LaParadiddle.com’s Women In Music Part 2

Thanks to all for feedback from round one, definitely keep it coming! Apologies for the delay. I thought it fitting to include a new video for one of these artists, so I paused on hitting the ‘publish’ button just yet,

Same concept as part 1 here. Same rules and regulations.

Also, please check out the Facebook page at Facebook.com\LaParadiddle and @LaParadiddle on Twitter! I have seen that the Facebook page is having some issues with updates, so don’t forget to subscribe!

Drum roll please…eh, I’m lazy. The only pair of sticks near me are still in packaging. But think about the drum roll. Got it? Ok, here we go.

FIONA APPLE

Fiona Apple 2012

Praise Apollo, Fiona Apple is back! I am incredibly excited to be seeing her perform in a few weeks. Apple’s voice and songwriting skills are beyond compare, and it’s nice to see some fresh material from her. Her style has not wavered, and I am 100% ok with that!

I find Apple’s blunt and honest responses to the media refreshing, because she is not afraid to be herself and say it like it is.

Her new music does not disappoint, and the video for “Every Single Night” is hot off the presses. While some may roll their eyes for Apple’s newest album’s title, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, I just say…I’d rather have a great album with a long title instead of a mediocre album with an easier, clipped title. She commented on the lengthy album title during a recent New York Times interview, stating “Of course you’re going to say ridiculous. Because that’s what you do with me, right?”. As with previous albums, this one involved some bumpy roads with the record label, and she wanted to wait it out for the album to be what it’s supposed to be. Though she may come across as hesitant at times, at least her stuff is honest and how she meant for it to be. It’s her voice and her imagery. You can proudly parade around something that doesn’t represent you, or you can sing it like it is, as cheesy as that may sound. But really. That’s why I admire Fiona Apple.

Well, that and her amazing voice and songwriting skills, musical ability and rhythm…the rhythm! One of the best modern dance performances I have ever seen was to Apple’s “Sleep to Dream”. But yikes, just watch her new video already!

FLORENCE WELCH

Florence Welch, by David Hall

So it’s been said that Florence Welch had been a punk musician before, performing with a band titled the Toxic Cockroaches. You can also listen to another band Welch was involved with, titled Ashok, here. Who knows if this track is legit, but there are also many cover songs floating around online with a young Florence singing.

As we previously honored Isabella Summers, I find it important to mention Welch for her artistry. Many questions popped into my head when pondering her success, some questions I have heard asked by others. Does her vocal technique concern anyone? Did she want to remain a punk artists, but this stood out more? I’ve heard a lot  of questions thrown out there to female artists like Welch, Gaga, and Katy Perry…are the antics to get noticed? Why is there so much stress on that?

Though Welch certainly displays an off beat performance style and, some may argue, doesn’t squeeze right into the Top 40 genre, I could not categorize her with Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. Antics? Sure, they’ve all got them. But I certainly don’t feel that Welch is trying too hard to be outlandish.

It makes me happy to see this type of musical-certainly not what the charts may have been expecting-getting this sort of recognition.

AMY HEIDEMANN

Amy Heidemann (Flickr_Alizenchains)

When Karmin were about to announce that they had been signed, my Facebook feed lit up with shares originated from the duo, Nick and Amy. Having graduated from Berklee College of Music, the two performed locally and had become noticed in the music scene and nationally via Youtube.

It’s truly a thrill to see a local musician go from performing on the street you walk down every day to Saturday Night Live and beyond.

Local to Boston from her Alma Mater, Heidemann is originally from Nebraska. As mentioned in a previous post, Heidemann won talent contests and accolades in her hometown, winning a chance to record a demo which got her into Berklee College of Music. Said to have received a scholarship and focused on her studies, the singer studied Professional Music while at Berklee, focusing on songwriting, vocal performance, and business.

Aside from the facts that Heidemann is making it in the music business with her college degree, musical training, worked as a wedding singer and for Berklee while trying to make it, and (did we mention she was on scholarship? Not easy) there are other reasons I am here to applaud her.

I’m open to the fact that you may not like Karmin, and everyone has a different taste in music. Personally, I was weary of the EP but really enjoyed it. You can tell they know what they’re doing. Some may disagree, and constructive criticism is valid.

What I can’t stand is the criticism out there that just doesn’t seem so valid. I’m a firm believer in something called BACK THAT FACT UP (like that Juvenile song, without being vulgar and with some solid material).

