Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

By Leslie Buttonow

What do you do when you spend time learning and perfecting a craft, and then realize many others are looking to you to learn what you do? You teach, of course! And that’s exactly what Erin Barra did, but in more ways than one.

After spending some time as a songwriter and producer, Barra brought technology into the fold from a desire to reach certain goals she had for her career. She also used that experience to land a teaching job at a young age at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Along with her use of tech came the realization that other women were interested in learning about how she made her music and the tools she was using, which inspired her to formally encourage other young women in their musical aspirations.

Here, Barra shares some of her story with us, as well as a few musical treats from some of her current projects.

To find out more, visit beatsbygirlz.com and mammabarra.com.

The WiMN: Tell us a little about how you started using technology in music—did you learn traditional instruments first and then incorporate it, or has technology been there throughout your musical journey?

EB: I was trained as a classical pianist from a very young age and didn’t really get involved in music tech until much later in life, when I was around 24 years old.

The truth is, I got into music tech out of sheer necessity because I had goals that needed accomplishing and not enough resources to pay someone else to help me achieve them. The people who control the tech are largely the ones who hold the power and so after years of frustration, I decided that I was going to get behind my laptop and play that role for myself.

The WiMN: What is the most gratifying part of teaching music students?

EB: For me, teaching is a lot like writing, producing and collaborating, which is what drew me to the music industry in the first place. All of those things, including teaching, are just ways of communicating with other people and exchanging ideas, thoughts, and emotions. That’s what I enjoy the most––communicating, and being able to do that with brilliant young creative minds is the best.

The WiMN: Where did the idea for Beats By Girlz (BBG) come from?

EB: Towards the end of my career as being purely an artist, when I really began to master the tools, it became clear to me that people were more interested in how I was making music and the tech tools I was using than actually listening to my music. People started calling me the “Ableton Lady” and wanted to book me on shows that featured women in technology.

At one point, I sort of looked around and realized that I’d been inadvertently cast in this role as a leader and role model for other women who wanted to write, produce and perform with their laptops. Once I figured it out, I felt a responsibility to actively try and fill the shoes people already felt I was wearing, so BBG was born out of that desire to help other women who were looking to me for help and offer role support.

The WiMN: In your role both as a professor and with your BBG workshops, how have you seen girls’ participation in music and music technology change over the years?

EB: I see so many more women in the music tech space than I did five years ago––on stages, in classrooms, in studios––and I also see far more people talking about the issue of gender equity in general. There’s still a massive amount of work to be done, but we’re moving in a forward direction.

The WiMN: Was there ever a time when you felt you had to prove yourself as a woman working in music technology, which has traditionally been more male-dominated?

EB: I feel like I’m constantly being challenged and doubted by the people around me, not only because of my gender, but also my age. I’m the youngest person in my department at Berklee and I lead several committees and groups full of men who I’ve had to work twice as hard as to gain their respect. I even get it from my own students sometimes, since they’re so used to being directed by older white men.

At a certain point, it’s just not worth investing any energy into it. My resume and reputation speak for themselves, so I let those things do the talking and tune out the rest.

The WiMN: You’re also a songwriter and solo artist—are there any projects you’re working on (or recently completed) that you’d like to share?

EB: I just produced a track for a Swedish artist named Matilda I’m really into (listen here); another young American rock artist named Chloe Jane (listen here); and a song I produced for the amazing Leon Waldo just released worldwide (listen here).

I’ve also been creating a lot of video content that features my performances and productions, paired with how to video tutorials that break the whole process down. You can see them here.

The WiMN: If any of our readers are interested in helping to bring a Beats By Girlz chapter to their community, where do they start?

EB: You can visit beatsbygirlz.com for more details and ways to get involved, give to the community and start your own chapter. 🙂 

Front and Center: Charyn Harris, Conductor of Music Programs for A Place Called Home

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Charyn Harris, Conductor of Music Programs for A Place Called Home

By Lina Bhambhani

Charyn Harris started her career touring as a keyboardist for R&B legend Barry White. She’s also performed with a variety of artist including Malcolm Jamal Warner, MC Hammer, The Cranberries, Jonathan Butler, Al B. Sure!, Doc Powell, Lord Nelson, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Luciano Pavarotti and more.

Harris is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and earned an MBA from The University of Phoenix. She also serves as a Conductor of Music Programs for A Place Called Home (APCH), a popular community youth center located in South Los Angeles.

 

In 2004, Charyn founded Project MuszEd, a nonprofit agency providing arts education, performance and programming. She facilitated and manages the thriving partnerships between APCH and Project MuszEd with Berklee College of Music’s Berklee City Music Network. Over thirty-five students under Harris’ tutelage have attended Berklee’s summer programs on scholarship, while over a dozen students have received full four-year scholarships to Berklee.

Harris is noted for training a roster of highly sought after young musicians. Some of them can be found onstage with artists like Smokey Robinson and Aloe Blacc. Her students have also opened for the Black Eyed Peas, Diana Ross, performed with The Isley Brothers, Macy Gray and more.

Harris has been recognized both locally and nationally for designing and directing vibrant arts programming and developing stellar resources to support youth through the arts. We are excited to honor her at the 2017 She Rocks Awards!

To find out more, visit www.apch.org.

The WiMN: What influenced you to pursue a career in the music industry?

CH: I loved listening to music as a child. I’d read every liner note and I knew the names of the songwriters, musicians and producers. I loved listening to arrangements and hearing complex musical textures. I played a bunch of instruments growing up out of fascination, but excelled in my piano lessons and decided to go to Berklee College of Music.

After graduating, I moved back to my hometown of Mt. Vernon, NY. I met fellow aspiring musicians and began attending music industry events in NY and LA. Eventually several kids from my hometown (Al B. Sure!, Heavy D & The Boyz) exploded onto the music scene and would ask me about music theory.

Al’s record was probably my first professional job. I also started writing dance music for a few independent labels and producers. I kind of didn’t know what I was doing in a sense, but I guess I was doing something instinctively correct. I wasn’t really sure where I would end up but decided to follow my passion. It was definitely the right choice.

The WiMN: Can you tell us about some of your biggest influences?

CH: I had so many because I was always around so much music and developed an appetite to explore. I grew up listening to my dad’s jazz records. I would check out my brother’s records which included rock, funk and fusion. I had my own collection of R&B and soul, and I grew up playing classical piano and singing in a gospel choir. My mom exposed me to musical theater. I would say my favorites were Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock. I also used to listen to a lot of Barry White, so it was ironic when I was asked to tour with him. I felt I had come full circle.

The WiMN: How did you become part of APCH? What do you enjoy most about working the organization?

CH: I came to APCH as a part time choral instructor. I was still touring on and off at that time. I had also just launched Project MuszEd which I modeled as a nonprofit agency providing consultation in building music education programs. After about a year, I was asked to restructure the music department to include an increased focus on instrumental instruction. It was important to me to provide a unique experience for the youth that I worked with. I thought of what I didn’t have access to as a kid and sought to provide those resources. One of the most important aspects was providing professional-level training in musicianship and a pathway to higher learning. I had an opportunity to become a part of the Berklee City Music Network which is a national initiative through Berklee College of Music to support high school age aspiring musicians.

