Tia Time with Artists

Naima Shamborguer

August 31, 2020 Tia Imani Hanna Season 1 Episode 1
Tia Time with Artists
Naima Shamborguer
Tia Time with Artists
Naima Shamborguer
Aug 31, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Tia Imani Hanna

Naima Shamborguer. Detroit based Bad Assed Jazz warrior Goddess. Jazz vocal stylist, composer clinician. Talks about her start her musical experiences and inspirations. She introduces us to her New band Sister Strings: Roots, Voice and Drums ensemble she talks about her work with the Young Detroit Jazz Lions and her fondness for learning new styles and combining her classical roots with her jazz roots. The goals for future projects. Becoming a Kresge Art Fellow in 2020 and performing at The Detroit International Jazz Festival virtually during COVID 19 this year.

This podcast is sponsored by
Michigan ArtShare
Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan J.A.M.M.
Shambones Music
To be a sponsor for this podcast, go to the Patreon link below.
Produced by Green Bow Music

Show Notes Transcript

Naima Shamborguer. Detroit based Bad Assed Jazz warrior Goddess. Jazz vocal stylist, composer clinician. Talks about her start her musical experiences and inspirations. She introduces us to her New band Sister Strings: Roots, Voice and Drums ensemble she talks about her work with the Young Detroit Jazz Lions and her fondness for learning new styles and combining her classical roots with her jazz roots. The goals for future projects. Becoming a Kresge Art Fellow in 2020 and performing at The Detroit International Jazz Festival virtually during COVID 19 this year.

This podcast is sponsored by
Michigan ArtShare
Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan J.A.M.M.
Shambones Music
To be a sponsor for this podcast, go to the Patreon link below.
Produced by Green Bow Music

Tia Time with Artists, with guest Naima Shamborguer – recorded on 7/11/20

Tia Imani Hanna:Welcome to Tia Time with Artists, the weekly podcast where we discuss the methods, challenges, and real-life experiences of living our creative dreams. What kind of creative warrior are you? Musician? Filmmaker? Painter? Choreographer? Poet? Sculptor? Fashionista? Let's talk about it right now. I'm your host, Tia Imani Hanna.

Tia Imani Hanna: Today's guest is one of my favorite people in the world. My aunt, Naima Shamborguer, who is a world-renowned jazz vocalist or vocal stylist, educator, performer. She is here to talk to me about her life and her skills and her new projects and her old projects and just to share some of her amazing bad-ass Jazz Warrior Goddess-ness. So welcome Naima! 

Naima Shamborguer: Thank you. That's nice, thank you. I love that.

Tia Imani Hanna: One of the things that we're talking about on this program is just about what is it about the art form that you chose to express yourself in? What about music was the thing, or what about jazz music specifically? Because I believe you started in classical music. Can you tell me some about that?

Naima Shamborguer: What about jazz music? Should I go back to before the crib? 

Tia Imani Hanna: Yes. Go back as far as you like. The microphone is all yours.

Naima Shamborguer: Well,  I was born into a musical family. So, I always tell people ‘from the crib’. The music has been in my life, in my head. I was born into music. I was, influenced by many people in my family who were professional musicians. And, from that, I studied and sang classical music, spiritual music. R&B. We did all types of music, but, it was the family background that really got me going and, the family concerts and all the children being a part of it, and the piano lessons and all those type things, along with dance lessons too, which helped me with a good sense of rhythm. And so, it was pretty much that. And through the years, from the classical, the gospel, the music that I performed, I decided I would go on to jazz music because that's the music where I can go into being myself, improvise. I can sing what I hear because once you sing it, you don't do it again. That's jazz and that's what I like about it. And, influenced by many musicians, famous jazz musicians, like Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, those trumpet players I really love. And I love trombone players who I'm influenced by people like Steve Turre, Steve Davis, JJ Johnson. I'm a listener of instrumental musicians a lot because that's what influences my singing and helped to me to go into what I call obligatos, which is a classical thing you do when you're singing the choirs and they have these obligato high voices over the tones and over what the choir is singing, but you learn a lot from that too. So, all these influences brought me here today. I’m doing what I love best. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. I know a lot of parents starting out now with their kids, they start them as young as three or four years old or so, the same idea of starting them young, because of your family, or our family I should say, you started out just because it was in the air anyway, but what instrument did you start on? Did you start singing first or did you just start on a different instrument?

