Thursday, October 19, 2017

Putting Your Money Where Your Sources Are: Royalties, Nominations and Recognition.

The other week the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced. Amongst this year's bunch included L.L. Cool J, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone and others. (I honestly was so shocked that Nina Simone was not inducted already...) 

The week prior to this announcement, I had accompanied my internship supervisor to a panel she was a part of featuring women in music. Afterwards at lunch with the group, we were talking about pioneering women in music. Someone brought up Lil Hardin Armstrong and her influence to blues, and to add I brought up the stories of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Rose Marie McCoy (who I wrote a bit about here.)

Later that weekend, I came across the video on facebook from Genius about Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam" and how she didn't see any royalties up until 2014. This specific topic has been brought up again with the recent Jay-Z's "Bam" and here you can read Genius' coverage on it. I shared the vid and commented: It’s astonishing that so many influential women have been so over looked for their work. That pattern has got to go. 

I very much feel that need for change. To pay women and POC, particularly black women/women of color, for their intellectual, creative (and any kind of) work is so necessary. Societally, institutionally, and culturally we need to prioritize this. For so long they have been overlooked, robbed from, dismissed for their creative genius, underpaid, etc. and continuing that and letting the work of black and brown women go unpaid and unrecognized is unethical. 

Certainly glad to see Sister Rosetta Tharpe getting her credit as the Grandmother of Rock and Roll. Because without her pioneering work to the genre.... there'd be no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Musically yours,

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Magic of Moonlight Densetsu

This little melody haunts most of us who grew up watching the Sailor Moon anime. The theme is heard throughout the series and its incarnations: the theme songs, as background music, in the star locket. The above version is one of my absolute favorite versions.

When I think of the transformative power of music, when I need to escape the sometimes overwhelming truth of reality, or just need some magic in my life, this melody always comes to mind. Playing this little tune instantly transports me to a much more serene place. (My inner moonie couldn't pass that up.)

A few years ago, I came across a post on tumblr explaining the history of this tune, "Sayonara Wa Dance No Atoni" is a song from the 60's by Chieko Baisho, Japanese singer and actress, and served as the melodic inspiration for "Moonlight Densetsu." I don't have the emotional attachment to this song as do Moonlight Densetsu, but I do enjoy listening to it!

I am marveled how deeply engrained in my musical memory this tune is, and I've seen others comment on this same sentiment. I turn it on at some of my lowest moments. A most influential melody on myself, and I'm sure a generation of anime lovers, that it's worth noting its power. 

Musically yours,

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Disrupting Academia Through A Hip-Hop Album

So if you haven't heard of the viral doctoral candidate who is producing a hip-hop album as his dissertation... read this article to get a sense of what I'll be addressing in this post:

This has been one of my favorite things to read this year. In the midst of reading emails and looking at grad programs, my thesis advisor sent me this article saying it reminded her of me. First of all, I was honored. This Ph.D. candidate, A.D. Carson is obviously a badass, and I find his whole project to be so resistant. The article shares, “'The central thesis of my dissertation is: Are certain voices treated differently?' said Carson. 'I’m trying to examine how an authentically identifiable black voice might be used or accepted as authentic, or ignored, or could answer academic questions and be considered rightly academic. So I have to present a voice rather than writing about a voice.'”

There is no doubt that Carson's examinations about voice in this project are contesting the elitist norm of academia. This is something I'd love to see more of.

Musically yours,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Symposium Reflection

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, or you haven’t gotten the chance to know me, I need to preface this by saying that I have interests in music, cultures, and especially how those interplay. Essentially, I to want to grow up to be an ethnomusicologist, or an anthropologist of sound. So when my professor, who I travelled to India with in 2015, shared that my university was hosting a music symposium where scholars, composers, and performers that brought together Western and Indian traditions would come to speak about their work I was ecstatic.

The three days of the symposium were filled with many inspiring conversations and opportunities to explore. This whole event was significant because (even as one of the presenter’s pointed out...) this was probably one of the few spaces in our region where people who are interested in cross-cultural musical phenomenons and projects could come together for a discussion. The presentations ranged from composer’s debuting and talking about their work, to performances that showcase both Indian classical and Western influences, to new technology and systems to accommodate cross cultural communication, and a dissection of classical, pop, indie, fusion and every genre in between.