I read numerous reviews of Hello that just seemed downright bitter. One review basically tore it up in one paragraph and then went on to the reviewer plugging someone else. Was this a review of Hello or a plug for your friend? As for the Rolling Stone review, it was short and to the point but did nothing for me. Maybe it’s just me, but when a review is just negative, negative, negative, it doesn’t seem very constructive to me. Jody Rosen says “Karmin can make you hate pop music” but goes on to seemingly give a thumbs up to ultra pop-ified Justin Bieber’s single and Katy Perry’s machined ‘Wide Awake’, which I was very surprised was not a Ryan Tedder production. All these artists can’t really be put into the same blender but, after reading the negative reviews, I got the feeling that mixing pop with trained musicianship is just not what some people were ready for. That and Heidemann’s rapping. If she were male or…I dunno, not from Nebraska, I don’t think she’d be getting so much heat for her talent. The criticism seems to be in that she looks like she jumped out of the Lindy Hop but can run anyone out of town with her voice and rhymes.

So what? Break it down, give her the credit she deserves. Heidemann was previously also a gospel singer and almost never rapped in public. But what’s up now? So your butt was kicked by the girl with the suicide roll and the bright red lipstick? Get used to it, she rocks.

A video from Karmin’s early days in Boston.

ESPERANZA SPALDING

Esperanza Spalding

On the same page as some of the unwarranted Amy Heidemann negativity, Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy win in 2011 was a huge victory for jazz music and for organic performers like Spalding. After Spalding beat Justin Bieber for Best New Artist, Bieber fans went into a tween rage, truly displaying just how mature these particular Beliebers were (if you can’t tell, sarcasm is pretty much running out of my nose on that one). At the same time, I nearly did a cartwheel in my living room over her victory.

As a small child growing up in a difficult neighborhood, she taught herself to play violin well enough to land herself in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon (she grew up in a neighborhood of Portland). By the age of fifteen she became a concertmaster within the society. She then discovered the bass and enrolled in the music program at Portland State University at just 16 years old.

Taken from her site’s bio, she reflects on the experience:

“I was 16, and I had been playing the bass for about a year and a half. Most of the cats in the program had already had at least eight years of training under their belts, and I was trying to play in these orchestras and do these Bach cello suites. It wasn’t really flying, but if nothing else, my teachers were saying, ‘Okay, she does have talent.’”

I can definitely feel for her on that one, often feeling severely musically handicapped in some of my Berklee classes. When your peers have had opportunities from an early age, or have more money or resources, it’s always a struggle to finish the race with them.

Spalding, however, made her way to Berklee for three years of intense study and earned her degree. In 2005 she was made part of the faculty-the youngest ever.

I remember going to a Berklee College of Music Anniversary concert that year. Artists like Paul Simon and Gloria Estefan performed. I had not yet heard Spalding play, but she performed that night and my socks were knocked off.

Lastly, this interview from Jazz.com is from 2008, but basically solidifies my respect for Spalding as a singer, songwriter, musician.

In a past interview, you were adamant about the fact that you wanted to be judged on the quality of your work, not by your gender. Historically speaking, the music industry has not been very kind to women. Thus far, how has it been for you?

Well, for me it’s been fine. The tricky part is taking responsibility for your self. It’s really easy to say, “Everybody treats me like a woman!” and it’s true, however many women make the mistake of over sexualizing themselves. The hard thing, in the beginning, is to learn how to present your self in a totally professional way so that you’re not inviting any of that. There’s a way to behave where you are not over sexualizing yourself as a woman, but it’s hard to learn because in most situation it’s to your benefit.

ELISAPIE ISAAC

Elisapie Isaac

I interviewed Elisapie Isaac back in January. Singer, filmmaker, activist…multilingual and multi-talented.

I’m a little bummed out that we haven’t seen more of Elisapie in the United States, but I hope audiences will reel her in! Her blend of folk and pop with sounds influenced by her culture have produced many great tracks. She is Canadian, born to an Inuk mother, and her award winning documentary, If The Weather Permits, looked at the changing lifestyle and culture of the Inuit people.

Having already taken the stage with performers such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, I’m sure more and more listeners in the states will lover her sound. Folksy without being isolated or sullen, blending interesting beats and international sounds seamlessly, Elisapie has a unique sound that many others can’t pull off. Perhaps it’s her diverse background and rich knowledge of media and the arts, but I honestly feel that many musicians try for this type of look and feel and just come off as fake. Elisapie is the real deal, and I really hope to see her perform live someday.

Part three will be up and running soon! Keep in mind…I want your feedback! Leave it here or on Facebook, and please share. The more, the merrier.

Happy Monday!