Naima Shamborguer: I started on piano, but I did start singing first, too. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay.So why did you decide to stop playing the piano at a certain time? 

Naima Shamborguer: Yeah, I studied the piano till I was about 10 years old. And then, I went on and started just singing in school, got into glee club, got into the choir, got into the Troubadours in high school, which was a group that I sang with. It was a high school group. Got into WJR radio “Make Way for Youth” chorus. From there, I, in fact, went back to classical. I was in the Rackham Symphony choir with Detroit Symphony Orchestra for several years before I moved to California.

Tia Imani Hanna: We're spanning such a large time period here. I'm getting confused a little bit, so let's go back to the very beginning. So, let's say, you started with piano lessons and you studied at school or you had private lessons or where did you start? 

Naima Shamborguer: I had private lessons, piano. Okay. 

Tia Imani Hanna: And where did you study? Was that a school-based program or...?

Naima Shamborguer: That's Robert Nolan School, a music school in Detroit. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Was that a fairly well-known school in Detroit.

Naima Shamborguer: Sure was. Robert Nolan School of Music was a very famous black school of music for Detroit during those times. Robert Nolan was a very famous director, a musician, and teacher in the black community of piano, voice, and classical music. And at that time, everybody studied with him that was going into the music professionally. He left a great legacy in this city among many of the famous, I will say, classical singers that came out of our city, like George Shirley, people like my aunt, Georgia Davis. I had another aunt, Evelyn Davis, and Gloria Davis McCully, all these people studied with him and he was a great force in the black community for the music at the time, during the period of the forties and fifties.

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. All right. So, you studied with him and you were doing piano training, but you were more drawn to singing in choirs than you were playing the piano? What was the thing that clicked with you with voice more than with piano? 

Naima Shamborguer: What clicked with me was singing, versus piano. I wanted to sing. That's what clicked, rather than play the piano. I learned how to play the piano. I can play for myself, but the extent of it was I wanted to sing, so I was more interested in that. I enjoyed performing on stage. That's what I preferred doing. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. And so, when you were a kid and you were, let's say elementary school through to junior high, up into high school. So, what high school did you go to? 

Naima Shamborguer: I went to Central High School. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. And was there any teacher there that you were profoundly affected by that taught you music in any way that really stuck with you that you carry to this day? 

Naima Shamborguer: Oh, yeah, we had a teacher there. You caught me. I can't remember his name. He was a force in that school to get... He had one of the best choirs in the city. He was such a good instructor and it was during the period of the doo-wop days, where a lot of the guys would go into the restrooms and would be singing doo-wop music and he would pull them out of the bathroom and tell them you're getting in choir. Yeah. So, we had an excellent choir and there were people in that choir like Freda Payne, Scherrie Payne, me, a couple of the Lamont Dozier Brothers were in that choir. It was just an excellent choir and it was because of him that we had such a good choir and that was a great influence, being there with him and through him we got the opportunity, many of us from that choir, to go to WJR or Make Way for Youth Chorus every Monday after school. And I’ll add another thing. We would leave school. There were several of us. Go to school, then go down to Wayne State University and sing in the Wayne State All City Chorus. And we’d leave there and go to WJR radio and do Make Way for Youth Chorus. Before we ever got home at 10 o'clock at night. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Wow! 

Naima Shamborguer: And I have to add, my mother had all those kids packed in that car and she drove us there. And there was another instructor that we had, Ali MacFarlane who was one of my voice teachers. She used to take us home. We had to do our homework while we waited for our voice lesson. And she did that on Wednesdays. So, I was pretty booked up with the singing in school. Plus, I had to keep my studies up too. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So at this point you were mostly doing classical stuff. Was the…we're talking like the late fifties, early sixties, or late fifties… 

Naima Shamborguer: Early… late, late fifties, early sixties. But then I was in high school. We were doing some jazz things too. We used to have assembly and, yes, we were doing some jazz tunes. He was the type of instructor that had us singing. Oh yeah. I had two voice teachers while I was in high school that taught me how to sing jazz. My first two jazz tunes were "The Nearness of You"… they taught me how to sing, and I do" Nearness of you" now. It's such a beautiful tune. Sure. Oh, "Polka dots and Moonbeams." Those were my first two jazz tunes that I learned. 

