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Jill Burgeson & How She’s Helping To Change Music: Fender Play

Special To Topanga Journal

Already up for her job as VP of Marketing at Fender Guitar, Burgeson told us of the new project the guitar giant she is recently working for has just launched. It is called Fender Play, the complete learning app for guitar players. Burgeson heads up the marketing for this new project. 

“I’ll be working on this new app called Fender Pay,” said Burgeson. “Essentially it is a subscription based app. It is videos that are awesome. Let’s say you want to learn how to play acoustic guitar. You go through the app. You choose acoustic guitar. There are all these lessons for acoustic guitar. Everything is filmed. It is basically like having a private lesson for way less money and by professionals.”

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

Fender Play is Fender’s new subscription based private lesson app. It is a video-based learning platform for iPhone and desktop applications. It has hundreds of easy to follow instructor-guided video lessons that use a song-driven, personalized leaning path that enables even brand new players to master chords and riffs quickly. The app asks a number of pertinent questions when the user first opens it. What is the user’s preferred instrument and genre, like acoustic or electric guitar and pop or rock music? There are a few other steps to set up the app.

“You go through the app. You choose acoustic guitar. There are all these lessons for acoustic guitar. Everything is filmed. It is basically like having a private lesson for way less money and by professionals.”

Jill Burgeson

Once you’re set, the instructor starts by teaching the basics, like how to plug in an amp, attach the strap to the guitar and the basic guitar anatomy, like the bridge, tone control, pickup selector, the strings, pitch and string names E,B,G,D,A,E. The music based learning comes from some majors in each genre like U2, Shawn Mendes, The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Meghan Trainor, Carrie Underwood and others. The curriculum was created with prestigious music programs such as the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Musicians Institute of Hollywood. Then it is a matter of applying yourself with the lessons the same as you would with a private instructor. The lessons are clear and easy to follow. The app is affordable, especially for the in-depth instruction the teachers provide.


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Jill Burgeson: Non-Conformity & Being The Change Agent

Special To Topanga Journal

She’s not that tall but bright, bright-eyed, witty and strong-willed. She entered Topanga Table with a wide smile and a huge presence. Seriously, her personality took up the whole space. Yet she was soft-natured and humble. It was readily apparent how she rose to become VP of Marketing at Fender Guitars. Her career hasn’t been above the fray of discrimination in the workplace though. Her story is at once beautiful and shocking. 

Jill Burgeson said she is the breadwinner of her household. Her husband stays at home with their daughter. She said, “This dynamic is surprisingly rare. I’m a couple of years older than him. We were both in advertising. Before we got pregnant, we talked about how we wanted one of us to raise her. We saw a lot of people have to do nannies. We waited to have kids until I was in my thirties. We thought let’s just be deliberate and make some choices here and make some sacrifices.”

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

The Burgesons planned ahead. They saved her husband’s entire salary for a year. They lived in smaller places. They didn’t take as many vacations, so that one of them could stay at home.  They decided that would be him. She said he was less passionate about his career than she was. That’s the way it always was, recounted Burgeson.

“It has always been hard. Some days I can get really resentful. Some days I feel like why can’t I go to the beach today and hang out with everybody? Why can’t I make the school play? That can be really hard, especially as a Mom. I walked into a party one time here in Topanga.This Mom looked at me. She said, ‘Oh your daughter does have a Mommy.’ I respect both sides. If both people have to work. If the Mom stays home. If the Dad stays home. But come on, have some thought about it.”

“And because I was a girl, I always felt like I had to keep proving myself over and over again.” Jill Burgeson

But let’s roll back the clock to the beginning. Let’s see how this powerful woman began. She got started in a small town about two hours south of Buffalo, New York called Allegany. She thought then the only options for a career for women were teachers, nurses or to be a mom. Initially going to college to be a teacher, she decided she didn’t have the patience for that field.  

“It didn’t feel progressive. It didn’t feel interesting to me at all,” said Burgeson. “I ended up going into business. I knew that was always exciting. My Dad has his own business too. When I got into that I fell into marketing. I was fascinated with how it all works. How advertising works. How you can take something that is seemingly simple, or even boring, and spin up an interesting story about it and get people to want it. There’s something cool about the psychology of all that.” 

