Press Release: Celebrating Women Musicians


Musically Minded Academy Launches Concert Series Celebrating Bay Area Women Musicians

OAKLAND, Calif. (August 23, 2012) – Musically Minded Academy — a non-profit music school and community arts center in Oakland’s Rockridge district — has inaugurated an ambitious series of 12 concerts by Bay Area women musicians extending through May 2013, presenting richly experienced as well as up-and-coming singers and instrumentalists in jazz, pop, musical theatre, Latin music, opera, and cabaret.

One of the key aims of the concert series — along with showcasing a wide range of women performers — is to present female role models for developing musicians. “Every woman in this series says that she became a musician because of a role model, a musical hero who inspired her,” says Musically Minded Executive Director Anna Orias. “We want this concert series to influence our young musicians’ choices — both musical and professional.”

It may surprise some to learn that women musicians still face barriers to full recognition. Singer Cheri Anderson, whose background includes the well-known funk band Midnight Star, now performs often with a cadre of women musicians who support each other, because, she explains, “female jazz artists weren’t getting the recognition and the opportunities to perform. We’re trying to find a vehicle to ensure that we have enough work.” The rising pianist Angie Spinelli notes, “Often I’m the only woman on a gig, and it’s a little surprising that sometimes other musicians don’t expect my level of playing because I’m female.”

But the focus of the series is not so much overcoming discrimination as celebrating the abundant creativity of the Bay Area’s women musical artists, many of them pushing the boundaries of genre — such as singer and poet Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein), whose December concert will feature traditional Chanukah, Christmas, and seasonal songs in folk, jazz, and soul arrangements, some including original spoken word.

The series includes a who’s who of over 40 local professional musicians. With Nina Ott’s progressive Latin jazz having christened the series, upcoming dates are headlined by jazz pianist Angie Spinelli debuting her first CD on Sept. 9; Cheri Anderson celebrating the divine with jazz and R&B along with esteemed pianist Mary Watkins, vocalists Wajeedah Hameed and Anna Maria Flechero, and drummer Trevelyn Lee on Oct. 28; Mary Jenson vocalizing “Beyond Standard Jazz” on Nov. 18; and singer-poet Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) rounding out the year with songs for Chanukah, Christmas, and the solstice on Dec. 8.

In 2013, the series continues with Bay Area jazzwomen Laura Klein on piano, Kasey Knudsen on sax, drummer Kelly Fasman, and bassist Carla Kay Kaufman on Jan. 13; composer Caroline Altman and playwright Patricia Milton reading their new musical “Moments of Truth” on Jan. 26; vocalist Lua Hadar’s eclectic cosmopolitan jazz on Feb. 16; Pollyanna Bush with Raz Kennedy presenting original song, storytelling, theatre, video, and dance in the Love Project on Mar. 3; the VNote Ensemble’s multi-genre Venezuelan music by Jackeline Rago, Michaelle Goerlitz, and Donna Viscuso on Mar. 16; vocalist Daria’s hip interpretations of the Beatles and more from the ’60s and ’70s on Apr. 6; and young divas Maria Mikheyenko and Crystal Philippi singing opera, Russian romances, and cabaret on May 19.

The stellar supporting musicians include pianists Steve Carter, Frank Martin, Jason Martineau, and Jonathan Alford; bassists Jeff Chambers, Fred Randolph, Sam Bevan, and Chris Lopes; and drummers Alan Hall, Billy Jones, and Tommie Bradford.

This series features the following musicians: Anna Maria Flechero, Angie Spinelli, Caroline Altman, Cheri Anderson, Crystal Philippi, Daria Jazz, Donna Viscuso, Dyan McBride, Jackeline Rago, Karla Kaufman, Kasey Knudsen, Kelly Fasman, Laura Klein, Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein), Lua Hadar, Maria Mikheyenko, Mary Jenson, Mary Watkins, Michaelle Georlitz, Nina Ott, Pollyanna Bush, Trevelyn Lee, Wajeedah Hameed.

With guest musicians: Alan Hall, Chris Lopes, Eric Crystal, Fred Randolph, Billy Jones, Steve Carter, Jeff Chambers, Frank Martin, John-Patrick Moore, Jason Martineau, Raz Kennedy, Jonathan Alford, Sam Bevan,Tommy Bradford, and Jean Michel Huré, and more.

Groups: Twist, VNote Ensemble, The PoRazone Love Project

And playwrite: Patricia Milton

Contact: Anna Orias
Musically Minded Academy
5776 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 601-5700


Sept. 9, 2012 Angie Spinelli and Friends — “CD Release Party and Concert”  

Oct. 28, 2012 Cheri Watkins and Friends — “Jazzin’ the Spirit”

Nov. 18, 2012 Mary Jenson – Beyond Standard Jazz

Dec. 8, 2012   Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) — “Songs for Chanukah, Christmas, and the Solstice”

Jan. 13, 2012 Laura Klein and the Bay Area Jazzwomen

Jan. 26, 2013 Caroline Altman and Patricia Milton: Reading of  New Musical

Feb. 16, 2013 Lua Hadar with Twist: Like a Bridge

Mar. 3, 2013  The PoRazone Love Project — Pollyanna Bush and Raz Kennedy

Mar. 16, 2013  The VNote Ensemble

April 6, 2103 Daria and Her Quartet — Strawberry Fields Forever: The Beatles and Other Songs of the 60s & 70s

May 19, 2013 Maria Mikheyenko and Crystal Philippi: Divas in Song


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