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Herzig plans ‘Tribute to Women in Jazz’ in honor of Women’s History Month

Mar. 13, 2014

Jazz pianist and music educator Monika Herzig arrived in the U.S. 25 years ago with a single suitcase, her boyfriend Peter Kienle and ambitions of becoming a respected jazz musician.

“Monika

Monika Herzig at the piano. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MONIKA HERZIG

Since then, Herzig has established herself as an accomplished jazz pianist, arranger and composer, having opened for acts such as Sting, Yes and Tower of Power, to name a few. But getting to that point wasn’t easy.

In a blog she wrote for the music e-zine NewMusicBox, Herzig described the struggles she faced trying to make it as a female jazz musician when she first arrived in the states:

“I loved the process of making music, writing music and getting it ready to be heard by an audience -- the sophisticated harmonic language of jazz, the cool rhythms, the interaction with the audience -- but I was not one of the guys. Could that be part of the reason why Peter was playing plenty of casual gigs without even looking, and I had to arrange for performances as a leader or tag along as the guitarist’s girlfriend?”

After graduating with a doctoral degree from the IU Jacobs School of Music in 1997, Herzig went on to pen a book about David Baker published by IU Press, toured extensively to play jazz and signed with record label Owl Studios. She currently remains active with the Monika Herzig Acoustic Project, which tours internationally and performs every Saturday at Rick’s Café Boatyard at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis.

Monika Herzig

Herzig | PHOTO COURTESY OF MONIKA HERZIG

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Herzig has organized a Tribute to Women in Jazz for the fifth year in a row.

The event consists of four jazz performances throughout Indiana, all performed by women that represent three generations of female role models in the field. The next performance will be from 6 to 9 p.m., Sunday, March 16, at the Jazz Kitchen, 5377 N. College Ave. in Indianapolis.

Herzig, who co-leads a music camp for girls in Carmel, Ind., organized the first Tribute to Women in Jazz so that aspiring musicians could have a female role model to look up to.

“There are a lot of youngsters who don’t decide to pursue jazz because they don’t have role models,” said Herzig, a full-time faculty member in the Arts Administration program at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “I just saw the need to showcase that there are a lot of contributors that we’re overlooking.”

complete schedule of the Tribute to Women in Jazz can be found online. Additional IU jazz musicians include bass player Natalie Boeyink, saxophone player Amanda Gardier and trumpet player Lexie Signor.

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