I had the chance to ask Karin Plato, the driving force behind the Strong Women Strong Music Concert Series a few questions…
Karin believes that music is the common language and she hopes to give back to the underprivileged women artists of Vancouver through hosting the annual Strong Women Strong Music Benefit Concert. Each year, the concert brings together prominent women jazz musicians from the West Coast in support of the not-for-profit organization Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA), a program of Atira Women’s Resource Society.
G: Karin, you have a lovely singing voice. Tell me a bit about your background as an artist, how long have you been singing for?
K: I’ve been singing for many years and with respect to jazz it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I truly got what I call the “jazz bug” and began to develop a deep love of the genre. My background is in classical music, another genre of music dear to my heart. I love the fact that it doesn’t matter at what age you begin to sing! Singing is good for the soul, the mind, the spirit. Jazz in particular to me has a freedom of expression that feels just right.
G: How did the Strong Women, Strong Music series come about, and how did Laura, Jen, and Karen join the project?
K: It was not my idea personally. 11 years ago Atira began to plan their inaugural year of SWSM and I was one of the feature artists along with Jennifer Scott, Laura Crema, Karen Graves, and many more. It took place at Ironworks and I recall it was a wonderful evening, perhaps a bit loose, since it basically was a number of coming together in rather ad hoc fashion, singing solos and some duets.
For several years the vocal line up remained the same with the rhythm section changing up depending on the musicians availability. I had the idea that at some point it would be great to open things up a bit, inviting in special guests, having a few ensemble pieces to share. I’ve ended up being the artist programmer for the concerts and I’ve tried to include more and more jazz women, vocalists and instrumentalists from various age groups and levels of experience.
The lovely thing is witnessing that each year there is a coming together of people who may have only briefly met and may not have played music together before but everyone really connects somehow. Music is the common language and certainly everyone is there to support each other.
G: I understand that the Strong Women Strong Music Concert Series is a part of the EWMA program, how has your journey with EWMA been so far?
K: In each of the years of the fundraising series, the donations which include the ticket sales and the silent auction items go to Atira and last year EWMA was the focus of the donations collected. Primarily we are women jazz artists who come together with our music, hopefully attracting generous audiences who can enjoy the concerts while assisting these important organizations in our city.
G: Are there particular challenges to hosting the Strong Women Strong Music Series?
K: I’d have to say one of the biggest challenges is more this “embarrassment of riches” we have in our city. To clarify, there are so many concerts, plays, sports events, dance productions and it is a bit of a “luck of the draw” when it comes to attracting an audience each year. Those who may have attended before know what a special evening of music it is and will hopefully return. We hope the word gets out to more and more people so that there are greater numbers to draw from each year.
Now that the event has changed to a 3 night fundraiser, it is somewhat more challenging to consider everyone’s availability and group together 3 feature vocalists plus 3 instrumentalists for each of the 3 nights. However, I believe we’ve got some ideal groupings this year. This will be the 2nd year that the concerts take place at Frankie’s Jazz Club and we’re very happy about that.
I feel very excited about how each of the nights will feature a true rainbow collection of women vocalists and instrumentalists with distinctly individual voices and styles coming together in the music. That’s magic!
G: Considering the motives of EWMA-- I think it’s really great that your team is contributing to social change by combining your passion for music with philanthropic efforts. If you could sum up in one sentence the purpose of the Strong Women Strong Music Series, what would that be?
K: I don’t know if I am the one qualified to speak on behalf of all of my fellow SWSM artists but I’ll try. I believe that we, the SWSM artists, are for the most part very privileged women. We are free to make our music, our art and we live in homes with family or friends where we don’t have to fear violence. We don’t have any physical difficulties or other situations causing us anguish and hardship. We are the lucky ones and this is our way to give back to those women artists who may have other very real struggles in simply existing in everyday life in our city.
G: What do you hope to ultimately achieve with the Strong Women: Strong Music Concert Series?
K: Personally, I hope that each year the actual event can draw bigger numbers so that it truly benefits Atira, as that is the real goal. It is an event that can also help remind people of the important work that the organization does in our city. No matter what concert of the 3 nights of SWSM, I think audiences will delight in the variety of music that they will be hearing. Here’s to Strong Women Strong Music 2017!!
G: Cheers, Karen! We are excited to hear all of the amazing artists perform at our very own, Frankie's Jazz Club.
MONDAY MARCH 6, 8:00 PM AT FRANKIE'S JAZZ CLUB
TUESDAY MARCH 7, 8:00 PM AT FRANKIE'S JAZZ CLUB
WEDNESDAY MARCH 8, 8:00 PM AT FRANKIE'S JAZZ CLUB