Black History Month Roundup

Here on the blog and over at my Facebook page, it’s been great fun exploring the dynamic and depth of music from African and its diaspora. As a roundup, today’s blog is a master post of all the things I’ve shared and you’ve shared with me!

On the blog

February- Black History Month 

A discussion about whether or not Justin Timberlake can adequately play homage to Prince, a man with whom he had a noted feud.

Black History Month: Getting Ready for Black Panther

Representation and music inspired by Black Panther- the Kendrick Lamar soundtrack; Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and current politics.

Black History Month: African Inspiration

Covering the score & soundtrack to Black Panther, and where the composer,  Ludwig Göransson, got his inspiration.

On Facebook

Thread– Your favorite musical artists of African heritage. Some shares:

Re: Donald Glover

Resources & Challenges:

Jazz & Its Feminist Future

Test Your Implicit Bias

What’s Your Magic? 

Coming in March: Women’s History Month!

Getting geared up to celebrate women in music (and in all things) in March. Stay tuned!


Black History Month: African Inspiration

Well, did you see it? Did you catch Black Panther on opening weekend?

I saw it on Saturday and I was blown away. By everything- the plot and the rich, human characters, the costumes, the scenery, the fights, the MUSIC, the message of hope and redemption. It was so tasty. I will see it again!

Last week I introduced you to Kendrick Lamar’s commercial soundtrack album for the film. Going in, I was really curious as to how the film score would draw from African sources. I knew the costumes were taken from various cultures, but I hadn’t heard much about the scoring.  Enter Ludwig Göransson, a Swedish composer who has worked with BP director Ryan Coogler before, as well as co-produced Childish Gambino albums with Donald Glover. He spent a month in Africa, soaking up as much as he could.

He tells Variety:

“I came back with a totally different idea of music, a different knowledge. The music that I discovered was so unique and special. [The challenge was] how do I use that as the foundation of the entire score, but with an orchestra and modern production techniques — infuse it in a way that it doesn’t lose its African authenticity?”

The result was a repertoire of leitmotifs and sounds from the music of Senegal that infuse the film with deeper, intrinsic meaning.

For T’Challa, Göransson used 6 talking drums (“tamas”- held under the arm and squeezed while hit to breathe and change tone) to signify the young king’s character and journey. His challengers for the throne matched the intensity with the sabar, a drum played between the legs.

You’ll also hear choirs singing in Xhosa, a Bantu language of South Africa, as well as the Senegalese artist Babaa Maal featured as Wakanda is revealed in the film.

The main antagonist of the film, Erik Killmonger, was represented musically by the fula flute, which Göransson describes as ‘sad but also aggressive, energetic and impulsive.’

Other instruments used include the kora harp and the vuvuzuela (which you’ll remember as the buzzing noisemaker we heard at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa).

Did you catch any other African-inspired sounds in Black Panther? How did you feel the film blended all its source material into the final product? Tell me in the comments!

Black History Month: Getting Ready for Black Panther

There’s a lot of things to get hyped up about this February, what with the Winter Olympics, a Tesla Roadster headed off toward Mars, and Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the world, but few things have been as fervently anticipated as the premiere of the newest Marvel superhero film, Black Panther.

There’s so much excellence going into this film that I am incredibly excited to see it.  I can only begin to get a glimmer of how much this must mean to the Black community. On top of a whole cast of POC in featured roles, beautiful cinematography that properly lights all the skin tones of its actors (for the startling history on why this is an issue, start here), and celebrating a vibrant, joyful, enlightened culture in an (albeit fictional) African nation, we get a soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar highlighting established and up-and-coming black hip hop and R&B artists.

In the official trailer, we hear snippets of the famous Gil Scott-Heron 1971 track “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, a seminal call to arms to participate, to pay attention, to do thing that needs to be done NOW. In the context of the Black Panther trailer, I hear it as a call-out to all the times media and culture have said to the disenfranchised, ‘not now, we’re not ready for that, let’s take some time to think about this from all sides’. But the BP movie is not waiting any longer. It’s about time Marvel featured a black superhero that was more than a sidekick or side character. It’s about time they weren’t the only one in the film, but existed in a backdrop of their own vibrant, colorful environment.

There are plenty of haters out there, trying childish things to diminish the importance of this kind of representation. But that what isn’t diminished? The fact that the movie is outselling everything in pre-sale tickets, smashing records for opening day weekend before it even starts.

You might say, it’s just a superhero movie- it doesn’t solve the problems of our real world – but you’d be wrong. Representation matters. Seeing yourself represented in media means you start to think of yourself as powerful, important, valued, and most importantly, SEEN. Confidence comes with a voice, and voices speak up. The revolution will not be televised, brother. The revolution will be live.

Do you have your tickets? What about Black Panther excites you the most? 

Brass Lassie’s Debut Album: Over 50% Funded!


Brass Lassie’s Debut Album Fundraiser hit 50% exactly one week after we launch it- and it’s still going steady! We are a little ways off from our goal still, but the momentum is truly tremendous and humbling. If you’ve supported, thank you! Could you take a moment to share our music with your friends and encourage them to make a pre-order as well? If you haven’t- check us out!

 Brass Lassie Homepage

Brass Lassie on Facebook


Video from my 2nd Doctoral Recital!

Hey, all!

