Agile Vocalist
Music for Refugees with Betsy Blakeslee

Music for Refugees with Betsy Blakeslee

April 2, 2022

Betsy Blakeslee’s work has connected refugees with the healing power of music for two decades. She directed expressive arts programs for refugee youth in Bosnia and Croatia during the wars of the 1990s. Since 2016, her Expressive Arts Refuge team and Moira Smiley have been running similar programs at refugee camps in France, Greece, and Lebanon.

In this episode she shares stories of how her experiences as a volunteer have touched the lives of Sudanese and Syrian children. She talks about how expressive arts- music and body percussion touch and shift traumatic experiences, especially for those fleeing war and violence. Betsy gives us before and after stories, a demo (with me) of music and body movements she teaches, as well as how brain science is truly behind why music creates belonging and connection among people. Betsy Blakeslee is the co-author on forthcoming book about the Calais Jungle refugee camp in Calais, France. 

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

Agile Vocalist Epilogue, Season 1: Bathrooms, Cars & the Future

Agile Vocalist Epilogue, Season 1: Bathrooms, Cars & the Future

February 23, 2022

In celebration of Agile Vocalist's 1-year anniversary, this epilogue takes you back through an unexpected trend that emerged with many of my guests about creativity. The theme was this:  people are often most creative and get their sound practice and ideas... in the bathroom, specifically the shower. Cars were also a theme as havens for creating. Who knew?

Talking about bathrooms, showers, cars & visions for the arts (post-pandemic) are my guests from the past year (in order of app(H)earance):

Chloe Medanic-Watt (intro/outro)

Rachel Medanic

Opal Louis Nations

Joshua Silverstein & Joshua at Spoken Funk event

Pamela Rose

Vidya Srinivasan

Mary Ford

Brian Walker

Beauty Awaits, courtesy Harps of Comfort

Justin James & his mix:  Rare vol. 15, DJ Just-IN Radio #12

Podcast theme music:  Looperman

All podcast listeners (and non-listeners looking for a little fun & to learn something) are invited to take the 1-year anniversary quiz! 

A little music knowledge and some observation powers will get you 6+ right answers...which enters you in a drawing to win podcast swag, Girl Scout cookies & other fun things that will show up in your mailbox. Drawing offered only to U.S. & Canada residents. 

Disc Jockeying to Engage with Justin James

Disc Jockeying to Engage with Justin James

December 31, 2021

What is it like to be a modern-day disc jockey(DJ) artist? How, with sound alone, does a DJ engage people they’ve never met to celebrate, raise the energy, hop onto a dance floor, and come together for a shared experience? I talk engagement and the craft of DJing, including the craft of Dance Floor Architecture in this interview with veteran DJ, Justin James. His work leading Justintertainment, an events company with a team of DJs for hire, helps us to understand the power and skill needed to bring unique sound and music experiences to the people.

Short Guest Bio

For years, DJ Justin (Just-IN) has brought energy, electricity and one-of-a-kind musical experiences to events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Known for orchestrating the perfect crescendos at occasions of all kinds, DJ Just-IN ties together unique musical sounds to create the perfect soundtrack for any event.

A great DJ is an artist and Justin is skilled in his craft. With deep musical knowledge and a love of all genres, he is able to connect with diverse audiences and match his mixes to what they want to hear. He is a  Professional Dance floor Architect. 

Outside of DJing Justin enjoys spending time doing just. about anything outdoors with his family. 

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

British Angel for Gospel Music with Opal Louis Nations

British Angel for Gospel Music with Opal Louis Nations

December 18, 2021

Growing up in England, Opal Louis Nations was passionate about soul music and followed his calling to perform it amid England’s soul and blues scene. In this interview Opal shares the roots of the painful history of gospel music and its evolution through decades of the 20th century to the 1960s. The episode includes rare music from his vast vinyl collection along with Opal's candid and brilliant humor in his short story, The Three Gospel Brushes. In addition to writing, producing, and being a dedicated musical historian, Opal shares his talents as a visual artist (you'll have the visit the web site to see those!). Opal's latest effort is co-producing the film How They Got Over, which is commanding new attention in 2021 for its historical portrayal about the rise of shout gospel.