(musical interlude playing “Nearness of You” as sung by Naima Shamborguer) 

Tia Imani Hanna: At this point…because again, you're still doing a lot of classical music and now dabbling your feet in the jazz realm… What were you listening to? 

Naima Shamborguer: Nina Simone. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Nina Simone. Okay. 

Naima Shamborguer: I was listening to Nina Simone.

Tia Imani Hanna: Was there anything, like any particular Nina Simone song that stood out to you that you remember from that time?

Naima Shamborguer: “I Love You Porgy.” That was a beautiful tune. 

Tia Imani Hanna: What about Max Roach? 

Naima Shamborguer: He was doing that, Max Roach with Abby Lincoln. They were doing tunes like "Freedom." Oh yeah. and then, "Poinciana," that was one of the Ahmad Jamal. There were a lot of people that I was listening to in the sixties. I was listening to Miles Davis. I was listening to Miles. I was very aware of him. See, we had a radio station here that was phenomenal, the jazz station, and they played everybody. So, we heard it. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Did you listen to the Motown thing that was going on too? Or not so much? 

Naima Shamborguer: No, not so much. Okay. I listened to it. I knew about it. But I was more into jazz even then, because in the sixties I was singing with jazz bands. My parents would allow me to go and sing at the Meraki dances they used to have, was like Eastern Star would have parties or cabarets. And there was this group that I used to sing with, and they were all jazz musicians. One was a vibe player, the saxophone player, bass player. Ron Hicks that was with Aretha Franklin for years was in that band.  Yeah, I was a James Youngblood, yeah, in high school, I was singing with a jazz band. My mother and father would allow me to go and sing because during that period of time, our high school dances, they had sock hops, but we had bands at our dances, and they were jazz bands. People from Detroit, like Kenny Cox, was playing with his band. We would hire bands like that for our dances. 

Tia Imani Hanna: I know from talks with your mother before she passed, she told me you guys would hire bands. 

Naima Shamborguer: We would have a band upstairs and the records in the basement. So, people could choose where they wanted to go in there to hear the music. That was Camille, my sister, and me. We had the best parties, and it was kids from all over would come to our parties and we just had a ball. So, the exposure to… because Detroit is so full of music and there was so much jazz here, I couldn't help but be around it. Plus, my father played jazz. We are classical music in the house, but my dad, let me tell you. My father was a jazz lover, and he could dance too! 

Tia Imani Hanna: I never got to see Granddaddy dance. Oh, I wish I would have seen that.

Naima Shamborguer: I'll tell you the story. Because, all the cabarets, people would bring their so-called BYOB and they'd have set up and they sell hot dogs and stuff like that. And people be sharp-dressed, and a lot of the sororities and fraternities used to have lots of dances. So, my mother and father went to a lot of them and my dad used to say, “Would you please go with us because your mother can't dance, and I need somebody to dance with me?” Because she was like toe-tapper dancer. So, I was daddy's partner in a whole lot of those things. It was fun. It was just… we had jazz; it was jazz. That's what we heard. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. Okay. So, it was very much a formative part of your life as well as classical music.

Naima Shamborguer: Yeah.

Tia Imani Hanna: At some point, you graduated, you went off and you moved to California for a time.

Naima Shamborguer: Yup. I went to California for six years, had a family, went to school out there and there's a club called Esther’s Show Bar. I was staying in Oakland, California. I had a beautician who used to do my hair and she got me a gig down there. It was in West Oakland. And, so I did that, and I was going to school and then, by then I was in college, so I was in opera workshop too, in college. I went back to that and went and studied Madrigal singing. I kept it up, never forgot that. But all of these things, these experiences have helped me with jazz now because I hear things in my head that I probably would not have heard it if I didn't have that type of training. 

Tia Imani Hanna: I see. Okay.

Naima Shamborguer: Then I have an Aunt Gloria who she, out of all my vocal training, is the one who really gave me the top training of what to do with my voice. How to do the extended note, play with the note, give it air to relax it, how to sing. She just really taught me some very important techniques. And so those are the techniques that I use now.

