After being involved in music my whole life and spending almost 30 years in New York city‚ my perspective on a life spent in the arts is that it is as important now as it has ever been to be an artist. When I play in person for people, I can’t help but notice how the music and my expression is something that is very moving for them. Many times young women and even young girls come up to me and say things like" I didn’t know it was possible to play music like that". Or other times they ask questions about how to pursue a life playing improvised music. Those times are what informs me that I have chosen an honest path in my life. While the initial reasons to play are those that are about the need to express and connect with other musicians and an audience, the most gratifying are those times when you feel that what you do has made a strong impression on a younger persons life and even may have shown them a path to consider for themselves.
I say that it is more important now as ever and I believe it to be true. Even though the majority of jazz musicians will not become extremely wealthy playing this music, the need for such expression takes commitment, understanding, and dedication. Perhaps it is because of these reasons that the music caries such a powerful impact. The world is so full of people getting over on and taking advantage of the disadvantaged and the lack of leadership and accountability. What can we do about it other than feel really terrible about it? How can we make a difference without war and destruction? I see that the ways to influence other people and their cultures is to offer them aspects of our own culture that elevate our own spirits.
Bill Evans said, ( I am paraphrasing here ) that if you keep looking at all of the terrible things that are happening such as a famine here and wars over there and so on that you ultimately have to figure out the truth of why you are here. He said that if you can identify what you as a human being genuinely have to offer and concentrate on that, that it would keep you from going insane from feeling so incapable of having an effect on the problems of the world.
I believe that aspects of a life spent in jazz, which requires the most sincere dedication, are the result of a lot of soul searching on the part of the artist. Even with all of it’s difficulties, a life spent in jazz and the arts is an honest one. When I get up every morning, before my feet touch the floor, I know that I am living in a state of service that expresses gratitude to the creator for the gifts that have been bestowed on me. It is what makes my life worthwhile. – LeeAnn Ledgerwood