Blues was not “slave music [since] . . . Blues musicians, roaming from town to town with guitar[s] . . . could not have existed prior to Emancipation because our people did not enjoy freedom of movement during slavery” (ya Salaam, 1995, p. 30). Therefore, the Blues was a musical genre of people who were prepared for and headed toward liberation.
The Blues women were the sirens of freedom, only reachable after death, according to the spiritualists, whose music remained in the realm of religion. Blues music, labeled by religionists as Devil’s Music, “is a black cultural art form, blues is a ‘living archive,’ a form of ‘recollection’ that provides a ‘coded history of black injury,’ resulting from historically entrenched power relations.”
In 1999, a well-connected politician called me on the phone, early one morning, instructing me to write down a fax number, starting with area code 202 for Washington, D.C. I knew it was important.
She asked me if I had a company and an Employee Identification Number (EIN) or tax ID number. I said I did. She said, “Write a blues about the 2000 census. Fax it with an invoice for $2,499 on your letterhead to the number I gave you.
One hour later, I sent the CENSUS BLUES to the U.S. Census Bureau to the attention of the person connected to my politician friend. I got paid because I could compose music and I had a corporate EIN.
One of the first documents I give my Speech Communication students is a handout entitled HOW TO START A BUSINESS.
How to start a business
Choose Your Business Name, Inc. (or LLC) and decide if you will be: (30 minutes)
Product or Service (for profit) or Mission Statement (non-profit)
I was in business for two years before I got that call. My company was not making much money. If I got a check for singing, I put it in my business account. I paid the corporate tax and filed a tax return as a sole proprietor most years. My company grew because of the music I recorded and books I published. I got substantial orders from school principals for one or more of my books. In 2007, I incorporated my non-profit organization and became a lecturer, presenter, and producer of several programs. After releasing my two personal CDs in 1995 and 2005, I produced eight compilation CDs of music from members of http://wijsf.org
In 2019, we published the first issue of Musicwoman Magazine. In 2020, we published the second issue and the first issue of Musicman Magazine. In 2021, We published both magazines, individually, and a flip book of both magazines.
There is no doubt in my mind that having a business has been beneficial to me and our 380 members!
My response to Andromeda Turre who asked me what it means to be a woman in jazz.
Being a woman in jazz is the crux of my existence. 70 years ago, I sang Somebody Loves Me, onstage. The footlights mesmerized me. But the music captured my heart. In my later years, promoting women musicians, globally, is my mission for Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. Visit us at www.wijsf.org
You work all your life to fulfill your purpose. You put in hours to learn your craft, instrument, or discipline. You grow older and retire from your profession, and you wonder, “Who really cares?”
Then, you meet a group of women who recognize your accomplishments. That makes it all worth it. The group of women who hold me in high esteem, and I them, is the National League of American Pen Women. I was inducted into the Boca Raton, Florida, branch by Sheila Firestone.
I am honored and humbled by the appreciation shown to me by these talented authors, artists, and musicians.
Then, in 2020, Charlene Farrington, Director of Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, chose to exhibit my collection of jazz artwork from September through February 2021. Ah, in the middle of a pandemic, there is a slice of light!
See some of the art and my story about the art collection at these links:
We see a world where we, the people, no longer buy into the lie that the booksellers have been handing us about providing us with what we’re wanting to read – because we’ve now realized, beyond all doubt, that they’ve been providing us with what they want us to read in order to satisfy their own self-serving purposes.
Thus, we see a world where bookstores have changed their priorities entirely, so that now when you walk into a bookstore, the books which are most likely to bring you happiness and fulfillment are displayed prominently in the front of the store – while the books which were written solely for the purpose of frightening you or lining the author’s pockets are relegated to the obscure shelves in the back of the store.
We also see children’s books, now, written and distributed so that the child’s highest and best interests are served; and where the subject matter of these books is meant, not to subtly encourage our children to become better consumers, conformers, or soldiers, but to encourage them to be more resourceful, creative, and free-thinking people.
And finally, we see a world where authors, publishers, and booksellers alike have all moved away from praising and offering us stark tragedies. Now they have lightened up and filled the shelves with books that are meant to help us, books that warm our hearts, and books that have happy endings.
While whites in the jazz music industry got rich, black musicians did not reap equal benefits. The industry caused a great deal of exploitation and discrimination by whites against blacks. Rex Stewart said, “Where the control is, the money is. Do you see any of us running any record companies, booking agencies, radio stations, music magazines?” (Kofsky, 1998, p. 19).