Her first job was as a marketing assistant. Two years later she landed a position at an advertising agency in New York. It was the kind of job where everyone worked late hours, but her co-workers became the best friends of her life.

When asked had she encountered discrimination or the glass ceiling in her work experience, she had an intriguing answer. Burgeson said she was recently on a panel with similar topics on feminism. One such topic was how do biases we don’t notice influence our work lives? 

“I was always pretty young looking,” said Burgeson. “And because I was a girl, I always felt like I had to keep proving myself over and over again. Every time I’d walk in a room, it was like ‘Oh that’s cute. How can we help you?’ And I had to say ‘No, I’m in charge here.’ Whereas I would see other people it would be assumed, guys especially, they were in charge. On the East Coast when I worked there, guys would be treated differently, because they would be taken golfing or out drinking with the boss.” 

Work related golf and drink outings are not a cliché. This is where most of the deal making is done in business. Recent studies show golf in the business world is less about ability and more about being on the course where decisions are made. According to one recent survey by Statistic Brain, 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf. CEOs who regularly play golf are paid 17 percent more on average than those who do not. Dysfunctionally, only 22 percent of US golfers are female.

“I remember going out for drinks for the first time with the bosses on the East Coast, I was like oh I’m in. I’m one of the gang now. But it was just me and all the guys, because you have to push your way into all that. You weren’t automatically invited to those things above and beyond work.” 

Burgeson recalled how that’s where a lot of things happened in the work world for her. She could bond with her workmates and become friends with them. Having to push her way into that, also having to go outside of her comfort zone of vulnerability of being feminine to being tough. During that time period she was coming up through things was the mid to late 90s to early 2000s. This would be what some would remember as the grunge period of music, when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were big, not when they first emerged, but when they hitting it big. We had guitar distortion, angst and anguished vocals and lyrics. Along with that came stocking hats and combat boots for fashion fads.

“I don’t think my vulnerability and femininity was welcome in the workforce at that time,” said Burgeson. “I think that has certainly shaped how I have approached things. I’m still like, no crying at work. I’ve still been shaped by that mentality. I felt like it was a sign of weakness. But now I think it is a sign of passion. It’s OK. Men can and should cry. It’s OK.”

Women are so often told to shut down the waterworks in a business setting. Crying for people in general is empowering, according to psychologists at the American Psychological Association (APA). Most people feel relieved after crying that was due to stress from interpersonal relationships and anxious or sad thoughts, according to the APA.

But the glass ceiling is very humiliating, degrading and sucks the power from you. Burgeson recounts just such a moment.

“I’ve been told to sit in a room and help ‘dress’ the room,” Burgeson said. “They told me ‘oh hey we need another girl in here. You fit the part. You’re in here.’”

Burgeson recounted how she has always tried to warn other people, the people that are coming up through and have straight talk with them. 

“I did some things like that. Looking back I should’ve said no. I didn’t really know any better. I don’t like to conform to rules. I’ve been told even by women I need to play the game, play the part,” said Burgeson.

According to a study, based on the results of a survey of more than 70,000 employees from eighty-two of this study’s participating companies, three trends that disadvantage women were clear: Women experience a workplace skewed in favor of men; Women of color, particularly Black women, face even greater challenges; Women and men see the state of women—and the success of gender diversity efforts—differently; men have a more positive assessment that often clashes with reality. 

Burgeson said she has noticed things are changing for both sexes somewhat. She has noticed a movement for boys that it is OK for them to cry. Before there was a thing about women being too loud. Now it is OK for women to be dynamic, she said.

“Before it was if you were a women you were being assertive or bitchy. Now there is a little bit of an over correction stage where people are saying everybody can say whatever they want,” Burgeson said. “It will probably balance out at a certain point.” 

Over the last five or six years Burgeson has been brought into places where she’s a change agent. She said it is awesome, fun and exciting but also a challenge. She was working at PMG as key strategist hire. PMG is a recognized leader in the digital advertising industry based out of Austin, Texas. 

“It’s a Texas based agency run by all guys,” said Burgeson. “I helped bolster the women leadership. So I think the women were like oh my gosh, yeah. There is somebody else doing this, and we can talk to her.”

The next phase of Burgeson’s career was her dream job. She was offered a position as VP of Marketing at Fender Guitars. 

