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Kat Dyson: - I will play guitar until I leave this world




Music is therapy. Music is meditation. Music is an exercise in discipline.

But most of all music is freedom.

Music has the same color as the air. You can close your eyes but you can’t close your ears.

If you play it well,that’s the only thing that matters.


Kat Dyson performing at the She Rocks Awards in 2017

 

Being a young Southern girl I of course had to learn to play the piano. The boys got guitars and drums and it seemed much more fun. They were out on the porch playing,having a ball. I wanted one! My mother got me a guitar, and not long after she passed away from an aneurism...And I will play guitar until I leave this world.

We didn’t have a piano in our home. I grew up in a small rural neighborhood with a great piano teacher, and I had to go to practice at the teacher’s house. The boys were learning and listening to records and radio.The guitar just seemed far more accessible.

The first time I played a gig and made money in a club is where I realized that I could have fun AND get paid. “I can do this and make money?” I got much more than my weekly allowance. I’m the oldest of seven siblings so I fell in love with the group dynamics of a band.After high school,I went to university and formally studied classical voice and guitar and music education.



 


The professional female musicians I've worked with share a similar feeling as I did growing up playing music-that they had to be twice as prepared,driven and focused to be taken serious in the music industry.I think we,as women, bring heart and soul and patience, and there isn't a big of competition between us. We are focused yet enjoy playing. Our hearts and ears are open and open for suggestions as well.

A lot of organizations will hire a woman for the optics. If she looks good the- wow-wow!! You have to look good in the industry, but you need to know how to play too, although some organizations may not care about their skill set.

 

Sharing an anecdote or two I was working with Colin James, who was a protege of Stevie Ray Vaughan He traveled to work for SRV saying “I’ll be your tech for free,just teach me...At one point. I was backstage with Colin and an incredible group of artists at the end of a festival, and among them was B.B. King. He shook my hand and my hand disappeared in his gigantic hand. He let my touch Lucille. He seemed to have telephone wires on that guitar. You had to manhandle that thing. He was about make a speech at a college where he was to be honored, and he asked me  'What am I going to tell them'? perplexed by the invitation.He was so down to earth and so gentlemanly . I asked him “Don't  you know who you are to us? He was talking to me like a daughter...supercool!

I was introduced to Bernie Worrell by Felicia Collins. The recording session with him was like a big party, but he was cool and serious ..and so focused, with a spirit so free. He said “Do what you feel – just make it funky!

 

I am selective about answering Prince questions.Usually I can sense if they come from a good place or not.

When I first met him,he asked me who I listen to. I told him that I listened to Jeff Lee Johnson and John Scofield ,for example at the time, and to Wes Montgomery as a constant go-to,melodically.

The Emancipation album was finished by then, but after we had worked together for a while he let me record a guitar part on The Love We Make, and he didn’t change a thing about it. He trusted my voice ...

What he did on stage depended on his musical vision for each tour and changed constantly. He rotated instruments,as he mastered many. Every band had a different make up and purpose.

At one point he asked me what I thought he should add to the set we were working on.i suggested adding an unplugged section;just sit with a guitar and do a few songs...He laughed and responded that that would be so boring, but a while later..he finally did it, and people loved it, and he wound up doing a lot of it.

He was influenced as an artist at a time when iconic artists entertained and big productions dominated live concerts. Over the years I think he started to get the message that people simply wanted to hear his music,any way he wanted to present it...in a grand way or in an intimate setting...


Rocksugah performing at the She Rocks Awards


Right now my band ROCKSUGAH will be the house band at the She Rocks Awards 2018 at the NAMM Show with Divinity Roxx among others, which we do every year. After that I will do a special Valentine’s show with Gary Taylor and Najee before I go on tour with my Italian boss Zucchero. In March I’m doing the Black Women Rock event (BWR)in Detroit,which is run by Jessica Care Moore.It honors women of color in rock and alternative music. This year we will honor the great Nona Hendryx, whom I can't wait to work with again.We will also bring BWR to the West Coast in May. In April,I take part in the Prince celebrations in Minneapolis .



