To celebrate International Jazz Day we're taking a look at the inspiring Women in Jazz over the years with a great collection of over 86 quotes by women of jazz, exploring the power of jazz and women and giving a nod to the well of creativity that makes jazz such an enduring force.
Being Inspired by Amazing Women of Jazz
When I was researching these quotes by amazing jazz ladies I kept thinking of how many of the quotes are all about creativity and being gusty, putting yourself out there and making things happen.
Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then.
- Diana Ross
Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking. . . . the new inventive phrases we make up to describe things -- all that to me is jazz just as much as the music we play.
- Nina Simone
While jazz itself has it's roots in America over a century ago the influence of the women and men of jazz has worked its way into the compositions and styles of musicians from across the globe.
Women like Billie Holiday directly inspire contemporary performers like Madeleine Peyroux. Norah Jones and Katie Noonan proudly acknowledge the impact of the women of the Jazz Age and it is easy to hear the origins of inspiration in their original works. For each of these women, their music is richer and more lasting because of these sources.
For Ella Fitzgerald "the only thing better than singing is more singing," and this rings true for all these women, they can make life better only by singing and singing. For many this has at times been a curse when it has brought them into conflict with a music industry that can care more for dollars than creatives. But once these women have found their own path and ways to make the best of their lives the story often changes.
While American women had to wait nearly a quarter of a century longer for the right to vote than their New Zealand and Australian sisters, the liberation that came with recognition in the 1920's saw more American Jazz women taking to the stage not only as singers but as bandleaders, piano players, trumpet players, drummers and, to me, most importantly, as songwriters in their own right.
Developing intellectual property that generates an independent income is powerful for the financial security of any woman. As women were finally recognised as songwriters and having the right of authorship and then did battle with the recording studios, the situation changed for good.
Now songwriters like Norah Jones, Sarah Blasko, Katie Noonan and Missy Higgins can easily claim their rightful copyright to their own work and expect it to always be respected within the industry. The legacy of women such as Nina Simone and Diana Ross who have stepped up and changed the industry through grit and determination goes beyond just a few decades, it is being passed from one generation to the next jazz inspired generation of women performers and songwriters.
Creativity and Jazz
I fell in love with jazz even before I knew the term. I think that's the same for many of us, hearing the flow of notes, being swept away and enjoying the journey.
Anyone who knows me will testify that I'm not a musician. I learnt the violin as a child and struggled. I loved the piano but was given a school loan violin instead. My parents thought it was best for me to learn how to appreciate music as I've always been seen as the creative one in my generation. So I was given a chance with music. I do love them for that.
As I didn't have any natural affinity with the violin I really didn't take to it. It wasn't until nearly a decade after I had given up hope with it that I heard Pachelbel's Canon and finally understood what a violin could do, how it could out perform a piano.
So it is no surprise really that I fell in love with jazz so quickly with the path being opened up by pianos. Improvisation was another eye opener, so too standard jazz and lady jazz performers, the heartrending songs like Summertime that revealed a whole other reality to this little Australian.
Years on I realise it was the breadth of creativity in jazz that so enthralled me. Every time I started to get a little grasp on what is jazz, I discovered, something different, another element, another way of being with the mesmerising sounds of jazz.
When I discovered schools of thought around concrete definitions of what is jazz and what isn't jazz I was stumped. I had no way of understanding how someone could be so black and white about what qualifies as jazz given improvisation was such a powerful part of it.
It took years for me to realise it was people who were passionate about their own special interests in contained areas of jazz that felt they could set these definitions and really, they had a right to. I had a right to see things differently but they could also see things just as they wanted to because if jazz had taught me anything through it's vast range of creativity, it is the right to self expression and the freedom to be as you want in the world.
I've found that every contemporary musician, songwriter, performer and band's work that I've loved has direct inspiration from dozens of jazz musicians. I'm with Nina Simone when she says "I don't like rap music at all. I don't think it's music. It's just a beat and rapping." In sounds like rap there is none of jazz's creativity or inspiration, there's no moving the heart strings or hips.
I think jazz is enduring the constantly changing music industry because of its creativity, adaptability and inspiration, it's ability to get us up and dancing, singing along in tune or not, making us question and cry with broken hearts over songs like Summertime, having our ears pick up when we hear a busker playing a favourite like Take 5 at market.
Jazz is now the foundation of songs that have become anthems for entire generations from the Rolling Stones to Cold Chisel to Amy Winehouse to Missy Higgins.
Jazz continues to inspire established and new musicians in their writings, interpretations and productions and I for one, hope this continues for another hundred years.
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Quotes to Inspire on International Women's DayTo help celebrate International Women's Day we've brought together a great collection of inspirational quotes by women, about women (and there's a sprinkling of quotes from the men too).
Be inspired by these wise women sharing their knowledge, have a bit of a giggle with a few of them and count your blessings with quotes that get you thinking.
Rewarding GoalsOften we forget to set ourselves a reward for achieving our goal and we get caught up in getting stuck into achieving the next goal.
Yet it's been proved so many times that giving yourself a reward for reaching your goals is a great way to not only congratulate yourself but also to keep motivating yourself to keep going.