Although there are many famous female singers and performers, there are very few women behind the mixing console. According to BBC, more than 95% of record producers and sound engineers are men. This may be because the industry has a “boys club” atmosphere and many women are not inclined to pursue such a demanding career while also trying to raise a family. Yet, there are still some women who have risen to the challenge and succeed as jazz producers. Today we’re here to recognize these badass women who are making moves in today’s day and age!
Amy Denio – Seattle, WA
Amy Denio is an award-winning composer and producer who was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame in March 2015. Not only has she produced over 50 releases, but she is also able to play the guitar, bass, alto sax, clarinet, accordion, and she can sing four octaves! In 1986, Denio founded her own record label and publishing company, Spoot Music, and has since collaborated with musicians from all over the world—Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina just to name a few. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Denio has been working on her “Corona Sonora” series, which consists of a wide variety of compositions that musically interpret the death and infection tolls in cities where Denio has previously resided.
Yoshie Nakayama – Los Angeles, CA
A graduate of the Kunitachi College of Music and the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Yoshie Nakayma is a producer, trombonist, arranger, composer, singer and educator who specializes in jazzy a-cappella productions. Her creative vision is wide-ranging, including traditional Japanese songs, jazz big band, orchestra, Motown and more. She has contributed to over 400 recordings, worked with great mentors like Billy Bob Thorton and Alejandro Sanz, and she is the official arranger of the UNIVOZ Vocal Ensemble. Currently, Nakayama is working as one of the founders of the global initiative, Songs for World Peace, which promotes peace through the power of music.
Kristina Koller – New York City, NY
Kristina Koller was exposed to a vast array of music and dance during her childhood outside of New York City, which led her to pursue jazz music, solo performance and formal music education at The City College of New York. Using her four-octave vocals, Koller creates powerful songs that project empowerment through self-discovery and awareness. And not only is she a professional vocalist, but Koller is also currently producing a synth pop record. As a producer, she specializes in transforming jazz standards into contemporary arrangements by using elements of R&B, pop and rock.
Suzana Laşcu – Rotterdam, Netherlands
A graduate of Prins Claus Conservatorium and Codarts University, Suzana Laşcu is a performer, poet and composer who specializes in producing and curating sonic content. Her work aims to address all that permeates culture and is thus very transdisciplinary in nature, weaving across multiple genres—jazz, experimental, acoustic and electronic. Laşcu takes a non-traditional approach to music by incorporating extended techniques, spoken word and non-temperate sound producing effects. Currently, in 2021, she has begun broadcasting her most recent works on Radio WORM in Rotterdam.
Kathy Salem – Cleveland, Ohio
As the founder and managing director of the jazz booking agency Night is Alive, Kathy Salem produces classical and jazz concerts worldwide with the goal of widening the influence of jazz music. Music has always held a sacred place in Salem’s heart: she played piano as a child, taught herself to read music in church and studied classic music formally for five years. Now, with Night is Alive, Salem represents some of the most talented and distinguished artists in the industry, such as Willie Jones III, Bill Cunliffe, Jeff Rupert and Donald Vega. She also offers academic scholarships to emerging musicians who are still attending college, which will foster a. love for jazz music in the next generation. Most recently, Salem produced the 2021 album, Cryin’ In My Whiskey, which infuses classic country hits with a jazz twist and features the vocals of Janis Siegel and piano of John di Martino.
Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available in our store now and on all major music platforms.
This post was written by Blog Editor, Jacqueline Knirnschild.