One of the greatest aspects of the symposium was the intimacy throughout the weekend; the personality of the symposium was kept light and welcoming, which is probably a big reason why I stayed as long as I did. Simply as an attendee, I was able to have lunch with the presenters, make connections, and felt comfortable enough to ask questions freely. This isn’t the case in many other situations like these. The relaxed ambiance of the symposium made the entire weekend so much richer and allowed for more learning opportunities than had it been run with formalities.

If I'm to highlight one session from the entire weekend, I would say I was most touched and intrigued by the last one. Pavithra Chari is a musician from New Delhi, India who wears many hats. She is a composer, performer, educator, etc.  While everyone shared their life work, her speech to the symposium attendees was particularly raw and personally driven. I'm not sure if she would identify this way, but from my perspective there was something so innately feminist about it all. Calling upon the feminist theory, "the personal is political," Pavithra's fusion of Hindustani classical with ethereal electronic music was so authentically her and embraced tradition in a unique way. I was able to see Pavithra again when she came to my class the following Monday; she led a discussion on her life as an indie/classical fusion artist and composer in India with our class. Her band Shadow and Light can be heard on soundcloud!

So what did this weekend mean for me? It meant that I was in a space surrounded by those with the same particular interests that I had, which is a really cool thing especially in academic settings and the topic at hand is reworking and undoing the western dominance in social and artistic standard. It was reaffirming that I was in a space that I needed to be in at that moment, that I had arrived to a moment of right place and right time in my life.

Check out Shastra and go here for an indepth schedule of how the weekend went. Info on the image in the post header can be found here.

Musically yours,

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I try to listen through my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify every week, and I don’t get to do so every week, but when I do I usually come across at least one song that I adore. Early in January I was suggested this song, “Deewani Mastani.” I was OBSESSED, I played it over and over. Having just returned from India studying Indian classical, I was happy to be exposed to more popular music of the region. (That being said, I do not claim to be an expert on Indian music! I am a student and appreciator of the art, and may have overlooked something that could enrich this short analysis, I’m happy to be enlightened!) The song is from a Bollywood film called Bajirao Mastani, which is the tale of warrior princess Mastani, who trades in her home life to follow Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I., becoming his second wife. 

I didn’t watch the film until recently, which is why I’ve once again become so obsessed with this song. Seeing it in the film is absolutely chilling, but even as a stand alone video, it is mesmerizing. The infectious song is the moment where Mastani declares her love for Bajirao. Mastani is stepping out in front of everyone and unabashedly letting everyone, including Bajirao, just how deep her love runs. In my interpretation, this is a feminist move. We are still being fed the false idea that men must be the ones to declare feelings first or be the ones who do the chasing, portraying their emotions holding greater importance. Understanding this, her bold movements can be interpreted as resistant to a norm. And adding to her depth as a great feminist character, Mastani’s love is as fierce and piercing as her swordsmanship; the film includes many scenes of Mastani’s masterful battle skills. This scene alone is so visually stunning and the song is absolutely wonderful, but I do recommend watching the entire film to see Mastani in all her glory. 

Musically yours, 

originally posted on 08 aug 16 at 10am

Straight Outta Oz - Visual Album Feminist Review

After being obsessed with this album for the last month, I knew that I had to do a review. What a year for visual albums! (Ahem. Lemonade.) And whereas Beyonce blessed us with a narrative on the experience of the Black Woman, Straight Outta Oz is Todrick Hall’s personal portrayal of his experience as a Black Gay Man in Hollywood. And it is divine! The story takes us on a ride following Todrick, our modern day Dorothy, as he navigates his identities, dreams, and career in a complex world. 

What I had to share this morning in response to the Christina Grimmie news. There is a large issue at hand here and it breaks my heart that someone, a young woman with so much talent and heart for music had to lose her life because of violence that someone thought they had the right to commit. This is why we cannot let the small things, the microagressions and small acts of violence happen. This is why we must examine and critique our musical culture. This is why we must not turn away from acts of sexism because they are not solitary occurrences, but products of a culture that conveys the idea that violence is acceptable, that womxn creators aren’t capable of existing in a space where they can express and create music.
Completely saddened to hear of this and completely angered because this only reflects the larger toxic culture in which womxn musicians operate in. 
Originally posted on 11 jun 16 at 12pm

On #FreeKesha and a look at the state of women in music.

