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Why are there so few female musicians in jazz?

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Courtesy of Eboni Fondren
Eboni Fondren a jazz vocalist and bandleader in Kansas City.

Kansas City jazz artists say the gender imbalance in the music world continues to be evident, specifically in their genre.

Despite many women artists at the top of the charts, the music business continues to be a male-dominated industry.

In jazz specifically, many female instrumentalists say they need to be better than their male counterparts to get gigs. Some even say certain instruments are more suited to men than women. Drums, trombone and trumpet are seen as “masculine” and the flute, clarinet and violin as “feminine.”

"Vocalists, historically, predominantly have been women but as far as band leaders, band stands, instrumentalists, it's just always been very male dominated and it still is," says Kansas City's Eboni Fondren, a vocalist and band leader who was mentored by local jazz legend Everette DeVan. "Whether it was education or the lack of encouragement for female artists to pick up an instrument, its sort of been historically perpetuated in that way."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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