“I’m stoked. I’ve always wanted to work in music,” said Burgeson. “This is such an exciting time to be in music. Everything is changing. One of the challenges I’ll be facing there is how do we tell the story of this iconic brand in a modern way within the digital world?”

“Fender knows close to 50 percent of those buying guitars are women today,” said Burgeson. “So they know they need to change. They know they need to study their audience better. They’re really excited and interested in doing that. I can’t wait to help them do it.” 

In ten years Burgeson hopes that she can remain within the music industry. She thinks now honing in on marketing and music she feels that is where the next chapter of her career.  She hopes to lead something major, something interesting. 

“What I always like to do,” she said. “I always try to take on roles I know I can bring them something but also I’m going to be learning a lot as well. I would say as long as it keeps my brain on fire, and that I can actively make a change and make a difference, I will feel fulfilled. Music to me is a personal passion.”

No one else will set boundaries for you, this passionate leader warned the next and previous generation. You have do it yourself. Every single day there may be one more phone call you can take, or one more email or meeting, but at five or six o’clock just stop doing it, she said.

“If you need to get home, whether you have children or not, the only person that’s going to let you do that is you,” said Burgeson. “That’s one thing I’ve realized over the years and have made room for. Being a woman in the work place and with a child, I really have to check myself when I walk through the door. Being tough, on, direct, and driving things all day, I love that. If you carry that exact same energy home with you, It can be really hard on relationships. You need to let someone else decide what’s for dinner. Just stop being the one in charge for a second, or balance it out a bit. Be an equal partner when you get home.”

Burgeson’s story is a mind-blowing Salvador Dali painting. She has swept the advertising world by storm and unlocked the creativity and imaginations of a whole new generation of musicians. Influential yet vulnerable and even shocking that such strength and beauty can be taken advantage of so callously. Yet wonderfully inspiring that she can channel her vulnerabilities and sensibilities into a powerful career trajectory where very few women have traveled. 


Fender Play:

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Dr. Peter Alsop: Feminism as A Verb: Part One

Special To Topanga Journal

Feminism is the idea there should be equal rights and opportunities between the sexes under the law. The U.S., however, has a long history of patriarchy, making the goal of parity elusive. 

The patriarchal systems women face today have been embedded in our world’s social and psychological structures for eons. How we do feminism today, like marching in the streets in the hundreds of thousands in many cities clad in pink pussy hats to give Trump the double bird, isn’t much different from how the suffragettes risked their lives marching in the streets for the right to vote. During one major suffragettes’ parade that took place March 3, 1913, as part of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, historical records from the Library of Congress show the women who marched in Washington DC that day were jostled, jeered, ridiculed, tripped, and assaulted as they made their way along the parade route. Some women were grabbed and shoved, and many heard “indecent epithets” and “barnyard conversation.” The records show police did little to help the suffragettes, who had purposefully planned the march one day prior to Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration day for maximum effect.

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

“Instead of protecting the parade, the police seemed to enjoy all the ribald jokes and laughter, and in part participated in them,” stated the Library of Congress records. “One policeman explained the women should stay at home where they belonged. They did not regard the affair very seriously.”

Over 100 women were hospitalized with injuries that day in 1913 for the sake of the Nineteenth Amendment, which was adopted in 1920. Today the idea of parity between the sexes has made some progress, as there are now men who call themselves feminists.

“I’d been writing a bunch of feminist songs about women and men and our issues,” he recalled of his time in New York 50 years ago. “I was raised in a family where there was a lot of humor. I started looking at some of that stuff through humorous eyes.” Dr. Peter Alsop

This journalist sat down for an interview with Dr. Peter Alsop, a  psychologist and longtime feminist, nationally known singer-songwriter, lecturer, husband to actress-director Ellen Geer and humorist. He received his bachelor’s in religion at Trinity College and master of arts at Columbia University’s Teachers College as part of his PhD program in educational psychology. He finished his doctorate at Columbia Pacific University in San Anselmo, California. He is also a certified experiential therapist. 

This is the first in a three-part series of stories about Dr. Alsop and the idea of feminism. In part one we learn what feminism means to him, why it is important to distinguish between using verbs and labels, and when he first recognized how he wanted to “do” his feminism. The hours of recorded interviews have been condensed and edited.

