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: Elmore Magazine Co-Founder, Suzanne Cadgene

Suze Sandy Beaches by LC 2014
Photo by Laura Carbone

Suzanne Cadgene has been an entrepreneur for many decades, tapping into many industries like restaurants, real estate, catering and more. She ran French restaurant Bis! for 10 years on the upper east side of Manhattan, and corporate catering business ConsultaCook for 23 years. She has bought, sold and developed real estate and has consulted for everyone from the governments of Italy and the City and State of New York to Heinz Corporation and the Ford Foundation.

Her love for music, however, always prevailed, and that’s when she co-founded Elmore magazine, a publication dedicated to all things American music.

Her unique culinary background makes her approach to music different. She’s the perfect convergence of foodie meets musician, and when she combines her passions with her business acumen, that’s when the magic happens.

Since co-founding Elmore magazine in 2005 with business partner Arnie Goodman, Elmore has covered a wide variety of genres, including roots, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, country, folk and Americana. In 2012, Elmore was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

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WiMN: You’ve got a fascinating and eclectic career background. Has being a restaurateur helped you with the everyday challenges of running a magazine? What do the two have in common?

SC: Both industries are heavily people-oriented, both on the supply and demand sides – as opposed to manufacturing ballpoint pens, with an assembly line on the supply side and a buyer who’s looking at a limited number design points and the price. They’re also both very deadline oriented. In the food business inventory gets stale quickly, but so do the stories in journalism – they just don’t look as wilted.

WiMN: Elmore magazine’s mission of showcasing the history of American music on an ongoing basis is commendable. Since the magazine’s inception in 2005, have you seen an increase or decrease in bands who are heavily influenced by American music?

SC: We’ve seen an increase, absolutely. We now have the Americana Grammy category, and an English band like Mumford & Sons can play mandos and banjos, top the Billboard 200 and go five times platinum.

WiMN: For many people, the definition of American music is all over the place. How would you define American music?

SC: Elmore covers “American music with a history,” which is anything rooted in blues or jazz (rap and classical, for example, don’t fit our definition). But the blues and jazz-based forms don’t make up the entirety of American music – not by a long shot. Like America itself, American music is a stew, each ingredient taking on flavor from the other surrounding ingredients. When you eat a potato in a stew, it’s recognizably a potato, but it also tastes like meat and carrots and bay leaves. It’s no accident they say “That band really cooks.” American music takes Irish, African, classical, Spanish, etc., music and blends them with blues and/or jazz, accenting the basic song forms with those genres. You may look at a stew and ask “What’s in this?” but you know immediately that it’s a stew, just like we know American music when we hear it.

WiMN: If there’s a band that really wants to be featured in Elmore magazine, what do they have to do?

SC: It helps immeasurably to make good music. Then, they have to send us the music and convince us that they’re making an effort to succeed. The world will not beat a path to a musician’s door; unfortunately, they must clear their own way. Our job is to put up the arrows and light the way for the fans.

WiMN: Who are some artists you haven’t featured on the cover that you’d love to eventually feature?

SC: Paul Simon and T Bone Burnett are geniuses in American music. I’d love to feature Phil Spector and Quincy Jones.

WiMN: Are you a musician? If so, what do you play and what would you love to play?

SC: I played the violin and sang, and still sing in the privacy of my own home. Today, I clap in appreciation, and I’ve gotten rather good at it, if I do say so myself.

WiMN: What are some of the best resources for blues music lovers?

SC: Local blues societies are among the strongest fan bases in music – find one near you.  Every May, the National Blues Foundation puts on a killer festival in Memphis, the Blues Music Awards, but going to a blues festival, even a small one, will put fans in touch with like-minded people. They’re always fun.

WiMN: Some of your industry mentors include Arnie Goodman, whom you started Elmore magazine with, and Paul Sacksman of Musician magazine. How have they been instrumental in your career?

SC: Arnie Goodman has been the backbone of Elmore magazine since day one. He knows more about music history and music than most ten people put together, and continually provides ideas, insights, and inspiration. I trust his judgment. He’s also become a leading photographer and that’s a bonus neither of us counted on. Paul gave us guidance in the early days, and introduced us to our printer, a critical resource.

WiMN: Favorite blues song to play air guitar to?

SC: I hung up my air guitar years ago, but I love Bill Kirchen’s remake of his own and Commander Cody’s song “Hot Rod Lincoln.” In the new version he plays more than 40 styles in one song;it’s amazing.

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

SC: There are only two kinds of music: good music and the other kind. – Duke Ellington