I feel compelled to write about Michelle Shocked because while I wish to claim the musical credibility that adheres to having been on tour with a name artist, I also wish to make clear that I in no way identify with what she came to represent, wherever her heart may actually be.
I had never heard of her or her music before I sat down to figure out what the cello parts and the harmony vocals should be for the tour. I lived in Europe during the 1990s when she was most popular in the US, so I was completely ignorant of her music, who she was, and what she stood for. All I knew is that she was open to having a cellist on tour who could sing backup at the same time. I was a nobody, but I am an excellent, classically trained musician, and an incredibly hard worker.
I toured with her for three weeks on the US west coast in March 2011. It was exciting, titillating, insane, abusive, riveting, exhilarating, exhausting, infuriating, and much more. Despite the challenges, I am so glad I did it, because it changed my life. It made me realize that I could write music and that I have the talent to make something really good happen on stage.
She talks a lot during her shows, and my job during those times was to concentrate on vamping, sometimes for 20 minutes or more, while she talked. I heard her say a lot of things, but nothing like what she said at Yoshi’s in San Francisco two years after I toured with her. When I heard the audio from Yoshi’s, I was startled both by what she said and by what she did to herself and her career in the process.
I want people who listen to and hopefully like my music to know that I could not be further from the point of view that is ascribed to her. I did not sign on to a tour knowing that two years later she would publicly, if unintentionally, represent herself as a bigot. I was a musician who took the job because it was a gig with a name. If I had it to do again, knowing only what I knew then, I would do the same. Now, I am happy to have a relatively high profile tour on my resume, but I also wish to distance myself from the point of view currently and possibly unfairly ascribed to her, because it’s not mine.
Thanks for reading.
Posted August 20, 2016