Dr. Alsop’s awakening as a feminist was sparked 50 years ago by a former flame. Hell-bent on raising his consciousness, a girlfriend opened his eyes to the lived experiences of women all over the world by a simple, and early, exercise in walking in her shoes. 

On a New York City morning in the 1960s, he recounts he had said to her, “You’re a feminist. It’s your turn to go downstairs and get the newspaper.” She balked, he said, telling him he had no idea what she would go through when she went to get the paper. He didn’t understand, so she told him to follow her.

“So I went down and followed about fifty feet behind her,” recounts Dr. Alsop. “The whole environment was different for her walking alone as a young woman in New York City. The friendly flower seller on the corner was making lewd noises at her with his mouth. You could see the guy staring at her ass. I thought, wow, this sucks. It didn’t happen to me. It wasn’t the world I lived in. I wasn’t aware of that. I went, this isn’t OK. It was guys doing it. I should be talking about this stuff.”

Aghast at his girlfriend’s experiences on a New York City street, Dr. Alsop put pen to paper with his musical talents and humor. He said it wasn’t about making fun of people but rather about acknowledging our humanity, and the ways we “do” masculinity in this culture. Take note of the word do here, dear reader. Dr. Alsop is about to make a few changes in the way you “do” thinking in your head.

Dr. Alsop’s music is about challenging patriarchal thinking. His album Disciples of PerFection begins with the title song. It includes a phrase about how the light shines through our cracks, or personal imperfections through which our uniqueness shines through. 

Dr. Alsop croons, “Disciples of perfection don’t like changing … it’s mostly male brains who say, there is no other way…. And so the wars we have fought, religious rules that we’ve been taught, came from these fearful thoughts by disciples of perfection…. Is life broken when a beggar begs or part of life like cracks in eggs, which is where life’s perfect light shines through? That light connects us, me and you.”

His healing music lifts people up and fosters understanding among them. He uses the folk genre to help build bridges of compassion between otherwise polarized ways of thinking.

“I’d been writing a bunch of feminist songs about women and men and our issues,” he recalled of his time in New York 50 years ago. “I was raised in a family where there was a lot of humor. I started looking at some of that stuff through humorous eyes.”

Another formative experience in his journey as a feminist was his attendance at a conference of male feminists. At that conference, he began to consider the distinction between being labeled a feminist and doing feminism.

“I don’t know the label feminist can encompass something, because it’s a label,” said Dr. Alsop. “One of the things I teach is the importance of verbs more than nouns. You can say a feminist, and I go OK, what does a feminist do? Because that can make sense, and I can start understanding it. I do this with my audiences sometimes. I say raise your hands if you ever saw a Christian coming towards you and you went the other way. Many people get embarrassed and raise their hands. I go, exactly. It’s not about the label, it’s about how they do their Christianity. It’s about the verbs. If they want to push their stuff on you without listening to what you have to say or be curious about you as a human being, why would you want to be around them? Verbs are very important.”

Dr. Alsop said our brains are designed to tell stories. He said of his feminism, and the reason he writes the songs he does, is to help people without making fun of them or without threatening their old stories. Perhaps they could consider a different story about themselves. He recounted how he and Ellen Geer availed themselves of teaching moments while rearing their children.

“When our kids were growing up they would say, ‘I can’t do that.’ And I would say, wait a minute, you know the rule. They’d go, ‘OK.’ The rule was you can use the word can’t in a sentence, but you just have to say the word yet at the end of the sentence. ‘I can’t whistle, yet.’ It totally blows the can’t out of the water, doesn’t it? There are little techniques I’ve had great fun passing on, because they’re playful and attainable by somebody who can hold a concept, when so much of our life seems interwoven you don’t even bother trying to undo what’s there. That’s what I’ve been doing with my songs.”

When asked why feminism is necessary, Dr. Alsop defined it.

