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Record Labels

Sunday, 3/23/14 Show: Jana Herzen of Motéma Records

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The next show will air on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. During this installment, Suga’ in My Bowl covers the final of four women in different areas of this music during its four weeks of broadcasting in Women’s History Month. This week’s guest is president of Motema Records, guitarist and vocalist Jana Herzen.

Jana_HerzenMany jazz aficionados only know Jana Herzen as the founder and president of the acclaimed Motéma label. Under her stewardship, Motéma has advocated for visionaries Randy Weston, Monty Alexander, Gregory Porter, Geri Allen, Rene Marie and dozens of other dynamic and virtuosic composer/performers. What many may not realize, however, is that Ms. Herzen, whose initial professional life was in the theater, is a seasoned performer and instrumentalist with quite a talent for writing and performing.

Founded in San Francisco by Herzen in collaboration with arts patrons and industry professionals, Motéma Music now makes its home in Harlem, New York City. The label specializes in jazz and other creative music that spans genres, cultures and generations. The company’s varied international roster of releases has received Grammy® nominations in jazz, reggae and R&B. At a time when many of the big record labels have moved away from promoting jazz or are content to mine their vaults for recordings that can be re-issued as profitable box sets, Motéma is one of a handful of smaller labels that has signed on new artists and made it possible for established artists to release new material.

Herzen told The Forward in an interview that “the whole record label model is based on, ‘Let’s see if we can make a bunch of money off the backs of these artists.’” Herzen is attempting to follow a different model that focuses on the art itself and its creators and fans.

In this show, we’ll talk about all of that and more with Herzen. We’ll get into not only the difficulties of running a record label that releases jazz now, but also the opportunities that creates and what it means to be involved in this key area of the music. We’ll also talk to her about her own creative work as a musician.

Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.

Show produced, engineered, edited, and hosted by Joyce Jones.

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