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) – Lisbon, Portugal native Sara Serpa is a vocalist-composer and improviser who implements a unique instrumental approach to her vocal style. Recognized for her distinctive wordless singing, Serpa has been immersed in the field of jazz, improvised and experimental music since first arriving in New York in 2008. Described by the New York Times as “a singer of silvery poise and cosmopolitan outlook”, Serpa started her career with jazz luminaries such as Grammy-nominated pianist Danilo Perez, and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow pianist Ran Blake. As a leader, she has produced and released ten albums; the latest being Recognition, an interdisciplinary project that combines film with live music, in collaboration with Zeena Parkins, Mark Turner and David Virelles. Serpa was voted  #1 Vocals of the Year by the 2020  NPR Jazz Critics Poll, Musician of the Year 2020 by Portuguese magazine Jazz.pt and Rising Star 2019 by the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. Serpa currently teaches at The New School, New Jersey City University and is Artist-In-Residence at Park Avenue Armory.

Naomi Extra (Current Guest Editor-in-Chief) 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.

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