Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Emily Braden.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, powerhouse singer Emily Braden, the big, bad beauty from Boise. Winner of New York City’s prestigious “Best of the Best” Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, Braden’s signature sound is an effortless blend of jazz and soul. Her debut album Soul Walk is composed of high-energy originals and “flipped-out” jazz standards. Braden has performed at notable NYC venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club (Late Night Groove Series), Birdland Jazz Club, le poisson rouge, BAMCafe and as well as on international festival circuits. East coast residencies include Richard Bona’s Club Bonafide and Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, the original home of bebop.  Braden has traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa as part of the US Embassy’s Arts Envoy program.  She recently made her debut as a featured vocalist with Post Modern Jukebox. Her vocal versatility has earned her a place as a front woman with The Sketchy Orkestra, the Matt Parker Trio and Oliver Swain’s Big Machine. Her own group Double Bass, Double Voice released their debut album in the US and Japan in February 2017. See Braden live and she’ll make you a believer. This girl is smokin’, smokin’ hot.

What makes you a Girl Warrior? 

I’d say continually putting myself “out there” and actively designing my life qualifies me a Girl Warrior. My belief that all people (that would include all self-identified women and, hey now, that would have to include me!) are worthy of being seen, heard and loved motivates me to trust and follow my own vision. I want to live a big life. That, and my ability to see an opportunity for growth in everything, everywhere, all the time.

You have a big bold brilliant career. Was music always “it” for you?

I am first and foremost a music lover. I’ve been a singin’ fool ever since I can remember but I didn’t necessarily see it as my career path early on. I would sing along with, imitate and study the greats for the sheer joy of it. It was out of that practice that I developed a voice. It wasn’t until high school when I went for a solo and felt a beautiful force and energy come through me – it was powerful. In that moment I realized that I not only had a voice but also had something to say.

From Boise to Manhattan … how’d that come about? 

Boise, ID to Gresham, OR to Victoria, BC to Harlem USA.  I’ve recently begun to embrace my unconventional beginnings as a jazz singer. I used to wish my story made more sense – that I had grown up in a place where jazz, soul and gospel flowed like water, or that my hometown had a little more musical “clout.”  The truth is that my grandmother introduced me to some incredible music early on and I fell in love with it. I grabbed a hold, so to speak, and have since followed music wherever it has led me.  I had great mentors in both Oregon and British Columbia. I packed two suitcases and moved to New York City in 2009 because I knew I needed to be immersed in the music I loved in order to begin to reach the level of artistry to which I still aspire.

You’ve sung in some amazing places in the world. If you could go back to one of those places to do it all again, where would it be? Why? 



My wanderlust runs deep. I’m crossing my fingers that my dream of having a great career effortlessly marries my desire to see the world. So far, so good. I’m currently in Bangkok for a month of music at a jazz club here and I already want to come back! I came over two weeks early to travel on my own in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are so many places I have yet to see that I’m not sure I’d prioritize a trip back to anywhere over seeing someplace new. I loved Burkina Faso in West Africa, though I see myself visiting its musical neighbors, Mali and Ivory Coast, before returning. I also adored Cuba. I am bilingual and sing in Spanish as well so South America is also at the top of my list.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

It’s cliché but I have to constantly fight against my own self-doubt and work to expand my understanding of what self-love really looks like. There is an undercurrent of negative self-beliefs that I am forever examining and pushing back against – the belief that I am not good enough, talented enough, that I am an imposter or somehow unworthy of the incredible things that I have been able to experience. What a buzz kill, really. There are also the very real challenges of being a woman in the music industry and a fat one at that. I rely on friends and fellow women artists for support and have also found strength in the body-positive, fat-positive and queer communities.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down? 

Moving to NYC within my twenties with no money and building a music career from the ground up!  Being fat has shown me walls and barriers invisible to many. It could be seen as an obstacle but I choose to embrace my embodiment. It is one small part of who I am. If my size and shape hinders me from getting an opportunity, that opportunity was superficial and wasn’t for me – just on principle.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

Can I just hang out with her and shower her with buckets and buckets of validation? I would tell her that there is space in this world for her and for everything that she has to say and just – to go for it.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?  

I would do my best to communicate the idea that they are already in possession of everything they need to find joy and live the life of their dreams. That can be a tough one though – how much time do we have together?

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why? 

I have role models and certainly look up to the vocal goddesses that have inspired the masses but I’m not so big on the idea of the “hero/ (s)hero.” I am in awe and fall into a kind of love with most people I meet.

What’s next? 

I am working on a new album and it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully a month alone with a piano in a hotel room in Bangkok will result in the completion of some of these song ideas that have been floating around.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

I have no idea and I feel great about that! One of most important things I’ve learned as an artist is to do the work and detach from the outcome. I say, “yes” to things even if (or especially if) they scare me.  I show up for opportunities and follow through. I create music.  What comes from that is not really for me to say.  At the same time, I am an avid daydreamer and carry within me an elaborate vision of what I want things to look like and how I want it to “feel.”  I do my best to nurture that and give it my focus. In five years, I’d like to be making music with a killing band in beautiful clubs, theaters and music festivals around the room.  And if I let myself be completely honest, I’d like to be playing Madison Square Garden.

 If a song were written about your life, what would it be called?

Maybe “Songbody.”

You can learn more about Emily @ www.emilybraden.com

Preview Soul Walk on iTunes @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/soul-walk/id336528400

Follow Emily on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/emilybraden/ and Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/songbody/

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Karen Cooper.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the wise and wonderful Karen Cooper, entrepreneur, artist, yoga teacher and spiritual guide. A courageous risk-taker, Karen first hit the local scene with her business On Canvas Art Gallery, which was the perfect setting for her Stretch Yoga Studio. It was here that she fostered a loyal, and ever-growing, following of wisdom seekers and creative devotees.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

I have learned that if I fall I can and will get up and I do.  I have found that I can choose, that I am strong, that I will find a way to get up no matter what happens, I have learned to trust myself.  I can be flexible; I will make the best of whatever is. I know that there is help and support all around me.

You worked in the fast-paced competitive business world for years. How did you get from that to yoga teacher, spiritual guide and fine artist?

My sister died of breast cancer, she was 40, and I was 39.  That was when I chose to live life on my terms, for me, for those I love.  As a result of that choice, I found the right books (which I think really saved my life), I quit smoking (that’s when I found out that I had strength), I spent a year in India (that changed my view of the world and, opened my mind), then I found yoga and spiritual practice (and that opened my heart my mind my body my spirit) and I have never looked back.  It’s been a process, a journey, an amazing ride. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or get scared, it just means that I find a new way to move. I will again take one step then one more and one more.

What has been your biggest challenge so far – personally or professionally?

I believe that my biggest challenge in life has been finding my self-worth, learning to believe in myself, to trust myself and finally to love myself unconditionally.  It’s taken a long time with lots of experiences and just as many mistakes, the key is learning from them.

In my younger years I never forgave myself for any mistake that I ever made and I spent my energy and time trying desperately to never make another.  I was so hard on myself.  I remember thinking that if I quit or lost my job as a District Sales Manager that no one would ever hire me again, they would surely find out that I was a fake.

What obstacles have you overcome and misconceptions have you overthrown?

I have learned to breathe, to be still, and to listen to the whispers of my heart.  This has been a huge undertaking.  My Father (God bless him) believed that a knight in shining armor would come by, one for each one of his daughters, and care for them for life, that we need not worry.  My Mother (God bless her) taught us girls how to be independent so we could rely on ourselves. As a result I had one foot in each thought process. Not to mention that I have lots of energy, and sitting still to listen long enough to hear the stirring of my own heart to find my own answers, to find my own truth, to see what is a misconception and let it go.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

Please sweetheart, be kind to yourself, don’t be so hard on yourself, you are worthy, you are lovable, you are enough.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Dear Girl Warriors, please above all else be kind to yourself, love yourself for all that you are with loving kindness and compassion, Live well, Love well, Be well. Find your gifts and give them, you do have gifts; remember this, with love.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

My friend Karin, has survived 2 rounds of brutal cancer which has left her disabled and yet she is thriving with joy and gratitude.

Boo King, I have watched you over the years, get up from the fall, you do what needs to be done, you look after your loved ones and still manage to inspire us by living your passion.  You do the work!

My sister Sandi and my girlfriends whose love and support never fail me, who make me want to be my best self, to stand tall in this life.

My friend and yoga student Elizabeth Wellburn who has stood by and supported me all these years and has done the same for so many, who gets up from all the falls and keeps going and lives her passions and supports her community living what she believes in.

What’s next?

In November I am going to Spain for 3 weeks with my sister and brother-in-law, a trip of a lifetime.  When I get back I am planning my next big risk and challenge and adventure. I have no idea what that is at this moment but I trust it will come to me and I look forward to it.  Food and shelter for all is a big deal for me, I’d like to do some work in that area.  I believe there is a reason for everything and what we are doing in our lives right now is helping us to learn and prepare for whatever comes next.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to still be alive, living my passion, walking my talk more deeply, continuing to learn and grow, to be curious and look up.

What’s your personal mantra?

My mantra, to walk more softly on this planet, to learn and grow all the days of my life, to be a light, to share my gifts.  My favorite quote, by John O’Donohue sums it all up, “May you experience each day as a gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Jo Dworschak.

