Elizabeth Cawein: Sonic Solidarity Interview

Elizabeth Cawein, Memphian, music policy activist, and educator, discusses music’s relationship to urbanism and her City’s efforts to confront COVID-19.

Gholz   00:00    Sonic Solidarity is sponsored in part for the Michigan Council for the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, our patrons at Patreon.com and listeners like you. Learn more about Detroit Sound Conservancy, browse hundreds of artifacts, oral histories, photographs, and recordings, and join our mailing list at DetroitSound.org.  

Gholz    00:27    Welcome to Sonic Solidarity, a podcast of Detroit Sound Conservancy during the pandemic, COVID-19 outbreak and crisis. My name is Carleton Gholz, executive director of Detroit Sound Conservancy. And I’m joined today over the phone with Elizabeth Cawein from Memphis, Tennessee. Elizabeth, can you hear me? 

Cawein Yes, loud and clear. Good to be with you. 

Gholz Good to be with you. Elizabeth uh, briefly, uh, Detroit and Memphis share so much music and culture and experiences. 

Cawein Oh my gosh, yeah. 

Gholz It’s it’s, uh, crazy,  

Gholz   01:07    Uh, just in my own life, uh, in the last 10 years, visiting Memphis, um, seeing, uh, Stax, reborn. Uh, Stax Records, the whole building had been lost. And, uh, I happened to be there a number of years ago when, um, Stax was being, there was being broken ground at Stax, they were going to rebuild it. I happened to be in Memphis that morning, uh, when they broke ground, I was driving through to New Orleans and, and happened to be there. And, uh, I’ve since been back and seeing the renewed Stax. Um, we have, uh, a really great, uh, outside of the city community partner related to music with Tanya Dyson at the Memphis Slim House who, you know, and you can talk about briefly, uh, she came up to speak at our Detroit Sound Five Conference in 2018, and, you know, we’ve just had, um, good conversations back and forth with Memphis.  

Gholz   02:07    Memphis is a big city, but it’s also a, has a small town vibe. 

Cawein Definitely. 

Gholz It’s had, uh, um, a deep music culture, but also has deep, uh, civil rights, uh, concerns and histories. And, uh, we also just have these shared figures, whether it’s, uh, Aretha Franklin, um, who’s born in Memphis, but obviously Detroiters claim her as our own. And then of course, uh, we, were the ones who were helpful with the United Sound Systems, preserving that studio here in Detroit. And of course, so many Stax musicians actually recorded here in, in, in Detroit, including Issac Hayes and all that kind of stuff. So that’s just a preface to say, uh, for our first interview with someone outside of the city of Detroit, it’s really good to have someone from Memphis and, um, repping all the things that you do. So without  

Gholz   03:00    further ado Elizabeth can you just say a little bit about who you are and what is your relationship to Memphis music? 

Cawein Yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, okay. So first of all, since you were on that Stax tip and what a story to have been to have been coming through and experience, that I have to start with just a little bit of like a braggy thing. That is my favorite thing that has ever happened to me, which is quite recently, I was featured in a Stax Museum exhibit. And I feel like that is the definition of my connection to Memphis music. They did an exhibit actually. Um, Tanya Dyson was also featured, was on Women of Memphis Music. And so was thrilled to be in the Stax Museum. It’s like literally the coolest thing that has ever happened to me as a human being.  

Cawein    03:42    It was amazing. Um, all of my lanyards from all of the conferences and festivals I’ve gone to over the years repping Memphis were hanging in a museum case. It was, it was truly the bomb and I love, uh, Stax and the Stax museum. Um, so how, how and why was I in the Stax museum I suppose, is the next answer, uh, which is that I, uh, for about 10 years have worked in, uh, Memphis music PR. I ran my own agency for awhile and, uh, about five years ago, four years ago now I started a nonprofit that I run today, which is called Music Export Memphis. And we are an export office for Memphis music. Everything that we do is focused on creating opportunities for artists who live here in Memphis to get out, uh, to do what they do on the road. And frankly, to support them in doing what they’ve already been doing for years to brilliant effect, which is being the most compelling ambassadors for our city.  