What I enjoy most about APCH is working with young musicians. I love teaching them about performing and musicianship and introducing them to my colleagues and associates in the music industry. I also love seeing youth that I have worked with grow into adulthood and come back to visit me. I have former students come back as musicians, attorneys, accountants, doctors, nonprofit professionals….I love seeing who they develop into.

The WiMN: What are some of the projects you have with coming up with APCH and Project MuszEd?

CH: My APCH students are constantly booked on performances. We will perform at the New Year’s Race in Grand Park (Downtown Los Angeles) on January 8th and have performance requests well into the spring. With Project MuszEd, we have ongoing low cost instruction for youth in South Los Angeles and an exciting new project that is launching in January called SoundWorks L.A. SoundWorks L.A. is a workforce development and social enterprise program for youth ages 18-24 providing training for positions in live and studio sound engineering, touring and lighting techs. I’m excited to have designed the framework for the SoundWorks and am looking forward to placing the students we train in the music industry.

The WiMN: Do you still perform?

CH: Right now I perform almost every month and public and private events with my students, which is a lot of fun because they are incredible musicians. I am considering playing in a small piano bar once my time opens up.

The WiMN: Can you share some advice for up and coming musicians?

CH: I often tell aspiring musicians to know who is who in their world and who came before them. Know who the decision makers are. Figure out your point of entry and develop your roadmap so you will know where you are going. Develop good habits and be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses. I also think it’s important to scan the environment and stay on top of trends. Get out and meet people. Develop deep friendships. Never be afraid. Fear is one of the biggest factors that will halt success. Don’t be afraid to do the work and don’t procrastinate. Admit when you are not on point and do something about it.

Also, don’t think that you have to be a ‘starving’ artist.  Step outside your comfort zone and consider your survival first. When you are able to live a comfortable lifestyle, you have the luxury to make choices because you want to, not because you have to. Don’t get caught up in instant gratification. Always remember that there is no such thing as luck.  When preparedness meets opportunity, you have the winning combination of success.  Always be grateful and never burn bridges. Become a master of relationships and interpersonal skills. I would also suggest that one understand business in general. Be a self-starter, understand sustainability and know when you need to make adjustments in order to meet your goals.

Front and Center: Executive Director, Curriculum Designer and Instructor at Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Regina Nixon

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Executive Director, Curriculum Designer and Instructor at Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Regina Nixon

By Gabriella Steffenberg 

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Regina Nixon second from left

Music and education have always been at the forefront in Regina Nixon’s life. Working with the Phoenix Conservatory of Music (PCM) since its early days, Nixon has been an essential part of the growth and impact that it’s had in the Phoenix community.

Due in part to its collaboration with Berklee College of Music and its prestigious Berklee City Music Network, PCM became one of 47 affiliate members across the country to recieve the Arts Education Organization of the Year honor at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards in 2015.

Head to phoenixconservatoryofmusic.org to learn more about PCM, and read below to find out more about Nixon in this week’s Front and Center.

WiMN: At what point did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your life to music?

RN: Music has always been a huge part of my life and a huge part of my family. I knew I wanted to be a singer when I was five. I didn’t know until my late teens/early ‘20s that I wanted to be an educator. Music is a part of my soul.

Even though most of the time I spend doing administrative things relating to music education, there are times that I need to sing just to stay sane. It is more than a job; it is a calling, and for me, a mission.

WiMN: You’ve been with Phoenix Conservatory of Music for over 15 years. How have you seen the conservatory grow throughout your time with them?

RN: I have been with the organization since its infancy. When our founder retired, our annual budget was $69,000 per year. Since that time, we have grown considerably, serving our students in a deeper way that has lasting impact and long-term outcomes, and our budget has grown to nearly a half a million dollars.

From my living room to our current 7,500-square-foot facility, it has been a remarkable journey (a nerve-racking, exhausting, harrowing, but remarkable journey), but one well worth the cost and that I would repeat again in a heartbeat. I would not have been able to continue on that journey without the dedication and support of our many donors, volunteers, teaching artists and community or without the love, patience, and commitment to the cause from my husband and daughter who have sacrificed right along with me to make PCM a reality.

WiMN: Tell us of a standout student experience you’ve had at the Phoenix Conservatory of Music.

RN: I always say that the most favorite part of my job is our students. I love these kids. They inspire me and humble me. Here are just a few stories with our students:

Abraham: Phoenix Conservatory of Music changed my life, simple as that. I wasn’t focused, I didn’t follow through on things. When I got to PCM, I was just starting junior high; my grades weren’t that good and I didn’t have good time management. At first, I thought I wanted to play piano, but here I discovered guitar. I loved everything about it; learning theory, learning music history, learning how to compose music, learning how to use my fingers most effectively, learning how to prioritize, how to focus. I discovered I could manage my life better, my grades got better, I am really good at math and at science. Before PCM? Musical, yes – but disciplined, no. Because of PCM, I am a changed person, for the better.

Ben: Before PCM, I lacked follow-through, I didn’t realize I had potential, and I didn’t take my talent seriously. In just two years, I’ve gone from being scared to death on stage to having the time of my life. It’s because of the support team that’s here, the relationships that are built, and the connections we make. I love being the lead singer of a group of amazingly talented musicians. Being part of a master class at Berklee City Music Network really solidified what I want to do with my life. I am going to audition for American Idol this spring, and I’ve got all my friends here at PCM helping me with that audition; they’ve got my back. It’s like the first time I went on stage, I was scared, yes, but then I turned around and saw all those musicians behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Before PCM? I wouldn’t have been that reliable. I would slip in late for everything; I didn’t think it mattered. Now, I know it does, that we all depend on each other to be the best we can be.

Another one that sticks out for me is with one of our recent PCM graduates. He is currently a freshman at Berklee College of Music. He started with us when he was 12 years old. I was never his primary teacher, but I was a mentor. Musically, he is very gifted. In looking back at our time together, the skill sets we were developing were not just his musicianship, but all the other developmental assets he needs to be successful in life – teamwork, collaboration, positive leadership skills, forward thinking, backwards mapping, developing relationships.

The time had come for his senior year auditions. The auditions went well and he heard back fairly soon that he was accepted to the college. Now we were waiting to hear about scholarships. The day came. We received notification that one of his peers had received a full tuition scholarship, but he did not get any notifications. We were talking, and I asked him if he was ok. He said he was. Later that night about 11 p.m., he called and said he was not ok. We had a great conversation about paths and many roads to get to the same destination and developing a good plan b.

The following Saturday he saw his fellow student for the first time since the scholarship announcements were made. I was a bit nervous about how the interaction was going to go. He went to his band mate, and gave him the most sincere congratulations and a huge hug. It made my heart happy. This is the moment that we live for in education. At that moment, I was more proud of this young man than if he would have gotten a full tuition scholarship because of the strength of character that he had shown. This is why we teach. To top it off, later that night he received notification that he also received a full tuition scholarship – but that was just icing on an already pretty sweet cake.

WiMN: What is your involvement with Berklee College of Music? How have they helped grow your program?

