April 20, 2024

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Interview with Gina Coleman: A life without passion is a shell of an existence

Interview with guitarist and vocalist Gina Coleman. An interview by email in writing.

Dear readers, get to know more about our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festivals and the activities of our US/EU Jazz – Blues Association in the capitals of Europe, we will soon publish program for 2024, enjoy in the July – August – Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, new addreses this year, also in Amsterdam, Budapest and Liverpool.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Gina Coleman: – I grew up in the apartment projects of the South Bronx. I was always surrounded by music, especially Motown and Salsa as my neighborhood was predominantly Puerto Rican. I was given a piano at the age of 5 and took lessons for nearly a decade. During my middle school years, I was a percussionist in a Latin Drum Corp. I continued to play a variety of instruments in high school including the Sousaphone. I didn’t begin singing until I graduated from college. Some of my work friends dared me to sing a song at a local club’s “Open Mic Night”.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

I signed up and won the competition that evening. I made $75 for a 3 minute song, which was more than I made in a day working in human services back then. That was the beginning of my career as a lead vocalist. In the summer of 1999 I had the fortune of performing in the Williamstown Theater Festival production of “A Raisin In the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry. I was cast as a gospel singer and I would perform songs between the act changes.The lead actor of that production, RubenSantiago-Hudson, told me my voice was perfectly suited for the blues and he gave me a cd collection entitled “Men Are Like Streetcars” which was a collection of female blues artists from the 20’s to the 60’s.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

GC: – Well, my voice got much lower over the years and has solidly settled into a contralto. My vibrato was also out of control in my earlier years …

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

GC: – Yes, in the first 10 years of I existence, I were basically a blues cover singer; primarily paying homage to the great female blues artists of the 20’s – 60’s.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

GC: – Soul always wins.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

GC: – Give the people what they want! The energy of the audience ultimately determines the fever pitch enthusiasm and passion that drives our performances.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

GC: – Perhaps the softer entry is getting younger folks to understand that some of the artists love and listen to use classic jazz elements to craft their sound.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

GC: – A life without passion is a shell of an existence. I am so fortunate to have found my passion and a platform to share it.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

GC: – The removal of the labels and boxes the industry likes to place on artists.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

GC: – In the contemporary blues world, lately I’ve been listening to Joe Louis Walker, JD Simo, Selwyn Birchwood, Melody Angel and Geminii Dragon.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Association 2023

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

GC: – That’s a hard question as there are few eras in the past that I would like to return to as an African American woman. With that in mind, I think I would like to transport myself 40 years into the future to see what my son has accomplished with his music career.

JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

GC: – Yes, these questions have been quite thought provoking. What do you enjoy most about the music heard from me?

JBN: – Absolutely nothing …

 

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Gina Coleman Misty Blues - The Berkshire Edge

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