Some two years ago, I moderated a panel at the International Association for Jazz Education convention in Long Beach, Calif., to discuss the tension between jazz’s vocal and instrumental camps. The panel was called “The Song Is Who?” and the topics ranged from the role of accompaniment and importance of musical literacy to sexism and what it takes to merit the status of a “true musician,” something singers are routinely denied.
Only in the meet-and-greet afterwards, however, did singer Nora York voice a bone of contention overlooked during the panel. “Nobody wanted to say it,” she told me under her breath. “But you know what? It’s really about the money.”