RN: In March of 2010, we were paid a visit by the Berklee College of Music in Boston – one of the premier music schools in the country. Through a highly competitive process that included a site visit, student performances, and consideration of our organization’s health, Berklee College of Music awarded us an affiliate membership into The Berklee City Music Network. This is a stamp of approval from one of the premier music schools in the country for our programs. There are 47 affiliate members throughout the country – only 5 in the southwest region – and we are the only school in Arizona. As an affiliate member, we bring an amazing resource to our community through the Berklee PULSE Program.

PULSE is an online learning network that stands for Pre University Learning Systems Experience. Its goal is to teach quality college preparatory music education through technology. This allows us to take a STEM experience and integrate Technology with Arts to turn STEM into STEAM. Because of this amazing partnership, we began to grow and hone our niche in our community.

In 2011, Metrocenter Mall donated 7,200-square-feet for a unique community music recreation center to house our newly formed college prep program ensembles. We started the ensembles so we could give the students the skill sets they needed to be successful in a college environment. With just 15 kids we started the program, and we needed space for them to rehearse. The mall stepped up. So now, we have this new program and this new facility.

We decided to leverage both for all they were worth and developed a community music learning center in our local mall. For many years, community centers have proven themselves to be vital for the improvement, engagement, and investment of families and revitalization of neighborhoods. Phoenix Conservatory of Music used the community center model and created a community music recreation center that actively promotes arts, specifically music education. These two elements combined really pushed us to the next level of our organizational development. Our earned and contributed revenues are growing and we are gaining local and national recognition for program facilitation.

Our partnership with Berklee provides much needed professional development, mission alignment, and the chance for our organization to be a part of a national paradigm shift in music education. In 2015, Phoenix Conservatory of Music was honored as the Arts Education Organization of the Year recipient at the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. In 2015, we had seven seniors. We had three seniors who auditioned for Berklee College of Music, and all three were accepted.

Since 2013, we have a 65 percent acceptance rate to one of the most prestigious music colleges for contemporary music study in the world. In 2015, Berklee City Music Network awarded only 15 full tuition college scholarships. Two of those scholarships went to Phoenix Conservatory of Music students, a total value of $360,000. The rest of our 2015 class has been admitted to Grand Canyon University, Northern Arizona University, and Arizona State University studying music, pre-med, economics, and education.

In addition to the great benefits that we utilize through Berklee College of Music and the Berklee City Music Network for our students and our teaching artists, as an individual I find it empowering to be a part of a group of people that I absolutely admire and respect. I sit on several committees and feel like I am making a difference on a national level. Being around such like-minded people who are just as committed to our young people and helping them fill their potential through contemporary music education helps me personally to recommit to my personal mission in my community. I am honored to get to be part of such an exciting movement.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 2.10.57 PMWiMN: What’s your favorite part about working in music education?

RN: For me, it’s all about the kids. I just happen to be a musician, so this is how I reach out. If I were a baseball player, I’d be working with a baseball team for kids. But I’m a musician and its how I can communicate and help future generations find that special part of themselves that will help them to fulfill their personal potential.

WiMN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your time working in the music industry?

RN: Good music making is really about listening and having a conversation. We have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.

WiMN: What pieces of advice to you have for women looking to work in the music business and education?

RN: Find your passion. Work is a four-letter word.

I was watching a comedy skit (I think it was with Chris Rock), and the comic was talking about the difference between jobs and careers. The gist of the routine was that in a job, you watch the hours drag and the minutes tick by. But with a career, people have to remind you to stop working and go home.

Have a career. Have a calling. Life’s too short to watch a clock. Do what you love, what inspires you and inflames you, and figure out how to monetize it to provide for you and yours. Don’t give up. Being in the music industry or being in the education industry is not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But your voice matters; your experiences can nurture, inspire, create connections and reach people.

WiMN: Where do you hope to take the Phoenix Conservatory of Music within the next five years?

RN: There are things I desperately want for our organization: a permanent facility with actual walls designed to minimize sound bleed; more lesson rooms; a functioning recording studio; a window in my office; infrastructure and staff to continue to serve the growing need in our community; the resources to securely pay for the infrastructure and increase of staff needed to run more programs because of the growing need; twice a week janitorial services – these are all things we need. In addition, we need a working cash capital reserve and six months of funds in the bank; an endowment to pay for private lesson music scholarships for students in need; and a slush fund to pay for programs that are risky, innovative and creative.

In my heart of hearts, one of the long-term creative risks I want the organization to undertake is starting an artist development branch and youth-run label where we can nurture young talent in an even deeper way than we are, providing them with the practical skill sets that they need in their craft development, but also in their professional development including budgeting, marketing, and industry knowledge.

 

 

Front and Center: Fanny’s House of Music Owners, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Fanny’s House of Music Owners, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples

Leigh Maples (left) and Pamela Cole (right) of Fanny's House of Music.

Leigh Maples (left) and Pamela Cole (right) of Fanny’s House of Music.

We are honored to feature today’s Front & Center subject and 2016 She Rocks Award recipient, Pamela Cole and Leigh Maples, owners of Fanny’s House of Music in Nashville, Tenn.
Cole and Maples have owned and operated Fanny’s House of Music
for six years. Motivated by a mission that music stores should be
comfortable for all, including women and young girls, Fanny’s
House of Music has become one of Nashville’s top destinations.
Cole and Maples are veterans of the music business industry. Maples attended Belmont University and is an accomplished professional bassist, and Cole graduated from Belmont University with a Music Business Degree. Her musical knowledge includes bass guitar, trombone and vocal performance.

WiMN: How did the idea of opening a music store and school that celebrated and encouraged women come to be?

FHOM: While sitting in the drive-thru of a coffee shop, Pamela said, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a music store that was friendly to women musicians?” Then we looked at each other and said, “Maybe we’re the ones who are supposed to do that!”

We began researching, and the void was even more obvious. Three years later, Fanny’s House of Music opened its doors!

WiMN: Are you a musician? If so, what do you play?

FHOM: Yes, we both are. Pamela played bass, trombone and sang before working more in the business side. Leigh is an accomplished bassist and also plays piano and guitar.

WiMN: Can you share one of the biggest student success stories you’ve had at Fanny’s House of Music?

FHOM: The one that comes to mind was a young 12-year-old girl who looked like she was 18, tall and awkward. When she and her mother first came in to talk about lessons, she was quiet and didn’t make eye contact. Her mother shared with us privately that she had to pull her out of school because of being bullied.

She took bass lessons for two years, which led her to participate in Southern Girls Rock n Roll Camp. Her overall confidence – even the way she moved physically – had completely changed. She was empowered, healed. Soon she was attending classes at a music and arts high school, and her demeanor had changed to confident and boisterous!

Through making music and finding her tribe, she was a completely different person.

WiMN: Tell us about the origin of the name for your shop.

FHOM: We wanted a name that sounded powerful and southern. One of our favorite movies is Fried Green Tomatoes, which led us to the name Towanda. And then Pamela remembered one of the first all-female bands she’d ever heard was Fanny from the early ’70s. It just happened that Fannie Flagg wrote Fried Green Tomatoes, so we decided on Fanny’s!

