Chloe Arnold – Woman Tapper for the New Generation

So, a weird thing happened.  I was on a flight back from Atlanta and I looked diagonal from where I was sitting and there was a woman sitting there.  I couldn’t figure out where I had seen her from.  Then it hit me.  It was Chloe Arnold, who I had been researching for my blog for the last few weeks!  How crazy is that?  Anyway, if you don’t know who Chloe Arnold is, she is the founder of the Syncopated Ladies.  A tap group that dominated the television show So You Think You Can Dance as the winning crew of season 11.

Besides performing she is an inspirational teacher pushing all that she works with to the edge.  Her musicality is flawless where you can tell she listens to a lot of music and gets deep inside the beat formulating rhythms inside rhythms in her stepping and phrasing.  She is one of the first tap dancers that is female that I have seen in a long time.  She seems to be on a mission to raise awareness and respect for the tap art form and bring it back to a more global platform through film, television, and live theater.  Her all girl group shows that her squad goals are all about female empowerment.

Thinking about the top past tappers the people I think of are all male, such as Al Gilbert, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Buster Brown, and the Nicholas Brothers.  Arnold is bringing us into a new generation of tap dancing and she is doing it in style through female strength not only in dancers, but with the music she uses for her routines.  Her biggest work to go viral thus far is a piece she did with music by Beyoncé.  This young dancer continues to bring us into the next generation of tap dance compiled of style, rhythm, and a squad of women who continue to push boundaries!

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Amy Winehouse – Another Lost Legend

Asif Kapadia, the director of the released documentary Amy stated, “She was the unlucky one to be having a nervous breakdown in the public eye.” Amy Winehouse was a singer all to similar to Kurt Cobain.  An artist in her own right that wasn’t ready for celebrity.  The scrutiny, judgement, and overbearing view of the press and the general public.  She was always a punchline to a joke, and instead of showing support and love with her struggles and misfortune society laughed.  Her drug abuse, alcohol addiction, and bulimia was pushed off as self sabotage when it was a cry for help.  A cry for help that started when she was young.

Her mother couldn’t control her bad behavior and instead of doing something about it, Janis Winehouse never said no, and never disciplined.  Her father, Mitch Winehouse left when Amy was nine years old.  After his disappearing act she became promiscuous, skipping school, and got into drugs and smoking.  She felt that no one cared, so why should she care either.  It seemed that her friends became her family.  Lauren Gilbert, Juliette Ashby, and Nick Shymansky became the people that would do their best to protect her, make the right choices, and they were the ones who tried to get her to go to rehab before the alcohol and drugs got worse in the height of her success; unfortunately they failed.

In the film, it showed that Amy was her own worse critic. She made the statement, “I’m not a natural born performer. I’m a natural singer, but I’m really quite, shy really.”  She grew up idolizing great jazz singers such as Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Artists who come along once in a lifetime, and become classic greats in the history of music.  When Amy released the album Back to Black she made it in that history book.  She had an edge and honesty in the album that could relate to people.  The hit single “Rehab” made her a superstar and celebrity, which in her state of being with the alcohol, drugs, and self-conscientiousness would be her down fall.  The album is full of sadness, heartbreak, and regret.  In “Love Is A Losing Game” the lyrics express falling in love being a series of mistakes:

“One I wish I never played
Oh what a mess we made
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game”

The song “Back to Black” is one of my favorite on the album as her deep, raspy voice flows over the lyrics and melody just like Frank Sinatra’s style way of carrying the audience over the emotion of every word she breathes.  She loved being in the studio – developing new songs, playing instruments, and learning and honing everything about her craft as a singer and musician.  The song “Back to Black” was more than just about losing her lover.  It was seemed to foreshadow her fate.  She sings:

“You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I’ll go back to black”

One of the final scenes in the movie that really stuck with me was when she was watching a video of herself singing with her bodyguard Andrew Morris.  Andrew said that during that time Amy said, “I would give it back, if I could walk down the street.”  Those few words expressed what really mattered to her.  Being normal.  Not living in a fish bowl.  Her life ended tragically by a drug overdose and I still don’t think society has learned anything from the loss of artists like Amy.  For them to continue to create the music we love, they need respect.  Personally, the paparazzi and the people trying to make a buck by making artists sign objects doesn’t show any of kind of respect.  The best you can do for an artist is show your support by going to concerts, posting their music and videos to social media, as well as continuing to listen and be a fan of their work.