Tia Imani Hanna: It's very evident because I remember hearing Aunt Gloria sing, I had the opportunity to work with her. She was teaching in Highland Park at the community college at the time and my mom and I were in the chorus for “Porgy and Bess,” the professional production that she did of that. And I was probably 13 or something like that, but I got to be in the chorus of that show, and I got to hear her sub for one of the sopranos that was absent that day. She came in and sat in and just sang "Summertime "and people came out from the hallways because they couldn't believe the voice that was coming out of her was amazing. I had never heard her sing before. That's the only time I ever heard her sing. She was amazing. I couldn't believe that she wasn't singing all over the world. 

Naima Shamborguer: She was amazing. She was amazing. And she did end up teaching, leaving the country, and she stayed in Bermuda for a long time. And she taught there. She has trained some very famous people. I don't know who they are. She never said. I know they were there, they’re out there. But she trained me, and she taught me a lot. So that's what I use. I'll never forget her for that. Yeah. Oh, she was really, and she was… oh, not hard, but she was stern.

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, she was tough. 

Naima Shamborguer: Yeah. She didn't play. She’d come over and hit you in the stomach, “Sing out of that diaphragm!” Yeah. Oh, and she was, she didn't play, In our breathing exercises. Now people ask me, “how do you extend your notes so long?” She taught me how, she taught me. It's hard to explain it, but it's control, it's called control. And you have to concentrate on it and let that air out. Like you’re letting air out of a balloon very slow. That was the fun part. And I had my, one of my favorite aunts, all my aunts were my favorite aunts, but one Georgia Davis, she was one who was a soprano. No, she was a contralto. Went to college at age 15 years old. She came along the time of Marian Anderson. Between Marian Anderson and Georgia, Marion was picked. My aunt ended up in New York and she was singing with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus for years. Rockefeller gave her a scholarship, where she was able to perform opera. And also, she got the chance to sing on cruise ships, for concerts and that type of thing, which was a very wonderful situation for her. And there is a recording in the Azalea Hackley files of her singing jazz. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, wow! I did not know that. 

Naima Shamborguer: Yeah. And now I have to see it. The Azalea Hackley files are closed right now at the main library, but I would like to get my hands on it. 

[doorbell rings – slight pause]

Tia Imani Hanna: So the Azalea Hackley. Okay. So, it's closed, but yeah, that would be definitely something that we need to look into getting the recording of that. I would love to hear that because I've never heard her sing because she passed well before I was born, so I never got to hear her sing.

Naima Shamborguer: Her voice was just melting and she was fascinating. I loved her so dearly. She was just really great. She passed at age 54. Yeah. She was young and she did have a, like I said, her career, it could have been better, but her health took her. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, I see.

Naima Shamborguer: Then I had my other aunt Evelyn. Excellent. Excellent. And they went to Julliard School of Music. The graduates, except for Georgia, she went to another school, but Gloria and Evelyn went to Julliard and, they were on scholarship there. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Fantastic.

Naima Shamborguer: So, excellent musicians. Evelyn was an organist and piano player. She would just tear the house down. My grandparents…

Tia Imani Hanna: I got to know her before she passed. So yeah, she was amazing. 

Naima Shamborguer: I can say my grandparents were so proud of them. Oh my God. They would just…my grandmother and grandfather, were so proud of them. And then we, we got a legacy. Yeah, and this is a wonderful legacy. 

Tia Imani Hanna: And you've been keeping it up.

Naima Shamborguer: Yeah. Well, you've been keeping it up too. 

Tia Imani Hanna: I have all those examples, so I have no excuse.

Naima Shamborguer: May I say that? [laughter] You have no excuse, and the thing is you got a double thing going on with Sir Roland Hanna. I mean, really, Sir Roland Hanna, okay.

Tia Imani Hanna: Yeah. I won the genetic lottery there.

Naima Shamborguer: You sure did. You sure did. So that's your father's brother. Yeah. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So you've got all this family background and all of this, the osmosis, as well as the genetic pool and, the great experiences that you had. So, you were in California, you were raised in the family, you ended up coming back to Detroit. At some point you started to actually just do jazz. So, what was the transition there? What happened that you started to do jazz?

