Front and Center: Bassist Ida Nielsen

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: Bassist Ida Nielsen
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While she is best known for touring with Prince and the New Power Generation, and Prince’s four piece powerhouse rock band 3rdeyegirl, bassist/singer Ida Nielsen is now celebrating her 3rd solo album turnitup with a world wide 2016 tour.

You can visit her website here to learn more about her tour and check out her bass skills in the video at the bottom of this post.

The WiMN caught up with the dynamic, old school funk artist to learn more about her in this week’s Front and Center feature!

WiMN: What attracted you to music? Do you play other instruments besides bass guitar?

IN: I grew up in the country side in Denmark and was lucky to have a very engaged music
teacher. She would do choir after school hours and being in that environment made me
realize quite early how much I loved music. Yes. I play piano (which was the first  instrument I learned how to play), drums and guitar as well. For a period when Prince was doing his NPG big band I was first on guitar together with Mike Scott, and then Donna Grantis while Andrew Gouche was playing bass.

WiMN: How did you make the connection with Prince?

IIN: In the summer of 2010 I got a call from his manager who told me that Prince saw my
Myspace page and would like to jam with me. I thought somebody was pulling a joke on me! About half a year before, a friend of mine asked what my biggest dream was and I answered, “to play with Prince” so it was really such a big thing for me. As it turned out it was not a joke, and in August I went to Minneapolis for three days and jammed. During  those days he asked me to join him and the NPG for a tour and the whole thing ended up with him giving me a CD with a live show and told me to learn it and call him back when I knew the material. So I learned it and I called him back and by October we were doing the first shows; basically were on tour from then until spring 2012.

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Prince and 3rdeyedgirl

WiMN:  Which are your best memories touring with him? What did you learn from working
with Prince?

IN: I have so many incredible memories! Obviously the whole thing with joining a huge
artist with whom I had so much admiration for was in itself such a rush, and to play all the big stages with such a great band.  All that was a big change and so cool to experience.
But mostly when I think of it now what really stands out to me are some of the many
conversations we all had together. He was so smart and really cared about other people and about making this world a better place and those type of conversations are something I think about and cherish a lot. And I learned SO much from him! He was a genius and in my opinion the greatest musician, bandleader, arranger, composer, songwriter, and  producer ever. Plus, he was really smart with the business side of things. I feel like I  learned some of all those things. Whenever I am in a situation now where I have to make a decision either music or business wise I often think “what would Prince do?” I feel so lucky to actually have been able to be on the front row both in the studio and at live shows for almost 6 years. I learned so much just from watching him work as well.

WiMN: Tell us more about 3rdeyegirl.

IN: 3rdeyegirl was Prince´s backing band since 2013. We comprise of: Hannah “Ford” Welton on drums, Donna Grantis on guitar, myself on bass, and of course, Prince on guitar, vocal, and piano. I feel like this band has such a special vibe. We are an all girl band but we play rock n roll, sounding massive like a freight train. Everybody plays REALLY good so it is above the whole “girl band” thing. We are musicians who happens to be girls. I feel that we have our own unique sound. Prince wrote the album Plectrum Electrum especially for us and for our sound.  I just love the girls. We are all such good friends and we shared so many beautiful times together. It is all love and good vibes and musicianship between us and I feel that this is also what comes through to the audience when we play.

WiMN:  What was your inspiration for your solo album, turnitup?

IN: Working with Prince for so many years is a huge inspiration in itself. I think you can totally hear that. But I am not deliberately trying to sound like anyone. I guess you are a product of all the music you listened to and studied. Normally I describe my music as old school funk mixed with hip hop, reggae and world music. That is kind of what comes out when I write.

WiMN: Who are some of your female role models in this industry – musicians or otherwise?

IN: Basically anyone who dares to do their own music in their own way regardless of what
the industry dictates. Two very good examples of women who have been able to succeed by doing it differently are Janelle Monae and Esperanza Spalding.

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

IN: I think there always will be challenges in an industry that has so much focus on looks
and appearance. This goes for both genders but I think especially for women. It is like people have to deal with that whole part even before they can take you serious as a musician. But with that said I have been very lucky to be playing with Prince for so long which automatically have generated a lot of respect.

