Five Lessons From Composer & Visual Artist, Carmen Lundy
Carmen Lundy is the first of a vying breed, propelling the contemporary jazz movement with purist detail, juxtaposing sounds and soulful charm. Her legacy, four decades long, has reshaped the jazz canon. Ms. Lundy continues to innovate, drawing from current affairs and artistic influences from the African diaspora to mold her latest album Code Noir. We were able to catch up with the world famous jazz artist on a break from her tour where she gave five gems of wisdom she has gained on her artistic journey.
- The Artist’s Role
I have been classically trained by the masters in the genres of jazz classical. I have lived the life as a woman of color. I have seen myself as a woman of color in many, many other cultures, representing my culture which is a huge responsibility - to go into places on the planet where the origins of black people aren’t so apparent. So my role, if anything, is to represent, to the highest level of my ability, the art and expressive artwork that I’ve chosen. And what chose me was to be a performance person who grooms and finds people to try to lift them up through a sort of spiritual rendering of us all, through words or music. So my role is to do that with a certain degree of excellence, integrity and a sense of responsibility to uphold the legacy of the people who taught me how to do this in the first place.
- The Collaborative Process Called Art
What I do is dependent on other people too. I do not sing on stage by myself. When I go on stage there’s a support system there. There is somebody playing another instrument that is supporting me. I am impacted by what they are doing too. It is a collective effort with one particular goal in mind.
The funny thing about music is that to perform music is to almost have to be perfect. And what I mean by that is that if you play the wrong note or sing out of tune or you’re off, people notice that. The more trained your ear is, the more trained you are in your skill, the more you recognize when something is not necessarily correct. So it’s this whole thing about having to be perfect somehow that’s underlying or what you're doing has to have a purity. Moving forward, you have to learn how to trust, that’s how you’re impacted. You have to actually learn how important it is to trust that there is truth in what you’re doing and that truth is going to communicate regardless of how many wrong notes there are.
- Trust In Truth
…People embrace truth when it’s in the right moment. The truth in the wrong moments can be devastating to people. But there are no wrong moments, it’s always the right moments, it’s the truth, whether we like it or not. It becomes about trust. Trusting that your audience is going on the ride with you. Trust that the audience will embrace what you are doing.
- The Future
I think that we are giving our kids the wrong message. We are placing too much value on things that do not matter. The way we program television and how we target our young audiences with the information they are getting is somewhat impeding and may not be reality….it’s almost like an insult to their intelligence. We can do a lot more to inform our people.
From Miami, Florida, Carmen Lundy’s tireless dedication to education through art has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Honor from Black Women in Jazz & the Arts Awards. Other notable awards and recognitions include Miami-Dade's County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners proclaiming January 25th as "Carmen Lundy Day”. When recognized, Ms. Lundy was also handed the keys to the City of Miami.
Carmen Lundy is a frequent composer and arranger for Sonoton. Her music has been featured on such TV shows as Mad Men, The L Word, Boardwalk Empire, So You Think You Can Dance, Baby Story, and many others; and Feature Films, Videogames, and Documentaries including 9/11 – A Remembrance.
Listen to the Carmen Lundy playlist: https://www.apmmusic.com/playlists/345
Learn more about Carmen Lundy: http://carmenlundy.com/