“What is called feminism for me is really about creating a more life-affirming world,” he said.  “There’s a poem by Judith Viorst: ‘My husband the writer works in an office with a couch that costs $500 while I write at home amidst diapers, laundry and a little baby that hollers.’ The difference is, a guy is like, ‘I can’t write with this kid around. I can’t think.’ It’s only because you don’t have to.” Single fathers, for example, quickly learn how to occupy their children while remaining present and interactive with them.  “If you don’t have to do it because you’re privileged, by being male, and people say, ‘I don’t get along with kids. Wait till they get to be three, and then I’ll play with them. Wait until they can talk. I don’t do diapers,’ they’re missing some of the richness of life. When I talk on the stage like that, guys are sitting in the audience going, wow, I do that, don’t I? Maybe I ought to cut that out.”

Dr. Alsop decided  to become an educational psychologist 50 years ago. After Richard Nixon won the presidency in a landslide victory, he decided to work with children. The way he figured it, if adults could not see Nixon was crooked, they were not to be trusted. He felt, he said, he needed to raise children’s awareness, since adults were not getting it.

 “I feel like a lot of what I do is subversive parenting,” he said. “If you have a parenting workshop, the parents who need it the least are the only ones who come. But if I have an award-winning kids record, and they take it into their homes, they let the kids play it. I sing about the importance of diversity, about speaking up, setting boundaries, my body is nobody’s body but mine, you run your own body, let me run mine.

To illustrate the importance of setting boundaries, Dr. Alsop described a common practice in many families: A child will tell a parent that she disliked it when a grandparent pinched her cheek. The child asks the parent to please ask the grandparent to stop it. The parent, however, will dismiss the child’s request by saying the grandparent meant nothing by it, so the child need not worry. Justification for this dismissal often comes in the form of “your granddad, or grandma, is going to be dead soon.”

“What are we teaching our kids?” asked Dr. Alsop. “That if they don’t like the way grown-ups are touching them, how they feel is not important because I don’t want to deal with Grandma, or Grandpa. That’s not a lesson we want our kids to have. We want our kids to know their feelings are important and have a right speak up about them. I’ve gotten testimonials on camera about the My Body song. They’ve said that song has literally saved their kid’s life.”

The social and psychological structures that support the patriarchal system that prevent women and children from having control over their own bodies and futures are threatened by feminism. What Dr. Alsop’s girlfriend of 50 years ago, the suffragettes of 1913, and women today on their way to the gym or store have in common is the experience of being subjected to foul noises or words hurled at them from men nearby. These experiences are just some of the many reasons that make feminism as an idea and movement necessary. The way people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual and implied influence of others matters. This influence has consequences for women and their freedoms, economic status, and right to vote, as well as their pursuit of happiness.


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EMM: EMMpowering Women While Building a Music EMMpire

Special To Topanga Journal

EMM. She’s an accomplished classically-trained musician, R&B and pop music singer-songwriter and producer, social media and blog whiz, as well as a philosopher, self-help guru and self-proclaimed feminist. The question had to be asked of this eclectic, prolific young woman:  

Mary Crescenzo

By Mary Crescenzo

TJ: How did you become so wise?

EMM:  I’ve always been kind of weird. From the time I was little I was a deep thinker. My parents taught me to ask questions, question everything. Their advice has helped me to think things through as I go through life, not just react and listen to other’s reactions.


TJ:  Your parents are professional musicians who teach at Interlochen. Do you recall your first experiences singing around the house?

EMM: I started piano lessons at age five or six. The first thing I did at the piano was make a melody.  Since then, I’ve always made melodies to sing along with. If I wrote or sang anything I kind of felt judged, but that just made me want to do better. Encouragement was a constant in my house, and it really helped me creatively. 

“I started piano lessons at age five or six. The first thing I did at the piano was make a melody.  Since then, I’ve always made melodies to sing along with.” EMM

TJ:  What was it like growing up in Traverse City, Michigan?  

EMM:  It’s a stunning little artist community on Lake Michigan but as far as socially, it was hard. I never really fit in. I listened to music that most people my age weren’t listening to – classical music, Aretha, Prince and Tina Turner. My experiences there were mixed compared to my friends’ experiences, but it made me who I am.  


TJ:  Tell me about the evolution of your name, from your birth name, to EMM, the EMMpire and your EMMpowerment group.  

