New project aims to create more female role models in British jazz

Birmingham-based Women in Jazz will provide artistic support and industry insight.

Female musicians must receive more support from an earlier age if the UK is to produce a new generation of successful women in jazz, an industry professional has cautioned.

Speaking ahead of the launch of Women In Jazz – a new three year project aimed at helping young women aged 16-25 pursue careers in jazz – Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazzlines Programme Manager at Town Hall & Symphony Hall Birmingham, suggests sharing skills and knowledge with female musicians early on will have a positive impact on the number of women studying jazz in the UK.

“The number of female musicians currently on undergraduate jazz courses at Britain’s leading conservatoires is disproportionately low.” Mary points out. “We also know that there are significantly fewer female musicians, particularly instrumentalists, performing at a professional level than males.”

“Becoming an excellent jazz musician is not about gender but about creativity and discipline honed in an environment where mentors inspire and motivate the next generation. This project aims to help make pathways and entry routes more accessible, creating more female role models in British jazz which will ultimately benefit the industry’s ecology for years to come.”

Women in Jazz, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is free and open to Birmingham-based female musicians at Grade 5 upwards with an interest in jazz. The project will deliver a series of half-day workshops and sessions focussing on performance, practice, composition and producing, as well as teaching essential career and industry skills including negotiating with promoters, agents and programmers.

Participants will also benefit from the chance to experience high quality performances by acclaimed international jazz groups as part of the Jazzlines programme, as well as the opportunity to take part in guest masterclasses with leading professional musicians including Sara Colman and Esperanza Spalding who will lead the project’s inaugural session in early April.

Women in Jazz is the latest addition to Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s growing programme of talent development projects, aimed at discovering, developing and promoting emerging musicians and artists in Birmingham.