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An Evening with Paula Atherton- A Powerful Female Figure in the Jazz Genre

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Travelers making their way from Jamaica to JFK airport were mesmerized by the talent of Paula Atherton and her band, comprised of Ron Monroe on bass, Bill Heller on keyboard, Lou Gimenez on guitar, and Tony Lewis on Drums. Paula Atherton has been busy touring the country, stopping everywhere from the West coast in California to the East in South Carolina and many more destinations. Nothing could exhaust her so much that she’d miss playing the Air Train Jazz Festival for her third year. Her strength translates through her performance, leading the group with powerful vocals, saxophone and flute. She is a versatile, self-made artist—boasting four albums with a fifth on the way—and is an example for women especially, and men alike. Our World on Sutphin was lucky to get an interview with this inspiring musician.

At the very beginning, in grade school, Paula Atherton aspired to play drums, however her superiors warned that “little girls don’t play drums, they like to play flute.” So she went with the flow, learning to play flute and working on her vocals. As a teenager she found her niche in jazz. Growing up, her peers were mostly interested in playing rock music. Though she liked rock, she couldn’t find a place in that genre for her voice and talent for wind instruments. When she started studying jazz, she realized that it was a genre her talents could fit into. However, she felt the need for an instrument that had more colors than the flute if she wanted to play jazz. That’s when she picked up the saxophone. It was an obvious choice, as the saxophone and flute are in the same family and have similar fingerings. In jazz music, improvisation is a huge factor. Since Paula took interest in singing early on, she studied with a proper vocal teacher for a long time and learned the art of improvisation. She would sing along with Billy Holiday and study the solos performed by Johnny Parker, Lester Young, and Roy Eldridge. Practicing the styles of these artists really helped get the art of improvisation ingrained into her brain. Listening to these sounds showed her the pattern of where a solo can go. She also sees an importance in learning the technical side of music—knowing the notes in a chord, and comparing what one note might sound like against another chord. When watching a professional musician improvise it may seem like an act of pure passion, but it’s easy to forget that there is theory behind that impromptu creation. Paula puts it best when she describes improvisation as “the marriage of the creative and the technical.” Though many talented artists have learned to play by ear, Paula’s understanding of music is that it can be better to know exactly what it is that you’re doing. It’s especially important to have that knowledge when you’re a woman. Too often, she’s noticed how people will pre-judge female musicians, assuming they won’t perform as well. “That [knowledge] is your confidence,” Paula explains, “Knowledge is power.” An artist can have a lot more sway in their profession when they have the technical theory to back up their creative expression.

Paula has faced her fair share of hardships in life, like having to leave home and start working for herself at the age of 17 and dealing with her mother’s passing due to breast cancer. She has risen above it all and now has her music playing on the radio across the nation, and is even featured on the album “Girl Talk” by Holly Cole which climbed to the number two spot on Billboard. She has a degree in music therapy because she truly believes that music can heal. “Music is the key to world peace,” Paula declares, “people don’t have anything to live for, and if there was greater access to the arts and music, they might not be so focused on blowing people up.” It provides the outlet that people need to help distance themselves from their negative energies. Paula uses her music for therapy with Alzheimer’s patients and plays charities to raise money for good causes like cancer fundraising. She finds it very rewarding to see the impact her music can make, hearing fans express the way they can relate to her lyrics. It’s very important to Paula that she gives back to society, and she does so through her music.

If anyone is looking for advice on self-starting as a music artist, she is the perfect person to turn to. Her first two albums were self-made with a good distribution deal that got her music onto the shelves of popular retailers at the time like Tower and Best Buy. Finally she was getting noticed, and had her following albums signed on record labels with the assistance of her producer, guitar player, and husband Lou Gimenez, whom she met during one of her many gigs. Paula notes that sometimes it feels like you’re working so hard to put your music out there and nobody hears it or cares, but it’s important to have patience. When looking to sign her fourth album Ear Candy, an album drawing inspiration from Philly soul tunes from the 70’s, Lou reached out to Kalimba records. The next morning Lou received a call from the label asking him to send the album over right away; it turns out they had heard Paula’s preceding albums and were absolutely in love with her sound. It goes to show that sometimes the fourth, fifth, or even tenth time may be the charm. What’s important is to keep producing your best work. In order to do that, it’s crucial to find your own voice as an artist. Paula Atherton wrote her album Enjoy the Ride after going through a period that taught her to live in the moment and not be so focused on what tomorrow will bring. “All you got is right now,” she says, “Enjoy the process. The process is the whole thing.” Finding your voice as a musician isn’t done overnight; it can be a long process that takes years. In the end, the sound that an artist develops is as individual as the human fingerprint. Many musicians make their money by forming tribute bands. It’s certainly a craft to perfect another musician’s style, but Paula stresses the importance of establishing your fingerprint as an artist—especially if you want to make money producing original music.

Keep watch next January for Paula Atherton’s fifth album, Shake It, if you’re looking for some up-tempo, funky dance tunes. All of her music can be found on amazon, I-tunes, and Spotify. Also, check out her website http://paulaatherton.com to see her upcoming shows. Be sure you don’t miss the Air Train Jazz festival next Thursday from 5-7 to hear more jazz music from talented artists like Paula Atherton.