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

IN: I just finished the first round of my band tour to promote my new CD turnitup, which
has been both awesome and scary. This is the first time in 6 years I play with my own band, and the first time I play where Prince is not on stage with me. But it feels good to do and there really have been so much love from all the fans. I am very lucky to have that kind of support. For the next couple of months I will be traveling the world playing clinics and in  November and December I will pick up the band again and do another run.

Below is a video of Ida Nielsen creating her “Discumbobuloveyoulong” StarJam Loop on Ditto x.

Former Prince Bassist Ida Nielsen Releases Solo Album ‘turnitup’

By Myki Angeline

COVER artworkBassist extraordinaire Ida Nielsen’s newest solo album turnitup is a must own for anyone who loves a mixture of old school funk blended with hip hop, reggae and world music flavors. Her third solo album contains 14 incredible tracks covering everything from beautiful ballads to dynamic dance tunes with lyrics that are sassy, humorous, and catchy, enveloped in the delicious, funky bass riffs that Nielsen is famous for. She has written and produced every song on turnitup and is more or less playing every instrument on the album (with a little help from some very skilled friends now and then).

Nielsen was holding down the low end for the legendary Prince since 2010 (until his very sad and untimely passing this year) when he invited her to Minnesota for a jam. The funk was happening, and shortly after she joined his band, the New Power Generation, and went on an almost two year world tour that included numerous television appearances as well as huge concerts.

In 2013, the four piece powerhouse rock band 3rdeyegirl was thrown in the mix as well, and a lot of epic and memorable concerts and recordings took place.

Nielsen describes playing with Prince as “a huge gift and the most magical musical journey ever …an on-going learning experience beyond all imagination. I am eternally grateful for having had this time with him.”

Her first single “Showmewhatyougot” was handpicked personally by Prince to be “Purple pick of the week” on TIDAL when it was released.

turnitup is set for release Aug 24.

For tour dates and more info on Ida Nielsen visit idanielsenbass.com.

Below is a sample of Ida Nielsen’s incredible bass skills!

Sheila E. Pays Homage to Prince with New Custom DW Drum Kit

By Pauline France

Renowned drummer, percussionist and 2014 She Rocks Awards winner Sheila E. played a custom-made DW kit during a tribute honoring Prince at the BET Awards on June 26 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Sheila E with Prince Tribute custom drum kit by DW Drums at Center Staging, Burbank, CA on June 23, 2016 at rehearsals for BET Awards. Photograph by Rob Shanahan

Sheila E with Prince Tribute custom drum kit by DW Drums at Center Staging, Burbank, Calif., on June 23, 2016, during rehearsals for the BET Awards. Photograph by Rob Shanahan.

Sheila E. played a personal tribute to Prince on a gloss white drum set and matching timbales manufacturerd in DW’s Custom Shop. The kit features Prince’s iconic “symbol” decked out with different-colored butterflies and finished with gold hardware. The art for the drums was inspired by Sheila E.’s recent tattoo commemorating Prince, who passed away on April 21st.

Sheila E. performed a variety of Prince classics, including “Erotic City,” “America,” and “Baby I’m a Star.”

Learn more about DW Drums at www.dwdrums.com.

Donna Grantis Feature with PRS Private Stock Custom Guitar

By Gabriella Steffenberg 

From donnagrantis.com

From donnagrantis.com

Donna Grantis, guitarist for Prince, is featured in a new Guitar World YouTube video where she talks about her Paul Reed Smith (PRS) private stock custom guitar.

Grantis had the opportunity to visit the PRS guitars factory in Stevensville, Md. and was able to see the process that goes on behind the scenes. She was able to collaborate with them to build her dream guitar, based off of the Mira Semi-Hollow, which she finds are perfect for playing rock and funk.

Watch the full feature with Grantis below, view her beautiful guitar, and learn more about what goes into the creation of a PRS private stock custom guitar:

Front and Center: Becky Gebhardt and Mona Tavakoli of Raining Jane and Founders of Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

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: Becky Gebhardt and Mona Tavakoli of Raining Jane and founders of Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

By Gabriella Steffenberg 

Becky Gebhardt and Mona Tavakoli are determined to make the rock world better for women in music, and they have already made waves. From being in the band Raining Jane together, who have toured with the likes of Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz (in addition to him producing and co-writing multiple tracks of theirs), and co-founding Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Los Angeles, these ladies are already paving the way for fearless women in the music industry.