Cawein    04:39    So we do that through tour grants. We go to festivals and conferences like South by Southwest, Americana Fest,  and we produce showcases. Um, and then we just, you know, find those ad hoc opportunities. We, we sent an artist to Sundance this past January actually to perform through a partnership. So we’re just always looking for ways to get Memphis artists on the road. And, uh, of late, since about March 18, we’ve been running a COVID emergency fund that’s granted out more than $160,000 to individual Memphis musicians and, and will continue to grant, um, out until, uh, you know, we’ll, we’ll keep doing it and keep raising money until the need isn’t there, uh, we believe. So that’s been our big project. And then the other two kind of perspectives that I bring into the conversation are I, um, teach a course at Rhodes College here in Memphis called “Music Urbanism” that I developed. It really just kind of explores the intersection of music and smart, uh, thoughtful, urban planning, uh, and how music can, um, make cities better.  

Cawein    05:38    How music is a tool to improve life for all citizens, not just musicians and those who are super engaged with the music community. Um, so I’ve been teaching that course for two years now and, uh, have also come in to this conversation with several years of experience working with Sound Diplomacy, uh, who, uh, Sound Diplomacy is an international consultancy that works with cities, towns, places to help them think about how to leverage music for social cultural and economic benefit. Obviously super tied to the, to the work that I’ve done with my course at Rhodes. And I spent a couple of years helping Sound Diplomacy build out their US market strategy. So, um, that was kind of 2018 and 2019 doing lots of work with them on the ground here. So, um, yeah, I think that’s, I think that covers the full hat rack of hats. [laughs] 

Gholz   06:28    No, it’s a great place to start. You know, it’s just important to us as an organization that we, you know, uh, connect Detroiters to the best of what’s happening, uh, both in their city, but outside of their city and you know, where we can, internationally. And so this is, uh, it’s a good opportunity to put some of those things together. So let’s talk about direct with COVID and first of all, I, I should have begun, you are healthy?  

Cawein    06:54    Yes, I am. And so is my family. So, and I hope you and yours are as well.  

Gholz   07:00    Yes. At the moment they are, but, you know, we have lost, uh, musicians here in the city and I just wonder, you know, without being too maudlin about it, uh, I just wonder if you can just talk a little bit about how COVID has hit Memphis just broadly and then, and then the musicians’ community specifically.  

Cawein    07:18    Yeah. I mean, I think that there are some realities, uh, that are amplified and we are seeing this all over the country and all over the world, but the reality is that Memphis is a poor city. Um, and you know, a lot of our jobs and industries are lower wage jobs. Uh, these are folks who, whether they are considered essential or, you know, simply don’t have the luxury of being able to work remotely or work from home. So obviously in that situation, you are going to find that, uh, there’s a higher level of impact, um, in a community like Memphis. I think, you know, in general, we, I can’t, I’m not an epidemiologist. I can’t speak to the landscape of disease or anything like that, but, uh, we, you know, certainly the folks around me are trying to do our best, but when you have, uh, when you have a higher, uh, population that is in poverty, it’s just going to hit you disproportionately.  

Cawein    08:10    And I think that, you know, what we’ve seen with our music community is that the vast majority of them make 100% of their income from live performance or the experiential economy in some way. Um, and it’s devastating, you know, so what what’s been really striking to me is the number of, and, and it’s, these are things I knew, right? These are things that I definitely knew, but I didn’t have a reason to be thinking about them every single day, which is that musicians don’t have rainy day funds. They don’t have the means to have a savings that would cover months of expenses. The way people are, you know, advised to do. They don’t have retirement accounts or pensions that they’re saving for. They don’t have insurance in many cases, because the wage that they are being for those live gigs largely has been unchanged for the last 30 or 40 years.  

