In June 2018 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, just when my second recording with my all female group Sheroes was featured for the 15th week in the US Jazz Week charts, peaking at #7, and received a nomination for Best Album of 2018. We were in preparation of a US Tour and a Tour to Egypt and Europe. After 30 years of pushing through gender inequalities in the instrumental jazz world the timing of the diagnosis felt like divine punishment for finally achieving this worldwide recognition. As a result, I kept the diagnosis quiet and took it upon myself to deal with the loss of my dignity in addition to the weakening side effects of treatment. I attempted to be a super hero by leading my group successfully through both tours and overcoming this unpredictable disease. Putting the range of emotions and experiences into music throughout this difficult year helped overcome exhaustion, depression, and loss of self-esteem. In the meantime, I realized that jazz pianist Geri Allen, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 60 from breast cancer, had sacrificed her life for a similar attempt to be a super hero. I also realized how widespread this disease is with 1 in 8 women being affected with little help in support of the psychological and social side effects.
This September, the Sheroes went into the studio to record the music written throughout this past year - including a dedication to my brother-in-law Ralf Kienle who passed away in August from lung cancer and a dedication to the late Geri Allen, a melody composed from her birth date. My goal is to share the music as emotional support for those in need, to share our stories of fear and loss and overcoming.
The album was released on February 28, 2020, thanks to the generous support of many through this campaign. Our CD release tour early March became the victim of the COVID-19 pandemic and nobody knows when live performance will be possible again and in which format. I will keep this campaign open for now as a way to order signed copies of the album - make sure to privately share your mailing address with me if you'd like a copy mailed to you - and/or to just support our efforts to keep creating music in a new world where our traditional income streams have been eliminated and we have to reinvent our future.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this campaign with your friends and networks so we can keep creating and making the world a better place.
- Gail Merrill
- Susan Cloe
- Cristina Hodges
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