MONABECKYCheck out Raining Jane’s website, and find out more about Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles.

Read below to find out more about these talented and inspiring women.

WiMN: How did your band, Raining Jane, form?

BG: Raining Jane formed before I was a part of it. It all started with a couple of undergrads at UCLA who wanted to put together an all-female band. I didn’t enter the mix until a little while later after they had already been playing gigs. I was introduced to the band through their drummer, Mona Tavakoli. Mona and I became friends while working together in the residence halls. She taught me important social skills like how to hi-five, and she brought me in to Raining Jane.

MT: When I was living in Sproul Hall at UCLA as an undergrad resident assistant I was approached by two girls across the hall. They had seen me play cajon at a flamenco dance class recital and were wondering if I also played drum kit. They wanted to start an all-female folk-rock band and play around Los Angeles. Santa Monica local, Mai Bloomfield (vocals, guitar, cello, women studies major) was also recruited. Over the course of the next few years band members changed. We added Chaska Potter (vocals, guitar, captain of the UCLA bruins volleyball team) and Becky Gebhardt (bass, sitar, cheese lover). Our first show as Raining Jane was at UCLA’s Spring Sing talent show where we played at the Los Angeles Tennis Center performing a medley called “A Tribute to the Women of the Eighties.” Raining Jane took home trophies that night for Best Band, Best Director and Grand Sweepstakes.

WiMN: What have been some of your most memorable shows?

BG: One of the most memorable shows I’ve had the honor to be a part of is “Live Art,” a fundraiser for SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community). What’s amazing about this show is that it integrates about 200 kids of all abilities, and 50 adults into one big theatrical performance. All kinds of art – music, dance, spoken word, puppetry and even painting – are involved. It’s all about how art breaks down barriers and builds connections between people. It’s a magical experience that has changed me forever.

MT: The best part of being in Raining Jane is all of the opportunities for sharing it has given me. I am grateful for all of the beautiful/weird experiences we have had to share music around the world. There was that one time we drove to a college gig in western Pennsylvania and instead of looking at our technical rider they decided that we were an a cappella group so they only set up 6 vocal mics and nothing else. Don’t worry, we used all the mics- AND IT WAS MEMORABLE. Then there was that time we played in Daegu, Korea and the crowd was so spirited and responsive that we gave them singing parts. Never in my life could I imagine an entire venue in Korea singing along to a Raining Jane song.

WiMN: Who are your biggest musical inspirations and why?

BG: Different musicians inspire me at different times. Two artists that come to mind right away are Kaki King and Anoushka Shankar. I appreciate that they both are such excellent players of their respective instruments and also are doing very innovative things with them. And I just love the sounds they make. Their music is beautiful, interesting, and engaging.

MT: My first musical inspiration was Madonna. As a tiny, hairy 10 year-old I would rock a lace headband bow, draw in a fake beauty mark and sing “true blue” at the top of my lungs. I remember being so moved by her confidence and willingness to engage. Throughout my high school marching band/drum line years I was turned on to Neil Peart, the drummer of Rush. Neil Peart’s creative and musical drumming inspired me to think differently about the role of a drummer in the band. Thank you to Prince, Bjork, Paul Simon, Missy Elliott, Ben Gibbard, Gloria Estefan, Ani Difranco, Tori Amos and Peaches for being some of my favorite writers/performers on the planet as well.

WiMN: When did you know that you wanted to be in the music industry?

BG: I don’t feel like I ever knew I wanted to be in the music industry. I’ve found myself in it because I love being in a band and I love playing music – I wanted to see how far I could take it. I knew I wanted to be in a band when I was 13 years old and it basically progressed gradually from there. Where I’ve been able to go with it has surpassed all of my dreams and expectations.

MT: I don’t think I ever thought I would be in the music industry. I thought I would go to Business School and become a real professional business lady. I just loved playing music with my friends. I loved playing the drums. I loved sharing and singing and laughing. And it all seemed to come together when Raining Jane would play a show. And the shows became a tour and the tours became my life. And now I am playing music as my job. I can’t even believe it. I am so grateful I get to do something that I love with people that I love. And don’t even get me started on the fact that I get to connect and share with people all over the world through music – it’s just too much!

