A little-known singer with a big talent has attracted the attention of a legendary talent manager and a pair of Grammy-winning producers. The stir started last January at the International Association of Jazz Educators' conference where Clairdee's showcase had everyone's toes a- tapping. But in today's marketplace, with its focus on youth and pop- culture, the path to a sustainable career as a real jazz artist is more difficult than ever. If anyone knows this to be true it is veteran jazz manager, John Levy, the man behind the careers of many of the greatest names in jazz (Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery).
Levy, who at the age of 94 refuses to retire, believes in Clairdee's talent and is certain that there is a market for her sound. Clairdee is not well-known - yet," says Levy, but she is a seasoned entertainer and recording artist who has received critical acclaim for her work. She's been a best kept secret even though her performances have taken her as far a field as Paris and Tokyo, and now it's time for the world to take note."
What is Levy's plan? Bypass the gatekeepers and go directly to the public via the Internet. Clairdee's new recording project, being produced by Marty & Jay Ashby, the masterminds behind Nancy Wilson's Grammy-winning recording R.S.V.P. (MCG Jazz, 2005), will be featured on SnapSizzleBop.com, a new website powered by ArtistShare. It's not an MCG release," explains Levy, but Marty and Jay know all about grass roots efforts and have devoted years of time and effort to the challenge of increasing the interest in and awareness of jazz. They are stepping up to help me, outside of their roles at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, and we're very grateful to have their participation and guidance."
ArtistShare is not a record label; it is a technology company pioneering patent-pending web-based tools that enable an artist in any medium to finance new projects by sharing the creative process with fans from the outset. The concept is based on a new paradigm. Online stores" from which you can order products to be shipped to your door and web sites from which you can download recordings and electronic books may be innovations," but they are only variations on the old retail business model; ArtistShare is different.
One of the key components is what ArtistShare calls the Participant Offer." By fostering the involvement of fans, sharing the process, customers become participants who are privy to varying levels of behind-the-scenes exposure. In this model the customary end product, such as a music CD, turns out to be a by-product, while the sharing of the artistic process becomes the primary product - a product that is experienced over time as it evolves. The behind-the- scenes exposure is provided by media events such as streaming audio and video clips of interviews and meetings, photo galleries showing Clairdee in the studio and on stage, perhaps a PDF peek at the a new musical arrangement, an audio discussion with other singers, and journal entries about her activities. Another perk at certain levels is the participant listing - for example, the placement of the participant's name on the CD package and ancillary press materials.
When it comes to the artwork, itself, ArtistShare has pioneered another new concept they call Artist-Track, an idea that elevates what once might have been a common CD or book to the status of a collector's item, complete with hologram, artist's signature, and number. Not only does this increase the value of the item, but also by tracking ownership, the artist is able to collect residual income on the resale of an item.
Because participation in the process is now the product, what might have been viewed as pre-sales now becomes the source of funding for a project. The Inside Story is the title for Clairdee's ArtistShare project and will bring participants into the life of this artist and behind the scenes in the making of this recording. Inspirational, educational and part memoir, this experience will focus on the art of storytelling - lyrics are more than words set to music - revealing a common thread between music and Clairdee's life, and the various steps she is taking to move her career to a strong national presence.
Clairdee created quite a stir at the 2005 Monterey Jazz Festival where her Music Moves CD was the #1 selling CD among independent artists at the festival. She brought the house down at the IAJE showcase backed by guitarist Henry Johnson, Dennis Mackrel (Joe Williams' favorite drummer), bassist Mary Ann McSweeney (just off the road from touring with Lee Konitz), and pianist/musical director Ken French. Nancy Wilson was so impressed that she came up onstage, stopped the show, and gave Clairdee and the ensemble a resounding and emotional endorsement.
Now Clairdee stands poised to launch a national career and will be reaching out to the world via SnapSizzleBop.com. Clairdee's Inside Story project is one of three projects set to launch at SnapSizzleBop.com. The other two are Devra Hall's People on the Page book project about the nature of writing and reading biographies, and At The Feet of a Jazz Master, a soft-cover coffee-table book with photos by Leroy Hamilton and text by Devra Hall, sharing the current thoughts and wisdom of NEA Jazz Master John Levy, the jazz bassist turned talent manager.