Naima Shamborguer: I came back in the sixties. And I started… I ran into a friend of mine that we were in high school together, walking down the street one day and she called me, I was walking my kids to school and I heard her call me and her name is Dee Dee McNeil, vvery famous singer. And she called me, and I couldn't believe it. She said, “Girl!” and we went and hung out. And that night she invited me to go to this group that was just starting. And I went to that rehearsal. I haven't looked back. And, jazz, and it was a singing group called the BrownX Voices. And we were a wonderful group of 15 to 20 people, lots of times. And we rehearsed all the time and didn't have no gigs. But we were one of the best singing in groups in the city and, every now and then, we would get a gig because who's going to hire 15 singers? But it was a great experience because he was a writer for Motown for years, but he wrote beautiful tunes. And a lot of his tunes, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder, they're famous, that he wrote. In fact, we did some work for Aretha and as I said, the group was excellent. And that's where I met my husband now. And so, I got into that group. And from there I met Teddy Harris, Jr. And also, another band member, actually before Teddy was Teddy and Don. It was called Desace Players, Donald Towns’ Desace Players. And I got into… I began to get music written, big band charts. I started getting big band charts written. So, I was singing big band music. And, and with the Desace Players, actually I was, before I was singing trio. I had, actually, my first trio was with Al McKenzie. He was like 16 or 17 years old, my musical director. And so that was my first group because we were all in a group with Teddy Harris Jr's big band. So, I put my little, small group together. But yeah, I still sung with the big bands. And then I sang with the big bands from the union. but all along, I was getting my own trios together. So always made sure I had music for everything for two people, for quartet, 9 pieces, 12 pieces, 20 pieces. I had music for everything. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So where did you, okay, so I know you mentioned Al McKenzie who just passed recently, but you gave a lot of jobs to a lot of young jazz musicians in the area coming up through this time. And can you name some of the other people that you hired that were just young folks coming up?

Naima Shamborguer: Back then? You're putting an age on me. Oh, back then. Marion Hayden. She was young. There was, who? Regina didn't play with those. Okay. It was Marion Hayden. Geri Allen was playing then. I worked with her; James Robinson was on drums. There were so many of them back then. They were like little kids, they were young, Rodney Whitaker, and Bobby Hearst. I call him Bobby; he was playing with us and he was like 16. Yeah, they all worked with us. It was a lot of fun and we were doing gigs at the club called Dummy Georges. Lots of gigs over there. And that's when I was with Teddy Harris Jr. and the New Breed Bebop Society. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. Yeah, I remember them. There was, I was going to play on a string gig one time, and they ended up getting canceled for some reason, but I was really excited about it. I got to do one rehearsal with them. That was really fun.

Naima Shamborguer: And the Detroit String Orchestra, that was Donald Walden and the same with him. And Marcus Belgrave was in that group and Regina Carter was in that group. That was all strings. I would sing vocals with them sometimes. But then, and I always had my small group, where, finally I was recording… Oh, Eddie Russ. Oh, he was mine. Oh, that was my piano player!

Tia Imani Hanna: Yeah. He was on your very first CD. 

Naima Shamborguer: He was on my very first one. He was so cool. Eddie Russ, Kurt Kranke, George Davidson. These people were playing with me. I miss him. He really was a good friend. He's another one that taught me a lot about singing. He would introduce me to tunes. He said, “Naima, you got to sing this,” and so we did lots of good work together. Yeah. It was quite a history. There's so much to tell, so many stories. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, you were listening to, you were learning from, some of the players that you worked with and that you were listening to. I know you, one of your favorites of all time is Sarah Vaughan. You've actually have written a stage show around Sarah Vaughn that you performed not too long ago. So, tell me about Sarah Vaughn. What does Sarah Vaughan stand for you?

Naima Shamborguer: She's the mentor. Our voices are not the same, but they are, but I hear what she hears. She's the closest I could come to listen to for what I do. So, I put the show together. I have a very good friend who is also a writer, actor, John Hardy. John Hardy. And I put my…I wrote the script and John Hardy was the one who went in and made that script what it is today. So together he and I put the show on, and we do many of the tunes that Sarah did, plus original tunes to using Sarah's style of bebop and Latin. And I love Latin music, so I always enjoy doing that, but she was a master at whatever she did. That's what my…thing is with Sarah…she was my influence. I listened to so much of Sarah for so long and I learned a lot from her. Never met her, but I have seen her in person.  

