Saturday, April 23, 2011

She won a Monday award on a Tuesday

"They like me! They really, really like me!"

It was one of those moments for Maureen Washington on Tuesday, when she won a fan-vote based Monday Magazine M award for best jazz and blues vocalist or group at the Victoria Event Centre.

Washington grew up in Prince George and moved to Victoria four years ago to take a chance and further her musical career.

"So having the support in my new town and the support in Prince George, it's absolutely astounding because this is the first time I've ever been nominated and to win when there's been people nominated off and on throughout the years and bang -- I'm just dumb founded with all the support I have," said Washington.

It took a bit of time out of someone's busy day to find the website, register to vote and to vote, she added. She can't believe that many people took the time to do that -- for her, she said.

"It overwhelms my heart," Washington said. "It's so fabulous. To be honest I didn't think I would win because the other two musicians are fantastic, phenomenal musicians that have been playing for many, many years in the community. But my people were just gung-ho and going for it."

The evening of awards drove home the point for Washington that live performance is celebrated, ever-popular and still going strong, she said.

"There are days that you spin your wheels and you ask yourself what you're doing this for," said Washington. "But when you know you've got all these people cheering you on, it makes you think you're going to get up and do another show and keep pushing it forward."

Her category of best jazz and blues vocalist or group was called second during the gala evening.

"There was a part of me that was sitting there just asking for it to be over with because I'm dying and then when I heard my category would go second it was like -- what?! Wait! I'm not ready!" she laughed.

"They had a great MC and the staff at Monday Magazine is just so wonderful. It's their favourite event of the year and there's so much energy and talent in the room. And you know these artists that have been nominated are some of the best of the best. So it's a real highlight."

Washington has been nominated for a Vancouver Island Music Award for Female Singer of the Year and the awards gala will be held in Courtenay on June 23.

Copyright 2011 Glacier Media Inc.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bits of History Repeating

February 2011

After a slight prompting of my Mum, I decided to talk a little about my last show.
I was hired by the Prince George Black History Organization to perform as their headliner for the kick off of the month long events for Black History.
An honor for me to be in my home town thinking of this thought provoking event.
I was born in Prince George, a predominately white community and we joke, that growing up in our community in the 70's, there were 3 black families: Morgans Reynolds and Washingtons. Of course there were more, but we were big family's and were easily noticed due to sports, church etc.

Preparing for this show, I wanted to use new repertoire and began to research some songs with my pianist. One song I've always wanted to sing was Strange Fruit, and after hearing Nina Simone's haunting version, I knew hers was the one that I wanted to emulate.

Looking for songs allows you to research and discover the stories behind the music which are interesting and eye opening. To read the struggles of the black musicians in the 20's, 30's, 40's etc. is encouraging yet heartbreaking; to see what these musicians had lived through, sacrificed and struggle throughout their lives just to make it 'big' in the industry, most of them paid improperly and with their lives.

My experience:
Music has a beautiful way of documenting the events, emotions and details of a time and place. Their stories can be clear and concise or can leave room for interpretation. Strange Fruit is a powerful song that needs no interpretation. I realize that this song was written to remind us of what 'was' and what should never be.

As I began to sing the song, Strange Fruit' I had vivid pictures in my mind and I struggled to sing without emotion, this was impossible. A waver here and there, but I pressed on as I felt that this story must be told yet again and especially for those who did not know of how severe the lynchings in the south was.
I came to last line and could go no further to make the statement of my people as "a strange a bitter crop" was too overwhelming for me. I stepped away from the microphone and allowed the pianist to play then shared these words from my heart.
"I am sorry for all of those who lost their lives, and yet, I am thankful for my grandparents and their parents that they had the courage to survive, for had they not, I would not be here today."

It was a sobering thought for me... I am only here because of the courage and strength of my ancestors!

I moved on to Sam Cook's song "A Change is gonna come" it seemed most fitting after Strange Fruits morbid truth, to sing a song of hope, A hope for even now seemed most fitting. I love SEAL'S version of it. A beautiful classic song that has stood the test of time! Once again Sam's life ended early and to this day they really don't know how he was murdered. He wrote the song "A Change is Going to Come, after being inspired by Bob Dylan's song "Blowing in the Wind" It was a risky move on his part to sing boldly about racism, but after hearing Dylan's song he felt a song about racism should be told from a black man's point of view... So he took the risk and to this day we all still feel inspired and thank full by Sam Cooke's song!

The whole night was moving for me, and I felt that I stepped ever so slightly in the inspiring shoes of these gifted song writers and performers from the past. I am humbled by their courage and thankful that these stories are still being told today.

Diva M

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blues In The Night - CD Review by Joseph Blake

Victoria-based vocalist Maureen Washington's Blues in the Night...and Stories My Mama Told Me is an inspired, impressive collection of performances. Backed by Karel Roessingh's elegantly bluesy piano, Washington reshapes an eclectic repertoire of her mother's favourite tunes with a smoldering, understated vocal approach.

Her readings of Etta James' R&B classic At Last and Norah Jones' hit Come Away With Me burn with restraint and strength. Her version of Peel Me a Grape is more dramatic and features exquisite timing and taste. Backed by Roessingh's funky, parlor piano phrasing and masterful solo, it's a delight, as is Washington's equally theatrical reinvention of her blues title track. She works more restrained, subtle magic on vintage country material You Don't Know Me and Turn Me On. Georgia gets an even more soulful reading.

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face are stark, revealing readings, and the deep blues vocal on Stormy Monday wraps up a triumphant recording. Great!
Needless to say, I loved it.

Joseph Blake

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Music Promo by Richie Auriemma

Victoria, BC has a secret......but not the kind that's kept under wraps or behind closed shines in the beautiful & talented Maureen Washington.

Man, can this gal belt it out.And then in the next breath enchant you & perhaps make you & your partner to dance a little a little deeper.

Smooth is a word that used an awful lot for jazzy type singers. Maureen is the definition of it. The end as well as the beginning.

There is a richness in her tone that I have never heard before from any other singer. To hear it nine fold, check out LA VIE EN's what dreams are made of.

You know how you feel when you hear a voice that you know is gonna be with you forever.....I find this with Maureen Washington. A true singer out there in a field of her own goodness.

SUMMERTIME, RIGHT STUFF, & LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN are diamonds to discover here as well.

I am head over heels for Maureen's will be to....and you'll thank me for it. I PROMISE!!!!

Please support Maureen Washington & her stellar body of work.

Tx--Richie Auriemma

Article From Focus Magazine

Maureen Washington ~ Photo by Dean Kalyan Focus Magazine November 20 & December 11 2014 JAZZ ALIVE! MAUREEN WASHINGTON &...