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Washington Women in Jazz Festival Hosting Songwriter Showcase March 21

Washington Women in Jazz Songwriter Showcase promotional poster with photos of performers

Tuesday, March 21, 2023
WWJF Songwriter Showcase

My Dead Aunt’s Books
Hyattsville, MD

7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

This Women’s History Month, Washington Women in Jazz is hosting its 13th annual festival (WWJF) to celebrate the women of the D.C. jazz community. Many uplifting events are planned this March – one of them being a Songwriter Showcase filled with local talent at My Dead Aunt’s Books in Hyattsville on Tuesday, March 21. 

Pianist, vocalist, and composer Amy K. Bormet created WWJF in 2011 and is also co-owner of Strange Woman Records, presenting this “evening of new acoustic songs by women and non-binary songwriters from D.C. and beyond.” Performers include: Amy K Bormet, Sarah Fridrich, Melinda Rice, and Eliza Tebo

The event is inspired by Fridrich‘s songwriting article in the debut issue of WWJF’s The Turnaround magazine. This group of artists is part of a weekly songwriting group of about 16 to 20 people that started during the pandemic on Zoom; someone would present a unique prompt, to write a love song without using the word love, for example, and then the group would go on mute and watch each other write, then return to share what they had created in a short period of time. Bormet says this process is “to hold each other accountable, but also in community to share developing songs and share the struggle.” The group continues even now, as she says it is therapeutic and powerful.

As part of the WWJF, this is the first time Bormet has organized something more songwriter focused, she says. “This is just another angle of what jazz can include and what jazz can mean, and it’s turned into a celebration of coming into reality and being able to share our songs with a broader audience.” She hopes that the showcase, “a mix of jazz and not-so-jazz and a really fun celebration of what was once only online and now is in person,” will encourage people to read Fridrich’s article in the magazine, as well as create their own songwriting communities.

Eliza Tebo, who recently released her self-titled debut jazz E.P. on Bormet’s label, is a D.C.-based vocalist and songwriter that blends many different genres, including jazz, pop, folk, rock, and musical theater. As well as a soloist, you can find Tebo performing in the area as part of the acoustic duo Jessica Upstairs and the rock band Wandering Bird. She writes her own solo acoustic music, which she will be performing at the showcase (songs that have not yet been released), and is also working on an upcoming pop album. This showcase means a lot to her: “Music is my first love, and I have been singing and writing songs since I was a young kid, so it is kind of a dream to be able to perform whenever I can, but especially in the D.C. area, a region that’s filled with so many gifted musicians,” she says. “It feels like an honor, and then to perform alongside this particular group of women also is an honor.” 

Tebo describes the weekly songwriting group as “a magical experience, both in terms of seeing what you can create in a short amount of time, and hearing what other people create based on the same original idea.” She is particularly excited to take things offline and get to hear this warm group of inviting people and talented musicians perform their own music live. 

Violinist and composer Melinda Rice is traveling from her home in Pennsylvania for the showcase. Her music combines her classical background as a violinist with folk-style songwriting and focuses on creating a space for genuine reaction. She is currently working on a project called “Murmurations,” coming from the idea of movement being something that happens in a collective. She utilizes found sound, like the Limerick Generating Station emergency siren which is included in her upcoming instrumental track “Right Beneath the Moon”.

The pieces that she is performing at the show range from the last three years that started in the songwriting workshop, which she is grateful to be a part of, “Because I often don’t share a lot of the songs that I write that have words with them; I’m a little bit better at sharing instrumental music,” she says. “There’s such an important space for linking words and music, and it means a lot for me to do it and to do it with other people as well.” Rice is at a point where she is ready to share what she has created to people who are willing to listen – “It’s a joy to step into that anticipation.” My Dead Aunt’s Books seems like a great place to exhibit these songs, as bookstores are a fantastic place to pick up new ideas, she says. She expresses that she loves the work of her fellow artists that are performing and is honored to share the spotlight with them. 

This show has very limited seating, so make sure to get a ticket soon if you want to save your spot for this intimate evening of song celebration. Find more information about the Washington Women in Jazz Festival here, and show your support by attending one of the many jazz events they are hosting this month (and beyond).

Alchemical Records contributor Emma Page

Emma Page

Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.

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