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Carmen Souza

Photo of Carmen Souzacourtesy of the artist

How would you describe your music?

My music is a mix of Cape Verdean music with Jazz.

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

"I'm the band leader together with Theo Pas'cal, we've been working together for about ten years now, and we share a vision of music, he is the musical director and producer. In the studio I'm a composer as well with him, although he composes most of the songs, its almost like a joint partnership in composition, and I co produce. In business and marketing decisions there is a manager Patricia Pascal that handles all of that, I prefer to be focused only on music."

Describe your gear.

Wurlitzer and Rhodes, and acoustic guitar Takamine (steel guitar) and nylon guitar from a portuguese luthier called Antonio Santos, and a Jazz guitar from an English luthier Westfield.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

I think that it has always been different, for instance for the music that I do which is cape verdean influenced if you count how many cape verdean man artists there are right now in the market and how many cape verdean women artists you will see a Big difference. And its not because there aren't any, its because of what people are choosing to see/hear. My opinion is people are not listening they are paying to have acess to a whole pack, which involves beauty, good music, aesthethics in a general way. So it is not 100% for the Arte or Talent. It makes a clear difference when you open the pages of very important magazines in the UK and throughout the world when you see the big importance given to music vs looks, when you see a review from an artist based on the way she looks rather than the music she makes, and then afterwards very small fotos of men artists, with reviews not so bad, but not as enthusiastic.

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

"Yes, of course there are big differences, I hear a lot of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone , Cesaria Evora,Ella Fitzgerald, and the times where they lived were completely different times from the ones we live now. I speak about NIna Simone that had to fight for so many causes mainly racial issues, we could hear that in her music and she was a vehicle through her music, fighting for freedom and equality. Billie Holiday didn't have the best of lucks in her life she didn't come from a rich and wealthy family and she didnt take the best of decisions for her life. But in the end thats what made these artists special, because they had real struggles, real complicated struggles in their lifes, and that was transported to their music. And we are just talking about women there are names like Charles Mingus, Horace Silver who lived in dificult times .Nowadays because we did have people who fought for all of that, the conditions of life are different, there are other resources that they didn't have, I think there is the generation of sitting in shadow of the work the other generations done in the past. Women instead of keeping the dignifying image, that has always been connected with women, there is now an issue that everybody speaks about which is Women power, I mean I have nothing against it, If people are Inteligent, Talented, either men or women why shouldn't they be given an opportunity, I'm just not happy with the way women have been using or reaching power, they use their bodies as a very important tool instead of Talent. "

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

"I have amazing people that are with me from the beggining, and they were the ones to really show me what it is to be a musician I speak about Theo Pas'cal, who really was to blame for getting me into this. I grew musically and as a person due to his experience of 20 years being a professional musician and a fighter for life and for what is Right. The other person is my manager Patricia Pascal who is the person who reallly understands me an has potencialized my work through the right channels. The reason why I spoke of these two people is because they are probabaly the most important people in a womans career who is just taking of. To be surrounded by THE RIGHT PEOPLE is very Important. The world is full of Managers and Producers that in the end just want to get money and a lot of other things from you. And it is also very important to have a strong personality and a strong belief in what you are, what you are doing and where you want to go."

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

"I grew up singing, and because I grew up in church you get that taste for singing, The guitar I had the example of my dad who played the guitar, but it was only when I met Theo Pas'cal that really went deep into it, composing in it and discovering new sounds. The wurlitzer and rhodes are the ones I really enjoy and I really identify with them, because of the similarity to the piano, and because for example the wurlitzer has such a roots sound depending on the compromise between your fingers and the instrument. It really sounds like an african timbila or kalimba, the african thumb piano., because if you see the inside of a wurlitzer it is built almost like that. And that brings me closer to a more roots taste."

Related Themes: The First Time