Today’s Dame of the Day is Martha Ruby Holland. In 1958, Holland founded Guyana’s first music school. Its rigorous grading system mirrored that of London’s Royal School of Music. When she moved to Canada in 1978, Holland becamed affiliated with Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and continued to teach piano in her home until 2001. In 2003, her death, her children established the Ruby Holland Scholarship to assist students who cannot afford to pay for music lessons.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Ana-Maria Avram (September 12, 1961-). This Romanian composer creates experimental arrangements for soloists, chamber groups, and electronic performance. Avram’s work is affiliated with spectralism, a technique which uses computers to analyze the timbre of acoustic and artificial tones.
July 21st marks the four year anniversary of singer Amy Winehouse’s death, and I plan to spend the day watching Asif Kapadia’s new documentary, Amy: The Girl Behind the Name. Normally, I’m critical of biopics; I still haven’t watched Whitney in spite of its favorable reviews. Particularly in instances of drug and alcohol abuse, it’s easy for directors to portray the subject as a train wreck instead of a person. But from what I’ve read, Kapadia goes beyond the tattoos and the beehive to highlight her wit and talent. While her family is less than pleased with the result (they argue that the film portrays them as doing little to intervene and help Amy), I’m interested in seeing this other side of her. Clearly, other people are, too: the documentary’s opening weekend in the UK broke attendance records.
Here’s a clip from the film and the original trailer from the film.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Viktoria Modesta (February 25, 1987-). Modesta began modeling at age 15, but a chronic issue with her left leg kept giving her problems. In 2007, she underwent surgery to amputate the leg below the knee. While some speculated about the impact surgery would have, the move only made Modesta’s career stronger. After signing to IMG models in 2015, she models primarily in eastern Europe and travels to pursue her second career as a musician.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Leila Josefowicz (October 20, 1977-). Josefowicz began studying the violin at age eight. As a teen, she juggled high school homework and college coursework with a rigorous touring schedule. While she mastered the classics, Joseforwicz championed contemporary works by Adams, Knussen and Adès. In 2008, Joseforwicz received the MacArthur Fellowship for her experimental efforts.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942-). Franklin grew up singing gospel in church but when she signed to Atlantic Records, her secular career skyrocketed. She registered 112 singles on the Billboard charts, won 18 Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time. With countless artists citing her as an influence and an inspiration, Franklin remains the Queen of Soul.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Rita Moreno (December 11, 1931-). After landing her first Broadway part at age 13, Hollywood took a shine to her. Over the course of her career, she won an Oscar (for her portrayal of Anita in the film adaptation of West Side Story), an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy. To date, she is the only Hispanic woman to win all four American entertainment awards.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963-February 12, 2012). Houston’s career was a collection of firsts and bests: she was the first woman to debut an album at #1 on the Billboard 200, the only artist to earn seven consecutive #1 Billboard hits and all of her albums went diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold. She performed what is arguably the best rendition of the U.S. National Anthem. Tragically, Houston was plagued with self-doubt and anxiety; her struggle with drugs ultimately led to her untimely death. Yet her recordings capture her at the pinnacle of greatness, leaving us to wonder what might have been.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Brenda Fassie (November 3, 1964-May 9, 2004). Known as “The Queen of African Pop,” this South African chanteuse owned the charts throughout the 1990s. When she lay dying in the hospital, Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Thabo Mbeki visited her bedside. Check out “Vul’indela” to hear a snippet of her greatest.
Today’s Dame of the Day is Yuna (November 14, 1986-). Yuna balanced studying law with musical performance, but was later courted by label Indie Pop Music to sign with them and pursue music full-time. Her first single, “Live Your Life,” received critical acclaim and paved the way to larger deals with Verve Records. In 2012, the Prime Minister of Malaysia recognized her artistic achievements and presented her with the country’s National Youth Icon award. Yuna also supervises IAMJETFUELshop, a clothing shop in Selangor, of which she is part owner.