Now, this!

Now, this!

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

Cartwright, J.  (2009).  A history of African-American jazz and blues. FYI Communications, Inc. (

Cartwright, J. (2017). Women in Jazz: Music Publishing and Marketing. FYI Communications, Inc. (

Mathieson, K. (1999). Giant steps: Bebop and the creators of modern jazz, 1945-65. Retrieved from

Pelligrinelli, L. (2017).  Women in jazz: Blues and the objectifying truth. Retrieved from

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!




THE day I defended my dissertation was March 21, 2017 @ 5:08 p.m. That was the day I became Dr. Joan Renee Cartwright. It is different for sure being Dr. Cartwright, being addressed as Dr. Cartwright, being done at Northcentral University in Arizona, online.

One of the committee members asked what I will do next. Aside from managing


this is how I feel and see my future


Teaching Public Speaking for the past year has convinced me that the classroom is my new stage.  Therefore, I am open also to teaching Business Marketing and Ethics.

Peace and Love,

Dr. Joan Cartwright


Prof Cartwright’s Books on MJTVNetwork

Host Mimi Johnson interviews author Professor Joan Cartwright on the MJTV Network Home Shopping Broadcast –

CLICK to watch video. All Books are available at

Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers

Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers
©2014 Joan Cartwright, M.A.

amazing_musicwomen_hardcoverThe African voice inspired instrumentalists. Vocalese was a dialogue between vocalists and instrumentalists. 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.
a history of AA jazz bluesReferences
Cartwright, J. (2009). A history of African American jazz and blues.  FYI Communications, Inc.
Cartwright, J. (2008). Amazing Musicwomen. FYI Communications, Inc.
Davis, A.Y. (1999). Blues legacies and black feminism. New York: Random House.

Books by Diva JC

4pursuit hardcoverSince 2005, Diva JC has published 10 books at

Joan’s books include poetry, photography, music, memoirs, and lots of information about this interesting and well-versed woman, who has toured 16 countries on five continents.

Visit her book store and purchase her books


Joan Cartwright’s first published book In Pursuit of a Melody is a memoir of her musical journey from childhood through her eight years of travel in eight Europe.
This book contains 35 poems, 40 lead sheets of original music, 350 photos, and two lectures: Women in Jazz and Blues and So, You Want To Be A Singer? A Manual for up-and-coming divas, musicians, and composers.  Joan’s books are available in soft and hard cover, ebook, and pdf download formats at her online book store –
Joan’s photos from her visits to the Caribbean, Mexico, China, and Japan will be featured in Joan’s 11th book Melodic Memories, to be published in 2014.
It was my dear friend Jazz vocalist Sandra Kaye, who got me the gig at CJW Club in Shanghai, in 2006.  I worked there for three months and met my new friend Carl Hill, who got me a gig in Tianjin at his friend Chris’ club, for one month.  In between, I went to Japan for three weeks, where I met pianists Aoi Katoh and Miyuki Saito. They joined me at a presentation of Amazing Musicwomen at the Tokyo International School.  Then, in 2007, Carl used his thousands of Frequent Flyer miles to get us to Shanghai for his former co-worker Richard Wu’s wedding, in Yanchung, where I sang for the Bride and Groom, and visited their small home town.
Two young women with Jazz vocalists Sandra Kaye and Joan Cartwright at club in Shanghai in 2007.
Carl Hill, renowned artist Xikun Yuan, and Joan Cartwright in Beijing, 2007

Carl Hill, renowned artist Xikun Yuan, and Joan Cartwright in Beijing, 2007

Can you tell who the Americans are?

Can you tell who the Americans are?

Li Yang’s Crazy English Camp

jc-teachers-carl-liyang-school-small  jc-yancheng-school-small


Wu Wedding

wu-home2Being a foreign teacher at Li Yang’s Crazy English Camp in Tungzhou, China, 45 minutes outside of Beijing, was one of the most intense and satisfying experiences I have had to date. Li Yang is one of China’s most famous motivational speakers. His goal is to teach 300 million Chinese people how to speak good English, which is almost a necessity, since Beijing has been awarded the 2008 Olympics site.  At right, Richard Wu and his bride Daphne invited Joan to sing at their wedding.


New Friends in Japan!

In my journeys around the world in search of a melody, particularly, jazz and blues, I have found music in lots of clubs, bars, restaurants, concert halls, etc. But it is when I find the music in the home of a dedicated musician that I enjoy the experience even more.  In the photo above virtuosa pianist Aoi Katoh entertains a group of friends in her home in Tokyo, Japan.

Visit Joan’s websites: