Ruby Love photo by Daniel Sheehan.
Continuing our new series, Earshot Jazz would like to introduce you to our board members. They’re a group whose work often goes unnoticed by the broader public, but we value their expertise and their dedication to Earshot Jazz. Each month you’ll meet someone new—in February, please meet Ruby Love.
When a friend reaches out and asks you to consider following their lead it is always a time that gives me pause. Especially when that friend is an expert and highly respected person who’s asking you to consider following them. Paul Toliver, a revered jazz appreciator, collector, promoter, and historian in our community, extended the invitation to join the Earshot board. He said, “Ruby, I need you to consider taking a leadership role on the Board of Earshot Jazz. I’m relocating out of the area and we need fearless Black leadership to keep our story alive and bring resources to the organization so that jazz thrives in Seattle.” That describes how I came to be in service to Earshot Jazz as a member of the Board of Directors.
Now mind you I am not a jazz artist, collector, historian, or producer. Very few in the extraordinary and illustrious jazz community of Seattle would know my name. But that does not preclude the fact that I was raised on jazz in my family by my father and his brothers. From Nat King Cole who stayed at my grandparent’s home because he was not allowed a room at the hotels in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Herbie Hancock who went to Grinnell College and would visit us in Cedar Rapids. In 2013 I said yes and joined the board and have served as chair, vice-chair, and as a member of the Fundraising and Finance Committees.
Jazz feeds my soul. It fills me with energy. It relaxes me. It soothes me. It makes me sway, snap my fingers, rock in my chair, dance around the room. Jazz is the music of my soul. When you enter my home there is a large painting of Thelonious Monk. Whether a vocalist, musician, composer, or appreciator of the art form like me, we are all needed to keep jazz vibrant and alive for generations to come. At Earshot Jazz we have worked hard to lift up local jazz artists while bringing the many nationally acclaimed and awarded jazz greats over the years to Seattle. Audiences have enjoyed them at the Earshot Jazz Festival, the Duke Ellington Sacred Music evening and in so many venues and education opportunities over the years. One of the things I’m most proud of is the collection of newsletters over the 38-year history of the organization that has recently been digitized for future reference, retaining the noted history of so many great jazz stories.
As an organization like so many others, Earshot Jazz is taking action on the neglect and damaging omission of Black and Brown voices leading the art form and the organization in Seattle. I will continue to push the organization to scrutinize who is hired, where concerts are marketed, who are the vendors used, who serves on the board of directors, volunteers and staff, what venues are used, and who we partner with on projects. All of this and more are of greatest importance to me as I continue my relationship with Earshot Jazz. As a board member, I take responsibility and I encourage people to hold me accountable to push for the changes in the organization that will continue to elevate jazz and position it to be available, enjoyed, and supported by all.
Just like everyone else I miss live performances of all the arts. I challenge all my friends to step up and step out to give generously to the organizations and artists as they continue to struggle through this unprecedented time. We will return and we will return with greater love and energy for the arts and for jazz. And remember, stay jazzed!