An all-star band featuring female jazz musicians associated with Jazz North and the Jazz Camp for Girls project have united to record ‘She Wasn’t Bad for a Girl’ by saxophonist Helena Summerfield.
As Jazz North’s Jazz Camp for Girls Project Manager, Helena was inspired to write the song after thinking about some of the very silly things that had been said to her over the years as a female musician. Things like, “You don’t sound like a girl when you play the saxophone,” and “Are you the singer?” when arriving at a gig carrying an instrument.
The song’s video was released on Sunday 8th March – International Women’s Day – by the Jazz Camp for Girls All Stars band and hits out at the gender stereotypes in a male dominated jazz industry. “Things are changing,” says Helena, “but the stereotypes still need to be broken down. I hope that the song will not just appeal to female jazz musicians, I think that the lyrics relate to common themes in other traditionally male dominated environments. The song is fun but also has a serious message. It turns the phrase ‘she wasn’t bad for a girl’ on its head whilst giving the audience a cheeky wink.”
The All Stars band features Caz Boaden on drums, Nicola Farnon on bass and vocals, Kathy Dyson on guitar, Laura Cole on piano, Alex Clarke on tenor sax, Nokuthula Zondi on vocals and Helena herself on alto sax. “I felt like a kid in a sweet shop,” says Helena. “I had the opportunity to hand pick these amazing players who are all out there doing their thing and can really swing.”
Jazz North’s Jazz Camp for Girls gives 9 to 15-year-old girls the opportunity to flourish under the mentorship of female role models and was where the idea for the song first came about. “At last year’s camp, I decided to create a handbook,” says Helena. “It was filled with snapshot interviews of female jazz musicians, practise tips and resources to empower our young participants. I wanted them to have something physical to take home and to show them that women are making successful careers playing jazz and improvised music. This year I thought that it would be even more exciting to bring our handbook role models to life to perform a Jazz Camp for Girls anthem. I hope you feel inspired after watching the amazing musicians in our video and empowered by its message.”
The video for ‘She Wasn’t Bad for a Girl’ features footage from the recording session at Valley Wood Studio in Leeds, plus girls taking part in the February 2020 Jazz Camp for Girls. Released on Sunday 8th March for International Women’s Day, this also fell during the second jazz camp weekend. “We hope that the song will raise awareness of the Jazz Camp for Girls project and of Jazz North’s commitment to supporting women in jazz,” says Helena. “I’m really excited to see how the song is received and would love to get the band together again to record more material in the future.”