Cawein    09:00    You know, if you were making a hundred dollars a night on Beale Street in 1990, you’re still making a hundred dollars a night. Or you were before COVID. And, you know, when you think about how spending power has changed, how the economy has changed, inflation over that period of time, it’s shocking that we expect people to still be able to live on that amount of money. And so obviously when all of a sudden lights turn out, there’s a tremendous crisis. Um, just in reviewing the applications for our emergency relief fund. And we ask artists to give an estimation of how much money they had lost due to COVID. And, and when we started, this was literally, you know, in, in mid April, we were just asking for the last month, how much income have you lost? And the average was over $4,000. Um, and it, you know, and here we are handing you a $500 check, which obviously I’m so glad that we’re able to do that, to give that money to people, but it does feel like a drop in the bucket when the need is, the loss is truly catastrophic and the need is so great.  

Cawein    09:59    And the other thing that struck me, just underscore my first point, which is that as you look at these applications, you have artists listing out maybe 20 gigs. And then they list out the amount of money that they were expected to make from those 20 gigs. And it’s, you know, $1,500, $2,000. And, you know, it’s, it’s no surprise to me that we’re in the position that we’re in, but it’s, it’s a, a, needed a moment of reflection on, we have to make some changes so that we are better supporting our music community into the future because there will be another crisis, you know? Um, and I think that we have to learn from this moment and I’m going down a road now, a question you didn’t even ask, but, uh, it’s definitely been catastrophic for our music community to say the least.  

Gholz   10:44    Absolutely. I, uh, here in Detroit, you know, the numbers of people infected and the deaths now in the city, you know, are approximately 5,000, um, dead in the city. Um, not to mention just the impact on, you know, different cultural areas. An old friend, Mike Huckaby, uh, is just one of the biggest examples, his obituary was written in the New York Times as a DJ for many, many years, we’ve worked together at Record Time. And, um, it’s been brutal in that way, uh, financially, uh, at the moment, uh, well, I won’t say, I don’t know what the city is doing in terms of, uh, cultural, um, numbers, you know, what kind of estimates they’re doing. That’s part of the reason why I called you, cause I want, uh, you know, DSC is very interested in, you know, encouraging this sort of data collection. So before I get to that question, can I just ask you, make it, explain it to me, like, um, I’m the simple, the, you know, the simplest person ever. Your Music Export office is a nonprofit, it’s independent of  

Gholz    11:53    the city government, correct? 

Cawein That’s correct. 

Gholz But how does it work? What is its relationship to city and civic leaders? How does that, how does that work? How are you, um, uh, how, how, how do you get them on the phone if you do, and, and how is that relationship, would you describe it briefly for us? 

Cawein Yeah, so our mission is really focused on talent, attraction, and tourism. And so those are the avenues through which we access leadership in the city. Because those are the areas that we firmly believe, live music and music in general really drives results in. You know, it makes you want to come to a place, whether that’s just a visit or to move there, you want to move to a place because it has thriving nightlife and culture, and that’s a music scene. So we work very, very closely with our city’s essentially marketing arm, uh, which is called Memphis Brand.  

Cawein    12:44    They’re a primary funder of ours and have been for several years. They fund our tour grants. Uh, and they are the primary entity that’s thinking about the contemporary brand story of Memphis. Um, so we work very closely with them and we work with our, our Tourism Bureau as well. So those are really the kind of avenues through which we access our city’s leadership. And then I would say the rest of it is through bullish advocacy, right? I mean, you know, I think at some point we, um, we just are constantly out there banging the pot or, you know, on the megaphone for Memphis music, um, and, and in support and advocacy of our individual music creators, uh, and over the years that has gotten the ear of, of our leadership in a, in a variety of ways. So, um, yeah, that’s kind of the different ways that we approach it.  

Gholz    13:32    Who is the current mayor of Memphis today? 

Cawein Jim Strickland.

Gholz And, uh, without getting you in trouble or any other kind of details, just from a broadly speaking, how has the Strickland administration, uh, been to work with, uh, you know, through this crisis, but also just in terms of music? 

Cawein Yeah. I mean, you know, I think that what I like about, uh, Mayor Strickland is that, and I will speak more to his communications team because that’s where I work with more. 