These have been up for a while but I’ve neglected to get them on the blog. My April 3rd, 2017 recital in Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall at the University of Minnesota is now available in convenient YouTube form! Take a gander:

Thanks for watching!

Happy Women’s History Month!

*sheepishly pokes her head into her blog* *grins sideways*

Hey, there, old blog old friend! Guess what! I saw an amazing concert last night. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be creating original content in March based around celebrating women in brass history and brass present…I’ve just been so…busy. I’m so sorry. Can I tell you about the concert? It’s relevant, I swear. Yes? Ok!

Last night I had the pure joy and soul-sustaining honor to attend tenThing, a 10-piece, all female Norwegian brass ensemble spearheaded by trumpet virtuoso Tine (pronounced “Tina”) Thing (“Ting”) Helseth. The concert was held at Aria in the North Loop and presented by the Schubert Club.

It was so glorious. Their artistry, movement, collaboration, and joy were palpable from the back of the hall, and they didn’t shy away from anything (and why would they?), softs, louds, or otherwise. I started crying before they even finished coming onto the stage. This is an ensemble that uses all the colors in their vast palates to create pure music. Their program wasn’t particularly out there- lots of “standard” rep like suites from Carmen, West Side Story, and piano works from Mozart, Grieg, and Copland- but the arrangements were fresh and tailor-made to their style and grace.

(If you don’t believe me, check out the review in the Star Tribune)

This should come as no surprise, but my favorite section was the four masterful trombonists. They displayed absolute ease with all of the fast licks and pianos and brought golden fortes worthy of a major symphony performance, perfectly balanced in tone and in tune. The flugelhorn player and the hornist were also highlights- they interacted with one another often to express smiles over the music the group was creating, and of course Tine herself sparkled and danced. Her solo over Piazzola’s “Oblivion” was a highlight for me.

So there you have it. Go check out Tine, tenThing, and all the ladies bringing women-power to the brass world. The future is bright, my friends. Happy Women’s History Month. Let’s make some future.

Weekly Round-up 8/29/16


Sept 24 9p-1a Glueks Downtown

Mill City Five:
Sep 23 8-11p Bistro La Roux

Rehearsals:  Free of rehearsals- It’s UMn Welcome Week!

Practicing: Annie Laurie, Red Dragonfly, Bitsch No 1, Telemann Canonical Sonata No 1, Rochut No 13. AND UMN Ensemble audition repertoire. *exhausted emoji*

Listening: Brahms 2



Teaching: Going to be a light week of teaching. Hoping to get everyone feeling strong for school, which starts this week.

Studying: UMN entrance exams. On repeat. TOMORROW.

Relaxing: WTF’s (my women’s comic book club) 2 YEAR anniversary picnic, waking up and immediately taking a nap, bike rides, Eloise Butler.

Weekly Round-up 8/22/16


Aug 26 10p-1230a Icehouse
Sept 24 9p-1a Glueks Downtown

Mill City Five:
Aug 26 7-830p Minnehaha Falls Pavilion
Sep 23 8-11p Bistro La Roux

Rehearsals: Satellites on Thursday to learn three new songs for our sets at Icehouse Friday!

Practicing: Annie Laurie, Red Dragonfly, Bitsch No 1, Telemann Canonical Sonata No 1, Rochut No 13. AND UMN Ensemble audition repertoire. *exhausted emoji*

Listening: Lots and lots of Clara Schumann.

Teaching: Practicing habits for all modalities and learning styles.

Studying: UMN entrance exams. On repeat. This is next week. I won’t talk about it any more after that, I promise.

Relaxing: Kayaking, biking, hanging with friends, just trying to get all the summer in I can in the next two weeks.

Weekly Round-up 8/15/16


Aug 26 10p-1230a Icehouse
Sept 24 9p-1a Glueks Downtown

Mill City Five:
Aug 20 4-6p Bistro La Roux Patio Grand Opening party
Aug 26 7-830p Minnehaha Falls Pavilion

Rehearsals: No rehearsals for me this week.

Practicing: Annie Laurie, Red Dragonfly, Bitsch No 1, Telemann Canonical Sonata No 1, Rochut No 13.

Listening: Finished my arrangements of PYT and Come to My Party this weekend. I start next on Groove Me.

Teaching: Breathe.

Studying: UMN entrance exams. On repeat. New Recital Rep in the pipeline- Beethoven and Grafe and Fetter.

Relaxing: As much hammock time as I can fit in. And kayaking.

Weekly Round-up 8/8/16


Aug 13 5-6p Chapel Hill Church Fundraiser
Aug 26 10p-1230a Icehouse!

Mill City Five:
Aug 20 4-6p Bistro La Roux Patio Grand Opening party!
Aug 26 7-830p Minnehaha Falls Pavilion

Rehearsals: No rehearsals for me this week.

Practicing: Annie Laurie, Red Dragonfly, Bitsch No 1, Telemann Canonical Sonata No 1.

Listening: Just watching the Olympics.

Oh AND, saw Corinne Bailey Rae last night at First Ave. Holy cow. What a joyous, warm, wonderful, funky performance.

Teaching: Approach everything with open-mindness.

Studying: UMN entrance exams. On repeat.

Relaxing: What a marvelous weekend. Farmer’s Market, kayaking, Open Streets NE, Corinne Bailey Rae- and the weather was perfect. I’ll take another, please!