET BUT WOMEN’S MUSIC REAPS ONLY 1-5% OF THE $27.5 BILLION IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND FROM PUBLIC FUNDING. THIS IS A HUGE IMBALANCE. I SEE GREAT OPPORTUNITY IN THIS AS THE FOUNDER OF A NON-PROFIT THAT PROMOTES WOMEN MUSICIAN’S – www.wijsf.org
3. Going to jam sessions is the only ‘self-promotion’ that they do. They’re clinging to a hopelessly old-fashioned paradigm of the music business and are doomed to failure and frustration if they refuse to change. THE JAM SESSION IS WHAT HAS KILLED NOT ONLY THE JAZZ SCENE BUT THE MUSIC SCENE. OPEN MICS WITH HIP HOP AND RAP ARTISTS HAS MADE IT SO THAT ENTERTAINERS (I DO NOT CONSIDER HIP HOPPERS AND RAPPERS MUSICIANS) PERFORM FOR FREE. CLUB OWNERS HAVE GOTTEN USED TO THE PARADIGM THAT THEY DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR ENTERTAINMENT BECAUSE OF THE DESPERATION AND EGO OF THESE AMATEURS WANTING TO GET UP ON A STAGE TO DISPLAY THEIR SO-CALLED TALENT, LEAVING PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED MUSICIANS OUT IN THE COLD. ORIGINALLY, JAM SESSIONS TOOK PLACE IN THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING, AT ONE OR TWO CLUBS, AFTER THE MUSICIANS GOT OFF FROM WORK. TODAY, THE JAM SESSION IS THE GIG, WITH THE BASSIST AND DRUMMER GETTING PAID (MAYBE) AND OTHER MUSICIANS AND VOCALISTS COMING UP ON STAGE TO DO A SONG OR TWO. IT’S PUT MOST MUSICIANS IN THE POVERTY CLASS.
15 years in the making, MUSICWOMAN MAGAZINE is the brainchild of composer and vocalist Joan Cartwright, founder of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. and host of MUSICWOMAN RADIO, in the 7th year of featuring women who compose and perform their own music and men who support them.
Ms. Cartwright is an author of 10 books, produces concerts and events, researches and documents women in jazz and blues, and in music, in general. She is a noted composer, having two CDs of her own and three compilation CDs with 27 women composers, released in 2011, 2012, and 2013.The articles in this publication will reflect the lives, work, and passion of women like Ms. Cartwright, who claim music as their profession. Authors, journalists, photographers, musicians, critics, and fans are encouraged to submit articles to the Editor.Also, we encourage any and all advertisers to see our RATE SHEET and inquire about advertisement in MUSICWOMAN MAGAZINE.
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:
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.
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.
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?
In Switzerland, I had the immense pleasure of singing with Dorothy Donegan at Marian’s Jazz Room. THAT was an evening to remember!