Gholz Sure.

Cawein Um, and they are passionate about a contemporary narrative for our city. And I think that’s something that really speaks to where I’m coming from, when it comes to how I approach Memphis music. We are a city that has an unbelievable music legacy, better than any other city on Earth. Sorry, Detroit but you know I have to say it, cause this is my, this is my place.  

Gholz Sure. 

Cawein    14:25    So I believe that, and we’ve built a fantastic tourism industry on that music legacy. We have, you know, we have Stax and we have Rock and Soul and Graceland, and we have all of these attractions where you can come and experience, but that’s our legacy. And, you know, it’s a huge moneymaker, it employs tons of people it’s critical. I will, I will always be thankful to live in a city with such a legacy, but what we can’t do is focus on our legacy at the expense of our contemporary artists and sort of, you know, our mission with Music Export is really to shine a light on the young artists that are making new music right now, and that are out performing new music right now. And so what I appreciate about where, um, our administration is coming from, just when it comes to this story of Memphis, who are we as a city, is that they’re so, they’re forward-looking on that front.  

Cawein    15:13    Um, and they’re very interested in, for example, the work of Memphis Brand and how are, you know, how is the contemporary story, the story of young people, right? History is made by young people in the moment. Um, a friend of mine says that often. And so, you know, what’s the history it’s being made right now by our young people. Um, and that’s, I think where we definitely share an ethos. 

Gholz And in terms of the fund, so $160,000, I mean, you know, any amount helps. I mean, I think about just how much money, you know, my family’s putting out, just trying to, you know, make sure that our food orders, like when we go out to the grocery store that we’re doing bang for buck, but also not having to leave the house for, you know, two weeks. And so all of a sudden, a bill that looked like one kind of bill, maybe once a week or every week and a half, or maybe even a couple of times a week, right,  

Gholz    16:04    you just grabbed things as soon as you need them just became a rent size bill. 

Cawein Right. 

Gholz So, uh, 500 bucks, uh, not a lot of absolutely the need, but 500 bucks will, you know, that’ll take care of some groceries there. And, and right now, um, you know, that has some, you know, some real value, but where did that money come from? 

Cawein Ooh, yes. I’m excited to tell this story. So actually, um, our total fund amount right now is up to about $280,000. Um, so we have, we have more money to give out, as I said, and we will keep giving it out. And we actually now have opened up to repeat applicants. So it’s a slightly lower amount on the second application. Um, but we are funding artists again, and we expanded, so it’s not just artists and musicians anymore. We’re actually awarding funds to anyone whose livelihood was in the live music industry.  

Cawein    16:57    So, um, if you work in live sound, if you were an events team for, you know, a tour, whatever it might be, you’re eligible to apply for funds from us. Um, so we’ve been able to kind of expand our footprint, which I’ve been really excited about, but that’s 100% because we have a hugely diverse, um, or diverse revenue sources for this. So we’ve gotten funds from, we got $85,000 from the Kresge Foundation, which we were, I mean, just incredibly grateful for. And we’ve also gotten funding support from our private foundations here in Memphis. We have raised about $13,000, maybe close to 14 now, just from individual donors from like 275 individuals who’s given. Um, and I, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that so many of them are musicians themselves who’ve done like live streams to give back to us. Um, but we also learned a couple of weeks ago that a hundred thousand dollars is coming to us from the city, uh, from CARES funding that has come in for, uh, you know, support during COVID. So they, you know, designated us as a recipient, um, in their sort of line item under support for individuals, because obviously we’re supporting individual musicians. So $100,000 of that 280 has come from the city, um, to support our musicians  

Gholz   18:13    Out of the, just to be clear, just out of that federal CARES act. 

Cawein Yep. 

Gholz And how does that, I have so many thoughts about that, that, um, 

Cawein Don’t ask me any deep questions now. I don’t know all the nitty gritty. 