Kat Dyson is a a guitarist and singer, who has worked with a long list of fellow artists, a list that includes Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Cole, Ivan Neville, Keb Mo, Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Jeff Healey, Bernie Worrell, Prince, Donny Osmond, T.I., Seal, Sheila E, Joi, George Clinton and the P-Funk AllStars, MusiqueSoulchild, Phoebe Snow, Res, The Winans, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Big Mamma Thornton, Ben E. King, Bo Diddley, and Odetta.


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Vasti Jackson connects history with future - with love and compassion




   Music is everything to me.

   It is life, not just a form of entertainment.

   Music is the sound of my mother's love, the wind, the sunshine, the rain, children's laughter, joy, heartache, and pain. 

   It is a friend, comforter, motivator – and it is an instrument for love, and compassion.


Vasti Jackson performing his Hurricane Season, which can be found on the 2007 release "Bourbon Street Blues: Live In Nashville"


   Being nominated for a Grammy for my CD "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" - and having two CDs nominated for the Grammy in the same category (Traditional Blues) in 2017 - was a wonderful and very exciting surprise. Bobby Rush's "Porcupine Meat" CD won. Of which I am the Musical director, and featured guitarist.


A fragment from Standing On The Corner from Vasti Jackson's Grammy-nominated "The Soul Of Jimmie Rodgers" CD (2016)


   People are surprised that I made an album in homage to the father of country music, Jimmie Rodgers. But the main thing to know is that Jimmie Rodgers was influenced by the African Americans that he spent time with in Mississippi. Before he became famous he performed in black face, and sang blues songs in tent- and vaudeville-shows. He has the word “blues” in more that twenty titles of his songs, and said that he yodeled the blues. After listening and studying I realized that the soul of Jimmie Rodgers is the blues.


My new album is “The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)”. It was released in August of this year - and it is a microcosm of my life through music.






    Accolades are nice, but they aren’t the reason I am a musician. I come from a musical family, and we did it for love. Jobs you do for money. I became a professional musician at thirteen years of age, although I didn’t make a conscious choice to be a musician. It was what we did.

   Contrary to popular belief blues musicians aren’t always touring. I don’t observe that people in the genre are working all the time. That is a choice, if so. Many tour from April to November, and take time off during December and January. The tours are well organized, and I go to Europe two or three times a year.



Vasti Jackson live with Robert Johnson's classic Terraplane Blues


   Blues is a popular subject among film-makers for documentaries, as blues is about the subjects of life, and survival. Africans in America went through slavery, and still contributed so much to America's greatness. There is also the spiritual aspect that fascinates people - that of good and evil - of Robert Johnson and the crossroads. For a long time it was illegal for African Americans to play a drum in America, because of their ability to send messages to other slaves, as the European Americans did not know what the Africans where communicating.


People feel the bass drum pattern of the shuffle being close to the heartbeat, and this is the rhythmic foundation of the blues.







   I have been part of film productions about the blues, and they are opportunities for dialogue, for informing people of where this music comes from. The blues is the classical music of America. And there is such a thing as the art of the blues. The cultures of Africa and Europe collided, and Mississippi is the "Garden of Eden" of the blues. The blues is the foundation for all popular music. All countries no doubt have their songs of woe, but the African Americans expression (The Blues) has been - and is - embraced throughout the world.






   Helping others through my music is important to me. The Playing For Change Foundation has given me a greater reach to connect with children through music education. We have started fifteen schools in twelve countries in ten years, and we are expanding annually.



Momma, a touching ode from Vasti Jackson's 2017 album-release "The Blues Made Me (Roots and Fruits)" 




Vasti Jackson is a guitarist, singer, song-writer, producer and musical director+. He is a Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame inductee with seven solo albums behind him to date, who in 2017 was up against himself at the American Grammy Awards, with both his own album "The Soul of Jimmie Rodgers" and Bobby Rush's album "Porcupine Meat", to which Jackson contributed, nominated for the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Vasti Jackson is a highly saught-after instrumentalist in the blues idiom of course, but also for example in gospel music. Among the records he appears on you hear him on B.B. King's 1994 release "Blues Summit". Vasti Jackson also finds the time to devote himself to Playing For Change, and was featured in the Scorsese documentary series "The Blues".

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AND HERE   


 The 2017 offering, available HERE  


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