Entertainment

Kranium Performance at Massive B Shutdown Free Party in NYC

Kemar Donaldson, more commonly known as Kranium, is known for his melodic flow, clever wordplay, and ability to break all barriers when it comes to his music. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and raised in Jamaica, Queens, NY, Kranium offers the perfect blend of that authentic Dancehall vibe but with a unique touch of his own.

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WHO IS KRANIUM?

Kemar Donaldson, more commonly known as Kranium, is known for his melodic flow, clever wordplay, and ability to break all barriers when it comes to his music. Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and raised in Jamaica, Queens, NY, Kranium offers the perfect blend of that authentic Dancehall vibe but with a unique touch of his own. He emerged onto the music scene in 2013 with “Nobody Has To Know ft Ty Dolla $ign.” The summer hit was saluted by FADER as “one of the most enduring dancehall songs this side of the aughts…it’s been a bashment mainstay, perfect for dark corners and sweaty summer nights.” The widespread success of this single helped placed him at the forefront of today’s U.S. dancehall scene and introduced his influential sound as an undeniable staple the world didn’t know they were missing.

Kranium’s name serves as a testament to his unique process of creating. Neglecting pen and paper, he’s known to allow his honest lyrics to flow freely based on the feelings the melodies uncover. Kranium’s distinct sound can be heard on major collaborations with artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Kid, Major Lazer, Torey Lanez, Rotimi, Bebe Rexha and Ed Sheeran. Kranium has established himself as a global touring artist bringing Dancehall to stages worldwide including Dubai UAE, Albania, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania) and more. He can currently be seen headlining a few stages worldwide and heard on a variety of new releases including No Odda & Last Night. Both songs are just a taste of what fans can expect from Kranium with his forthcoming EP. For more info on KRANIUM log on to. https://www.officialkranium.com/

 

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Steve Palmore Trio- Summer Jazz Concert Series performance

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Community

New Pop-Up Art Festival on Wheels to Debut in Jamaica, Queens!

July 2018, Jamaica, NY — The Southeast Queens Artist Alliance (SEQAA) is taking art from the studio to the streets with its first day-long, free (C)Art Festival on Saturday, September 1st (rain date: Saturday, September 8th) at Rufus King Park on Jamaica Ave. & 150th Street. From 11am-5pm, visitors will have the opportunity to participate with local artists in hands-on art creation and educational activities ranging from paper-making to designing personal herbal teas. All happening in, on and around mobile carts!

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SEQAA (C)Art Fest

New Pop-Up Art Festival on Wheels to Debut in Jamaica, Queens!

 

July 2018, Jamaica, NY — The Southeast Queens Artist Alliance (SEQAA) is taking art from the studio to the streets with its first day-long, free (C)Art Festival on Saturday, September 1st (rain date: Saturday, September 8th) at Rufus King Park on Jamaica Ave. & 150th Street. From 11am-5pm, visitors will have the opportunity to participate with local artists in hands-on art creation and educational activities ranging from paper-making to designing personal herbal teas. All happening in, on and around mobile carts!

 

Founded in 2017, SEQAA is a collective of artists and arts professionals who seek to cultivate and share artistic expression where they live and work. Its mission is to nurture local talent and support quality cultural programming in our community, particularly in public spaces. The (C)Art Festival is The Alliance’s first major initiative that invites interactive public experiences at a historical community space on the grounds of the Rufus King Manor Museum.

 

As Southeast Queens undergoes new developments and major changes, the (C)Art Festival will be a vehicle for SEQAA to introduce The Alliance to our neighbors and visitors as well as further its mission of building and expanding the current art community and its cultural offerings.

 

A number of cross-disciplinary projects will be available at the (C)Art Festival that are fun and engaging for people of all ages. They include:

 

  • Rejin Leys’ PulpMobile DIY paper-making project.
  • Shervone Neckles’ Creative Gathering Wellness Station, an herbal tea-making cart.
  • Jacqueline Herranz-Brooks and Margaret Rose Vendryes’ Consume a piece of Cuba before… / Consuma un trozo de Cuba antes que…, a community dialogue project about the changing relations between Cuba and the USA discussed while consuming cake.
  • Sherese Francis’ Expressions mobile library of Southeast Queens authors and writers will present a bookmaking workshop and the Black Cherry Jam Open Mic.
  • Natali S. Bravo-Barbee’s Fresh of the Press: The Green Card Cart, taking a small, portable Gocco silkscreen press and printing limited edition Green Card prints, to open dialogue about the current immigration crisis, deportations and family separations.
  • Art & Com’s (Thiago Szmrecsányi, Natalia De Campos, Tracy Collins and Toya Mileno) Collective Bargain, a mobile installation-performance-intervention that displays information, media and ephemera related to collectivity, action, gathering, healing, and the power of union.
  • Museum of Impact’s #UpstanderLoveLetters, an artful intervention where participants learn to ‘Stand Up. Speak Up. Act Up’ for what they believe in by engaging in a series of themed activities that amplify social justice.
  • Other participants include Queens Creative Solidarity, multimedia artist Elizabeth Velazquez, and other local creators and organizations.

 

The (C)Art Festival is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and through a partnership with King Manor Museum. For more information about the festival, please contact SEQAA at seqartists@gmail.com. Additionally, please visit our website, Seqaa.org, and our social media pages, Southeast Queens Artist Alliance on Facebook and @southeastqueensartists on Instagram.

 

 

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