Celebrating 7 years of Musical Service! Join us, today!
HAPPY 7TH ANNIVERSARY, WIJSF, Inc.!
Music, the sound of the spheres, begins in the womb! ~ Diva JC
I’m very shy, and I shy away from people. But the moment I hit the stage, it’s a different feeling. I get nerve from somewhere; maybe it’s because it’s something I love to do. ~ Ella Fitzgerald
MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Dearest WIJSF Members:
Should you join the Musicians Union?
By Lorna Lesperance, WIJSF President
A typical club owner will do almost anything to resist a union contract. I remember one time at a club on 46th Street we had more than half the band that wanted to make the gig a union job. That’s supposed to be all you need. The owner was approached by an organizer.The owner said, “I’d love to do this union, but I’m not allowed to negotiate.”
“Why?” asked the smiling organizer.
“Because I’m in Chapter 11,” said the owner.
“How long you been in Chapter 11?” asked the organizer.
“Since I opened,” said the owner, winking.
The organizer stopped smiling.
The discussion above is thought-provoking and oh so true. Musicians have been in a box, struggling to get out and be respected. Club owners are faced with a constantly changing and unpredictable economy and must survive to hire musicians.
This month the theme of WIJSF is Education. I am a retired educator who now has time to look at the difficulties musicians face. They are huge and I ask how I could have taught for so long without recognizing the uncompromising situations musicians deal with. The stereotypical attitude of lay people is that we are only musicians. I taught many talented children with great ambition. They were more passionate about Music than Science, Math, or English students. Many were genius.
When you’re young and a good musician, you are respected. You get lots of pats on the back. Parents are excited because they have a talented child, who might be one of the 10 who make it in the music industry. One student was an unusually talented guitarist. She performed with adult musicians at a reputable Jazz club in Miami. She was 13 and not too interested in school.
Clearly, this girl wanted to do was play music. What will be her future? As her music theory teacher, my job was to prepare her for life as a musician. I told my students to join the Musicians Union to get support for their future. I could not tell my students that the chances of “making it big” are little to none. It was not my job to blow out their fire. When a young genius comes along, you think that this is the one that is going to make it.
The facts are that many musicians in this country are not respected and are not paid enough to sustain them, on a daily basis. The average musician in Florida makes about $24,000 per year. On the high end, musicians make about $56,000 per year, if they travel a lot, touring or perform at different clubs, every night to make money.
If you spend your time composing music, you need a benefactor to pay your bills. Of course, if you are a union member and live in New York, you can make a living performing in Broadway pit bands or symphonic orchestras. I knew a Jazz trombonist that played the Broadway circuit and made a decent living. He was a dues-paying union member. Now, he receives a pension. He is a composer and arranger, and is well-known for his skills.
Talented musicians who do not live in New York City but play music seven nights a week are fortunate. They will only get unemployment benefits, disability insurance, healthcare, or social security, if they join the Musicians Union and pay their annual dues. They entertain and make people smile. They give folks relief from the tension of everyday life, yet they have to hustle to survive.
In 2007, a Jazz Advisory Committee at Local 802 was formed to address the issues facing Jazz musicians. The committee included Jimmy Owens, Slide Hampton, Bob Crenshaw, Benny Powell, and Carlene Ray. The JUSTICE FOR JAZZ ARTISTS bill was passed and went into effect. Large venues and clubs did not have to pay tax on ticket sales. The tax money was to go to a pension fund. Of course, there was no enforcer appointed, so, club owners kept the tax money and found loop holes, like filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, to avoid paying into this Jazz Artists component of Local 802.
I mentor young musicians but they will have to create change. Everyone is tech savvy and a new era of music is here. Business savvy must be the goal. Today, music institutions offer courses in Business to students. Hopefully, they can sell enough of music online to make a living or they can continue to play music on street corners with a tin can to collect coins.
These are questions to ponder:
On another note, we researched lobbying in Washington, DC for more opportunities for women musicians and composers. An IRS agent reminded Joan that, at the inception of applying for non-profit status for WIJSF, we filed Form 5768, enabling us to lobby without being a 501(c)(6). So, Joan is composing a letter to President and Mrs. Obama to request an audience with them to discuss the inequity of financial opportunities in this country for women artists – visual, musical, and literary – due to marginalization and overall omission from exhibits and performances funded by our tax dollars.
Trumpeter Ellen Seeling, co-leader of the Montclair Women’s Big Band will picket the performance by the publicly-funded Lincoln Center Jazz Band led by Wynton Marsalis, on March 22, 2014, in San Francisco, to address the total omission of women instrumentalists. In 2000, Laura Pelligrinelli picketed this band and nothing changed, in 14 years! The bottom line is each musician in this all-male touring band receives $100,000, annually. No wonder they don’t want any women in the band! Listen to the interview with Ellen Seeling on Saturday, March 1, now.
Next, we learned that, of the 134 Jazz Masters honored by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) since 1982, only 15 are women. Most are vocalists and one – Lorraine Gordon was nominated for being the wife of Max Gordon, owner of the Village Vanguard, in Greenwich Village, NY.
CALL TO ACTION!!!
Now is the time to increase this number, which is only 11% female! Go to NEA JAZZ MASTERS and NOMINATE a woman musician, preferably an instrumentalist or composer, of your choice. The figure below shows the women recipients, since 1982.
Member DEE DANIELS is the Artistic Director for this event in Edmonds, Washington!
Our International President Cettina Donato will perform
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 @ 1 p.m.
LENORE RAPHAEL, Pianist
w/Jack Wilkins, guitar
St. Peter’s Church
54th Street and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 @ 8 p.m.
Sky Centre in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada
Four Celtic Voices performs with the XYD Dancers
Members BERTHA HOPE & NICK MATHIS are featured below
|GUESTS IN MARCH|
|3/06/2014 4:00 PM||Judy Joy Jones Artist|
|3/13/2014 4:00 PM||Shana Tucker|
|3/20/2014 4:00 PM||Nika Rejto|
|3/27/2014 4:00 PM||Jessica Jones|
On Sundays, Alvin Carter-Bey features music from our compilation CDs. On Sunday, March 2nd, Joan will be a caller and Renee Baker will be Alvin’s guest on Sunday, March 9th. Tune in at WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago, Community Radio | University of Chicago.
Contact: Joan Cartwright
Contact: Mimi Johnson