WiMN: What do you think the industry could do to better embrace women?

FHOM:

1. Stop exploiting women in product advertisements
2. Promote women to sales and management positions … bringing them out of the traditional accounting and hostess roles.
3. Manufacturers and retailers can implement the training necessary for a company atmosphere of positivity and equality.

WiMN: Have you ever faced adversity in the music industry simply for being a woman? If so, how did you overcome it?

FHOM: Of course, hence the reason for creating Fanny’s!

WiMN: What are some of the things people can experience at your store that can’t be experienced elsewhere?

FHOM: Being one of the few female-owned and operated music stores, you’re going to see women and men working together in all positions….sales, teaching (not just piano), repair. Hopefully you’ll feel an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. On Fanny’s walls you’ll find photos of women actually playing instruments. And of course there’s vintage clothing.

WiMN: Do you have advice for young women who might be considering a career in the music industry?

FHOM: The same for all businesses/industries… Plow through the fear. Be confident of your abilities, stay true to yourself and work with integrity.

WiMN: What does it mean to you to receive a She Rocks Award?

FHOM: It’s a bit surreal, given we’re just a small store in Nashville, but if it gives exposure to the mission of empowerment, that’s a great thing! It is an honor to be included with other women that are doing such good work.

WiMN: What one piece of advice would you give to young aspiring female musicians looking to make it big in the music business?

FHOM: Do it because you love it, it’s very hard work. And if you just want to be rich and famous…buy a lottery ticket, it’s the same odds.

Front and Center: Piano Tuner, Music Teacher, and Multi-Instrumentalist, Rebecca Kayorie

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Piano Tuner, Music Teacher, and Multi-Instrumentalist, Rebecca Kayorie

By Gabriella Steffenberg 

Many of us have our own niches in life that we work toward and naturally gravitate to. For Rebeca Kayorie, she happens to have six specialties down pat.

Based in Buffalo, New York, Kayorie is a piano technician through her business, The Piano Tuna, and offers music lessons in voice, piano, guitar, violin, and trumpet.

Keep up with Kayorie through The Piano Tuna’s Facebook page, here.

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WiMN: You teach so many different instruments, on top of being a piano technician – that’s no easy feat! How long have you been playing the piano, violin, guitar, and trumpet for, and do you have a favorite?

RK: The first instrument I ever took lessons in was the piano. As soon as I was old enough, I started taking voice lessons.

Later I attended SUNY Potsdam to study voice. There I took classes in guitar, trumpet, and trombone. I also learned to play the violin from a friend who played. I love teaching any instrument, but piano and voice are probably my favorite. I specialize in opera and contemporary classical music, but I will teach students to sing whatever moves them.

WiMN: How long did it take you to earn your certifications for piano tuning?

RK: It took me about six months to earn my certification, although you don’t need one in order to tune. I really feel like this is a skill you learn by doing. I have learned something from every piano I’ve ever worked on and I expect that will always be true. Each piano has a personality and my goal is to work with it, not to work ON it.

Pianos are a little like people. Something that works for one piano may not work on another. I’ve heard people describe piano tuning as a science, but I think it is really more about compromise. If you don’t compromise with the piano, you break it. So you and the piano have to work together.

WiMN: How did your business, The Piano Tuna, originate?

RK: I knew I wanted to work as a piano technician before I even learned how to do it. I was determined to learn how to do it and do it well, so I dove into study and started my business after I felt confident that I could do the job well. It was a huge risk to quit my full-time job and start my own business, but I’m glad I did. It’s so satisfying to look at something tangible that you fixed, or that you made better, and give that back to a client.

In this world of technology and computer screens, it’s so refreshing to work on something tangible. Every time I take out a screwdriver to open up a piano, I smile. It’s an honor to be able to be a part of this old tradition. My husband came up with the name “The Piano Tuna.” I thought it was so funny! Now whenever I say it to someone, they always laugh and smile.

WiMN: If your piano could talk, what would it say?

RK: If my piano could talk, it would probably tell me to stop using it to practice on. My piano has probably been tuned more often than any piano I’ve ever worked on.

When I was first learning to tune and repair pianos, I would take parts out of my own piano and study them. I used my own piano to practice new techniques, try out new repair tools, and occasionally I would even borrow some of its parts if I needed something in a pinch.

WiMN: Have you always known you wanted to be a piano technician and a private music teacher?

RK: I always knew that I loved music and never wanted to be without it. I had great private music teachers and always wanted to do that. Working as a piano technician never occurred to me. I can’t think of a time that I called to get something repaired and a woman opened the door. I always knew that I was good at fixing things but I didn’t picture myself doing that until a friend of mine said that she wanted to learn how to tune. For her, it was a curiosity, but for me it became a career.

WiMN: Tell us about one of your greatest student success stories.

RK: I consider every student I’ve ever had to be a success story in their own way. They have all accomplished great things. When one of my students gets the part they auditioned for, finishes their method book and goes on to the next one, or learns a skill that was hard for them I consider that a great success.

Before becoming a private music teacher and piano technician, I taught music to students with developmental disabilities. I am probably most proud of their successes. Their drive has inspired me and taught me that perseverance and hard work pay off.

WiMN: Who have been your biggest inspirations in the music industry?

RK: My very first inspiration was my mother, who is an accomplished organist and pianist. I always heard music in my house while my mother practiced. She taught me to love music, and she showed me what a hard working musician looked like.

When I was studying voice at SUNY Potsdam, Renee Fleming came to sing for a master class. I was in awe of her talent as a classical singer and her professional confidence as a vocal coach. That experience was hugely influential to me.

Another more popular artist who really impresses me is Taylor Swift. I have always really respected artists who not only perform, but also write their own music. She is also a great business person, and I think women in the music business would do well to take a page out of her playbook.

WiMN: What advice would you give to women who want to be in the technical realm of the music business?

RK: I would congratulate these women for thinking creatively about their options. Consumers want to see women doing these jobs and some of them would rather hire a woman than a man. Some people find it less threatening for a woman to come into their home than a man.

I often compare piano repair to car repair. Consumers who need their car fixed want the same things that piano repair consumers want. They want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing, will tell them the truth, charge a fair price, and be friendly. If you can do that, then you can do this job.

WiMN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

RK: I’m always trying to build my business and learn new skills. In 10 years, I hope that I will be rebuilding pianos and maybe have my own apprentice. I’m sure I’ll still be teaching, but I’d love to learn to play some woodwind instruments so that I can add those to the list.

Front and Center: Voice Instructor, Vocal Coach and Music Director, Cindy Shadrick

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Voice Instructor, Vocal Coach and Music Director, Cindy Shadrick

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Cindy Shadrick, soprano, is a versatile vocalist, teacher, and music director based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is also a role model and inspiration for a legion of students and aspiring singers.

Shadrick began her music studies at age eight, and has spent her life studying, performing, recording, and teaching music. She has toured in the United States and Europe both solo and with various big bands.

She has performed in numerous choirs and dramatic works, and has also appeared in leading roles in La Serva Padrona, The Medium, Le Nozze di Figaro, and musical theatre productions of The Wizard of Oz, Grease, Guys and Dolls, and many others.

