About a week before speeches (and two weeks before learning centres), things were going fine until the word “INTERVIEW” frantically made its way back into my memory. I totally forgot about completing my eminent interview! I had to get on it right away.
I thought it would be easy. As my eminent person is Billie Holiday, I wanted to interview a music teacher to understand more about the field. I sent an email to my middle school music teacher asking him if he would be willing to conduct an interview. “Of course he would!” I thought. So I waited patiently for one day… two days… three days. No response. Being the impatient teenager I am, I chose to try someone else.
After doing some brainstorming, I decided to send an email to my former choir teacher, Ms. Tia Turner. Because the deadline was creeping up on me, this time I also sent my questions in the original email to limit unnecessary messages back and forth. So again, I waited patiently for one day… two days… three days. Except this time, I actually received a response!
The following are the emails exchanged between myself and Ms. Turner:
Dear Ms. Turner,
I hope you and your family are well.
I am in a gifted program called TALONS at Gleneagle Secondary School, and we are currently working on an Eminent Person research project. I have decided to conduct my project on the life of jazz musician, Billie Holiday. An important aspect of this project is to obtain an interview from someone who works in a similar field as your eminent person to better understand their life and career. As you are a music teacher, I thought you would be a great person to interview.
The following are my questions:
- In your opinion, what is the most difficult part about working in the music business?
- How do you think songs with controversy (such as Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”) influence an artist’s career?
- Who are your musical inspirations and why?
I would really appreciate if you could answer these few questions to help extend my project. However, I know you are likely quite busy so if you cannot respond, I understand.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and considering my request.
1 – In your opinion, what is the most difficult part about working in the music business?
– I think one of the most difficult things about working in the music business is being under appreciated or recognized. There are very few artists that get proper recognition for their talents and the ones that do usually have a corporate “machine” behind them to help accomplish this. If you want to be in the music business you need to do it because you truly love it & not to get recognized or you will definitely be disappointed.
2 – How do you think songs with controversy (such as Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”) influence an artist’s career?
– When an artist chooses to perform or record a controversial song it can have a great impact on their career. In Holiday’s situation there was fear of retaliation & record companies were very resistant to record it. With todays impact of social media a controversial recording of a song can rocket an artist to great success but then they need to be able to continue to provide substance with their music or they can crash down as quickly as they rose. Controversial songs can also ruin an artists career if they are scene to be overly disrespectful or degrading.
3 – Who are your musical inspirations and why?
– My first big musical inspiration was Ella Fitzgerald. I was introduced to her in grade 9 & couldn’t get enough. I still to this day can sing dozens of her songs just as she did. Her amazing feel, clarity & precision of tone and use of her instrument were undeniable. Over the years I was also drawn to Betty Carter, Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, Elvis Costello among many others. Recently I have been drawn back to K.D. Lang as she has an unbelievable instrument that she uses to it’s full potential & her ability to truly sing a song as it should be sung and move you through the telling of a story are inspirational. I also so admire her as a human being that has been through a lot of struggles in her life and has come to a place of great compassion. It had always been hard for me to truly enjoy listening to the music of someone I don’t repeat as a person.
I hope this is what you were needing, if you need longer answers or more details just let me know. I hope things are going well for you & please say hi to your mom for me!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Your answers have really given me insight into the music industry. It was also great reading about your personal inspirations and why you are drawn to them. I really appreciate all of your help with this component of my project. You are the best!
As you can see, my interview worked out pretty well! One thing I would change for next year is sending out interview requests earlier. The answers I got from Ms. Turner were very valuable and could have helped improve my speech. However, I didn’t send out emails until after my speech was written, therefore the answers were not helpful for that aspect of the project. Though I can’t complain too much. Having a good interview was one of my original goals for the eminent person project so overall, I am really happy that it was successfully completed!