Gholz No, no, no, no, no, it’s great. And you know, our city is going through so much right now and I want to be sensitive to the struggles of even just our basic city workers, just to keep the city moving during this period, 

Cawein Right.

Gholz basic, you know, everyone, you know, just being able to show up our hats off to all these workers, but the impact, like you said, was immediate, it is ongoing. Uh, I’m still talking to musicians now who were booked out, you know, six months. 

Cawein Oh gosh, yeah. 

Gholz You know, the top musicians are booked out six months to a year ahead. So all of a sudden that revenue is gone and I very much appreciate, uh, you know, the Kresge Foundation was involved in supporting our purchase of the Blue Bird Inn. And is one of the reasons why we were able to bring up, uh, Tonya, uh, Dyson from Memphis Slim House two Detroit two years ago to discuss, uh, the impact of music and urbanism and neighborhoods.  

Gholz   19:25    So, um, we’ll, we will put some links in there about all that good, uh, COVID work, but let’s just, let’s switch now to, uh, you know, urbanism and sustainability and I think that’ll be, that’ll be great. So let’s talk about, uh, Music and Urbanism. You were, uh, nice enough to invite me to speak to your class, I guess maybe it was last year. 

Cawein Yeah!

Gholz Um, and, uh, tell me if someone were to come to you and say, um, why, uh, music is important, uh, to, uh, it’ll be interesting, the words you use, the kind of redevelopment, as we all know, in certain kinds of redevelopment, especially in Detroit at least, you know, uh, smacks of gentrification. There’s lots of concerns about all of that, but generally speaking, we’re coming to, a neighborhood like Stax, right? Where the Memphis Slim House is, uh, that’s not immediately downtown, right? That’s not part of the downtown core. Uh, I don’t know how you describe these things within the city, but, you know, right? It’s not on Beale Street. Um, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s in the neighborhood, right? 

Cawein Yeah. 

Gholz And so how do you, uh, if someone, you know, a corporate person or someone who was looking to make investments, or just somebody in, in policy world, in the city’s policy world that may not have that cultural, um, map in their head as to why music is important?  

Gholz    20:48    What’s the, what’s the value add there? How do you describe the importance of music to cities? 

Cawein Oh my gosh. Well,with  the way you framed that, I feel like I could answer this question all day long. Um, and you know, I think I’ve spent my life trying to get people to understand this too. You know, you can come at this from a number of different angles. And I think that I consistently just try to determine, you know, who, who am I talking to and what’s their priority, right? 

Gholz Yes. 

Cawein If you’re speaking to somebody who is priority is economic development, for example. And certainly plenty of our elected leaders, that’s a priority. They want to see jobs. They want to see, um, you know, income. Uh, they want to see that economic prosperity come into their community. We can talk about music as a driver for economic development, um, specifically in, in cities like Memphis and Detroit, literally, you know, what is the music industry look like?  

Cawein    21:40    What does the music community look like? And how do we, uh, you know, build or create, um, infrastructure or give them tools for that industry to grow, to be a growth, um, to be a growth industry for our community. I think that what we spend a lot of time thinking about in the music urbanism course specifically is the way I always phrase it to my students is “how is music a tool in this situation?” Um, and so I think that the one that, uh, the two things pop out to me, um, from your question, and one is that obviously, you know, music is culture. Um, and if we just build cities full of metal and wood boxes to house people, and there is no culture, we have no cities. We don’t have places that anyone wants to be. You’re going to have big empty metal and wood boxes, right?  

Cawein    22:27    Um, culture is what brings people to a place, it’s what makes people care about a place. And I think in a city like Memphis, when we think about how tied music is to our civic identity, that identity, that shared identity that we have around music, that shared passion and belief that Memphis is this great music city. It ties us to each other. It ties us to our city. It ties us to each other. It begets greater investment from individuals in our city. And that’s at a, at a micro level of caring for your neighborhood and your neighbors. And it’s at a macro level of wanting to represent your city and see, you know, and fight for great things to happen for your city and advocate for your city. So I think, you know, that is a big piece of it. And the other, I think about this a lot right now, is that music is one of the most compelling tools that we have for social cohesion.  