Shadrick holds her Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Iowa, and her Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

To learn more about her, visit cindyshadrick.com.

WiMN: What’s the difference between a vocalist and a singer?

CS: First, everyone can sing, and therefore, everyone is a singer —even if it’s just in your car with the radio turned up. A vocalist is someone who really studies the voice and learns about the anatomy and how it works. It’s more than just a few voice lessons. They also get inside the music and learn the essential theory behind what they are performing. Every genre or style of music has specific nuances that must be learned in order to convey the music properly. For example, an opera singer’s technique many not work as well in a jazz or pop situation. But to be fair, I do use “singer” and “vocalist” interchangeably.

WiMN: Do you think singers are born, or can someone learn how to sing?

CS: I think everyone is born with the capability to sing, for the most part, but it takes a level of passion and dedication to excel at it. We all have the right tools, but the right voice instructor can teach you how to use those tools to the best of your ability. I do feel that natural ability is obviously important. For example, I have legs so I have the right tools to become a runner but lack all natural ability to do so. But if I had a great coach, I could progress to a much greater level.

WiMN: You help prepare your students for auditions and competitions. What are some of your students’ biggest success stories?

CS: I have several former students who have moved to L.A. and New York and are professional singers, actors, and models, and I am, of course, extremely proud of them. But, I have to say, my greatest success story is a student named Jared.

When he was three, he was diagnosed with autism and needed years of speech therapy. Jared’s parents noticed how he responded to music and singing during his therapy sessions. It actually took them a while to find a voice instructor that would take him on as a student. I’m thrilled to have Jared in my studio. He’s grown tremendously as a singer and loves discovering new types of music. His love of music exemplifies everything I try to exude as an educator.

WiMN: Which famous singer would you love to sing on stage with?

CS: I have to pick two: Julie Andrews and Dolly Parton. I adore them. I’m certain if I ever met them I would just completely melt into a puddle on the floor. I mean, I would sing with them first and then die. Am I being overly dramatic?

WiMN: Once singers reach a certain level of talent, do they have to keep honing their skills?

CS: Absolutely. The hardest part about being a singer is having an instrument that you can’t really see, so to speak. We’re entirely dependent on recordings and the physical sensations within our bodies when we sing. Also, anytime there’s a change in our body our instrument changes and we must constantly adapt. I think it’s extremely important to take lessons throughout your life to help adjust to those changes. We all need a tune up! Even professional opera singers and Broadway stars take lessons.

WiMN: How often should one practice?

CS: That’s like asking how often you should go to the gym. If you’re a professional athlete or a trainer then you should be in the gym all the time. Students ask me this question a lot. If you’re a professional singer you should be practicing every day. For students, I’ll say they should practice four or five times a week for at least 30 minutes—but that’s just a blanket statement. Every singer is unique and needs different amounts of practice time. And just like you can break up your workout into several 10-minute increments, you can break up your practicing. If you’ve only got 10 minutes to practice, make those 10 minutes count. And that’s better than nothing!

WiMN: Does the type of microphone a singer use make a difference?

CS: It depends on if you’re trying to use the microphone to enhance your sound or create your sound. In essence, a microphone should really only be needed to increase your volume to a higher level if you’re singing for a larger crowd or you’re singing with a band or something. Opera singers, for example, don’t use a microphone beyond what the sound engineers may need for full stage use. Individual microphones aren’t used. We train our voices to create resonance and color. We don’t need a microphone to create that.

WiMN: What are singers’ different options?

CS: I use a Shure SM58 for when I’m out performing. I like it because it does make the voice sound a little warmer (a lot of mics can sound brassier) plus it’s durable and fits in my purse!

WiMN: Tell us about measures singers should take to take care of their voice. What things should they do, and not do?

CS: Vocal health is one of my favorite topics. Keeping a healthy voice is extremely important. If you don’t have a healthy voice, you won’t have healthy sound. Beyond always making sure you’re singing with good technique (and you need to be working with an instructor to ensure that), you want to make sure you’re taking care of your speaking voice.

Women especially tend to speak too low and more “in their throats” for what their natural spoken pitch should be. You should never push your voice to make it louder, and if something hurts that’s your cue to stop. Singing should feel good and if you feel nothing, you’re probably doing it right. You should also make sure to keep your body healthy by getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and drinking lots of water. I’m also a HUGE fan of the Neti pot. It’s a singer’s best friend.

WiMN: Do you karaoke? If so, what’s your favorite song to sing along to?

CS: I have, although I don’t do it very often, but I like to pull out some Whitney Houston. Each of us has a little Whitney or Beyonce living inside us! I’m also a closet Britney Spears fan. I know all the moves to “Toxic!”

WiMN: Let’s close with one of your favorite quotes.

CS: For my husband, Jason. “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” – Unknown

Front and Center: Award Winning Metal Singer and Songwriter, Pamela Moore

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Award Winning Metal Singer and Songwriter, Pamela Moore

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There is no arguing that Pamela Moore is a talented and serious musician with a powerfully striking set of pipes that will stop you right in your tracks.

You may remember her for her performance as Sister Mary on Queensrÿche’s 1988 release Operation: Mindcrime, which was so powerful that Billboard magazine said she “became enshrined in Queensrÿche’s legacy.”

When we heard her latest release Resurrect Me, she instantly wowed us with her vocal prowess and impressive range. And we’re not alone! Her album earned her numerous awards from well-respected entities in the metal community, and she was also bestowed with the 2013 Best Singer award by Classic Rock Bottom, tying with well-respected singer Richie Kotzen.

If you’re in aspiring singer, whether it be in metal, pop, classical or country, you can take a page or two from Moore’s book, as she is also a vocal coach in her native Seattle, Wash.

Listen for yourself below, and visit her website here for more info.

WiMN: Describe the moment and time you first realized you could sing.

PM: Oh gosh… maybe a more accurate question would be, “…When did you start singing”   (laughing). My mother has said that when I was about three or four years old, I would constantly sing at the top of my lungs making up my own melodies and words that never made sense but I sure sang them proudly! That passion I just never grew out of, I guess (smile).

WiMN: Which singers or bands have had the most impact in your career?

PM: This question is always so difficult for me to answer because I find so many artists (men and women) who inspire me all the time! But, if we are talking about my earlier influences I would have to say the Wilson sisters of Heart.

As a teenager, I would be completely enthralled watching them perform. Nancy has such great presence and looks so damn sexy playing that guitar and singing. And her sister Ann? My God! The woman is SPECTACULAR, even to this day! Vocally she has power but can be tender; she has range, color and her expressive delivery is magical!  Other songwriters? Many. Just too many to mention. Seriously, my taste in music is very eclectic and open to so many genres of music.

WiMN: Do you think the metal scene is friendly to women? Feel free to elaborate.

PM: Ugh. I seem to grapple with this question even more so as I mature. Age seems to be more of the culprit but women in general seem to bare the burden at a higher level visually than do men.   Perhaps the ‘metal’ community can be a bit of a good ‘ole boys club, too, but women are powerful beings. We can rock and we can roll, and there is no reason not to do so!  It is what it is… be smart, hold your head high, don’t forget to smile, give a little wink and by all means wear that sexy little outfit if you want (smile)!!!

