Women in Music; Let’s ask something else. 

Recently I was given a press invite to the Jazz FM awards; a glitzy but energetic event well regarded in the jazz calendar. Armed with an ipad and a lapel mic, I made it my mission to gather as many interview snippets as possible for my radio show, Jazz Standard. I seeked out time with winners, nominees and various celebrities – even Bill Oddie!

MOBO award winning Zara Macfarlane added to her trophies that night, taking home the ‘Best Vocalist’ title. Moments later, I had a tap on the shoulder from a lovely PR; “Tina, Zara would be happy to talk to you for Jazz Standard”. ‘Super!’, I thought, and within seconds, as is often the way with journalism, I found myself articulating the questions out loud as they were still being formed in my head; “You were up against an all female list of nominees – what does that say about vocal jazz in the UK right now?”, and “Tell me more about your new track, which is all about alpha women?”. A thought struck me like a burnt bra to the face; Zara is an award winning musician with two phenomenal albums and a unique sound – What am I doing? Why are all of my questions revolving around her gender?

Zara Macfarlane

The coverage of women in music, across TV, radio and print, has sometimes been an infuriating one. It wasn’t until I found myself in that situation that I realised I was adding fuel to the fire. And so, I made a vow that next time I would interview Zara, or any other musician (male or female), I wouldn’t bring up gender without a very good reason. I’m pleased to say I had the chance to interview Zara again this week at the Rich Mix. And no, I needn’t underestimate my listeners with these old themes – they already know Zara is female. We chatted away about the songwriting process, her Jamaican roots, and new material (which I’m very excited to hear!). Needless to say, there was no need to rely on the old age topic of being a woman in music – we had plenty more interesting things to talk about.

Blog written by Tina Edwards

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Shoreditch Sisters WI

Founded ten years ago, by Jazz Domino Holly, the Shoreditch Sisters WI are a group of incredible, funny, intelligent, creative and just generally badass women.