MFM Public Musicians Forum #12Date: March 20, 2019
Venue: WingSpan Arts (NY)

By David Belmont (with Dawoud Kringle)

On Wednesday March 20, 2019, Musicians For Musician (MFM) presented its Public Musicians Forum at Wingspan Arts. The theme of the meeting was The Music Industry & Women.

The meeting was run by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi, Billy Harper and MFM member Lyndol Descant (composer, singer and pianist).

Descant gave the keynote presentation to the gathering, which formed the basis for most of the discussion. She made several interesting points, among which was that while there is still discrimination against women in music, things have gotten better. There is less overt discrimination against women.

It is difficult to get a conversation going about women in music for several reasons. Evidently, serious dialogue is best done in person and

MFM Public Musicians Forum #12

Photo by Carla Maria Rupp

people, particularly young people, are more focused online (she only got one engaged response from her outreach for this forum: MFM member Amy Denio). Additionally, people are afraid to express their opinions due to a PC culture that has developed as a backlash to the #MeToo movement.

Unlike in sports, where women do not play as well as men, in music women are as good as men on their instruments. E.g., in jazz, you have to be good, regardless of gender. Thus, women face the same struggles as men when it comes to avenues in music being blocked by corporations (e.g., Clear Channel).

She recommended the movie The Girls in the Band.

MFM Public Musicians Forum #12

Photo by Clara Maria Rupp

Many interesting points were raised in the open discussion that followed Descant’s presentation. This included a discussion of the impact of the recently released documentary Leaving Neverland, and how the Mafia played a big role in the music industry for a long time. A common practice among Mafia was to move artists toward involvement in questionable activities so they would have something over them.

A discussion followed which centered on expanding and developing MFM.

Descant reported that she’d taken a course in social media, can help MFM in this area.

Sohrab introduced his old friend and  MFM member Marco Lienhard (leader of the Japanese taiko group TAIKO ZA) who he met in Osaka 32 years?! Marco spoke about his musical background and the shakuhachi, which is one of his main instruments. He was very critical of US shakuhachi players shakuhachi technique.

Some discussion was devoted to how MFM has attracted mainly jazz musicians. It has long since become obvious that MFM needs to find ways to attract musicians from other genres.

MFM Public Musicians Forum #12

Photo by Carla Maria Rupp

Of great importance – and very good news – was Saadat’s announcement that the member portal is now operational on the MFM website. It allows musicians to interact online, something that is attractive to younger musicians. All members are invited to update their profiles. This will provide an excellent advantage and incentive for all MFM members.

Audio recording of the meet up here:

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