Tag Archives: Music

All That Jazz: The Life and Legacy of Ernestine Anderson

by Kathya Alexander

Ernestine Anderson was just 16 years old when she announced to her parents that she was going to leave Seattle and go on the road to sing with a big band. She’d only recently moved to the city from Texas and was attending Garfield High School. Two years later, when the Johnny Otis band came to town, she made good on her promise, leaving Seattle in 1946 to eventually live in New York, Switzerland, and other cities throughout Europe during an illustrious six-decade career, during which she recorded more than 30 albums. But, no matter where she lived, her heart always pulled her back to her family and the city she loved. 

Seattle’s Central District in the 1940s and ’50s was a jazz mecca. Fellow Garfield High School alum, Quincy Jones, described it as “screaming around the clock.” Both Anderson and Jones performed with Garfield’s jazz band and in various clubs on Seattle’s Jackson Street. Music journalist Paul De Barros’ book, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, has become the standard historical text on the Central District of Seattle and the jazz scene that was going on during the 1940s through the early ’60s. But Anderson felt she needed to make it elsewhere before she would be recognized professionally at home. 

“There were a lot of clubs in the Central area of Seattle: The Black and Tan, The Rocking Chair, and a whole bunch of other[s],” said Eugenie Jones, jazz singer and coproducer of “Celebrating Ernestine Anderson,” a series of community events being held this month to honor the life and legacy of this incredible Seattle icon, who died in 2016.

Continue reading All That Jazz: The Life and Legacy of Ernestine Anderson

Seedcast: Art and Activism Across the Pacific

by Mia Kami

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.

My name is Amelia Filohivalu Yvaana Kami,  but I commonly go by Mia Kami. I am Tongan. Both of my parents are Tongan. My mom comes from the main island, from the villages of Kolomotu’a and Hofoa, and my dad is from Haʻapai, which is an outer island. I’m currently based in Suva, Fiji, where I just completed my studies in law and politics at the University of the South Pacific (USP). I am a singer. A songwriter. A new graduate and job-seeker. A daughter. A sister. A woman of the Pacific.

In 2018, a cousin of mine reached out because she was involved in an anti-logging campaign in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea, and her group needed an anthem to motivate the team while inspiring awareness about these issues in the world and building momentum for their campaign. It was a smart decision. Art communicates and motivates in a way that data and speeches do not, merging the heart and the head. I was honored to be asked.

When I’m in the early stages with a song, it’s just me and my guitar. I start with a theme and some chords, then let the melodies and the words flow, recording myself so that I don’t lose anything good. With this anthem, I didn’t want to be too obvious, so I stayed away from lyrics like “deforestation is bad.” Luckily, pretty early on, I found the word “rooted,” and it just stuck. “Rooted” became the center and title of the song.

Continue reading Seedcast: Art and Activism Across the Pacific

Libraries, Artists, and Community Members Host ‘What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon’

by Chamidae Ford

In response to the COVID-19 delta variant, The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has teamed up with an array of entertainers, community organizations, and artists to create “What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon.” The Dreamathon is a series dedicated to encouraging community members to imagine a better pandemic life through art, music, and knowledge. 

“We started COVID response projects in 2020 but intentionally decided that community-led work should be at the center of what we were doing,” SPL public engagements program manager Davida Ingram said. “So there’s a really beautiful array of culturally specific work that happened in response to COVID that has a lot of implications for racial justice and the role that arts and culture sort of plays in amplifying concerns around public health.”

Continue reading Libraries, Artists, and Community Members Host ‘What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon’

The Royal Room Announces Grand Reopening September 15

by Elizabeth Turnbull

After 18 months of closure, the South Hudson Music Project announced the reopening of the live music venue, The Royal Room, this Wednesday, Sept. 15. The reopening signals a reawakening of musical and artistic life in the South Seattle Area.

The Royal Room’s first event “Piano Starts Here” will showcase the work of great pianists, including Duke Ellington, Carla Bley, Cole Porter, Earl Hines, and others, all played by local Seattle-based pianists and improvisers. Local composer and performer Alex Guilbert is the host of the series. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event as they will not be sold in-person.

Events will continue through the weekend. On Thursday, Sept. 16, local jazz vocalist Elnah Jordan will perform. Jordan is an accomplished singer with a singing repertoire including gospel, jazz, blues, and R&B. 

On Friday, Sept. 17, people who want to welcome back live music on the dance floor will get not one but two opportunities to attend “The Royal Room Grand Reopening Dance Party.” Tickets will be available for both an early show at 6:30 p.m. or the late show at 9:30 p.m. Local musicians will be covering classic artists such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Lake Street Dive, Amy Winehouse, and The Staple Singers. 

