Last month, online radio staion Worldwide FM teamed up with The Steve Reid Foundation to present a day of programming dedicated to the organisation in order to raise funds.
Launched in 2011 by Gilles Peterson following the death of Reid the foundation helps people working in music who are in crisis, especially those suffering from illness and to support emerging new talent through education and information initiatives.
The recent fundraiser featured some amazing talent including Four Tet, Sarathy Korwar, Bex Burch, Nubya Garcia, Charlie Dark, Ola Szmidt, as well as Peterson hosting a two-hour Jazz Jukebox show where he played tracks requested by donors. The proceeds for the day were split between Help Musicians (UK) and Jazz Foundation (NYC) which help musicians whose work/livelihoods have been greatly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. They managed to raise £7,568 and bumped this up to £10,000, donating £5000 to both charities. The Maghreban & Idris Rahman, releases an electronic version of Lions Of Judah via Bandcamp with all proceeds going to the cause.
With a new Steve Reid Foundation Day in the pipeline we chat to trustee Nick Woodmansey aka Emanative who released the foundation’s first record ‘The Light Years Of The Darkness’ in 2016.
Hey Nick, hope you’re well? Can you tell us how you got involved in the Steve Reid Foundation and why it’s important to you?
Hey! All is good and well here, all things considered – and thanks.
I actually got involved very early on, back in around 2011. Steve had sadly passed away in April 2010 from throat cancer. The idea of a charity in his name was a very fresh and I’d only heard any mention of it via a tribute mix and interview between Gilles Peterson and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet).
I mentioned an idea to Gilles shortly after this time about doing a version of Steve Reid’s “Lions Of Judah” and doing it in aid of his new charity. We went ahead and did this along with Ahmed Abdullah the original trumpeter and writer of the track. Four Tet did an edit, and we released this on Brownswood / The Steve Reid Foundation. And then not long after this, the charity itself was becoming more of an actual entity and various artists and industry people were invited to join Gilles and get involved as trustees; myself, Gilles’s manager; Simon Goffe; Emily from Brownswood Recordings; Ayian Camcam, Four Tet, Floating Points, Theo Parrish, Charlie Dark etc..
For me, it was an honour to be invited (a bit daunting at first considering the calibre of people involved) and it somehow resonated with me strongly to be involved in something in the music business that aimed to help other artists. I guess deep down and as an (often) struggling musician and producer, to know that I’m actively working to help others is very satisfying, and therefore music doesn’t feel like it’s all just a waste of time when it seems like there is nothing to gain for myself financially or otherwise other than purely for artistic expression and self-satisfaction.
I grew up in a musical household, and my dad played the drums for David Bowie and many others. And despite the fact that the albums he played on are part of most good music collections worldwide, there were years of financial difficulty due to no royalties whatsoever, and this always seemed painfully unfair to me! Musicians who have given so much, shouldn’t be left in a position of struggling to survive.
In my own opinion, the current situation of lockdown highlights an interesting fact; that most musicians make money only from LIVE music. Whilst streaming allows us all to have access to new music at our fingertips, all available to us for free; this has obviously had a disastrous effect on the livelihoods of artists and musicians worldwide. To the younger generation, it is simply an alien concept to pay for music full stop. This obviously devaluates music in general. This IS a big problem and it does need to be tackled and resolved to a more ethical solution. It shouldn’t be that big corporations like Spotify and Apple Music are the only ones gaining from music. The artist’s royalty from streaming is beyond a joke.
I’ve always been an advocate of Bandcamp and their general philosophy of working with and for the artist. Their platform does so much to help enable bands and artists in their careers, from selling their digital music, merchandise, vinyl etc as well as promoting their live shows and beyond. And their revenue share on digital is only 15% and on physical only 10%. For what they deliver, they are leading the way in an ethical approach. I hope something positive comes from this unjust imbalance being in plain view in these strange times.
For those who might not be familiar, can you explain a bit about the Steve Reid Foundation and the work it does?
Absolutely. The charity was set up by Gilles Peterson in 2011 after the death of his friend, jazz drummer Steve Reid, who couldn’t afford the treatment he needed to save his life potentially. The aims of the charity are to help musicians in crisis, especially those suffering from injury or illness, but we also seek to support emerging new talent as well.
We have been working closely with other organisations like the PRS Foundation for several years now together with whom we have been collaborating on what we call the InNOVAtion Award; a creative development scheme that offers mentorship, a financial grant, assistance and industry advice.
Many artists have benefited from this scheme over the last few years, for example; Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Sarathy Korwar, Hector Plimmer, Femi Koleoso (Ezra Collective) and Ola Szmidt.
The line up last month’s fundraiser was incredible with yourself, Gilles Peterson, Four Tet, Sarathy Korwar, Bex Burch, Charlie Dark, Ola Szmidt, and many more. What have you got lined up next time around?
It was an incredible day, curated by Gilles and in association with Worldwide FM featuring various one / two hour mixes with many tributes to Steve Reid, deep jazz and drummers and all with an end goal and focus on what has now become known as his Jazz Jukebox! This isn’t the first time we’ve had one of these, where you make a donation to the cause along with your request of a favourite jazz piece, and he plays it all as part of one big jazz show from the Brownswood Basement. He has previously run several marathons in aid of the charity, and I believe it must have been after his last one, he pledged to DJ for the same amount of time it took him to run the marathon, pretty much straight afterwards and take requests and donations!
This time the Jazz Jukebox came at the end if this day of music on Worldwide FM and was continued on his morning show over the following consecutive days. We decided to hold this fundraiser specifically to help musicians in need due to loss of income and work caused by the Coronavirus crisis. We managed to raise £7,568 and bumped this up to £10,000 and donated £5000 to Help Musicians and the same again to Jazz Foundation Of America, both actively involved with giving hardship grants to artists in need right now! We also had a special release from The Maghreban & Idris Rahman, an electronic version of Lions Of Judah released via Bandcamp with all proceeds going to the cause.
We do intend to hold another fundraiser for this same issue regardless of how long lockdown continues, as the effect on artists will take some time to fully repair. Gilles will be creating something equally exciting and inspirational and will no doubt include another Jazz Jukebox. The level of creation and dedication from Gilles and all of the trustees involved has been truly inspiring and I can’t wait to tell you more about this next event closer to the time.