(musical interlude playing “Miss Sarah” written and performed by Naima Shamborguer)

Naima Shamborguer: I also want to mention other musicians in this city. Another person that I worked with many times, Kenny Cox, and his Ellingtonia music (for Duke Ellington's music). He had an Ellingtonia group and we did music at the DIA. Other places in the city. That was an exciting, book to sing from. 

Tia Imani Hanna: The DIA for those who might be listening from outside of Detroit is the Detroit Institute of Arts, but go on.

Naima Shamborguer: Yes. And he was… Kenny Cox was one of the great people in this city that kept the jazz music going for a long time. In fact, one of the first people that started the Detroit jazz festival. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So I remember that when the jazz festival started and it was, at that point, the Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival, right? That's right. I remember you were down there almost every year.

Naima Shamborguer: I was there. Yeah. And I did the first vocal workshop there. Me and Teddy Harris, Jr. We did that first vocal workshop. We had so much fun. We had people singing the blues and all, just picking them out the audience and they had a good time.

Tia Imani Hanna: Yeah. Sounds like a lot of fun. You wrote the Sarah Vaughan program and gave people a history of Sarah Vaughn's music and about what was going on in her life. And that's just… it's a lovely program. I saw it recently at the Charles Wright Museum. Yes. And that was wonderful to see. And you've written some other ones too. Haven't you written some other shows? 

Naima Shamborguer: That's the main one that I've written. Oh… you mean for Sister Strings?

Tia Imani Hanna: Yeah. Let's talk about Sister Strings. So, what's going on this year is, and I've got the honor of playing in this group with Naima as one of the string players in “Sister Strings: Roots, Voice and Drums.” So, tell me about that. Where did that idea come from? How did that all come together?

Naima Shamborguer: It's strange. I'm going to tell you a story. My mother passed in 2017. I don't know if I told you this. Okay. My cousin Mario was over here. And we were sitting there, and I said, Mario, I'm going to write a show. And I sat up and told him the name of it, “Sister Strings: Roots, Voice, and Drums.” That's where it came from. 

Tia Imani Hanna: I did not know that.

Naima Shamborguer: I don't know… it just, I said, I'm going to do this. And that was the idea. And I guess because my mother was a gerontologist and that brought into mind, past, present, interaction, educational history. So that's what it is. That's how it came to mind. I just wanted to tell the story. My great grandfather was a fiddle player, and he was also an escaped slave. And he was a fiddle player and understand that he escaped slavery. 

Tia Imani Hanna: John Wesley Davis, right? 

Naima Shamborguer: John Wesley Davis. And then my sister corrected me, telling me that once he got out of the Civil War, he went from town to town playing his fiddle. And he was a very good fiddler and that was my grandfather's father. So that was a great thing to know about. So, I said, let me write about this, black fiddle players, from slavery until the present. And it's like a… it's a unique educational viewpoint that connects the past to the present. 

Tia Imani Hanna: John Wesley Davis was a fiddle player and then… 

Tia Imani Hanna: Your father's brother also played fiddle for a while and… 

Naima Shamborguer: And my mother's brother Lawrence. Lawrence was a fiddle player, yes, he was. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So, then it skipped a generation, then it went to me. 

Naima Shamborguer: It went to you. That's right. 

Tia Imani Hanna: So then to develop the show, what did it take? What did you do? You had to get funding, you had to… what did you have to do? 

Naima Shamborguer: Yes. Through someone very sacred to me, Michigan ArtShare, partnered with me and created, supporting Sister Strings. You want to hear more about Michigan ArtShare?

Tia Imani Hanna: I do.

Naima Shamborguer: Michigan ArtShare is a program of Michigan State University Extension and they work to assist artists and communities in creating opportunities and experiences for artists and communities, well throughout the state, Michigan, right? And that's the purpose and it's a wonderful program. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay, so they helped you too. How did they help you? What did they do? 