WiMN: What influenced you to found Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles?

BG: Mona and I had heard about the original Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls which started in Portland, Oregon in 2001. We went up there to volunteer in 2005 and kept going back after that. The experience of mentoring girls while also being inspired by their bravery and brilliance was super powerful. We knew we needed to start something similar in Los Angeles. L.A. can be so fame-focused sometimes, we wanted to create something that was explicitly not about fame or “making it in the music industry.” It’s really about harnessing the power of music for personal empowerment and rocking at life. However, for girls who do want to consider a job or career in music, this summer camp would be an incredible resource as well.

We really wanted to build a non-competitive space where girls and women could feel safe to fully express themselves and support each other. Now we have a really awesome community of like-minded people that’s sort of a haven. And it’s a reminder that it is possible to effect change and create the world that we wish existed at least for two weeks out of the year, and take those high vibes into the rest of our lives as best as we can. The volunteers end the week as pumped and inspired as the campers do, if not more.

MT: Becky Gebhardt and I had heard about this movement in the Pacific Northwest called the “Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls” from a publication called Venus Zine. We got in the car and drove from Los Angeles to Portland in the summer of 2005 and spent the week volunteering and teaching girls how to play music TOGETHER. It moved us so much that we knew we wanted to bring this magic to our community in Los Angeles. After Raining Jane took a break from touring full time we were able to get started. We are now in our sixth year of Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles!

WiMN: What’s the most rewarding part about working with young women in the music scene?

BG: Young people are brilliant and hopeful and creative and when I get to work with them some of that rubs off on me and I am so grateful for that.

MT: I think the most rewarding part about working with young women in music is being able to witness through them how much is changing in the world. I am watching girls of every background come together create together and sing together. As a young girl, I never saw a Persian woman playing the drums. Now I see every kind of woman and girl expressing themselves in ways I never imagined. Rock Camp has helped me discover how passionate I am about creating a safe space for expression and personal growth. Our mission is to create an environment where girls are encouraged to take risks, be loud, take up space, express their true selves and collaborate with their sisters. I am grateful to be a part of this work and movement. It informs my music and the way I engage and approach the world.

WiMN: Have you two ever faced adversity within the industry, just because you’re women?

BG: I don’t feel like I’ve faced adversity just because I’m a woman, but I’ve often wondered how my gender identity has affected how people treat me and perceive me. A lot of times you just don’t know. Sometimes people are just assholes, and as women we have the burden of wondering if it’s because of our gender. Systemic biases are much harder to pin down and point to than an isolated degrading comment, for example. Gender discrimination isn’t always a conscious act and nor is there always tangible evidence to prove it’s happening.

Also my gender presentation isn’t typically feminine so I think that also affects how I am perceived and treated by others too. I’ve definitely heard messed up stories from other women. But I don’t go on auditions and I’m not trying to fit in to other people’s visions of videos or bands, and I’ve never had to work on a team with a lot of men. I roll with a pack of ladies almost all the time (Raining Jane) and since we’re an indie band we make our own choices.

MT: There have been times where dudes were just rude. We have walked into venues and have been asked if we were the girlfriends of the band. I have friends that have had incredible challenges based on their gender identity and the way they look. However, I can see that the landscape is changing and I have a lot of hope for the direction that our industry is headed in.

WiMN: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout your careers?

BG: Don’t be so afraid of making mistakes. My fear of messing up has held me back and it hasn’t been until fairly recently that I’ve really let go of that fear – it’s incredibly freeing.

MT: The most valuable lesson I have learned in my career is to take every opportunity to keep learning and evolving within my craft. There is no substitute for hard work and growth. It helps you lean in deeper into creation and gives you the confidence to share whatever you make. I have also learned that kindness always wins. Work your ass off and be nice while doing it.

WiMN: Do you have any advice for women looking to break into the music industry?

BG: My advice to anyone is to stay true to yourself, be great at what you do, work hard and find mentors. Also be nice and show up early but not too early. There’s definitely no blueprint for how to find success in the industry. Everyone’s path is different.