Happy New Year! Sorry, I’ve been MIA. But here’s a post because something big is happening for the state of women in music. 

If you don’t know, Kesha has been battling her record label Sony to end her contract so that she doesn’t have to work with her alleged rapist, producer Dr. Luke. The recent ruling was in favor of Sony, forcing Kesha to remain and work within the confines of her recording contract. This has resulted in the use of the hashtag #FreeKesha for fans and others to show their solidarity. Celebs, and especially other women in music, have come out publicly sharing their sentiments of support. 

Many are reflecting how this is bigger than Kesha, this involves the state of women in music. I wholeheartedly agree on this. This will not only affect Kesha, but other women, as well as other marginalized groups in music and other forms of art. The result may have not been ideal, but it’s been an opportunity to talk about injustices against women in music on the public stage, which is a step in the right direction. 

Here’s the thing: Kesha even as a privileged and beloved pop star faces naysayers who deny and negate her experiences as a woman in music that she has shared with the public, can we imagine how much harder it would be for other women? 

Unfortunately rape culture tells us to question Kesha and her motives for coming forward. Rape culture removes the credibility of women’s experiences, tells us that she did something to deserve the violence done to her, and protects the abuser in question. Understand that, and begin to undo the work of rape culture. Listen to Kesha and other women’s experiences when they come forward because undoubtedly it’s no easy thing to do. 

Musically yours,

originally published on 25 feb 16 at 1am

Spotify’s Most Streamed

A few days ago, I came across this post on instagram… 

Let’s use our critical lens… Can you pick up on a pattern here? Because even spotify does when they explicitly say, “Recognize these guys?” So if you’ve haven’t picked up on the gendered language, let me explain: there are no feminine representations featured here as the main artist. 2015’s most played track? Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” No surprise that once again that the credit goes to men. Yes, of course we have MØ and Kimbra with vocal features, but they’re not the name on the song. 

So what does this pattern have to reflect? Do men tend to make the songs we don’t want to listen to and women tend make songs we don’t want to listen to? Not the case at all. Is Spotify a sexist app that skews our listening habits? Unlikely. What I can gather from this data, is that representation in music continues to lean a certain masculine way. 

Also, of interest to note: 

So following this link, the first category: Most Streamed Artist of 2015. The second? Most streamed women in music (Rihanna.)  I realize that, they make an effort for feminine representation by giving women their own category, but the point I’m trying to make is that we shouldn’t need that category. The fact is that this stems from a larger cultural issue that systematically effects women in music. 

Let’s support, and listen to, women in music! Shall we? 

Musically yours,

originally posted on 11 dec 15 at 9pm

Adele has caught the attention of the public once again with her latest track “Hello.” I’ve admired Adele as a musician and vocalist for years now. (I’ve also admired her for her body positivity.)  Adele, without any doubt is an amazing musician; I can say that and I don’t think any one would disagree with me. When we think of Adele we associate her as this amazing musician and to think of her in any other frame is odd for us. 
One day I was reading an issue of Teen Vogue, and this issue had a story featuring different artists and musicians. Adele had her own page, a photo of her with the caption I’ve shared above. I ripped that page out and hung it on my inspiration board, and it’s still there because the quote she shared means so much to me. The most impactful part is this,
“Some people say, ‘I was born to do this’–I don’t think I’m like that…. My passion evolved.”
I think for the arts and for music especially, we have this notion that people are either born with talent or they are not. That single sentence meant so much to me, because I struggled with this concept for a long time. Instead of being told that many good musicians actually aren’t born just magically playing well, that it was something they worked on, I was told that I was not born with it and so my insecurity and frustration didn’t allow me to understand the idea of development as a musician. 
In a media environment where we marvel at child prodigies and glorify teen stars that are getting younger and younger, with this quote Adele really helped me understand that in fact there is beauty in pursuing something you have to develop and work for. The music industry is especially agist, so I’m always happy to give contrary ideas platform. I’m proud to say that Adele influences me in many aspects including musically, vocally, mentally, etc. And I’m so happy to see her continue in success. 
Musically yours,Priscysinger1
originally posted on 12 nov 15 at 1am