Vast knowledge; boundless, focused energy and talent; generosity of spirit; cheerful and outgoing personality, and can-do attitude which benefits all whose lives she has touched, Monika Herzig is our Jazz Hero.
The Jazz Journalists Association, 2015
I’m very excited to share this special compilation of music recorded with my all-Star group Sheroes earlier this year. The music helped me get through a year of healing and overcoming barriers and I hope it will do the same for many others. But it’s a large production and we need some help to get it to the finish line.
In June 2018 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, just when my second recording with my all female group Sheroes was featured for the 15th week in the US Jazz Week charts, peaking at #7, and received a nomination for Best Album of 2018.
We were in preparation of a US Tour and a Tour to Egypt and Europe. After 30 years of pushing through gender inequalities in the instrumental jazz world the timing of the diagnosis felt like divine punishment for finally achieving this worldwide recognition. As a result, I kept the diagnosis quiet and took it upon myself to deal with the loss of my dignity in addition to the weakening side effects of treatment. I attempted to be a super hero by leading my group successfully through both tours and overcoming this unpredictable disease. Putting the range of emotions and experiences into music throughout this difficult year helped overcome exhaustion, depression, and loss of self-esteem. In the meantime, I realized that jazz pianist Geri Allen, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 60 from breast cancer, had sacrificed her life for a similar attempt to be a super hero. I also realized how widespread this disease is with 1 in 8 women being affected with little help in support of the psychological and social side effects.
This September, the Sheroes went into the studio to record the music written throughout this past year – including a dedication to my brother-in-law Ralf Kienle who passed away in August from lung cancer and a dedication to the late Geri Allen, a melody composed from her birth date. My goal is to share the music as emotional support for those in need, to share our stories of fear and loss and overcoming. The album will be released in February 28, 2020 followed by tours in the US and Europe.
Unfortunately, the costs of recording and producing music with a large ensemble are extensive and income from sales and streaming have dwindled to minimal amounts. I’m asking for support to cover the costs of the studio, engineer, and the musicians. It will be possible to move forward if we get enough preorders of the new album with this campaign. Every contribution will facilitate sharing this special collection with many listeners, raising awareness and creating community.
Follow this link for more info and to preorder, thank you.
Only a few days left until the end of the year, actually a decade – a perfect moment to review the highlights and set goals for the upcoming year and decade.
- January – the annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Reno, NV with a closing performance by the Sheroes and always a special time with old and new friends, can’t wait for the 2020 edition in New Orleans with a clinic on Chick Corea and nightly performances at the Side Bar.
- February – Harpist Destiny Muhammad comes to Bloomington for a performance residency and to collaborate on Jazz Girls Days in Bloomington and at Noblesville High School. On March 7, 2020, we will bring all the Sheroes to Bloomington for Jazz Girls Day and to celebrate the release of our new album “Fly High” – tickets are available here.
- March – the Future of Jazz took place at Crazy Horse this year with featured guest artist Rich Dole and seven combos featuring the brightest Middle and High School jazz talents. Many of the kids who participated over the past 15 years are now young stars – it’s been an amazing journey watching their careers, the Future of Jazz 2020 will be March 29 at Jackson Creek Middle School
- April – the Sheroes conquered Egypt and Europe during an amazing tour, lots of beautiful places, audiences, music, and friendship, thanks to all the amazing festivals and clubs that hosted us.
- May – the Time Flies Powerlines Tour from the Midwest to the East Coast, so much fun to go back to our Fusion roots and rock it out
- June – my Indiana University course “Global Music Industry” spent three weeks in Berlin, Weimar, Dresden, and Leipzig learning about the German music industry and history, taking cultural excursions and following Bach’s footsteps. We’ll be back in 2020!
- July – some family time with my mother and siblings, we even got to visit my Mom’s twin sister at Lake Constance, very special!