Opal Louis Nations was born in Brighton, England. During the mid-sixties he worked as lead vocalist in London clubs with the late Alexis Korner’s Band and later his own group, The Frays. He helped popularize American soul-based R & B and gospel music in Great Britain. 

It was through his efforts that black American gospel artists visited England to perform in various major cities. He also became part of one of England’s first integrated gospel groups, The Ram John Holder Group. With The Frays and later as a soloist, he recorded for Decca Records in London. 

In 1968, he turned his back on singing and began a career as an experimental fiction writer of sometimes strange, sometimes humorous works that have appeared in over 600 small press magazines worldwide. 

Opal launched a literary magazine, Strange Faeces, which featured experimental poetry, fiction and art by fresh young poets and writers and was published by Opal from 1970-1981. Opal’s fiction has won him The Perpetua and Pushcart Prizes and some of his sound-poems have been included in the T.V. series “Man and His Music,” hosted by Yehudi Menuhin. 

Opal moved to San Francisco, California in 1973 and to Oakland, CA in 1981 after living in Canada and on the East Coast. He was a host of R&B / Gospel shows for KPFA Radio as well as the world music program, “Harmonia Mundi.” Opal is an avid collector of historical music and memorabilia. His vast record collection includes R&B, gospel, soul, rock & pop, world music and rockabilly music. He’s also an incredible artist!

Music as Accompaniment to Life, Work & Feelings with Vidya Srinivasan (Part 2 of 2-part episode)

Music as Accompaniment to Life, Work & Feelings with Vidya Srinivasan (Part 2 of 2-part episode)

December 5, 2021

This continuing conversation with Indian classical music vocalist, Vidya Srinivasan gives us insights into how she balances a multi-dimensional life with music and how music is a tool as frequently used in her work life as it is in her personal life as a creator and performer.

Vidya Srinivasan was introduced to the world of music at age 2 by her parents. Enrolled in music school at age 3 to learn Carnatic music, she gave her first solo concert at age 5. She holds a degree in Carnatic music. Vidya has performed in 4 Indian TV shows in Tamil and Telugu and numerous stage shows. Her voice appeared in Sapthaswarangal and Ennodu Paatu Paadungal, both popular Tamil reality music TV shows.

Vidya sings in 4 different languages and likes to experiment across different music types to create hybrid mashups. Music is her favorite escape from her work in technology and Vidya often opens her tech talks with a song.

Vidya has been the General Chair of Grace Hopper conference since 2019.  Her love of tinkering with tech and has won her awards at Hackathons and so far she has filed 21 patents for her work.

This episode is part 2 of a two-part series about Vidya.

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

An Indian Classical Voice for Modern Times with Vidya Srinivasan (part 1 of 2-part episode)

An Indian Classical Voice for Modern Times with Vidya Srinivasan (part 1 of 2-part episode)

December 4, 2021

Working in technology, it’s rare to find someone whose passion is as deeply in the arts as it is in the sciences. With very early life training in Carnatic music, Vidya Srinivasan’s career journey is filled with insights about how she uses a music as a tool for creativity, problem-solving, and as a means for processing life's emotional rhythms. In this two-part episode, we explore her career, the basics sounds and flavors of Indian classical music, and Vidya’s abundant wisdom as well as her life turning point when she realized going full-into being a singer wasn’t a sustainable path for her personally.

Vidya Srinivasan was introduced to the world of music at age 2 by her parents. Enrolled in music school at age 3 to learn Carnatic music, she gave her first solo concert at age 5. She holds a degree in Carnatic music. Vidya has performed in 4 Indian TV shows in Tamil and Telugu and numerous stage shows. Her voice appeared in Sapthaswarangal and Ennodu Paatu Paadungal, both popular Tamil reality music TV shows.

Vidya sings in 4 different languages and likes to experiment across different music types to create hybrid mashups. Music is her favorite escape from her work in technology and Vidya often opens her tech talks with a song.

Vidya has been the General Chair of Grace Hopper conference since 2019.  Her love of tinkering with tech and has won her awards at Hackathons and so far she has filed 21 patents for her work.

