WOO (and) HOO! We met our goal!!! But ... please keep pledging to and sharing this campaign (we've got until Saturday). I have a stretch goal of $6,500 that would be amazing to meet because with that money we could make music videos for some of the songs AND do some advertising for the CD release event in the spring. THANK YOU!
Hello! I’m Sarah. I have spent this year writing songs for a jazz album that I will release this spring.
I am super excited about the music I have created and I cannot wait to share it with you. I need your help to launch this album into the world — the only way I can finish it is with your support.
Thank you for being here with me.
Once upon a time (a.k.a. in 2003), I took a long weekend and traveled to Wisconsin to attend my first vocal improvisation workshop. I stayed with my sister and spent a whole weekend singing.
At the time, I was working at a woodworking magazine and singing in my free time. I began going to improv workshops about once a year. Then, I received an opportunity to attend a 10-day master class. I auditioned and was accepted into the class. One small problem, it was in Hawaii.
So I held my first fundraiser to come up with the airfare and tuition. My friends agreed to let me use their home — and baby grand piano — and I hired some musicians to put on a New Year’s Eve concert.
I'm happy to say that I raised the money and, in April of 2006, I went to Hawaii.
Something happened to me there. Spending 10 days with other singers making music had a profound effect on me. I began thinking about how I could do more singing, how singing made me feel good and how I felt like I was living my purpose when I sang.
At the end of the year, I quit my job and went back to school to earn a degree in vocal performance.
And I never looked back.
Instead I sang. And sang. And sang and sang and sang.
I sang in churches and concerts. I sang at folk festivals and jazz clubs. I sang with bands, choirs and vocal ensembles. I sang for weddings, funerals and community events.
I made three trips to Europe to participate in a year-long vocal improv course and received a grant to compose a full-length improvised work -- Between: A Journey Through the Middle -- for vocal ensemble and percussion. This past summer, I even sang in a contemporary opera.
All these experiences have made it challenging to choose what to put on an album. It finally occurred to me that writing an album of my own songs was the answer.
After all, I had things I wanted to say.
For me, jazz sits at an intersection of the sounds, history and feeling of its many, many icons and the tones, stories and needs of present day jazz makers and listeners. I wanted to record a jazz album because I love the many sounds, textures and moods jazz can encompass.
I also realized that I wasn't seeing enough brown people around me creating new jazz music. I especially wanted to see more women of color writing and performing jazz in Minneapolis.
I wanted to write songs that would act as tools for self-expression, social commentary and community making. And I wanted to continue exploring the relationship between vocal improvisation and jazz composition. This exploration has deepened during my work on this album.
So the songs on this album cover a range of topics and styles, from the love I feel for my family and friends to living as a black woman and artist. Like me, they are diverse, complex and at times unexpected.
Song samples from What the Music Says Do …
Brown Girl Blues
If Only You Knew
I believe in songs, and I believe in singing. I believe in singing your heart out and singing truth to power. And I believe in singing when we’re happy and singing when we’re hurting.
With everything going on in the world, this is such an important time for art and songs. The only way I know how to make the world around me better is to make music. When I sing, I am my truest and most powerful self. From quitting my job, to getting a vocal degree, to traveling around the world singing, I have learned what I sing, I can manifest.
I want my nieces to hear this record. I want my family and friends and musical peers to hear it.
I want YOU to hear this record.
As a first wave supporter of this project, you are first in line to hear the completed album; you’ll also have my heartfelt gratitude for giving this record (and me) a shot. I will list EVERYONE who backs this Kickstarter on a special thank you page of my web site.
In addition, I have put together some great goodies for you. Here are some of the rewards you will receive when you pledge (not all rewards are shown):
NO LONGER AVAILABLE - The first ten (10) people who make a pledge to this project will receive a FREE Land of Plenty Concert DVD. This concert includes my first improvised composition "How Did You Come to Be Here?" and features some of my favorite collaborators.
To honor jazz luminary Ella Fitzgerald and the year-long celebration of her 100th birthday, I created the 'ELLA' reward package. Pledge at this level, and I will send you a link to download the album before its release, your very own autographed CD and a signed photo from the project. (And you get a shout out on my web site.)
The 'LENA' reward package (honoring singer, actor and activist Lena Horne) includes a diary of one of the songs on the album, told in lyric sheets and early audio recordings. Plus, you get the pre-release download link, autographed CD, signed photo and I will list your name on my web site.
I created the 'ABBEY' to recognize composer, activist and vocalist Abbey Lincoln.
Pledge at this level and I will gather a custom collection of photos and lyrics sheets that document the year I spent writing What the Music Says Do.
(You also get the ELLA package.)
The 'BETTY' honors vocal adventurer, composer and label owner Betty Carter.
To begin writing the songs on this album, I recorded at least one 3-minute improvisation every day for a month. I will share some of those recordings with you and send you a new 3-minute "song" every month in 2018.
(You also get the BILLIE package.)
The 'NINA' celebrates one of my greatest vocal inspirations, the incomparable Nina Simone.
House concerts are my favorite way to get to know an audience. They are intimate, one-of-a-kind events. When you pledge at this level, an accompanist and I will bring a live concert to your home (or other venue).
Note: If you have a specific date or occasion in mind and/or are more than 150 miles outside of the Twin Cities, travel expenses may not be included.
(You also get a bonus signed CD, your name in the liner notes and the BILLIE package.)
So far this project has been possible because of a grant I received from the Minnesota State Arts Board* that covers time for me to compose, rehearsals with the band, studio days, production, mixing and some basic publicity/PR efforts.
Now, I am hoping that you will believe in this project as much as I do — and will pledge your support to get it finished and out into the world looking — and sounding! — its very best.
The money we raise here will go toward:
As you can see, about a third of what we raise together will go toward paying for musicians and their travel and lodging.
I need the talents of some musicians from the Chicago area to complete this project in the way I envision. I cannot use any state funds to pay for them to travel here to record with me.
With your help, I can also add musicians — some horn players, a percussionist and other vocalists — and record and release the album I hear in my mind.
The remaining funds will go toward getting the album mastered and released with a good promotional shove, i.e. costs to advertise and market, money for photo shoots and filming the studio days and release events, as well as, copyright, publishing and platform fees.
There are other things I would love to do if we surpass the goal (the first thing that comes to mind is to make videos of some of the songs), but before any of that, I simply want to send these songs out into the world.
With your help, we can make it happen. *smile*
I cannot thank you enough for being here, reading my story and supporting my songs and me. I am so proud of this work and I feel truly blessed to sing for a living. I would NOT be here without you, and I cannot wait to share What the Music Says Do with you.
P.S. Any questions or suggestions? I’d love to hear them — email me at sg(at)sarahmgreer.com.
Risks and challenges
This is an ALL or NOTHING campaign. If we don't reach the goal by the deadline, no credit cards will be charged and no rewards fulfilled.
Writing and recording an album is a big job, and big jobs require planning and often involve obstacles.
My publishing and production background means that I have project management experience other artists may not have. Combined with the skills that I developed completing two grant projects, I am adept at coordinating and scheduling projects with lots of moving parts, people and resources.
I carefully considered the financial needs and timeline for all the phases of this project. The songs for the album are written and I am in the process of scheduling the days we'll be in the studio to record. I believe I have scheduled enough time to finish and print the CD by the promised ship date. I have also thought carefully about the pledge rewards I am offering and chosen items and a schedule that I can meet. (Of course, I promise to keep you posted about any logistical challenges that arise.)
One of the things I learned from all those improvisation workshops is to spend as much energy on the journey as you do at the destination. The road to making this CD has included many lessons and blessings. I am honored to travel with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)