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DivaNation PHILLY Membership Event

DivaNation Philly Spring Membership Event
POTLUCK & MIXER with the Women's Caucus for Art
Sunday, May 20th, 5-8 pm
CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320
Phila., PA 19107


Continuing to grow, develop and give voice to the diverse songs of Philadelphia female artists, DivaNation PHILLY prepares for a big Spring Membership event.


Who is DivaNation PHILLY?

A true sisterhood of singers, DivaNation PHILLY is a grassroots organization, birthed through the Philadelphia Jazz Project, supported in part by the Community Education & Action Project, Inc. (C E.A.P., Inc.) and fiscally sponsored by CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia. DivaNation PHILLY is a membership-based movement that seeks funding and projects that support women in the business of music and the arts. Connected to jazz of the past and looking forward to the future, the group calls upon the spirit of Philadelphia’s legendary female Jazz singers: Ethel Waters, Trudy Pitts, Nina Simone, and others like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington & more.


DivaNation Mission:

As a diverse and developing community of Philadelphia's female jazz singers, musicians & more, DivaNation PHILLY is embarking on their fourth year together. Their mission is to build a thriving community of female artists, supporting new talent while building audiences for the Jazz genre. DivaNation PHILLY's mission includes collaborative work with women across a diverse demographic range and with women of all artistic genres to include the Performing, Creative & Fine Arts, singers, musicians, composers, arrangers, producers, dancers, spoken word artists, poets, story tellers, painters, designers, photographers… everyone who embraces the creative spirit!


PJP Spoke with DivaNation PHILLY Communications and Membership Director, Jean Lenke about DivaNation and the upcoming Membership Event.


PJP: Could you tell us a little about yourself and role in DivaNation?


Jean Lenke: I am a singer, band leader and lyricist of my own production and this is my 2nd year of DivaNation membership. I serve as Communications and Membership Director in support of Khadijah Renee and Sherry Wilson Butler, our Co-Directors, and all other DivaNation members.

PJP: Can you briefly describe DivaNation and its current artistic direction?


Jean Lenke: DivaNation has been working hard this past year to expand ourselves into a creative body that reaches beyond music alone, connecting with creative women across all performing and fine arts genres.


Divannation Philly 02We have developed relationships with fine artists and dancers in the community, hosting mixers with these women, attending their shows and they ours, and we are working towards obtaining funding to launch a series of partnership presentations that we call our Collaborative Arts Events. We are hopeful to pull the first of these together for the fall of 2018.


Our concert last fall with Monnette Sudler and her band was a great success, selling out the Clef Club, and we want to build on that energy expanding what we are doing into new areas.


PJP: Can you tell us about the upcoming event?


Jean Lenke: Our current Membership Drive and upcoming May 20th Membership Celebration & Mixer is a celebration for our annual membership drive! It will be a potluck mixer and creative planning meeting at our shared office space at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia. It will include current members, new members, and our collaborative arts partners from the Womens Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter (WCA), and other arts groups.


DivaNation Philly 04


PJP: Why is this event important?


Jean Lenke: DivaNation currently has 12 active members and four members on haitis. We are hoping to double that membership this year. We have expanded our membership model to include DivaNation musicians, creative partners, and supporters of course. There is a place for everyone, no matter their level of experience in the Jazz genre in our group. Together, we learn more from one another, lift one another up, create more magical music experiences, and expand our audience reach.


On April 26th, 2018 at our city-sponsored Philly Celebrates Jazz concert event at the Divine Lorraine Hotel, we drew a standing room only audience of almost 150 people! Most of them had not heard of Divanation before,  and they certainly will not forget us! We could not have delivered such a beautiful concert without the work of our whole collective sisterhood and our WCA partners, who created a striking visual backdrop that elevated our production. Together we created a magical space and and amazing concert!


This Annual Membership Drive Event is important to us as it funds our fall projects --- the more members and supporters we have, the more we can grow and create great music together! The Mixer will be an opportunity for everyone to bring their creative ideas to the table and for us to form smaller working teams with which we will move forward on new projects.


PJP: Tell us about the people working with you.


Jean Lenke: The 12 women that are currently part of the Divanation collective are just wonderful and each bring a special gift and social energy to our sisterhood. We are singers, writers, arrangers, band leaders, recording artists, instrumentalists, producers, students, artists and journeyers of all levels of talent and experience. We are watching and helping one another to develop! It’s so exciting!


Our current membership includes: Carol Harris, Gretchen Elise, Khadijah Renee, Vita Tew, myself (Jean Lenke), Sherry Wilson Butler, Michele Peraino, Virjette LaCour, Laranah Phipps, Marie Caron, Ava Louise and Starlene Bey.


DivaNation Philly 03PJP: What are some activities coming soon from the DivaNation universe?


Jean Lenke: One of the fun things we are doing this spring & summer is a vocal Jazz series out in Skippack at The Village Wine Cellar Bar & Bistro! Once a month, on May 11, June 15, and July 16, we have scheduled and evening of acoustic Jazz featuring one of our singers! As a group, we support this series by attending and supporting the featured artist, we sit in as vocalists, and we have a great time together, while supporting a woman owned business! We hope to do more of these small ventures together throughout the coming year.


We also have plans for series of short workshops on a wonderful list of topics like “Tech for Jazz Musicians”, "Theory for Jazz Singers”, “How to Plan a Recording Project”… and more!


And of course there is our Fall Collaborative Arts Project! We’ll be partnering Singers, Musicians, Artists, and possibly dancers and other creatives into small presentation teams that will work together organically to create collaborative presentations inspired by the intersection of Jazz, Art & themes of Justice, Diversity, Love & Light. It will definitely be a unique performance presentation


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Jean Lenke: Ah - the answer to this question is different for each of us of course, but essentially-jazz provides us an opportunity to express ourselves fully and creatively. Because jazz is interpretive and improvisation, it is the perfect form of expression for us as as individuals and as a musical collective. We are a diverse group of women who all perform within the Jazz genre and like many other musicians, also in many other musical genres. Through Jazz, we are able to creatively mix all of these influences together and fully express who we are as artists, embracing all the gifts we have been given.


DivaNation Philly Spring Membership Event
POTLUCK & MIXER with the Women's Caucus for Art
Sunday, May 20th, 5-8 pm
CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 320
Phila., PA 19107



Connect With DivaNation PHILLY via their WEBSITE or FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM or YOUTUBE


Photography: Edward Brailsford & Sarah R. Bloom


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.


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The stuff McCoy Tyner did was earth-shattering for me. The modal thing, the way he voiced chords in fourths, the way he used the pentatonic scale -- all those things were very new.
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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.