Continue reading The Royal Room Announces Grand Reopening September 15

South Park Collab Presents Day Party: Celebrating Art, Music, and Community

by Chamidae Ford

On August 15, the South Park Collab is throwing a party. Day Party, an outdoor dance event, will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. along the Duwamish River, with picturesque views of Downtown Seattle, and will feature arts-filled fun for those over 21. 

The event has been organized by Cheryl Delostrinos, the co-founder of Au Collective. Delostrinos views herself as a connector, and Day Party aims to remind South Park that even after over a year of isolation, a powerful community exists there. 

Continue reading South Park Collab Presents Day Party: Celebrating Art, Music, and Community

Rainier Arts Center Hosts Weekly Porch Festival Showcasing BIPOC Artists

by Chamidae Ford

This Wednesday, Aug. 11, the Rainier Arts Center will be hosting its second installation of the August Porch Festival. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. you can find local BIPOC artists taking the stage to perform music for their community. Each week offers a wide range of styles and genres of music and performances. 

The Center was opened in 1997 and has served as a gathering space to support the arts for the Rainier community since. Throughout the summer, the Center hosts a wide array of events and activities located in Columbia Park. As a part of that, the Porch Festival aims to provide local artists the space to demonstrate their talents while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced. 

“We primarily wanted to showcase South End artists that were BIPOC,” said Ben Leiataua, manager of the Rainier Arts Center.

Continue reading Rainier Arts Center Hosts Weekly Porch Festival Showcasing BIPOC Artists

Seattle Blues Singer Lady A Continues Year-Long Battle for Her Name

by Beverly Aarons

“I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I really did,” said Lady A during a telephone interview with the South Seattle Emerald. The Seattle-based Black blues singer has been embroiled in a year-long fight over her name with the white country band Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum). “I was not well when this all started and I didn’t know what I was going to do … I was praying and I said, ‘I am going to stop worrying about this. God has a plan …’”

On June 11, 2020, just as explosive Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation, the country band Lady Antebellum announced on Instagram that they were inspired to change their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A because “… our hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality, and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face everyday …” There was just one problem — the Black blues singer Lady A had been performing under that name since the 1980s as reported in the Emerald in 2020. 

Continue reading Seattle Blues Singer Lady A Continues Year-Long Battle for Her Name

The Pandemic Turned a Neighborhood Cafe Into Columbia City’s Only Record Store

by Mark Van Streefkerk

Like many other cafes, Columbia City’s Empire Roasters and Records had to make some changes in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. While some coffee shops expanded their offerings to include grocery items or wines during lockdown, Empire went a different direction. Owner Ian Peters repurposed the cafe’s upstairs seating area into a record shop, which opened last November. Adding a record store to a cafe might have been an unconventional choice, but based on the positive community response, Columbia City’s only record store is here to stay. 

“We would have never come up with this idea had it not been for the pandemic,” Peters said. 

Continue reading The Pandemic Turned a Neighborhood Cafe Into Columbia City’s Only Record Store

Kristin Leong’s #AZNxBLM Project Draws Together Black and Asian American Artists

by Roxanne Ray

(This article was originally published by International Examiner and has been reprinted with permission.)

By now, most people have heard — or at least heard of — TED Talks. More recently, this Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) nonprofit foundation launched The Mystery Experiment, which granted $10,000 to 300 inspired participants, and in February, local KUOW community engagement producer Kristin Leong was awarded one of these grants.

The funding was a big surprise to Leong. “When TED shared their call for people to apply to be part of their Mystery Experiment, they were very vague about what the project was all about or what it would require of participants,” Leong said. “There was no mention of money at all.”

But that didn’t stop Leong from applying. “I replied to their mysterious call because I’ve had such a supportive and inspiring experience over the last four years as a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and because I believe in TED’s mission to amplify innovative and audacious ideas,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into!”

Continue reading Kristin Leong’s #AZNxBLM Project Draws Together Black and Asian American Artists

POETRY: We Are the Spring

by Dragon Moon (translation by Kalayo Pestaño)

Dragon Moon wrote this bilingual song for a kids’ garden show, but it has since become an anthem for all ages. Inspired by the Tagalog song “Bahay Kubo” as well as the famous quote by Pablo Neruda, the song illustrates how plants and humans grow and create cycles of change. It is in English and Tagalog.

Continue reading POETRY: We Are the Spring