MT: Dolly Parton said it best: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

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

BG: I feel very honored to receive a She Rocks Award. It’s really inspiring to see how the She Rocks Awards have grown over the years. Last year was my first time attending the event. It was an oasis of much-needed acknowledgement and celebration of women by women. It means so much for it to be happening during the NAMM Show and I’m grateful to everyone who has championed it.

MT: It is such a badass honor to receive a She Rocks Award! I am so grateful that this event exists and that we have a place to celebrate the accomplishments of women doing good work in the music industry. Yay She Rocks!

Prince Guitarist Donna Grantis and Other Women in Music Among Guitar Workshop Plus Success Stories

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Prince guitarist Donna Grantis

Guitar Workshop Plus (GWP), a summer music education program in North America, recently announced its workshop dates along with the names of successful alumni, including several women in music.

One of them is Donna Grantis, Prince’s current guitarist. Grantis is a graduate of McGill University, has been involved with GWP since she was 15 years old and has been a part of the GWP’s faculty for many years. She has played shows with Amanda Marshall, Kevin Breit, and toured extensively with Shakura S’Aida and her own project, the Donna Grantis Electric Band. 

In 2012, Donna was auditioned and hired by Prince to join an all-female 3 pieces band with Hannah Ford and Ida Nielsen called 3rdEyeGirl. She has been recording and touring with Prince ever since as a member of both 3rdEyeGirl and New Power Generation. 

Guest lecturers that have appeared at GWP include Joe Satriani, Alex Lifeson (Rush), Steve Vai, Randy Bachman, Andy Summers (The Police), Pierre Bensusan, Orianthi, John Abercrombie, Brent Mason, Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles, John Jorgenson, Sue Foley, Jennifer Batten, Billy Sheehan and more.

GWP 2015 Summer locations and dates are San Diego from June 21-26, Toronto from July 19-24 and July 26-31, and Vancouver August 11-16.

For more information, visit www.guitarworkshopplus.com.

Bulgarian Guitarist Eva Vergilova Covers Prince’s “Purple Rain”

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A clip of Bulgarian guitarist Eva Vergilova performing an instrumental version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” has surfaced the web, and it’s so good we just have to share it.

Her YouTube channel features several covers, including songs by Jimi Hendrix and the Scorpions.

Watch her rendition of “Purple Rain” below (it starts off slow… but you just wait for it):

 

Prince, Lianne La Havas and All-Girl Band 3rdEyeGirl Kill It on Saturday Night Live

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On Saturday, Nov. 1, Saturday Night Live spectators were in for a treat after musical guest Prince and his backup band 3rdEyeGirl, along with guest performer Lianne La Havas on vocals offered an electrifying 8-minute-long performance.

Check it out below:

New Music: Listen to Liv Warfield’s ‘Why Do You Lie’

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A new music sensation is taking the industry by storm. Her name is Liv Warfield and she’s got a sultry voice – and boy has she got some lungs!

She made her national TV debut performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last month, and is set to release her debut album The Unexpected on February 18, executive-produced by none other than Prince.

Give a listen to Warfield’s “Why Do You Lie” performance:

Prince Found His All-Girl Band 3rd Eye Girl Via the Internet

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By Pauline France

Prince’s new band, 3rd Eye Girl,  a trio made up of three talented ladies, recently sat with UT San Diego to talk about how they came to be and how they were personally handpicked by Prince after he discovered two of the members via the Internet.

Drummer Hannah Ford and bassist Ida Nielsen were both contacted by Prince’s manager, who told them Prince had seen their videos on YouTube.

“I have no clue what YouTube video of my playing he saw,” Ford told UT San Diego. “I haven’t even thought to ask. But I’m super thankful he saw me.”

Shortly thereafter, Prince asked Ford and her husband, Joshua Welton, to help him find a guitarist, and they found Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis via YouTube.

The WiMN also plays a special role in Prince’s crew. After performing extensive research online, Grantis found guitar tech Christina Hudson via the WiMN’s Front & Center column, and brought her on board to be the band’s tech.

Read the full interview with 3rd Eye Girl here, and visit click here for Prince tour dates.