Divas Underground 2012

Thursday March 29, 12noon-7pm    14 Street/Union Square

NYCSubwayGirl Cathy Grier performs 3:40pm-4:20

Union SQuare 14th Street subway station above N/R line will have a very exciting event of women performers of the Music Under NY program throughout the day. check out the line-up and come and support live music in public spaces:

* Divas Underground: In celebration of Women’s History Month, Music Under New York’s divas will perform a marathon concert with some dedications to the beloved divas Etta James, Amy Winehouse, and Whitney Houston, whom we have lost recently.

12:00-12:30Wendy Sayvetz  ­www.abacaproductions.com

12:30- 1:10     Arlethia   www.arlethiagospel.com

1:10- 1:50       Lindsay Dragan www.Lindsaydragan.comwww.Wearesunshowers.com

1:50- 2:20       Marcella Adame

2:20- 3:00       Heidi Kole   http://www.thesubwaydiaries.com

3:00- 3:40       Martine Bruno  www.martinabruno.com

3:40- 4:20       Cathy Grier  www.nycsubwaygirl.com

4:20- 5:20       Left on Red  www.leftonredmusic.com

5:20- 6:00       Samantha Margulies   www.samanthamargulies.com

6:00- 7:00       SisterMonk  www.sistermonk.com

Music Under New York's DIVAS UNDERGROUND March 17, 2011

I was able to catch a few of the other women artists of MUNY, Samantha Margulies, Natalie Gelman and Martine Bruno to share with you.

Salieu and I jam Union Square

Today was one of those days performing in the subway that I will cherish.  I arrived at my scheduled location at Union Square to find Salieu Suso an amazing Kora player performing in the spot. We've always talked about performing together and so I said, "why don't we just share the gig?"  To which he replied, "why not!"  

I started to set up when Richard Allen a commuter came by to talk to me about singing at his wedding.  His wife and daughter had seen me perform at Columbus Circle a few weeks ago. I think it's really cool that seeing my performances in the subway inspires someone to want my music for a wedding.  I've done a few (actually singing for my cousins wedding this weekend, but I digress).

Salieu and I started by him joining in on my song Question Of Desire, which within the first few bars I adapted to his playing and rhythm.  I had to tune up a 1/2 step to be in tune with his 21 strings, and believe me it's a lot easier to tune 6 strings with modern machine heads than tuning 21 strings that are tuned by pushing up a ring made from animal hides.  The Kora is made from a large gourd and it's played in front of the musician with both hands not unlike a harp.  It's from West Africa and Salieu sings songs as the storyteller in Africa it's called the "Griot" a common and much respected role in the village.  So why would it be a stretch for a white girl playing and singing the blues jam with a black man playing the Kora?  It's world music.  The combining of styles.  Anyway the blues came from Africa, nurtured in the US with Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker to name a few, then ironically discovered by groups like the Rolling Stones who truly gave those artists a chance to be appreciated in their own country.  Such a long and windy road for the blues.  There we were in Union Square.  What a lovely sight to see people realizing what they were seeing and hearing.

Throughout the day I'd play a few songs and then Salieu would play a few songs, each time the other finding our groove and place within the others style.  I'll tell you my wrist is tired from all the repetitive finger picking.  Songs in the Griot style are long and use a lot of rhythm.

I'll be putting together a clip of our day and will add it here soon.  In the meantime here's a picture.


Union Square where the current advertising is for the Lion King. what could be better than Salieu Suso a Kora player? photo by Richard Allen


Quiet reflection NYC wound

Been in quiet reflection, and stillness over the news since Sunday night of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  Sympathy for the families of those who died on September 11.  It's their moment for now. Feeling uncomfortable though, watching people, gloat, mob like hysteria as if his death, a murder of a murderer would be the end of the story.  Paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr. "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it's a descending spiral, with violence you can murder the hater but you do not murder hate, you just increase hate...darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that."

I have to turn off the media or take it in small doses, maybe a radio program so I don't have to see, or a printed article to allow the words to seep in about "the operation."  No matter what, I still get confused, have too many questions. All that is swirling is hard to digest.  We went to war, wars over this man and his ideologies, but we don't know the exact cost of lives lost or as our military calls it, collateral damage.  I am uneasy to say the least.  And we're still at war.  How can you wage a war on terror?

My thoughts in reflection: 

Waking up September 11, 2001 in my apartment in Washington Heights to a city forever changed. 

Walking past flyers and posters plastered throughout the city announcing the missing.  

Returning to perform in the subway as soon as I could to be a "canary in coal mine," of sorts.  

Singing to grieve. 

Singing to let people know we're still alive and breathing and capable of getting through the tragedy. 

Singing even during all the Anthrax scares, and family concern that maybe I should "wait before returning to subway gigs."  

Singing at St. Paul's Chapel the epicenter for exhausted recovery workers. 

Singing at a funeral for fallen fireman Sergio Villanueva, from ladder 132 engine 4

Heartbreaking weeks and months of the loss, sadness, death, and ever burning smell.  

A torn apart and grieving city.  

Joining in voice with others fearing America would be changed in very negative ways-like with the fast tracked Patriot Act; the horrible side of humanity with backlash of anyone Muslim; racial profiling at it's most reviling. President Bush racing to war.  

A media frenzied.  

Putting a hand written peace symbol on my subway banner and getting very mixed reactions to it. 

A small and growing group called "New Yorkers Say No To War" meetings with anti-violence guest speakers, trying to understand the new world we were being delivered into.  

We found our own solace in attempting to be educated and proactive not reactive.  

All this only months after September 11.  

In Union Square in the underground corridor above N/R line on the west wall are all the names of those who perished. It's just label stickers someone put up onto the subway tile, some names are fading. You could miss it if you're not paying attention. I look at it every time I perform there and point it out to people as they rush on by. A quiet reflection of the gravity and loss, slowly fading from the finger tips that brush over the names.


on 2013-02-06 16:18 by NYC Subway Girl

thanks to Melea Seward for informing me that the wall sticker installation was created by John Lin. 

She writes:

My friend John Lin did this. He measured the space, mapped the white subway tiles, printed all the names of those that died on 9/11, and enlisted a bunch of us to help him make this wall. It was the weekend after September 11 -- maybe 20 people or so -- unpeeled Avery labels and affixed them in alphabetical order -- to the wall. I had just moved to New York a few months before. I have recently left NYC -- was there a few weeks ago and ran into this wall, noticed the peeling stickers. And had a moment. I was writing about it and wondered if anyone else had noticed it.

I'm pleased to see that you made this video. And accompanied the long walk down that hallway with your song.

Thank you.