WiMN: You recently launched the Pamela Moore Icon Design Contest. Did you select the winner? If so, when will you reveal the final design?

PM: No winner just yet…  I’ve received some really great idea’s but I feel the Icon/Symbol should be a very definitive design that resonates with me and my brand. So, I’m keeping it open until the right one pops up! I have faith it will happen! No hurries…

WiMN: We LOVE your latest album, Resurrect Me. You’re truly a trailblazer for women in prog rock. Tell us about the creative process for the album – did you write, produce, etc.?

PM: Thank you so much. Resurrect Me was truly a labor of love. It took nearly four years to finish but the positive response has been overwhelming, very emotional and validating! I feel very fortunate and blessed.

During those four years, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was experiencing a very painful divorce, moving from my hometown of Seattle to Chicago, then moving back only a couple of years later. Life got in the way, but for me became the perfect “breeding ground” for the songwriting process. Needless to say, I was feeling a lot!

Michael Posch and I wrote all of the songs on the album except for the song “Breaking Down,” which I co-wrote with my dear friend, Brooke Lizotte. Michael and I also co-produced the CD along with his friend Mark Alano and Chuck Macek. It was Chuck who also mixed the record.  Because I moved back home, we were forced to write the material long distance which worked pretty well, actually.

Thanks to technology, Michael would send over his music files filled with these wonderful, guitar riff-laden, musical compositions! I would write and record my melody and lyric idea’s, move around the format if I had to, then send the files back to Michael. I loved the whole process. Am looking forward to doing it again…

WiMN: Name three bands you’d love to go on tour with.

PM: Oh my goodness! Honestly, I’d love to be on a festival tour! Especially in Europe! I remember performing many festivals while touring with Queensrÿche in the past and the energy was unbelievable! Plus, I feel my brand of rock would be a perfect fit with the European Metal/Hard rock based market. Of course, supporting Queensrÿche would be a no brainer… I could jump on stage with them, too (smile)!

WiMN: You also teach vocal lessons in the Seattle community. What styles of music do you teach, and do you have a lot of women learning metal vocal techniques?

PM: I’ve been a vocal coach for a while now and blessed with some amazing students. I tend to be asked for training in the pop/rock/country styles as opposed to classical training… not because I don’t agree with classical training (base work from a classical teacher really helps develop breathing and resonating techniques) but a brighter sound is more acceptable in those genres so there is need to learn a new set of ‘placement’ skills.

Personally, I have had a lot of experience (good and bad) with these styles of music from my early days of club bands, so I am able to articulate alternative ways for the student to learn and develop. I must say,  since I’ve been coaching, my own techniques as a singer have become better and the opportunity to give back what I have learned over the years is a very emotional win-win for me.

WiMN: What’s the best professional advice someone has ever given you?

PM: “Believe in yourself. Be true to yourself. Be an original. Never try to be someone you’re not. Never compare your life to someone else’s. Do what you love because you LOVE doing it and not for any other reason.” ..This is what I tell my students every day.

WiMN: Are you working on new material or any new exciting projects we should know about?

PM: Yes!  I am currently writing material for my next solo CD and hope to have it completed this time next year or early spring 2016. I’ve also got a few more live shows booked for next year.

WiMN: Let’s wrap up with your favorite quote.

PM: “When life gives you lemons… squirt it in your enemies’ eyes!!” Kidding!!!! Seriously, I have a lot of wonderful quotes I’ve collected over the years but this one comes to mind for me today.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” ~ Rumi

Front and Center: Berklee Music Production and Engineering Professor, Susan Rogers

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Berklee Music Production and Engineering Professor, Susan Rogers

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Well before her career as a professor at Berklee College of Music, Susan Rogers was a highly successful record producer, engineer and mixer. Prince, Barenaked Ladies and David Byrne are just a few of the well-known artists she had the opportunity to work with.

However, in the late ’90s, Rogers quit the music business to attend school, where she studied music cognition and psychoacoustics. As quoted in her Berklee College of Music profile, “I loved making records, but along the way I began to realize that I might also enjoy working as a scientist.”

Today Rogers holds a unique position that allows her to combine her knowledge of music and science. She is an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music in the departments of Music Production & Engineering and Liberal Arts, and also the director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory.

“To be teaching engineering and production at Berklee is satisfying, because these young people are just starting what will probably be extraordinarily exciting careers,” Rogers says. “I am eager to hear what this generation will do in the service of the music industry.”

For more on Susan Rogers, click here.

WiMN: How did you become interested in music and making records?

SR: Like many kids I took piano lessons and dropped out for lack of interest. My passion was for records. I was a record-and-radio-listening fiend from about age 7 onward. I used to fantasize about being in the studio, despite the few pictures of studios that I had. Perhaps just as some people are innately driven to play or write music, others may be innately driven to listen to it. That could be tested, perhaps!

WiMN: You worked as a mixer/engineer for an impressive roster of artists. What is one of the most valuable lessons you learned along the way?

SR: Haha –– so many that I get paid to teach even the fraction of them that I learned! Working in the arts necessitates that we become expert problem solvers, but we can never encounter every possible one. And sometimes we need time before we realize the value of a lesson.

In hindsight, one of the most valuable for me was to learn to ask the question any three-year-old would ask: “Why?” Once I started challenging my own assumptions and habits, I became more open-minded and better at my job. The other invaluable lesson was to learn how I worked, so that I understood my strengths and weaknesses, and the ways in which I could be of value to people. Producers work to understand the strengths and weaknesses of others, but to know our own is worth the time spent.

WiMN: You left the record industry in the late ’90s to attend school for music perception and cognition. What inspired this change?

SR: I left to begin studies as a college freshman. My decision to leave the music industry in 2000 was inspired about 10 years earlier. I began to envy those with a formal education; I was becoming increasingly curious and excited about the natural world; my fantasies changed from working in a studio to working in a laboratory. It was gradual, but it was definitely a calling. My aim was to work as a cognitive ethologist –– one who studies the minds of non-human animals. I learned about research in music perception and cognition while an undergrad and it made sense to funnel what I knew of the art of music into the science of music. It was a smart decision but I still wonder every single day what it is like to be a pig, or a spider, or a hamster….

WiMN: Tell us about your current position at Berklee.

SR: I teach record production, audio electronics, and analog tape recording in the department of Music Production & Engineering and music cognition and psychoacoustics in Liberal Arts. Most of the students I teach are focused on engineering, mixing, or producing. Some are working towards careers as artists or writers. Others are in film scoring, music therapy, music business, and more. None are science majors but all are musicians and every one plays an instrument or is a vocal principal.

Berklee students know way more than I do about tonal music theory, so teaching them is a lot like teaching grad students. We come together as experts but with different areas of expertise. They are extraordinary students and people, and I have a great deal of respect and affection for them. There is no place like Berklee because of its unique history, faculty, international population, and focus on popular (non-classical) music. It is a teaching college, so I get less research time than I would at a research institution and that’s tough for my science goals, but there is nowhere else in the world where my dual skill set would be put to such full use.