- August – back to school, Jasmin started her senior year in High School and we finished out the month with the official release of Powerlines on Jazz Urbane
- September – back to Teaneck Studios for the third Sheroes recording combined with performances in New York, I can’t wait to share this exciting recording with the world during our March 2020 release tour.
- October – a week of conferences and teaching in Vienna and Graz, Austria at three different Universities, I love Vienna!
- November – a quick weekend trip to Munich and St. Petersburg for a birthday part and the Jazz Across Borders conference, I hope to get to spend more than one day in Russia eventually!
- December – the Sheroes are making their debut in Chicago at Andy’s Jazz Club, hopefully with many more visits to come.
And what’s in store for next year? Speaker at the Jazz Congress at Jazz at Lincoln Center, JEN conference in New Orleans, the release of Fly High by the Sheroes with a two-week US Tour and a summer European Festival tour, ambassador for the IU Bicentennial Alumni Excursion to Berlin – 2020 here we come, wishing everyone a wonderful new decade with lots of happiness, health, and friendship!
This summer, I created an Indiana University Overseas Course entitled “Global Music Industry” in partnership with the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar where we explored the cultural and musical landscape as well as the historic significance of the area from Berlin to Leipzig. The goal of the course is to learn about the inner workings of the German Music Industry as well as experience a cultural immersion and compare the experiences to the American Music Industry and cultural economy. Here is my journal from this year’s course with pictures and impressions as well as impressions from our Jazz Exchange event in Cologne prior to the class. I had an amazing time during my five weeks overseas, hope you’ll enjoy the thoughts and pictures as well and come along for the journey.
It started on my birthday, a full day in airplanes and airports – luckily we already had a celebration prior during the annual Gemini Party with many dear friends.read more…
Since the release of our second recording in March 2018, Sheroes have accumulated a host of accolades, made numerous year-end listings and recently embarked on a major tour of Egypt and Europe. Come along on the journey – here are some of the highlights and impressions.
Initially we gathered at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City for a performance and screening of Kay D. Ray’s new documentary “In Her Hands”. Kay accompanied us on a previous tour and captured the music, the interaction with audiences, the lingering obstacles of contemporary female jazz instrumentalists, as well as the recording of our second album. The film is now in the screening stage and we hope to share it for a Fall Tour this year. Enjoy more info and a trailer here.
The following day we all boarded a flight to Cairo with much excitement and anticipation as none of us had visited Egypt before. Karina was able to capture our first impressions of Egypt in this video.
The Jazz Tales Festival with support by the US Embassy in Cairo had invited us to close the festival with a workshop day and concerts in Cairo and Alexandria. Our task was to collaborate with Egyptian’s popular singer/songwriter Youssra El Hawary by learning one of her pieces and teaching her group something from our repertoire. She had risen to popularity with her song El Soor (The Wall) in 2012 and has been touring extensively since then, including an appearance at Washington’s Kennedy Center. We arranged her hit song together for the combined large ensemble and everyone got a solo on Carla Bley’s funky tune “Egyptian”. Then we opened the workshop to the public for an improvisation clinic. About 20 participants brought ouds, guitars, violas, various percussion instruments, and of course their voices. Duke Ellington’s “C-Jam Blues” became the common denominator to discuss improv concepts and bring everyone together in a big jam session. The universality of the art form jazz transcended cultural and language differences as participants took turns taking solos and listening/ supporting each other. Here is a glimpse into the rehearsals and workshops of the day.
The final highlight of the day was a visit to the Egyptian Museum that houses the artifacts and treasures retrieved from the pyramids and ancient dynasties. Enjoy these pictures!
Before our sound check and evening concert in Cairo we managed to visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx – one of the seven world wonders. Thanks to our gracious host and guide, IU alumn Jack Montgomery, who traveled from Kuawait to meet us and help us navigate the language and culture.
