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!
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:
Throughout the years, several people and organizations have felt me worthy of being honored. Those moments are documented here.
Priscilla Dames (right) of Wingspan Seminars in Miami, FL nominated
Joan Cartwright for the 2011 Pea’ce Award.
Thanks to Howard Mandel and Laurie Dapice for honoring me as a 2019 Jazz Journalist Association (JJA) Jazz Hero.
Thanks to Brian Zimmerman, Digital Editor of Jazziz Magazine for presenting the award. Thanks to Marika Guyton for organizing the award ceremony. Photos: Gregory Reed
Thanks to Old Dillard Foundation for partnering with Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. for this program
The universe provides. Last week I got the news that the Speech class I taught for 3 years is moving online, leaving me without income in June-July. I cried. I felt helpless. However, as things always go, I have the opportunity to teach 3 classes at PBSC in Palm Beach Gardens, starting May 15, through the summer.
Recently, I published my 14th book, Blues Women: The First Civil Rights Workers. Although it is a tiny book, it is packed with information about 10 powerful women who brought the Blues genre to the attention of millions of Americans. At a time when Africans in America were subjected to Jim Crow laws that further degraded their existence, women like Mamie Smith, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, and Bessie Smith stood their ground on stages across the nation, bringing joy and entertainment to thousands of people, white and black. Their songs are current, today, and their message of the upliftment of the human spirit helped to raise the consciousness of a nation that was built on the backs of their ancestors.