WiMN: Who are some of today’s female producers or audio professionals you respect most?

SR: The women I know personally: Leslie Ann Jones, Sylvia Massey, Ann Mincielli, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, Trina Shoemaker, Sheila E, and my colleague Leanne Ungar.

When I think of these women, I think of the things we laughed about and how easy and immediate it is to have fun with them. We have many things in common, including perhaps that we never apparently regarded our gender as an obstacle. We occasionally or never talk about being statistical outliers or about some of the unique challenges, but I can’t recall any of these successful women complaining that she had it tougher than anyone else.

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?

SR: Fewer external than internal challenges, I suppose. Early on (late ’70s and early ’80s) I worried about what to wear, if I’d be feminine enough to have a boyfriend, if I would have to give up having children or marriage, and things like that. Ultimately I had enough to worry about with acquiring a skill and building a career, so I quit being worried about those things and let them develop naturally.

The people who paid me to provide a skill didn’t care whether or not I had a Y-chromosome (didn’t) or wore Doc Martens (did) or high heels (didn’t) or had a boyfriend (did) or a child in daycare (didn’t). I cared. These challenges were in my head. The only exception, of course, is child-bearing. We can’t deny or overcome the fact that women take much, much longer than men do to successfully reproduce. That is a challenge to those women who decide to have kids. I decided not to. And in full disclosure, when I started out in Los Angeles there were men who didn’t want to work with women and studios that didn’t want to hire women, but I didn’t want to work with those men or in those studios, so we were even! The men I worked with and the studios I worked in were outstanding.

WiMN: What is some advice you’d offer to a young woman pursuing a career as a record producer/engineer?

SR: Learn your skill really, really well. Accept that you’ll never be the best or the worst overall because there is no such thing. Cherish the times when you are so absorbed in your art and craft that you lose yourself. Regard every pleasant and unpleasant stimulus through the lens of your art. For example, if you enjoy a movie ask yourself why –– what elements of it worked so well? If you had a terrible experience at a restaurant, ask yourself why. The proprietor couldn’t have meant for you to have a bad time, so what failed? Hang out with people who are funny and smart. Be patient and understanding with people, but don’t be a pushover. Buy yourself something nice, like a designer handbag or a vintage bass amp. Be yourself with all of your might.

WiMN: What’s in store for you for the remainder of 2014?

SR: Oh, it will be over in three months! I’m going with students to the AES in Los Angeles where they will compete in the Student Recording Competition. I will be on a panel with Thomas Lund, Bob Ludwig, George Massenburg, and Florien Camerer titled “Loudness Wars: Give Peaks A Chance,” where I will report on auditory change perception and so-called “hidden hearing loss.” I will be speaking at the 9th Art of Record Production Conference at the University of Oslo this December. And, of course, teaching.

 

 

Front and Center: Professional Guitarist and Guitar Teacher, Jen Trani

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Professional Guitarist and Guitar Teacher, Jen Trani

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By Pauline France

We first met the fabulous Jen Trani at NAMM during the 2014 She Rocks Awards when she played guitar in GRAMMY-award winner (and She Rocks award recipient) Gabriela Moreno’s band. WOW. This girl killed it.

She left such an impression on us that we decided to dig around on the internet to learn more about her. What we discovered didn’t surprise us one bit! Trani is basically an online celebrity guitar teacher, having more than 50 million collective views on her instructional videos for Mahalo.com.

Trani has also had some television appearances as the on-set guitar/band consultant and guitar double for Beverly Hills 90210, and even played on a CBS commercial for the season finale of The Amazing Race.

Her genuine teaching style makes you feel like she’s right there with you in your living room teaching in person, and her skills are worthy of merit and applause. Learn more about Jen in our interview below and at her website here.

WiMN: You attended Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. When did you attend and graduate?

JT: I went to M.I. from 2001 to 2005.

WiMN: During your studies at M.I., did you notice a large disparity between male and female students? If so, how did you cope?

JT: I was the only female guitar student in my class in the bachelors degree program and in the two certificate programs. I have always been interested in activities that were male dominated. I think I have always considered myself one of the guys so it really wasn’t that big of a deal or anything new for me.

WiMN: Tell us about your new YouTube show Tasty Tracks.

JT: Oh I’m so glad you asked! Tasty Tracks is a new YouTube show that I recently created. It’s kind of like a music review show but with a positive spin. I listen to lots of albums and find my favorite tracks and then make a 5 minute show talking about why I liked the specific track. I wanted to do something where I could share the music/artists that I am excited about but really make it personal. Not just, “Oh here’s a link, so and so is great” post on Facebook. I find that I am much more open to new ideas when I have someone in front of me giving me reasons why they are excited.

WiMN: How did your guitar tutorial videos on Mahalo.com become so popular?

JT: Ya know, I honestly have no idea! Hahaha. I did a handful of of videos for them and was hoping for a couple thousand views total. I checked back three months later and I had over 100,000 hits. I think now I am over 50 million. It’s surreal. My brain can’t really process those kind of numbers with my name attached to it. Hahaha.

WiMN: You’re also a private guitar instructor. What are some of your biggest student success stories?

JT: I have two very young students that I have been working with for years that are starting to make a name for themselves. That’s very exciting to watch them build a fan base and learn more about the business as a possible career.

But for me personally, a success story as a instructor is when a student realizes that they just did something that they swore to me up and down they could never do. Those moments are why I will never stop teaching.

WiMN: Who would you like to share the stage with one day?

JT: I would love to work with Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran, Jack White via The Dead Weather, Jimmy Page, Patty Griffin.

WiMN: Tell us about your gear – what’s currently in your rig?

JT: My main set up is my American Tele and my Egnater Rebel 20 with various pedals. My favorite pedals are my Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive, holy grail reverb, and a custom distortion with boost that a fan made for me.

But I also like to try add my Fender Mustang, Custom Strat, and Epiphone Dot (with Seymour Duncan jazz blues pick ups) into any sets if it fits the style.

WiMN: What is one of your favorite quotes?

JT: If you want happiness then be happy. 🙂

Front and Center: Blues Guitarist and The Kelly Richey Band Frontwoman, Kelly Richey

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Blues Guitarist and The Kelly Richey Band Frontwoman, Kelly Richey

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By Pauline France

There’s only one person we know of that’s been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out,” and that’s the one-and-only Kelly Richey.

With over 30 years of experience as a professional independent touring musician, Richey fronts her power trio The Kelly Richey Band, has an unparalleled zeal for guitar, has taught more than 1000 guitar students, owns her record label company, is a certified life coach, is a record producer, and more. Simply said, she’s an all around bona fide bad-ass.

You have to see it to believe it, so head on over to her website to watch videos and more  at www.kellyrichey.com.

WiMN: Wow, first of all congrats on all of your achievements, album releases, and jam-packed tour schedule. Tell us about your two most recent albums The Kelly Richey Band Live at the Blue Wisp, and  Sweet Spirit. What makes them different from the 13 previous albums you’ve released?