EMM: Originally I used “M” as my name. My management at the time persuaded me to change it to Emm, and it stuck. They told me that no one will ever find me with a one letter name on the Internet.  When I was young, everyone called me Emm or Emmie, so it felt natural. EMMpire was created by a fan who sent the word to me and created a fan page with it, so we decided to run with it. As for the EMMpowerment group, one of my best friends texted the word to me, and we chose it as a brand to speak to women.


TJ:  You went to New York to pursue your musical career, and you were mugged in Harlem. How did that event effect your songwriting?

EMM:  I was seventeen when it happened. It was 2 a.m., and I was coming home from the studio a block away from my apartment. It was a bad neighborhood. My laptop was stolen with all my music on it. It taught me that there are bad people in the world. My hometown was a small peaceful place, a religious community, and nothing like that had ever happened there. With music, it helped me understand that not everyone has good intentions, not everyone has your best interests in mind. I can empathize and have totally forgiven the person who mugged me. I’m not sure what he was going through at the time. I had to let it go, but it opened my eyes to be aware that people will take advantage of you. 


TJ:  After New York, you moved to Los Angeles to continue your career goals. How is navigating the music scene different in Los Angeles as compared to New York?

EMM:  In New York I was so young, so I couldn’t get into clubs, couldn’t get into real networking experiences. My mom came with me the first couple of times. The musicians in New York are absolutely incredible. I worked with powerful management in New York and learned how they worked in the studio. In LA, the musicians are more laid back in general. It’s been much more fruitful in LA since I can get into the rooms I need to perform. I’ve learned a lot here.


TJ:  You performed the Star Spangled Banner in Dodger Stadium and sang at LA’s Staples Center. How does singing in a huge venue compare to performing in an intimate club?

EMM:  It’s funny, but I get more nervous in a club than in an arena. I feel really calm in a big space.  There is so much energy there, and I feel fully grounded.  In a club, I see all the faces and that can be overwhelming. Singing in an arena is the best feeling in the world.


TJ: Your writings include many thoughtful and empowering statements. One is, “Another woman’s beauty is not the absence of your own.” How did you come to this belief? 

EMM:  Every girl goes through this, so I’d like to be open about it and make it clear:  We don’t exist for the attention of men. I think a lot of girls feel this too, but there’s this unspoken feeling that we are in a competition for men. It’s not healthy, but we see it in our culture. Girls can be catty towards each other, rather than supporting each other as sisters and friends. 


TJ:  Another quote:  “Don’t be afraid to lose people. Be afraid of losing yourself by trying to please everyone around you.” What led you to this conviction?

EMM:  I saw this on Instagram. I identified with it, because when you’re an artist, especially before you’re established, there are a million people telling you what to do: Wear this, dress like this, sound like this, especially when you talk to producers. A lot of girls take orders, and I’m not like that. Men in this business don’t know what to do with a woman who knows what she wants. This business is especially sexist. It’s run by men and only five percent of producers are women. I’ve had moments where I’ve stood up for myself and said, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’ And, I’ve lost people because of that. But that’s not a loss, because at the end of the day, if you are being who you are supposed to be, and people’s egos are offended by you knowing what you want, then they are not your people.  


TJ:  Tell me about your writing team, ZOË  and Taylor?       

EMM: I met ZOË , who’s from my hometown, Traverse City. She was a student in a singer-songwriter program my dad started at Interlochen. We started writing together about a year ago. I always knew she was a great writer. I think our solid friendship gave us a solid sound. ZOË  knows my heart well enough that she can articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way a stranger can’t. I met Taylor through a mutual friend. In a few sessions, I knew he was the person I was waiting for to write with. We have the same ear, and he’s into classical and metal music, so he has an understanding of my musical background that others don’t.


TJ:  You mention in your blogs that there is a strong presence of God in your life. How did you come to that awareness, and what does that mean to you?

EMM:  I grew up in church, but I had a lot of negative experiences there because I asked questions.  Is this loving? If God is love, does this make sense? Do I want to believe in a God that approves of things that are not loving or kind? Over the last six years, I’ve been on this journey asking questions with an open heart and mind. What does love look like? I do believe God is love, so I’m in a thriving, vulnerable and personal relationship with this. My roots are in Christianity because that’s how I grew up, but I don’t identify with a lot of Christian tenets. I try not to put God into too many confines. I’m still trying to figure it out.  