Naima Shamborguer: Helped me write the grant. [laughter]

Tia Imani Hanna: Ah, bingo. 

Naima Shamborguer: Hey, I don’t know what I would have done without Michigan ArtShare. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Alright. So, they helped you write the grant and then to who, who is the grant written to?

Naima Shamborguer: The Knight Arts Challenge and they liked the program very well. They were very interested in it. And so that's how we got it going. And we were accepted, and we had to do matching funds, which we were very successful in doing. And we were very successful in having our show just before the coronavirus.

Tia Imani Hanna: Right, back in February. 

Naima Shamborguer: We were very fortunate that we did our show, a week and a half later they were shutting things down.

Tia Imani Hanna: Wow! There's footage of some of that on your website too, I think, right? 

Naima Shamborguer: Yes there is. And, I must say, Tia Hanna was a big part of that show. It was a good show and I’d like to name some of the people that are in that show. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, for sure. Please do. Because some of these people are going to be in the upcoming performance… is going to be where?

Naima Shamborguer: The Detroit Jazz Festival, Labor Day weekend. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Fantastic!

Naima Shamborguer: So we’ll be performing, but I would like to tell you that at the time for the concert in February, we had cellist Akua Dixon from New York City, and for our next upcoming show, we're going to have Marion Hayden on bass, Pamela Wise on piano. And then Michelle May violinist, and viola player, Leslie DeShazor. And then, of course, Tia Hanna and Gayelynne McKinney and master percussionist, Mahindi Massai, and Jasmine James.

Tia Imani Hanna: As cellist. 

Naima Shamborguer: Yes.

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. Okay. Fantastic! Now I know this because I'm part of this, I do know some of the schedules. So, on Friday night on September, what is it? 4th?

Naima Shamborguer: Yes, September 4th. We're doing a piece called “Justice,” which is a suite that night. It starts at seven o'clock. Should be online at seven here. It may not start until about quarter after seven, but I would say seven o'clock and, Sister Strings is opening up the festival and we're doing "Kum Bah Yah" which is an arrangement written by Sven Anderson, who is one of our good writer pianist from Detroit. We just love him! Amazing! So, we're opening up with that and it's a suite tribute to John Lewis. So, we’re the first ones, and then they're going to continue on with the rest of the cast. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. And then, again, we'll have the full set of the Sister Strings on the Sunday night, September 6th. And that is at what time? 

Naima Shamborguer: Seven o'clock performance. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. That's going to be available on WDET who is going to be hosting the entire festival on…they’ll be streaming it on WDET.org, I think it is. Also, channel 22, the Detroit cable online will be streaming the show.

Naima Shamborguer: WRCJ 90.9. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay, so all of this information is up on the Detroit Jazz Festival. org website. They also have an app that they're going to be streaming things through, if you wanted to do the app. And we'll have some show notes on all of this information.,  It's really exciting that this is happening because, during this whole COVID crisis, we're going to have a lot of Detroit musicians playing the Detroit Jazz Festival stage, and a lot of string players. And the other thing that's really cool about Sister Strings is that you're going to have five current Kresge Fellows playing and that's the thing that you have not led with, and I'm going to bring it up because I'm very proud of you for getting this. You are a 2020 Kresge Artist Fellow. This is pretty amazing thing. So, it comes with a huge cash prize, and you won that this year. Congratulations on that! 

Naima Shamborguer: Thank you. I'm very happy about that. Thank you, Kresge Arts. I can't thank you enough. It was… it's a fascinating opportunity that they have given me to have this. And we couldn't have our big celebration this year for that… hopefully down the line, they will... but we're all very grateful. We'll be doing some things with them, as they have workshops involved. I will be coming up with a new CD and it's going to be all bebop.

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. Is Sister Strings going to record anytime soon? 

Naima Shamborguer: We don't know exactly what we're going to do, but we're going to definitely do one. So those are the two things that are in the plan. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. and I meant to say earlier that, you mentioned all the members of the band and we've got past Kresge Fellow winners: Pam Wise, and Marion Hayden, and Gayelynne McKinney, and Michelle May, and yourself. 

Naima Shamborguer: That's correct.

Tia Imani Hanna: So that's a pretty amazing group of people all on one stage. Please tune in if you get a chance for the Labor Day weekend this year in 2020.

