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Mary Louise Knutson

Photo of Mary Louise KnutsonDietrich Gesk

How would you describe your music?

My music is jazz. mainstream-to-modern. I play it, I also compose my own tunes and write my own arrangements of the standards. It's soulful, swingin', groovy, sensitive, inspiring, eclectic, interesting, positive, universal, warm, inviting, and so much more.

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

I'm the leader in my own band, I write the music, arrange it, look for gigs, get the gigs, write and send contracts and invoices, send copy and photos to presenters for programs, hire the other players, perform the lead part, talk to the audience between tunes, schmooze during intermission, sell CDs, pay the players, collect fans, send a monthly newsletter to fans, connect and communicate with fans daily through social networking websites, update my own website, design posters, post posters, design postcards, send postcards, assemble wardrobe, and the list goes on. I make all the decisions.Basically, most small businesses would have a staff of fifteen people to do all the jobs that I do!

Describe your gear.

I own a Kawaii grand piano 5'10". I use whatever piano a venue has, though I bring a Kurzweil PC 2X (88 weighted keys) keyboard if no piano is available. With that, I lug a Roland KC-350 amplifier, a keyboard stand, a music stand, a bench, and a bag of chords.

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?

"Yes. Being a women in the field of jazz is very difficult as 99.9% of the musicians are men. What is difficult is finding your way into the clique. Guys like to hang with guys, so they'll invite each other over to have a beer and play and listen to music - to bond. Then these guys end up having a band together or they end up hiring each other for gigs because they're comfortable with each other. And they get lots of experience playing together at these bonding sessions, whereas a woman might get her experience by playing along with records at home.

Also, I think sometimes men are uncomfortable hiring women as they're afraid of the sexual energy they may feel from playing music together. Or they may not want to deal with the jealousy their spouse may feel when they see him enjoying something with another woman. So, many don't invite women to connect musically or socially with them. "

Related Themes: Cashing In

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I see that there are more women in the field of jazz today, though the numbers are still amazingly low.

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?

A few people warned me not to go into the business, but other than that I don't recall ever receiving any valuable advice about making my way in the music business. I always wished I had had a mentor. My advice for young women musicians would be to only go into the music business if you can't imagine living your life without the act of performing music. And only if you can still enjoy playing if no one is listening....since much of the time you will be playing for a room full of people talking to each other. Also, 90% of the biz is biz, not music. Can you imagine doing business all day, sometimes foregoing your art to get through the business? Do not go into the biz for money or fame. These are the wrong reasons. Also, when men (in the band and/or from the audience) want to get together with you for coffee, it's not about business or friendship. It's about their romantic interest in you. This took me forever to learn!

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

I don't know. My family had a piano in the house when I was growing up and I just gravitated to it.

Related Themes: The First Time