Jazz Herstory: Women in Music
Set up in July 2017, Jazz Herstory aims to explore and address gender equality in jazz. The project endeavours to reposition women from the background of the jazz world to a balanced foreground. Poplar Union is collaborating with Jazz Herstory, hosting a monthly gig series featuring female-led, award-winning bands, instrumentalists, and composers of national and international acclaim. We spoke with founder and jazz drummer Liz Exell to learn more about the project.
“My main goal with the project is to provide a platform for women on the London Jazz scene today”
Jazz Herstory is a venture which celebrates historical and contemporary female-led bands. Female instrumentalists have always been present in jazz and there are so many wonderful musicians making great music now and across the last 100 years. I discover more amazing artists each week by listening to and reading about them. My main goal with the project is to provide a platform for women on the London Jazz scene today.
The Jazz Herstory project was enabled by Help Musicians UK, which is a charity that offer help to professional musicians at times of opportunity, giving people the extra support they need at a crucial stage that could make or break their career. They now support me in bringing my ideas to life with funding and mentoring.
Conditions and opportunities for women in jazz have improved massively since the genre emerged in the 1920s, however there is still a long way to go, with issues of misogyny and stereotyping surfacing within the industry. What we see happening in jazz is a reflection of wider society. Women are underrepresented in all sectors of the music industry and I hope to question stereotypes at the same time as learning, sharing records and pictures, and making live music happen.
“Women are underrepresented in all sectors of the music industry and I hope to question stereotypes”
I learned so much while researching for Jazz Herstory and love sharing the images, sounds, and stories I find to pay testament to the fact that women have always been playing jazz, but have often been overlooked. I find it so inspiring and exciting to be able to look and listen to female jazz performers and to promote gender balance with the Jazz Herstory Project.
Our Videographer, Fatima Niemogha, interviewed Liz about the upcoming series of gigs here at Poplar Union. See what she had to say here: