This episode is a conversation between Essential Blends host Adriana Minu and performer, creator, and singer Lucy Dehgrae, calling in from New York.
Lucy is very vibrant; she takes the reins and launches into the convo. I really enjoyed her energy and breadth of knowledge and experience.
We end up talking about the voice, as expected, different types of performativities and presences and being comfortable with ourselves.
We also talk about patronage of the arts: celebrating that which is precious and cannot be sold; honesty, vulnerability, courage as artistic qualities; pressure that is put on men to work super hard and be with the grind; virtuosity in classical music, looking out externally for validation; the effect the cultures of classical music and rap music have on self-esteem and vocal paresis and healing.
Lucy Dhegrae is a singer committed to changing and challenging how vocal music is perceived, performed and programmed. Hailed as an “adventurous mezzo-soprano” and “raconteur” (The New Yorker) known for her “vocal versatility and an omnivorous curiosity” (The New York Times), she moves easily between a broad variety of styles, and can be found “everywhere new music is being sung” (New York Classical Review). Dhegrae is also the founder and director of the boundary-pushing Resonant Bodies Festival (2013-2021), which was praised by The New York Times as “an annual highlight [that] gives some of the world’s most adventurous vocal artists full freedom.”
During the 2019-20 season, Dhegrae was selected among WQXR’s “20 for 20 Artists to Watch” as someone “redefining what classical music can be…in thrilling ways” (WQXR), and also received the Career Advancement Award from Dawn Upshaw at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural Women in Classical Music Symposium. As Artist in Residence at National Sawdust, Dhegrae chose to present a multi-concert project entitled The Processing Series, exploring trauma’s relationship to the voice. Ultrafizz, her duo with pianist Nathaniel LaNasa, also had residencies at both Yellow Barn (Putney, VT) and Princeton University. In February 2020, Dhegrae made her New York Philharmonic debut with a new work by Paola Prestini; and in March, Dhegrae made her 92Y debut singing George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill with Talea Ensemble.
Dhegrae is sought after as a collaborator and creator of a body of contemporary music that defies categorization of style or genre. Since 2013 she has been a public speaker with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, sharing her story of vocal loss and trauma recovery. She has given several talks and keynotes about her journey to vocal wholeness, and currently is enveloped in her personal work and compositions using voice and electronics, as well as DJing in New York City.
Tracklist of featured audio:
1: That Snow — a track using vocal samples of Charlotte Mundy from her recording of Three Voices by Morton Feldman. Charlotte is a really good friend/colleague of mine.
2: If he loves me — this is a “Goth n B” remix of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” which I thought, when you really listen to the lyrics, sounds like a freakishly obsessed ex. It’s one of my first finished tracks, and I’m singing on it.
3: Give me your heart — this started from playing around with this little brass bowl that I own. I had a time where I made a daily exercise out of improvising with household objects as instruments, and on this object (which had previously held a bunch of keys) I wanted to strike it but didn’t want it to sound too harsh. I figured out that I could kind of spin a bouncy ball inside and it would bounce around and resonate the bowl. So the whole track sprang from that, recorded on my iPhone.
4: Sky (remix) — I really wanted to try my hand at remixing my namesake song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (by the Beatles). I wanted to capture the psychedelic quality of the original, as well as some of my favorite lyrics, and also the explosive and energetic tom-toms that abruptly transition into the chorus. I loved expanding on that moment.
- bell hooks – The Will To Change
- Rumi and Hafiz (Sufi writers)
- Tim Ferris podcast
- Steven Pressfield – ‘shadow careers‘
- Resonant Bodies Festival
- Buddhism – The teachings of Buddha
- Alexander Technique, Gwen Ellison
- National Sawdust