Maybe you've heard that trope before - people like crabs in a bucket, always pulling whoever's at the top back down to the bottom. While I understand that lots of people are like this, it's an idea I tend to reject. First of all, there shouldn't be a bucket. Secondly, why would you ever try to pull someone down who could potentially pull you up? I'm by no means done climbing myself, but that doesn't mean I can't "pull people up", so to speak, in my own way.
Last February, I had the honor of hosting an event at the annual Sphinx Conference called Sphinx Tank. It's a lot like the show, Shark Tank, but music-centered. The first person to pitch to the team of sharks was 19-year-old Cameren Anai Williams. This Julliard student has already achieved so much, including starting her own non-profit, and writing a children's book called Kinderlute! You can take a look at her pitch presentation here:
Cameren didn't win the top prize at this event, but she DID win my attention! American Public Media offers a monthly feature to kids called Classical Kids Storytime, and my first thought was that we needed to feature Cameren's book! What better "back to school" feature could there be, than a story about how kids should take care of their new instruments? There were a few concerns about how this story would translate digitally, but thanks to our really incredible team we got it done just in time for the September edition. I even had the pleasure of voicing the story! You can check it out here:
In addition to making sure we featured Cameren's book, I wanted to feature Cameren, herself! The biggest platform I have personally (other than my nightly radio show) is my podcast, TRILLOQUY, so I scheduled an interview and got it done in time for the release of the digital version of Kinderlute. You can take a listen to our conversation (alongside my review of Bob Watt's "Black Horn") here. Below is an excerpt of our conversation, where Cameren talks about the importance of diversity in her book.
I've pumped up the work of my fellow black classical musician everywhere I can - on my show, through one of my organization's projects, on my podcast, through my social media, and even here, on my website. I wonder if I'm missing anything....
It's up to all of us to change the face of classical music, and this is how I'm doing it - I'm using my positions and my connections equitably. Spend an hour of your day today figuring out how you can dismantle the "crabs in a bucket" trope, and big up someone's work! Hell, share this blog post so that you can help raise awareness about Cameren's work as well! If we all maintain an attitude of building each other up, we'll not only get rid of that proverbial bucket, but build a world where people don't even remember it.