I am a big supporter of the arts if that hasn't been evident in some of articles and columns. In fact, if it wasn't for the arts, I wouldn't have this job. I would most likely still be miserable at my previous place of employment preparing for my seventh year in a place that my old coworkers and I cheerfully described as “hell.”
During the summer of 2012, I served as a communications intern for the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Mo. on the historic intersection of 18th and Vine. For an arts lover and history buff, this was a great way to merge two of my passions and still get “real world experience” in the communications field. I wrote articles and press releases, took photos, interviewed artists, contributed to business and staff meetings, did concert reviews and of course any other grunt work that required the large male intern.
I loved it! Every day there was a new adventure, which is exactly how it is here at the Daily News. No two day's were the same. One day, I would be shaking hands with Mayor Sly James and baseball legend Frank White and the next day I would be giving impromptu tours to family reunion groups.
My time at the museum was great, I woke up early everyday without complaint, anxious to see what escapades awaited me there. The fact that I woke up early and smiled says a lot. I worked late nights in a warehouse during the brutal Kansas City summer and I got paid a reasonable wage to literally leave my blood and sweat in that building. I was miserable working at night and was ecstatic as an unpaid intern during the day.
When I applied for this job, two of the clips I submitted came from my time at the museum. One piece was a story on “Book of Gaia” a wonderful female jazz singing trio (for all of my non-jazz heads Google them). Another article I submitted was on a former Kansas farm girl, who left the “big skies” of Kansas to explore her musical talents.
Lisa Engelken was that singer, who I proudly call a friend now. Lisa was getting ready to headline a show at the Blue Room—a working jazz club that is also an exhibit at the museum. When I read the preview of her show, I knew I had to interview her.
Due to her touring schedule, we did the interview through a series of emails. I thought to myself, here I was this nameless intern using his Gmail account to conduct an interview with one of the biggest independent female jazz vocalists in the country. Lisa treated me with such professional and personal courtesy and together we got a great story. In fact, during my phone interview for this job my future editor Bob Eschliman commented specifically on how he enjoyed that story.
Long story short, her show at the Blue Room was a massive success. It proved to be one of the biggest shows that year in the Blue Room. My boss at the museum Chris Burnett let me handle all of the marketing for that show and it was incredible. We got huge a crowd thanks to both her and my tireless promotion for the show. I also had the foresight to suggest 38 the Spot (a local television station) choose that night to film our new commercials the Blue Room.
When Lisa and I finally met face to face, between sets that night, she greeted me with a huge hug and we both basked in the fact that together we helped put together something special.
Lisa is an independent artist in every sense of the word. She books her own flights, hotels and venues. She runs her website, personally writes her newsletter and sends out hand written thank you cards to people after she performs in their town. In addition to all of that, she creates and performs her own music, which is beautiful. Her first album “Caravan” is a classic in every sense of the word and will make you go through every emotion possible with every listen.
So when I emailed her a few weeks ago to tell her about my great new job and how my article on her helped me to get it, we rejoiced all over again. She also let me know that she needed help with something that was very near and dear to her heart.
Lisa needs help to finish up her second album "Little Warrior" which is the perfect description of my petite friend with the big pipes. Recently, she started a campaign to raise funds to complete this album. Like any great artist, she has very high standards. You can donate at: http://igg.me/at/LittleWarrior
If you go that link it will explain more about who she is and what the donation will do. For as little as $15 dollars you get an advance download of the album before it's general release date. Donating to her campaign showcases your love of the arts, gets you a new album and helps keep independent artist independent.
Trust me, I wouldn't talk so glowingly about an artist who wasn't talented. Remember, I'm from Kansas City and there are two things that we are known for above all else, barbecue and jazz music.
Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121 Ext. 426 or firstname.lastname@example.org