Climate Strike – 9/20/2019

JaZz News & Vocal Health Tips

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Singing Straight-ahead, Latin and Original JaZz...

... with some of the finest musicians in the Pacific Northwest!

Visit the Videos page to see Carolena and her musicians in action!

Upcoming Public Gigs

The Bellevue Jazz and Blues Festival
May 30, 2019 @ 5:00 p.m.
w/ Bill Anschell (piano)
and Osama Afifi (bass)
Seattle Marriott Bellevue
200 110th Ave., NE
Bellevue, WA  98004

Please visit Carolena's Calendar page for additional upcoming public performances.

PLEASE NOTE:  Private events are NOT reflected on the calendar.  Please use the Contact Artist page to inquire about open dates and booking Carolena for your special event.

Tunes - with John Stowell, guitar

Offering Online Voice Lessons

Technology makes it possible for Carolena to teach students from all over the world via the platform Zoom in real time.


What is necessary is a high-speed internet connection, a webcam, an external mic (unless your computer is equipped with a good one) and Voila!  External speakers for your computer are likewise helpful.  Then you can enjoy the benefits of private voice lessons in the comfort of your own home.

Voice Studio Gift Certificates

Voice lessons make the Perfect Gift for friends and loved ones!  Purchase your Gift Certificates today and give the gift of song.

I awoke at a ridiculous hour today to be greeted by an article that was posted on CBS Local (San Francisco Bay Area) about Oprah Winfrey's "Self-Worth" tour, which was ironically designed to encourage people to realize the same.  Those who know me know that I tend to have a lot of patience and for the most part I'm a pretty even tempered individual unless something extreme gets my goat, which is exactly what happened at 5:00 a.m. this morning.

Apparently, a Bay Area performer (along with many others across the country) was contacted and asked to perform at an Oprah event entitled, "Live the Life You Want."  The entertainer, a hulahoop artist aptly named "Revolva" was understandably thrilled ... until such time, that is, when she learned that Harpo's staff were requiring her to perform gratis, which wasn't "Liv[ing] the Life [She] Want[ed]" by any stretch of the imagination.  The Harpo staffer explained that it simply "[wasn't] in the budget" to pay Revolva any kind of remuneration for the dubious honor of performing outside of the venue as attendees arrived.  Apparently, she was supposed to be thrilled with said offer, even though ticket prices for the event ranged from $99 to $999.00 and Oprah's current net worth is estimated at a cool $2,900,000,000.  Yes, you read it correctly.  At just shy of $3 billion dollars, Oprah is supposed to be the single richest woman in the U.S. currently.  (Read the CBS Local story here and Revolva's open letter to Oprah here.)

Well, to say the least when I read this I was royally ticked off.  I, too, have experienced similar treatment in my music career.  Just at the end of last year I was contacted by a behemoth of a Washington State corporation (yes, that corporation) and asked to perform for four hours with my musicians (quite literally the best "A List" JaZz musicians in the Seattle area) for an embarrassingly paltry sum at an event for 500+ attendees wherein I know that corporation was spending at least $200K on catering alone.  My response, you ask?  I turned down the gig!  But I feel quite certain that some other group, perhaps less experienced, more than likely jumped on it "for the exposure."

The sad part of all of this is that musicians and other artists have allowed themselves to be marginalized in this way.  Indeed, they seek it out!  This is the reason why "pay to play" clubs are rife throughout the Los Angeles area.  Yes, I said, "Pay to Play," meaning that musicians are actually paying the clubs for the "privilege" of playing there.  It is an utterly despicable practice and something that you should keep in mind the next time you agree to do a free gig "for the exposure."  Because in the next moment that "free" gig could start to actually cost you to play it.

In bygone years live music fell out of favor due to the fact that people claimed that it was cheaper to hire a DJ and perhaps that was true then, but no more!  These days DJ are competitive with live bands and in many cases actually charge much moreSimultaneously, musicians have downgraded themselves by either playing for free, for a mere pittance or in the above example they are paying to play, which is shameful.  In a nutshell, if you do this you are allowing yourself to be taken advantage of in a BIG way!  Collectively, musicians have allowed club owners, corporate entities and others to think of them as cheap labor.  Their work may be desired, but the musicians are ladled a healthy serving of disrespect.  Their skills, so hard won after many years and millions of hours of practice, are belittled.

If you are a musician, keep in mind that you must be a businessperson, as well.  This is, after all, the music "business" and far too many musicians ignore the "business" side of it for the sake of art.  For those musicians I feel compelled to ask, "Why don't you value yourself and all of the hours, money and sweat equity you have poured into perfecting your craft?  Music is a life-long pursuit and those of us who are really good at it, we have poured just as much time, effort and education into our professions as any lawyer or doctor.

In the plumbing "business" or the medical or legal "business" do you hear of plumbers, lawyers and doctors giving their services away for free on a regular basis?  Occasionally you may hear of a lawyer taking on a case "pro bono" (although in my experience it's rare) or a doctor volunteering their time in a clinic or foreign country.  However, these cases are not the norm and they are done as a charitable contribution.  Musicians and other artists, too, donate their services charitably.  However, in the case of latter group it is more the norm than the exception and as opposed to the former groups, i.e., doctors, lawyers, etc., it is expected!  When was the last time you called a plumber and asked them to install a free toilet "for the exposure?"

As I mentioned earlier and as you can no doubt tell, the Oprah situation royally ticked me off and rightly so!  But I choose to use it as a platform to educate and shed light on a situation that has existed for far too long – and which continues to be perpetuated to the detriment of all musicians and artists.  That being said, below you will find the letter that I sent to Oprah Winfrey via  If you feel as moved to make a statement and take a stand as I did then I encourage you to do the same.

"I was aghast when I read on CBS Local (SF Bay Area) wherein it was documented the fact that you, of all people Oprah, asked an entertainer to perform for free for the "exposure" because YOU didn't have it in your budget to compensate her! On your so-called "Self-Worth" tour? Seriously, Oprah? Are you hard up for cash lately?

"I am a performing artist (a jazz vocalist) who, like many artists, has been asked repeatedly to perform for free for the "exposure." I am a professional and because of people like you who "don't have it in your budget" I find myself turning down such "opportunities" because I know that all of the years, money and effort that I have poured into my craft are actually worth a lot. People can die from "over exposure," Oprah, or haven't you heard?

"Have you ever been asked to perform for free for the "exposure," Oprah?  I highly doubt it.  Quite frankly, Oprah, you and your staff should be ashamed of yourselves!  And I will do my utmost to spread this story on the internet to draw awareness to what was done to those whom you contacted on your so-called "Self-Worth" tour because you have just told all performing artists in no uncertain terms exactly what you feel that they are worth, i.e., nothing whatsoever!

"Now I realize that more than likely the folks who will receive this letter will try to brush it under the rug and you won't be informed of the contents.  Or for that matter, even if you are contacted, I feel quite certain that you won't give a damn because hey, why should you?  You've got the bucks, you're a billionaire, why bother with the little people who are struggling?  But as a professional entertainer the last person who should be marginalizing other professional entertainers is YOU!  And as such, I and others like me won't allow this situation to die and be swept under the rug.  Thankfully, even if you do try, the internet is a powerful public opinion tool and it's difficult to hide from it.  So you can put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

Rant over.  Although I ask you to all take the above article to heart, let's get back to new beginnings in the New Year.  Straight ahead and strive for tone, folks!"