Cawein    23:17    So just going back to that idea of community, when you think about how people come together, um, you know, there’s this, this sort of cliche about, you know, music is the universal language, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. Um, in music, not only do we find universal ways to connect with each other, across many, many different, um, life and demographic, you know, barriers or divides, um, we also find ourselves to be uniquely and exquisitely represented in music, um, as an art form. And we find that we build these micro communities. I was actually just reading an article today about Memphis hip hop and the way that it’s represented different neighborhoods in Memphis over the years. And if you want to know about any specific Memphis neighborhood, like just go back and explore Memphis rap, especially like from the 90s, from sort of late 80s and 90s, early 2000s.

Cawein    24:04    And you’re going to find, you know, that that neighborhood represented in song. So there is this deep connection of place and community to music. Um, and I think that, you know, we can make these economic development arguments all day long and I do, to plenty of people, but ultimately, um, especially right now, I think so much about the community piece and the way that it simply binds us together as humans and creates opportunities for us to feel included, to feel safe, to feel represented. And those pieces are integral to the development of healthy cities. How do we develop a space, an urban center where people want to live, if we don’t have that level of social cohesion, if we don’t have community, if we don’t have connection with our neighbors and music is a phenomenal tool by which to achieve those goals.  

Gholz   24:54    What city to you, because, you know, we’re obviously looking to other cities for best practices. We know, uh, even though we too believe our city is the musical city par excellance, uh, globally, but, uh, we know, we know, we’re smart enough to know that other cities, uh, are, are doing it better in certain ways. What is, do you think, as you, as you go around, as you talk to other people, as you engage with Sound Diplomacy and all these things that you do, who’s really doing it, who’s really doing it right?Who are some, uh, examples of cities that, that, um, are really thinking this through properly and really putting musicians and music first?  

Cawein    25:39    Gosh. I, I’m going to answer your question, but I have a sort of depressing answer at first that I, it’s going to sound depressing, but I actually, I take comfort in it. Um, which is that really, there’s not an answer to this question. You know, we, we, especially, God, COVID has really uncovered the ways that we’re all doing it wrong. If we were doing it, if we were doing it right with this, things wouldn’t be as broken as they are right now,  right? We wouldn’t be musicians, wouldn’t be in this tremendous state of crisis if we had figured some things out. So, and honestly, that really was a comforting point for me when I was traveling a lot with Sound Diplomacy is just, you know, I would hear people talk about, well, our city, you know, here’s our unique set of problems and here’s why it’s so messed up here and why it will never be right.  

Cawein    26:22    And I would just think if I, if I recorded you and played you in five other cities that I can think of off the top of my head, they would all think you are from their city. Right, we all think our problems are so unique, but in fact they’re not. And, and I do really take comfort in that. I’m not just saying that because I think that what it means is that we can all work together to find solutions to some of these problems. So I think on a micro level, there are some, some things that I would point to, and the one example that comes to mind is that New Orleans, um, just completed a music strategy project with Sound Diplomacy. And I’ll, I’ll confess to not, I’ve not sort of been paying close attention to some of the implementation, which may be happening now.  

Cawein    27:00    So I don’t want to claim to be an expert there, but what I know is that when they started that work, they were incredibly intentional about the focus of the project being on intellectual property. And how do we create these lifetime income streams for our musicians. They already have a tremendous live music economy. They, and you know, one of the best in the world, you know, if you want to really enjoy live music, you go to New Orleans. They they’ve got that down. They don’t need anyone to come in and help them figure out how to boost their live music ecosystem. What they need is better tools in place to equip those musicians, some of whom are our true culture bearers for New Orleans who have been making music there for decades. They need to be better equipped. 

Gholz Right. 

Cawein And the ones who are coming up now need to be better equipped with the knowledge and, uh, and the resources to create lifetime income.  