Naima Shamborguer: And I wanted to add to that Mahindi Massai, master percussionist, is in our group, world-renown percussionist, has lived in Africa, Europe, and all. He's just a master of what he does. And I want to say that my niece, who I'm talking to right now, is an exceptional violinist and wait ‘til you hear her. I have to tell you that she’s phenomenal. Wait, until you hear her tune! 

Tia Imani Hanna: Oh, thank you very much. That's nice. All right. I've got a couple of things. Let's see. I wanted to ask you if there was something that you wanted to tell your younger self that you know now that you wish you knew then.

Naima Shamborguer: I’d tell my younger self now to slow down. Everything doesn't come at once. Learn patience, which I have, through the years. And so that's the very important thing. And the young people I talk to now, and I do mentor, I say the same thing to them. And learn all you can. And listen to your elders because the musicians in this city have so much to offer you and there's so many of them. They’re still here. Learn from them. They're jazz giants. And so many of these young people are learning from them. We got some good young jazz players in this city coming up. Detroit's legacy is still alive everybody. We are still alive. 

Tia Imani Hanna: That is for sure. Now you just did a project with that. So, tell me about that project with all the young players, you just did a CD release with that. 

Naima Shamborguer: A CD called “Lifetime” and is a tribute to the famous Geri Allen, who is from Detroit, who was our sister in music and my good friend and she passed and we did a tribute to her. Most of the music on there is original music that these young musicians wrote themselves.

Tia Imani Hanna: And so who's on that album? 

Naima Shamborguer: Alexis Lombre excellent piano player, Benny Ruben, Jr. tenor...who's doing excellent in New York now, Ian Finkelstein, piano, Trunino Lowe, trumpet, Jeffrey Trent is tenor, Tariq Gardner is drums.

Tia Imani Hanna: That’s Marion’s son, right? Marion Hayden's son? 

Naima Shamborguer: Yes, that’s Marion’s son, yes. Lewis M. Jones is  drummer, Jonathan Cotton on bass. And that's everybody. And me, I'm on it, because they insisted. And that's the group. 

Tia Imani Hanna: And where's that CD available? 

Naima Shamborguer: You can go on CD Baby now and download it.

Tia Imani Hanna: So a lot of musicians are dealing with CD Baby shifting over its attention into a different direction of distribution. I'm sure that it'll come back up again as available. 

Naima Shamborguer: They can also go on YouTube.

Tia Imani Hanna: We want people to buy it. 

Naima Shamborguer: Oh, of course.

Tia Imani Hanna: Support the musicians. Support the musicians and spend the money because art ain't free.

Naima Shamborguer: And then my CDs, Amazon has mine. They can check it out on Amazon also. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Is it up on iTunes at all? 

Naima Shamborguer: It's on iTunes.

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. So, iTunes and Amazon for you. And your most recent CD was which one? 

Naima Shamborguer: “’Round Midnight” with Larry Willis, Marion Hayden, Vincent Bowen, George Davidson.

Tia Imani Hanna: Okay. So, there are some other masters on there. Larry Willis just passed recently; and George Davidson’s is still here. 

Naima Shamborguer: Still here. That's why I want to do the bebop CD. I want George to be on it and we're telling him, “Keep your health good.” We've got to do that. That's why I mentioned that CD. There are still some people here, while they're still here, I want to get them on it. It's a legacy CD. And that's why I mentioned that one first. Okay. Yeah, because I want to do that. 

Tia Imani Hanna: Ok. Is there anything else you want the audience to know about today? 

Naima Shamborguer: Remember the festival keep Sister Strings in mind, and you can go on my website, naimashamborguer.com  

Tia Imani Hanna: And I'll have that up on the links for the website so that folks can just go to the links and open up your page. So, thank you so much for your time and your energy and your heart today. And I loved having you on my show and, thank you.

Naima Shamborguer: Thank you, Tia. Great time. 

Tia Imani Hanna:Thank you for joining us this week on Tia Time with Artists. Make sure to visit our website, tiaviolin.com, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes and never miss an episode. Please leave us a rating wherever you listen to podcasts. We really appreciate your comments, and we'll mine them to bring you more amazing episodes. 

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