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

 

Interfaith Gospel for Life and Health with Mary Ford

Interfaith Gospel for Life and Health with Mary Ford

November 20, 2021

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir singer Mary Ford talks about her career with the group and her life roots with the art form. Mary chose the gospel at a crossroads after nearly losing her life on her honeymoon. The power of music on and inside the body as well as the unifying spirit it brings to audiences and performers is featured in this conversation with Mary. 

Mary Ford has been a vocal performer for 45 years. She has sung a capella, as an accompanied soloist and most recently has been a member of the The Left Coast Sextet, an all women’s jazz ensemble. She's sung for 34 years with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.
 
Mary is a mother, spouse, retired psychologist and bodyworker, as well as an active artist, writer and adventurer. She works with several local nonprofits as an advisor, teacher and donor activist, and is dead serious about economic and racial justice. Mary is a boogie boarder and rabidly competitive pickleball player.

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

Making Music Synchronously via the Internet with Brian Walker

Making Music Synchronously via the Internet with Brian Walker

November 10, 2021

In this conversation with audio engineer, Brian Walker, we talk through Brian's work learning the JackTrip technology. Use of JackTrip dramatically reduces audio latency while preserving original audio quality. The technology allows musicians to make music together synchronously via the internet and can be used for either rehearsals or live performances. This episode contains performance examples using JackTrip from the San Francisco Girls Chorus as well as Brian's singing group, Worldsong.

Brian Walker is an audio engineer who has had an extensive career recording, mixing and mastering audio for gaming experiences, consumer products, text-to-speech applications, and personal voice assistants. He’s worked for LeapFrog Enterprises, Facebook, and Google.  

An expert in live direct-to-two-track recording, Brian spent the earlier part of his career as a touring Front-of-House engineer and Tour Manager for artists performing in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. Brian is the Freight & Salvage’s staff engineer and works on projects for Articulate Audio at San Francisco Bay Area-based venues, along with festivals and other venues.

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

Virtual Music for People Who Are Dying with Jennifer Hollis (part 2 of 2-part episode)

Virtual Music for People Who Are Dying with Jennifer Hollis (part 2 of 2-part episode)

November 6, 2021

In this continuing conversation about Jennifer Hollis's music-thanatology work (part 2 of a 2-part episode), she shares her perspective on the future of music-thanatology and Harps of Comfort, an organization she formed that has adapted with virtual music to the circumstances of Covid-19.  

Jennifer Hollis is a writer, music-thanatologist and project director for Harps of Comfort, an organization that provides virtual harp and vocal music to isolated COVID-19 patients. Jennifer is the author of Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Harvard Review, and her poems have won international awards. She has been a certified music-thanatologist offering harp and vocal music to patients for decades and was president of Music-Thanatology Association International for 6 years. Stories about her work have appeared on NPR, in the Boston Globe, and several podcasts. She has a degree in child development and a master of divinity from Harvard Divinity School.

This episode is part 2 of a two-part series. Information and details for part 1 can be found here.

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

An Art to Comfort the Dying with Jennifer Hollis (part 1 of 2-part episode)

An Art to Comfort the Dying with Jennifer Hollis (part 1 of 2-part episode)

November 5, 2021

There is a little-known branch of the performing arts that brings harp and vocal music to the bed side of the dying. It’s called music-thanatology. In this part 1 episode with music-thanatologist Jennifer Hollis, she shares what music-thanatology is and the amazing discoveries she made about the field researching her book about the power of music in medicine.

Jennifer Hollis is a writer, music-thanatologist and project director for Harps of Comfort, an organization that provides virtual harp and vocal music to isolated COVID-19 patients. Jennifer is the author of Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Harvard Review, and her poems have won international awards. She has been a certified music-thanatologist offering harp and vocal music to patients for decades and was president of Music-Thanatology Association International for 6 years. Stories about her work have appeared on NPR, in the Boston Globe, and several podcasts. She has a degree in child development and a master of divinity from Harvard Divinity School.

This episode is part 1 of a two-part series about Jennifer

More visual information, liner notes, and an episode transcript can be found for this (and every!) episode on Agile Vocalist.com

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