The 700-seat hall in Cairo was completely filled and our music and collaborations were greeted with much enthusiasm that evening. Our hostess treated us to a traditional feast after the concert with many new tastes and flavors – here is a taste.
For our last day we traveled three hours to Alexandria, a gorgeous Mediterranean city. We all vowed to come back and actually get to experience it as we barely had time to check in and perform our final concert. I should also mention the Egyptian driving culture that includes extensive use of the horn, fluid formation of lanes, and seemingly random traffic rules for right of way and crossing the streets.
Our journey continued to Frankfurt, where we met up with my husband Peter and rented a large van to navigate our travels through Germany. The Frauenmusikbüro Melodiva and the Frankfurt Musikwerkstatt had invited us to host the very first Jazz Girls Day in Germany. About 20 girls ages 12-20 gathered by noon with their instruments, curious about what to expect. During the initial sharing session, it became apparent that many had little prior experience with jazz but were eager to experiment and learn. After an improv clinic, we formed two combos and a vocal ensemble who each learned a tune together – here is Leni’s vocal ensemble. Many new friendships were formed and the organizers pledged to continue the Jazz Girls Day tradition for years to come – a historical encounter!
As we entered the two-week Easter vacation in Germany, our performances focused on the regional clubs rather than educational activities. We had the great honor to perform in some of the legendary venues including München’s Unterfahrt, Dresden’s Tonne, Wien’s Porgy & Bess, Karlsruhe’s Hemingway as well as participated in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart Jazztage, the Women in Jazz Festival in Halle and the largest European jazz gathering at Bremen’s Jazz Ahead. And best of all we got to spend Easter day with my German family for a big Easter Brunch and an afternoon excursion to the Bodensee.
I’m eternally grateful to my band mates, who shared their musical gifts at the highest level every night no matter how long and stressful the travel days were often with little sleep and long car and bus rides. This band has a very special musical and personal bond, I can’t wait to record the next project and travel to many more places together.
The new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Kay D. Ray is making the screening rounds and we’re excited to have two showings with music and discussions in Indiana. Below is the description for this very timely and important account of the barriers that female instrumentalists in jazz are facing. The first screening will be in Evansville, Sunday, March 3, 2:30pm at the Bokeh Lounge combined with music by Monika Herzig with special guests Destiny Muhammad and Karina Colis. The second screening is Wednesday, March 6, 11:15 at Indiana University in SPEA 272 followed by a catered panel discussion at 12:30pm in the SPEA Atrium. And the filmmaker will be in attendance in person for both screenings.
About Kay D. Ray: Returning to Seattle from film and video work in Vancouver, B. C. and Los Angeles, producer and director Kay D. Ray worked with Microsoft Studios for four years and was the senior film producer for Experience Music Project where she developed and created over 85 films and directed numerous interviews.
In Her Hands explores women’s visions and how they are taking it in their own hands to make the needed changes to get equality in the Jazz world today. Enjoy the trailer –
fighting for blind auditions. They are pursuing their music passion no
matter what the obstacles and pushing for performance and recording
opportunities. They are providing positive role models and nurturing
young women musicians. They are encouraging women to become involved in
performance and composition.
Join Monika Herzig’s group Sheroes, on their second tour as they introduce issues facing women jazz today. With concert footage and interviews from Sheroes and
women musicians around the US, from New York to Louisville, Seattle to
the Bay Area, women around the country are making sure women and young
girl musicians have the opportunities in the field of jazz Interviews
with Anat Cohen, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Jensen, Naomi Moon Seigel, Seattle
Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Marge Rosen, Montclair Women’s Big Band, Ellen
Seeling, Jean Fineberg, DIVA, and Sherrie Maricle.
“Music has no gender.” – Anat Cohen
“There really weren’t female role models when I first started the saxophone.” – Grace Kelly
“There’s no school that I can think of right now that is nailing this.” – Ingrid Jensen
“We need education that reaches all of our women, all of our students.” – Sarah Cline