Cawein    27:46    Uh, and that it cannot, you know, and this connects so to COVID right, it cannot all be coming from that live gig that you’re playing every single night, because there’s gonna come a point where you can’t do that anymore. And we have to start building, uh, those revenue streams for you. And so I was so pleased to see that the city and I, and I think that was sort of led by the Chamber of Commerce as well was saying, yes, we want to invest in a music strategy. So ding, ding, very happy to see that. But then also we want to double down and say, we want this strategy to be around intellectual property and, and helping to bring, um, you know, non-experiential music business to our city. And I just thought, that’s it, you know, and it’s all a question of like, you can build a strategy, you have to implement it. There are plenty of questions that remain about what that will look like going forward. But I was inspired to see that focus coming into the project.  

Gholz   28:37    Absolutely. And, you know, we have Jocelyn gentleman who was one of our advisors for many, many years. Detroiter, has been in new Orleans for years and we’ll, we’ll run this all by her and see if she has anything, uh, for feedback as well on that front. But, um, absolutely. I, one of our, uh, we had a musician who performed at an event earlier this year, uh, George Davidson, the drummer, uh, played with, uh, Ron English. And, you know, he was playing on stage with a, this before COVID with a respirator, you know, 

Cawein Oh my gosh. 

Gholz And, and, uh, you know, glad, glad he was still playing glad he was still out there glad he, if he wanted to be. But I think the crucial pieces is that at some point, um, you’d like to believe that it’s purely by choice and that he doesn’t need it to be at that gig. 

Cawein Right. 

Gholz Um, and that he can be, uh, taking care of his health and then, and experiencing music of younger people, if that’s what wants or advising  

Gholz    29:42    Or doing whatever else wants to do. 


Gholz The idea of a musician that has to, Mick Jagger does not need to go on to the stage. 

Right, right. He’s fine. 

He’s fine. 

I’m thinking of, I saw Teenie Hodges who, uh, for those who aren’t as familiar as a lead guitarist of High Rhythm, who played on, you know, all of the amazing soul tracks that came out of High Records and, and so many more. Um, but I saw him on oxygen playing at South by Southwest. I want to say that was like, uh, maybe a year before he passed? But yeah, exactly. We have to create a scenario where, um, we’re equipping these musicians for, to be able to make those choices. I think the way you framed that was perfect. Um, you know, I would love for them to be able to be performing until they’re in the grave, if that’s what is making them happy.  

Cawein    30:32    Um, but it’s, it needs to be a choice. And I don’t think it is right now. 

Gholz No, I don’t think it is either, uh, as we’re leaving the door here, Elizabeth, we have, this is just the beginning. We’ll, we’ll put a number of links in the piece and we really appreciate you. What, what, give me a, you are the, um, the Music Export office, you’re, you’re part of that crew. Um, give me somebody new from Memphis that we can link to at the end of the piece.

Gholz So we, uh, we, we feel like we’re, uh, a little hip to what’s what’s happening and in Memphis, give us somebody to listen to. 

Cawein Sure. Yeah. Uh, check out to Talibah Safiya. T-A-L-I-B-A-H S-A-F-I-Y-A,  Talibah Safiya. Incredible neo soul, R ‘n’ B singer, uh, born and raised Memphian. She moved away, lived in New York for a few years. The city called her back and she has been putting out incredible music. I mean, I think she’s already released six or seven singles in the last six months alone. So, um, you will be vibing. My favorite song by her. It’s called “Up and Down.” So  

Cawein    31:32    Go check her out. 

Gholz Fantastic. Uh, Elizabeth Cawein from Memphis, Tennessee, uh, sending our, our, uh, best of health and safety to you and your ecosystem. Thanks so much for joining us today. 

Cawein Thanks, Carleton.

Gholz    32:08    Today’s episode of Sonic Solidarity was recorded and produced by myself, Carleton Gholz. It was edited engineered by Detroit Sound Conservancy project manager, Jonah Raduns-Silverstein. Our theme music was performed by bassist Marion Hayden and saxophonist DeSean Jones in front of the legendary Blue Bird Inn, Detroit, Michigan, 2019. 

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