NEWS: Jazzlines Birmingham launches three-year Women in Jazz Project

Mary Wakelam Sloan. Photo credit: Chris Swann
Jazzlines in Birmingham announce a Women in Jazz project over three years, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to “create more female role models in British jazz.”

The project will be managed by Phil Woods, who studied music technology at Huddersfield, and who joined the Birmingham team recently from the Cheltenham Festivals to take up a post funded by Esmee Fairbairn. The project will be overseen by Jazzlines programme manager Mary Wakelam Sloan. Mary, Cornish-born, studied saxophone at Birmingham Conservatoire, and has worked alongside Tony Dudley Evans at Jazzlines (formerly Birmingham Jazz, for a number of years.

The Birmingham Conservatoire course  has already nurtured some significant female British jazz musicians,such as pianist / composer Alcyona Mick and saxophonist Rachael Cohen.

Mary is quoted in the press release as follows:

“The number of female musicians currently on undergraduate jazz courses at Britain’s leading conservatoires is disproportionately low.” Mary points out. “We also know that there are significantly fewer female musicians, particularly instrumentalists, performing at a professional level than males. Becoming an excellent jazz musician is not about gender but about creativity and discipline honed in an environment where mentors inspire and motivate the next generation. This project aims to help make pathways and entry routes more accessible, creating more female role models in British jazz which will ultimately benefit the industry’s ecology for years to come.” 

The press release continues: 

 – ‘Women in Jazz, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is free and open to Birmingham-based female musicians at Grade 5 upwards with an interest in jazz.

–  The project will deliver a series of half-day workshops and sessions focussing on performance, practice, composition and producing, as well as teaching essential career and industry skills including negotiating with promoters, agents and programmers.

–  Participants will also benefit from the chance to experience high quality performances by acclaimed international jazz groups as part of the Jazzlines programme, as well as the opportunity to take part in guest masterclasses with leading professional musicians including Sara Colman and Esperanza Spalding who will lead the project’s inaugural session in early April.

–  Women in Jazz is the latest addition to Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s growing programme of talent development projects, aimed at discovering, developing and promoting emerging musicians and artists in Birmingham, UK.’

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1 reply »

  1. We would like to congratulate Jazzlines on this project. As promoters they really develop their young players both male and female. The Scottish Jazz Federation is currently working on a similar project for Scotland starting with a pilot training project for teachers this summer and looking at working with Scottish Universities / Conservatoires over the coming years.

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