Cathedral Park Jazz Festival Artist Feature: Tahirah Memory

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Today's installment of Better Know a CPJF Artist, Tahirah Memory.

JazzScene: What is your main instrument, or role in your group?

Tahirah Memory: In my band currently I'm singing lead vocals, songwriter of the original music we perform, and doing most of the production/arranging in the live set.

JazzScene: Can you describe your set for those that may not know a lot about jazz or blues music?

TM: Honestly, I feel like I don't fit into one genre. I definitely am using jazz influence, simply meaning some improv, solos, wild creativity, and remnants of what I grew up listening to with a jazz~horn playing father. The general feeling of the music is primarily soul. Bass heavy, melodic, with lyrical content that reflects my life. I'd like to think of it as feel-good music. Truth-telling music. Filled with grooves and vocals.

JazzScene: What inspires you to perform, or compose?

TM: I feel like I have to. The fire that builds in me, having that conversation with an audience about things that are very private, void of perfection, and vulnerability on such a grand scale, is indescribable. I don't recall not performing so I'm not sure of the source. It is part of who I am.

JazzScene: How did you end up becoming a professional musician?

TM: I didn't aspire to be one. My journey kept putting small hints in my path, a gig here, a gig there, and my writing and voice had always existed. I was a college graduate, and single mother, waitressing for nearly 13 years, and I enjoyed my life. At some point, I decided I wanted to be someone more. So when I felt like enough of those hints, might be able to keep the lights on, I quit my job and never looked back. From that point it was truly instinct that created a platform to hustle in, build relationships and prosper. Let's hope it stays prosperous.

JazzScene: Past or present, where have been some of your favorite places to perform in Portland?

TM: Of course Jimmy Maks, holds my heart. My father has heavy roots there. I've shared that stage with too many musicians to count. I have an indelible bond with the people and smell of BOTH old locations. It is missed.

JazzScene: If you could wave a magic wand, is there anything about the Portland music scene that you might change?

TM: The scene, like all music scenes, tends to be a bunch of cliques rather than a unit. It's not a huge problem, but it does create limitations when trying to source musicians, and the relationships aren't there. People tend to stick to their own. Also, it would be ideal to be able to have a few venues in town where you can make some legitimate earnings. Its a rough go if you are a local musician and you have to gig 5 nights a week to make ends meet.

JazzScene: If you had to pick one moment or professional accomplishment for which you are most proud, what would it be?

TM: My most proud moment is becoming a mother hands down. An extension of that professionally is that because of my chosen path, my child has seen 20 foreign countries at the age of 13. To be able to give her that worldview is my joy. 

JazzScene: If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?

TM: Whitney Houston ~ Whitney, Stevie Wonder ~ Innervisions, Michael Jackson ~Thriller. Something to Sing to, something to think to, and something to dance to. 

Don't miss Tahirah Memory closing out Saturday night at 8:30 pm at the 38th Annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival.

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