TJ:  Your videos on Facebook and Instagram, your blogs, etc. are all direct, honest and positive.  Have you always been that way?

EMM:  Nope. When I’m talking on Facebook or Instagram to a large group of possibly young women, I step into their shoes and try to be inspirational and kind and courageous. I’d like to be like a big sister because that’s what I needed when I was a kid. So, if I seem really great and positive, that’s me trying to be great and positive for them.


TJ:  Your latest song is entitled, “No Gods,” is a powerful song that seems to address the society we live in today. Can you explain the title, “No Gods” and the song’s meaning?

EMM:  The title refers to the first line: “Got no Gods in the Wild, Wild West.”  “Got no Gods…” relates to the fact that the United States is referred to as a Christian country, but so many people are doing evil things. You can go on social media and post political comments, and you get the meanest, nastiest things said back to you because there’s a screen between each person. No one would ever say these things in person to you. Both sides are shouting to each other, “You can’t make me be like you.”  We can’t even hear each other over the noise. There’s no empathy, no compassion for the other side. We talk about this all the time in the studio. It’s depressing, but I’m not giving up hope. We want to point out in this song how this talk is not leading to solutions. We’re just hurting each other. We’re trying to say, “Guys, this is not working.” That’s the first place to start.


TJ:  I read your blog, “15 Reasons I’m a Feminist.” Your position is so clear and straight-forward.  How did you come to be a feminist and publish your list?

EMM:  I wrote this blog right after the Women’s March. Everyone was posting from my hometown about how feminism is a joke, and how it’s not needed or necessary. In my own life, I have so many examples of being wounded because of bigger issues that I didn’t understand at the time, like going to school and not being able to focus on my work because of people commenting on my body. With this blog post I wanted to tell my own story. It’s not that dramatic, but I’ve been deeply affected with the lack of feminism I experienced growing up. I just wanted to say that this is why I think feminism is necessary.  It’s much harder for people to judge feminism when they hear your personal experience. Any girl can relate to that.


TJ:  The Me Too movement seems to be saying:  No longer will women be afraid to speak out about the inappropriate actions of men; it is the men who are to be afraid of perpetrating acts of sexual harassment, assault and rape against women and men, because women and men will speak out. How is this movement being reflected in the music business?

EMM:  I think a wave is about to hit the music industry as it has in the film business. There’s never been a movement like this since I’ve been alive. 


TJ:  Is touring and new music coming soon? 

EMM:  We’re in rehearsal but my events will be posted on the website, .We’ll be releasing music for the rest of the year, so lots of new music is coming.



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Plácido Domingo and James Conlon In La Opera’s Don Carlo At Santa Monica Pier

Plácido Domingo and James Conlon will appear at the Santa Monica Pier via the LA Opera’s simulcast performance of Don Carlo. Part of the Opera At The Beach series sponsored by Los Angeles County and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the season opener of Verdi’s masterpiece will be broadcast live in high-definition from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to the big screen at the Pier, Saturday, September 22, 2018.

A tale of morality and mortality, Don Carlo speaks of a broken-hearted Don Carlo. He lost his fiance to his father, who is the King of Spain. In retaliation, Don Carlo realigns himself against the Spanish Inquisition knowing full well his vow to fight for liberty might ultimately cost his life. The libretto is filled with rich orchestrations, thundering choruses and an endless flow of rapturous melodies.

In four acts we learn of the counter culture Don Carlo lives in against his father. By the end of the fourth act, the tension is so strong and melodies so rapturous the grandeur of this oper a has become legendary.

Don Carlo is portrayed by superstar Ramón Vargas and Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa, is portrayed by the legendary Plácido Domingo. The Opera is conducted by James Conlon.

This event is free and open ot the public. It is requested to RSVP. Doors open at 4:00pm. The live simulcast begins at 6:00pm. Bring your own seating: blankets, low lawn seats and cushions. It is suggested to wear warm clothing and solid footwear as the surface of the Pier can be uneven. Outside food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. Wine may be purchased at The Wine Terrace. No pets are allowed.  Smoking is not be permitted.


Event Specifics:

Date: Saturday, September 22, 2018.

Time: arrive at 4:00 pm starts at 6:00 pm

Location: Santa Monica Pier

Price: Free

RSVP needed

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