Women of Jazz: Empowering the next generation

Funding needed for program led by Detroit jazz artist Marion Hayden.

Acclaimed Detroit jazz artist, jazz historian, bandleader and bassist Marion Hayden will lead the Women of Jazz Symposium created by MSU Community Music School - Detroit. The symposium is aimed at mentoring young women jazz artists.
Gayelynn McKinney, a sought-after drummer in Detroit, will lead one of the workshops during the week-long event. (Photo: Barb Barefield Photo)
Vocalist Naima Shamborguer is among the experienced women jazz musicians in Detroit who will mentor young women jazz artists during a week of events and workshops.
Pamela Wise, a pianist and composer, will help inspire the young women players during workshops, jam sessions and more. (Photo: Barbara Barefield Photo)

Thanks to an investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, the MSU Community Music School-Detroit will host the Women of Jazz Symposium July 15-20, a special week of music-making, networking and mentoring for young women jazz artists ages 16-21.

The symposium will focus on the past, present and future of women in jazz, led by acclaimed Detroit jazz artist, jazz historian, bandleader and bassist Marion Hayden. Leading workshops will be drummer Gayelynn McKinney, vocalist Naima Shamborguer and pianist/composer Pamela Wise. During the week-long event, young women players will be inspired through teaching and sharing experiences about working in a male-dominated field.

“I am very pleased to lead the Women of Jazz project in Detroit which will actively nurture the next generation of young female jazz musicians, as well as draw attention to issues of equity,” said Hayden. “There are still significantly fewer women than men on the world’s jazz stages. In the absence of opportunities and role models for women, this disparity is likely to continue.”

Symposium events will be open to the public and curated by Hayden. A culminating concert will showcase symposium participants, as well as provide performance opportunities for jazz students of diverse genders, ages and races.

Knight Foundation’s investment to support the symposium requires 1-to-1 matching support from the community. In order to carry out this program for young women, the CMS-D is encouraging the public to become a Women of Jazz sponsor through an online MSU CrowdPower campaign.

CMS-D Director Jill Woodward has donated personal funds to the cause. She said  more community investment is needed to facilitate connections between women jazz musicians of all ages, and Hayden’s leadership embodies Detroit’s jazz tradition at the very highest level.

“Marion Hayden has an important voice that needs to be celebrated and heard by the next generation,” Woodward said. “Through this project, she will empower young women players to embrace leadership roles. Equally, we hope our young men of jazz will attend symposium events and workshops that are open to the public. It’s important for them, too, to see women in jazz and know them as equals.”

Bassist and MSU jazz studies undergraduate Liany Mateo is one of the students and pre-professional musicians attending the week-long program. She said she is excited about learning from Hayden and other musicians, as well as talking about women’s experiences in the music industry.

“Marion is a fantastic bass player and a leader, and I’ve always wanted to work with her,” Mateo said. “I’m looking forward to exchanging information with all the musicians and students involved, and I hope to learn a lot of music and ways to empower other women around me.”

Building on the jazz tradition of mentoring, Mateo and other participants will develop pedagogy skills through coaching sessions with Detroit middle and high school students participating in the Spartan Youth Jazz Boot Camp.

Hayden’s involvement, and that of other acclaimed musicians like CMS-D’s Jazz Program Director Sean Dobbins, represents CMS-D’s mission to provide sequential, high-quality music education that is accessible and affordable for all ages and abilities, and particularly for underserved urban youth.

“As educators, we have a responsibility to create an environment of inclusion,” said Dobbins. “We invite everyone to join us in supporting the Women of Jazz campaign, and by attending symposium events and the concluding performance showcasing these talented young artists.”

Tax deductible gifts will provide vital support for the symposium and can be made online at givingto.msu.edu/crowdpower/detroit-cms-women-of-jazz.

Single-day tickets for the July 15-20 Women of Jazz Symposium are $15. A $30 ticket provides access to the complete schedule of events, including the final performance on Saturday, July 20, at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets can be purchased online here.

For more information about Women of Jazz and the MSU Community Music School Detroit, call 313-578-9716 or visit www.cms.msu.edu/detroit.

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