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Reeves' 'Beautiful Life' Calls For Evolution In Action

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Friday May 19, 2017

From The Brisbane Times

Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2017 stars ‘tough broads’ in a man’s world
By: Michael Dwyer

Jazz is still a man’s world but three headliners of the 2017 Melbourne International Jazz Festival see greater challenges than being female…

Dianne Reeves, another immensely distinguished guest at this year’s festival, has sung her share of agitation in the past. Her Art & Survival album of 1994 included the percussive women’s rights manifesto, Endangered Species.

Her latest, Beautiful Life, is an altogether more smooth and contented affair, though the unusual density of female talent – Esperanza Spalding, Lalah Hathaway, Tineke Postma, Sheila E, drummer/ producer Terri Lynne Carrington – speaks of evolution in action.

“You know, we are all in this together,” says the Detroit scat singer, who credits her worldly education to touring as Harry Belafonte’s featured vocalist in the 1980s.

“It’s not just women in music; it’s women all over the world. And I think when you have a courageous voice that says ‘I hear you and I see you and I stand by you’, that can be very powerful.

“And it’s not just the women. It’s also for men to recognise that we’re the balance of the world, and to live a life of balance you need to empower the women in your lives. Nobody has ever come from a man. Everyone comes from the woman and that’s a very powerful spirit that has a lot to say about what I want to contribute to the world.”

Whether she’s raising the bar on standards such as Misty and Lullaby of Birdland or pointedly invoking “ancestral” energies in original compositions such of Old Souls and Afro Blue, Reeves says she remains conscious of battles won by her forebears.

“I’ve always grown up knowing about those who’ve come before. I came up hearing stories about people who made a way out of no way so that I could be here. A lot of times we might look like somebody who’s gone before us. Sometimes we’ve got all kinds of strengths and imprints in our DNA.”

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