KR: Sweet Spirit was recorded in Lexington, Ky., at Shangri-la Productions, produced and engineered by Duane Lundy. The Shangri-La Studio is a large warehouse with an amazingly cool vibe. We set up so we could record live and capture the raw energy I’m known for when I play live on stage.

This is the first studio release that I’ve recorded that truly captured the energy of a live performance giving us the ability to place our focus on arrangement and capturing the best live take. I was joined by funk master Freekbass and Robby Cosenza on drums. Originally I had written and recorded all the material in my home studio playing to just a drum loop. I was heavily influenced by Jack White and the Black Keys at this time, so I wanted to write to just a drum groove so I’d be forced to create guitar riffs and grooves that could stand alone. Once in the studio with Freekbass and Robby, Duane directed traffic and the result was a CD packed full of raw energy and the strongest collection of songs I’ve written to date.

The Kelly Richey Band Live at the Blue Wisp was recorded in Cincinnati, which is home-base for the Kelly Richey Band. With the release of Sweet Spirit, Freekbass and I joined forces live and began to tour in early 2013. This live CD is a reflection of the chemistry created during a years’ worth of non-stop touring during which the songs from Sweet Spirit were allowed to be opened up and develop a new life of their own– which only comes from playing live night after night.

Big Bamn joined forces with the band after touring with Bootsy Collins– consequently, Freekbass (a Bootsy Collins protégé) and Bamn are a force to be reckoned with musically. I’ve always wanted to have my energy matched on stage, and the two of them never fail!  This recording really captures the heart and soul of the band and is an accurate reflection of who we are: a powerful blues/rock power trio with a heavy funk and jam band influence.

WiMN: What was it that made you decide, “OK, I want to start my own record label”?

KR: Starting my own record label happened out of necessity. I was starting to tour and make records and needed distribution. At the time, the independent music concept was the new landscape. This, coupled by the fact that I’d been in a band that was signed to a major label and hence witnessed the cold, harsh reality that there is no guarantee in the music industry, made me choose the path that I felt best insured taking care of my own interests.

WiMN: What advice would you give to someone seeking to start their own record label?

KR: It really comes down to having enough motivation, cash flow, and business sense to record, release and promote your own product vs. having someone do that for you. There are absolute advantages to both! If someone else is going to sign you, you need to make sure they have the funding and the support you need, and that you do not become lost amongst their other artists. If you’re going to do it on your own, it’s a full-time job and you must function like a business!

WiMN: You’ve pretty much touched every aspect of being a guitarist: you’ve toured, taught, composed, produced, recorded and more. Of all the different aspects of guitar playing, which is your favorite and why?

KR: I’m torn between being on stage performing versus teaching people to play the guitar. I enjoy both a great deal and if forced to choose between the two, I would not be able to give up either!

WiMN: Tell us one of your biggest guitar student success stories.

KR: I’ve had many success stories along the way but this is the most recent. In early Nov. 2013, Diana Rein Polacek joined the world’s largest online guitar instruction school www.TrueFire.com and signed up to take guitar lessons from me.

I’ve been an instructor at Truefire for about a year now, and I very much like the instructional and teaching platform it presents for both students and teachers alike. After about six months of guitar instruction from me, Diana found a site called Giveit100, a place for people who have a passion that they want to excel at via sharing a short video of their progress every day for 100 days. Diana decided to take up the challenge and apply it to her guitar playing.

Diana picked one of my songs, “Mean Old World” to learn as the focus of her daily videos.  After just three weeks, here’s the process Diana has made. Quite frankly, I’m blown away by her committment  and dedication! I hope everyone takes a minute to watch some of these videos, as they are truly inspiring and clearly show the impact of what a dedicated practice routine can do to elevate one’s playing ability. No matter what you want to accomplish, it’s always done one step at a time, and here is an excellent example of someone doing just that with passion and determination. Kudos to Diane for all of her hard work! 

WiMN: You released an instructional DVD titled Blues: On Steroids. What can students expect to learn?

KR: Note: These video instruction packages allow students immediate access to over 120 of my instructional videos, support tab and instruction manuals, PDF files, and MP3 Rhythm Tracks, and are only available online.  The Blues On Steroids videos can be used as a stand-alone instructional series, or they can be used as support materials when taking one-on-one guitar lessons with me via real-time video Skype. The video guitar instruction packages allow students at any level to move at their own pace while taking lessons from me from anywhere in the world. Individual lessons as well as lesson packages are available.

Here is a link to a full description of each product:  http://www.kellyrichey.com/blues-steroids/.

WiMN: You’re also a life coach. Tell us a bit about that.

KR: People often come to me because they see that I followed my dreams and carved out a career path that supported my greatest passions. After teaching guitar one-on-one and group workshops for over 25 years, in 2008, I began a journey to pursue life coaching certifications to expand my offerings. My coaching consultancy is designed to educate, motivate, and inspire people to identify their life’s true purpose and consequently, achieve the life of their dreams.

In addition to life coaching, I also offer music business consulting— expertise that I’ve honed from over three decades of being a performing independent musician. Here are a list of my certifications outside of my music business experience: Certified True Purpose Coach®, Certified Dream Coach®, Certified Dream Coach Group Leader®, and I’m also trained in voice dialog.

WiMN: Your playing style has been compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s (NICE!). What does it feel like to be compared to such a huge maestro?

KR: It’s a compliment I do not take lightly! As an artist I do not feel like I could ever fill his shoes, so compliments like this inspire me to push forward as a guitarist, performer, and as an artist—  in ways that hopefully honor the legacy he left behind.

WiMN: What would you tell a young girl aspiring to succeed as a blues guitarist?

KR: You can do it!  Find a great teacher, practice every chance you get, work hard and seek mentors along the way! Most, believe in yourself 100%…!

WiMN: Share any exciting news lined up for the future.

KR: I’m working hard to build my online guitar instruction platform so that I can connect with as many guitar students as possible! I tour year-round but the vast majority of my dates are on weekends, so this allows me the freedom to teach and build a strong connection with my students during my off time.

I’m excited to announce that I recently shot my first guitar instruction series for TrueFire Online, the leading online guitar instruction classroom! This video series will be released in late fall/early winter and will further build my presence on Truefire’s powerful teaching platform (http://truefire.com/classrooms/sherpa_class.html?room=kellyrichey).

I had such a great time last spring opening solo for Robben Ford (who also just happens to be one of my guitar idols), that I have decided to do more solo shows and recording.  I have added a looper to my pedal board that allows me to create a backing track when I play. I can use that playing solo or with the band. My next solo show will be opening for the British band Wishbone Ash, in Mishawaka, Ind., (near South Bend) on Sunday, Sept. 14.

Wishbone Ash pioneered the harmony twin lead guitars format, so I am psyched to see that live!  I’m currently writing songs for my solo show, which I plan to record into a 4-song EP in Dec. I will continue to play with other musicians and to record with them, but for the moment I am enjoying going out on a limb and expanding my live performance and fostering my creative journey.

I’m booking festivals for 2015!  After much touring success and many festivals in new markets in the USA, Canada (and this October I will add Australia to the list), I’m actively booking dates for next year. I plan to perform with my band, perfrom solo, and also teach guitar instruction workshops. I look forward to what the new year brings!