Last year, I was approached by acclaimed musicians and composers, Sara Serpa and Jen Shyu, to join them on their new journey as founders of Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M³). The mission of this organization, which supports performer-composers of underrepresented gender identities, gave me an opportunity to further my personal mission of creating new spaces and platforms for voices that do not fit the traditional mold and status quo of what jazz and creative musicians should be.
There is beauty to the act of creation. It is the opposite of destruction which degrades and pulls down the pillars of happiness, contentment, and stability. Though creation can still have its challenges, I was intrigued to witness women and non-binary beings pour their hearts out amid the uncertainty and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this said, all of the cohort members of M³ have achieved much in their own right, but I believe that they deserve much more recognition, community and encouragement, which this organization’s important work addresses and provides.
I had the pleasure of guiding and editing the writings of this inaugural M³ cohort, which featured Eden Girma, Anjna Swaminathan, Erica Lindsay, Caroline Davis, Maya Keren, Sumi Tonooka, Lesley Mok, Romarna Campbell, Tomeka Reid, and Val Jeanty, along with Jen and Sara. These artists are not primarily known as writers, but they gave their all while contributing to this anthology, and offer insightful, intelligent and beautifully written pieces that are inspiring and mesmerizing.
There is no glass ceiling hovering over this project and platform, and the cohort members were able to sail through the artistic and literary skies to find their voices. I could not be more pleased with the work they’ve done, and I look forward to continuing to see these human beings grow and evolve after experiencing such a healing communal safe space.
Women in jazz and creative music fight through the disparity of representation, and it takes bravery to work in such a medium and male-dominated realm. This anthology is a testament that art must prevail within the prison of other’s perceptions. They made work that pushes back and weaves stories and visions of their own perceptions and understanding of the world. I honor and thank them for their strength. – M³ Editor and Chief, Jordannah Elizabeth