From Ben Tyree, 10 interviews about the music industry illuminating and humanizing artists’ everyday triumphs and struggles
David’s album, Journey To Love, released September 30, 2020, with a debut on iTunes’ top 100 R&B albums, at #3. Journey To Love was preceded by two singles entitled “Laugh” and “Let Me Know,” featuring rapper Lyteral.
Vernon Reid is probably best known for leading Living Colour. He founded Living Colour in New York City circa 1985 and piloted the band through a successful career that continues to this day. He also has a prolific session output in a variety of contexts.
Moist Paula, so named for her legendary turn of the century instrumental rock trio Moisturizer, is an Australian saxophonist and composer who has been based in NYC since the mid-90s.
Shelley Nicole—the mainspring behind Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe—is simultaneously a product, a witness and architect of Black-on-Black love, a calling that has informed all of her work as a singer, writer, composer, actor, poet, musician and a healer.
Born on the Mothership of Parliament-Funkadelic’s rise to fame in 1978, Garrett Shider came out of the womb wailing for the hand-me-down diaper of his parent’s legacy.
Sameer Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset and Indian classical music on tabla.
Vernon Reid in conversation with Ben Tyree
Why The Tune-In?
The public gaze sees musicians and artists at their best. The Tune-In brings listeners past the mystique to see that the artists they admire may be going through the same struggles as they are.
For many creative professionals, especially those in the performing arts, this precarious and unprecedented time may feel like a never-ending bad dream. Many have previously entertained questions of “what would I do if I couldn’t make art and music anymore?” because of an injury or other insurmountable circumstance of debilitation. Likely, very few have thought about what they would do if the performing arts industry collapsed altogether.
This harrowing and uncertain moment with the first collective taste of that can feel confusing, disorienting, and disheartening as financial strains increase and the promise of returning to work looms hazy and far out of reach. Creatives are coping in all different and necessarily innovative ways with these trying circumstances.
Bigger and deeper questions, beyond the most fundamental aspects of survival, are moving into the spotlight: What is important or essential? What is the place of art and music in society? What needs to be reimagined in the next evolution of this work, in itself and as an industry? How can we co-create this new vision and organize ourselves to make it manifest?
The public gaze sees musicians and artists at their best. Often, people are not aware of all that goes into what artists do—the emotional struggles, career struggles, and how artists deal with normal life, just like everyone else. For every triumph, there are 10-20 struggles, failures, and meltdowns.
The Tune-In offers the public an opportunity to see past the mystique and realize that the artists they admire may be going through the same struggles as they are. Like breaking the fourth wall, The Tune-In aims to advance a cultural adjustment to remove the barriers of artist exceptionalization. The truth is that we are all pretty alike. Shit happens to everybody. Artists might take leaps and risks to create art, entertainment, magic…and they also get sick, have families, pay taxes.
The benefits of this perspective swing both ways. Realizing that things are difficult for everybody, even for revered and anomalous artists, may inspire a sense of solidarity and hope for many people struggling during this time. Ben hopes that the inspiration he’s found in listening to long-form interviews with people he respects will be passed along to listeners of The Tune-In. Listening to other people’s struggles and triumphs and how they just keep going gives me the motivation to keep trying, pushing, and plugging away at it.
The Tune-In’s first line-up of guests includes people who have been central in Ben’s musical life, ranging from his circle of New York colleagues Vernon Reid, John Medeski, Shelley Nicole, Sophia Ramos, V. Jeffrey Smith, “Moist” Paula Henderson…to people who laid the path for him, including early D.C. guitar mentor Tom Newman.