What was our inspiration for creating this initiative?
From our experience, it is still a challenge for many musicians to have access to meaningful and respectful mentorship in the music and arts worlds. We hope that this concept helps build new paradigms of mentorship within our community, and helps connect woman, non-binary, BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ musicians, especially relevant in this time of isolation. We also hope that launching this initiative at this time will help us better prepare for industry shifts and create new strategies for perpetuating positive support for each other in our community.
Jen Shyu (Co-founder)- Guggenheim Fellow, USA Fellow, Doris Duke Artist, multilingual vocalist-composer-multi-instrumentalist-dancer JEN SHYU is “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” (The Nation). Born in Peoria, Illinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants and the first female and vocalist bandleader on Pi Recordings, she’s produced seven albums, performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is a Fulbright scholar speaking 10 languages. Her Song of Silver Geese was among New York Times’ “Best Albums of 2017.” She’s currently touring her solo ZERO GRASSES (commissioned by John Zorn)across all 50 states. She is also a Paul Simon Music Fellows Guest Artist and a Steinway Artist.
Sara Serpa (Co-founder) – A native from Lisboa, Portuguese Sara Serpa is a singer, composer, improviser, who through her practice and performance, explores the use of the voice as an instrument. Described by the New York Times as “a singer of silvery poise and cosmopolitan outlook,” and by the JazzTimes magazine as “a master of wordless landscapes,” , her ethereal music draws from a broad variety of inspirations including literature, film, visual arts as well as history and nature. As a leader, she has produced and released ten albums, the latest being Intimate Strangers (2021) and Recognition (2020). Serpa was voted 2020 NPR Jazz Vocalist, Rising Star-Female Vocalist 2019 by the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll, and teaches at The New School. Between 2019-2022 Serpa was Artist-In-Residence at Park Avenue Armory, in New York and she is a recipient of the 2022 NYFA Artist Fellowship, 2022 Copland’s Recording Fund, 2021 Herb Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Composition.
Donté Reid (Administrative Associate): Donté Reid is a Bronx, NY native with a degree in Music Business from the Crane School of Music. He has dedicated his life to supporting artists and creatives while also developing his own musical and entrepreneurial goals. He has performed alongside artists such as Carole King and Anita Baker and at prestigious events and venues such as Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. With a diverse background in arts administration, Donté has worked with organizations such as The New Victory Theatre, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School at NYU and the Jazz Foundation of America.
Kyla Marshell (Anthology Development Editor) is a writer whose poems, essays, interviews, and reviews have appeared in The Guardian, Kinfolk, O Magazine, Ebony, The Ringer, and The Believer, among others. In her work as an arts & culture writer, she has covered a wide range of musical subjects, including the Afropunk festival and Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer win, and interviewed such artists as Esperanza Spalding, Van Hunt, Gretchen Parlato, Kelis, Keyon Harrold, and Dev Hynes. Originally from Boston, she grew up in Silver Spring, MD, Morehead, KY, and Portland, ME, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Naomi Extra (Anthology Development Editor) is a freelance writer, poet, and scholar. In both her creative and scholarly work she explores the themes of agency and pleasure in the lives of Black women and girls. Her work has appeared in Boston Review, Zora, Glamour, Lit Hub, The Lily, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her manuscript, Ratchet Supreme, was selected by poet Tiana Clark as the winner of the 2019 BOAAT Chapbook Prize. Naomi has been awarded fellowships by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cave Canem, Crescendo Literary, and the African American Intellectual History Society. Currently, she is an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Emerging Voices Fellow in Feminist Knowledge and Social Justice at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Jordannah Elizabeth (Guest Editor-in-Chief of inaugural Anthology of Writings- The Art of Being True 2020/2021) Jordannah’s writing, lectures and commentary has been featured in Hearst Magazines, on BBC 2, REELZ Channel, CBC syndicated radio, WYPR, Harvard University, Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art and Baltimore Book Festival. Jordannah’s writing has been featured in NPR Music, Village Voice, LA Weekly, MTV World, O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, DownBeat Magazine and other publications. She has been a regular entertainment journalist for New York Amsterdam News since 2013 and is the founder of the literary organization, Publik / Private.