Meghan Stabile, promoter who united jazz and hip-hop, died at 39


Meghan Stabile, pictured on stage with Robert Glasper at Winter Jazzfest 2020.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Meghan Stabile, a promoter, presenter and producer whose passionate advocacy helped spark a renewed interest in jazz, especially among young artists and audiences of color, died on Sunday, June 12 in Valrico, Florida. She was 39 years old.

Bikbaye Inejnema, who has served as his adviser for the past three years, told NPR the cause was suicide. Inejnema was authorized to speak on behalf of Maureen Stabile, Meghan’s maternal grandmother. “She knows she hasn’t met anyone from Meghan’s community,” Inejnema said. “But she wants Meghan’s memory to be honored in a way that reflects who she really was, not what she went through.”

For the many musicians and listeners who have expressed shock and sadness since news of Stabile’s death spread this week, the idea of ​​”who she really was” is intertwined with her incalculable contributions to a scene. . As the founder of Revive Music Group, she brought evangelistic vision and drive to promoting Black American music – putting on shows, making connections and building constituency. News of his passing first came via an Instagram post by electric bassist, vocalist and producer Thundercat.

Other artists aligned with Stabile’s mission included keyboardists Robert Glasper and Ray Angry, harpist Brandee Younger, producer Raydar Ellis, and trumpeters Igmar Thomas and Keyon Harrold.

“Meghan was just as important to the culture as the artists she helped,” bassist Ben Williams, one of her closest friends, wrote on social media. Williams added: “She worked so hard to create a world where we young artists can express ourselves. It wasn’t about style or genre. Whether you’re a rapper or a cutting-edge saxophonist , she made room for all of us She LOVED IT She ​​built a stage when she didn’t see one available for us.

This entrepreneurial spirit was widely admired in the industry, and not just among collaborators like Brice Rosenbloom, founder of Winter Jazzfest, and Tariq Khan, founder of HighBreedMusic. “His influence on the reconnection of jazz and contemporary African-American music from hip-hop and beyond had a huge impact on the art form,” said Bill Bragin, a veteran music presenter. currently Executive Artistic Director of the Arts Center in New York. Abu Dhabi University, tells NPR. “She has worked hard to revive the hang tradition and all the creativity that comes from creating a community of artists across generations and styles.”

Of small physical stature, Stabile was known for her tireless energy, her concern for musicians and her willingness to fight for music. John Leland described her as a force in motion in a 2013 profile, “The Making of a Modern Impresario,” for the New York Times: “Ms. Stabile, who is six feet tall, with a tuft of slicked-back brown hair pinned up and tucked behind one ear, is a woman with a curious mission: to make jazz matter to the hip-hop generation, and doing it as a young woman in a world of jazz dominated by older men, at a time when jazz itself and the recording industry feel less and less relevant.”

For a time, Revive Music Group generated not only live broadcasts, but also an online publication, The Revivalist, in association with Okayplayer; her roster included emerging talents like Kyla Marshell and Natalie Weiner. Another outgrowth of the organization is The Revive Big Band, led by Igmar Thomas, currently finishing his debut album.

Jazz night in America presented the Revive Big Band in 2015, with a concert at Berklee College of Music. “When people come to the show, it’s not even one or the other, it’s the music,” Stabile says in the episode. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, you go away like, ‘That was a great show.’ You don’t even care if it has anything to do with hip-hop or jazz or whatever We’re so stuck on categories and tags that you completely miss the interest of forms of really beautiful and authentic art.

Meghan Erin Stabile was born on July 26, 1982 in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in Dover, NH. She was raised primarily by her grandmother and an aunt, and had no relationship with her father. She was estranged from her mother, Gina Marie Skidds, who died last year. Besides her grandmother, she is survived by a sister, Caitlin Chaloux, and a brother, Michael Skidds, who organized a fundraising campaign for her funeral.

“I got expelled from four schools – three high schools and one middle school,” Stabile told John Leland. “For the fights. I’ve been through a lot and got through it. It didn’t break me. So still having that strength got me through any type of situation.”

She attended Berklee, Boston as a guitarist and singer, but soon turned to music business classes. And some of his most formative experiences took place outside the conservatory, at a local institution called Wally’s Cafe, where jazz musicians held regular sessions. “It was the moment for me who was like, ‘OK, wait a minute. Why am I finding out about this just now?'” Stabile said. Jazz night in America. She began to wonder “why isn’t this music readily available, or why isn’t this music on the radio, why isn’t this band selling out venues”.

Stabile added rhetoric: “How did I fall in love with this music? I saw it live.”

When she moved to New York in 2006, Stabile brought that belief with her – scrambling to put on shows on a shoestring budget, while waiting for tables in the East Village. She called her fledgling concert series Revive Da Live, incorporating the notion of restoration into its title. Some of the earliest shows about a decade ago featured Glasper, Strickland and multi-instrumentalist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, as well as more established artists like trumpeter Wallace Roney. In no time, Revive Music Group gained a foothold on the New York scene and beyond.

Among those who noticed was Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, who partnered with the organization to release an album, REVIVE Music Presents: Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1), in 2015. “I think Revive has a deep understanding of the fundamental nature of music, which is that it should keep moving forward,” Was said in press materials. “Not decade by decade, or year by year, but every day.”

Stabile has moved away from the swirling center of the music scene in recent years, in part to focus on her own well-being. She worked with Rosenbloom to create a wellness spotlight at Winter Jazzfest 2020, presented weeks before the first pandemic lockdown. During a concert entitled Revive Yo’ Feelings: A Wellness Benefit for Musicians, titled by Robert Glasper, Stabile prefaced the performance with a moving reflection on his childhood trauma, his struggle with addiction and a history of issues related to mental health.

She also performed in public for the first time in more than a dozen years, singing an untitled song she said she wrote while in rehab. After finishing the song, Glasper came out backstage to offer a comforting embrace.

“Meghan was my sister,” Glasper told NPR. “She was the backbone of New York’s modern creative force that spread around the world! She will be missed.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the word “home” to 741741.

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