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Jazz Herstory: Women in Music

Jazz Herstory, Women in Focus Festival, Poplar Union, International Women's Day 2018, East London, Jazz, Music
Jazz Herstory, Women in Focus Festival, Poplar Union, International Women's Day 2018, East London, Jazz, 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:

 

The next installment of Jazz  Herstory is Thursday 15 February with  Laura  Jurd , followed by a performance by Yazz  Ahmed on 15 March.  Tickets can be purchased on the Poplar Union website