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There’s no age limit to being a Girl Warrior. She doesn’t look a particular way. She comes in all ages, sizes, shapes and colors. She’s out there. And inside every girl who enters the world. She’s the face of hope at the bottom of Pandora’s Box.

She is not afraid of her fierce magical powers. It is here that we have come to celebrate. Honor. Appreciate. And applaud.

Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our first Feature Girl Warrior, the extraordinary and inspiring Jo Dworschak. Comedian, broadcaster and writer and best known for her hit game show Story Story Lie and co-hosting of the LGBT show Fruit Salad on Coop Radio.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

That’s a hard question. I feel like the wins I’ve had came from struggles and they tend to remain a struggle. I guess that’s part of being a warrior? I keep doing it. Even when trying is hard and I really want to just take a nap…well I take a nap but then I wake up and get shit done.

We love Story Story Lie. How did that come about?

I was on a train ride from Brighton to London, actually on the wrong train cause I wanted to get moving and thought it would be an adventure to get on a different train and see what happened. Luckily the train went to London, but the opposite side of London and it was so late at night it took me two hours on buses with drunks to get back to my room. Everything that happened that night was unbelievable. Truth is so much stranger then fiction, that’s how the show came to be. Two true stories and one lie, can you tell them apart? I know who the liar is and I still get confused! Also I wanted a show that gave the audience a voice, made people feel clever for being able to interrogate the performers. I’m so lucky everyone has loved it!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Biggest challenge has been asking. Asking for the venue to host the show. Asking performers to join as contestants. Asking media to cover the show and asking CBC Radio to add the show to its line up (I’m still waiting to hear back). Asking invites the potential to get what I want, but also to not get it. That waiting time is still hard for me. There are times I’m rejected, but people are usually quite nice about it.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I’m a single parent. I’m lucky to have a son that is supportive of my dreams. It is hard to leave at night and perform when I can’t bring him with me. Though I realize he’s a teenager now and fine being at home with snacks and WiFi. I’ve suffered for years on and off with clinical depression. Some days getting out of bed, and on a stage, is very hard. Some days I have no clue why I still do it. But finding that story or that joke that connects with the audience, that helps them forget about their own problems or think differently about the problems of others make it worth it.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior? 

You’re voice is important! Anyone who tells you that your voice isn’t important, know just how important your voice really is.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Living a life without failure isn’t a life I’d want to live. We need to ask for what we want. We get a lot of yeses! And often the no’s tend to be for the best.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

Frida Khalo, she was a cross-dressing bisexual who overcame a lot of pain and brought beauty into the world when she saw none. Also she had a lot of pets! That’s so cool!

What’s next?

This summer I’m flying my son and I to St. John’s Newfoundland. We are on a tight budget to buy a crappy car and drive back. The goal is to meet as many diverse families as possible and interview them for an audio doc project I’m calling Families Across Canada. We want to find the things we all have in common and the things we can learn from each other. I truly believe sharing each others stories breaks down walls and builds strong bridges.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

On stage, on air and writing! I want to be able to live as a Creative. I would love for Story Story Lie to be bigger! To be traveling with that show and bringing diverse voices to the stage. I’d love to work on CBC Radio! Entertaining the masses and making people laugh. And having a hit show on CBC Radio.

Follow Jo on Twitter and Instagram @storystorylie. If you’re in the Victoria area on April 1, be sure to catch Story Story Lie at The Mint Victoria and see if you can spot the liar!

Get tickets to the show here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/story-story-lie-victoria-edition-tickets-31672884450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Stay in Your Own Lane.

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Girl Warrior. Stay in your own lane. Focus on the task at hand. Concentrate fully on what you want to achieve and accomplish right here and now. Make this your priority. Pay attention. Be alert. Remain vigilant.

Don’t be sidetracked or derailed by the people, places or things that have nothing to do with this particular project or undertaking. This won’t be easy in a world of non-stop distraction. But you’re up for the challenge and you don’t need easy when you’ve got drive and determination in your hip pocket.

There will always be someone cutting into your lane, requesting a piece of you. But if you want to fulfill your dreams and reach your goals then you’ll need to push aside the extraneous noise, enticing diversions, idle amusements, and yes, even all those guilty pleasures. At least for the time being. Or for however long it takes to arrive at your destination.

Girl Warrior, don’t worry about what’s going in someone else’s lane either. That’s none of your business. Quit peeking. Craning your neck. Taking a gander. Glancing over your shoulder. Or worse yet, surreptitiously spying on the performance, power or presentation of others. And most importantly, stop comparing. That’s a fool’s game. So shut that shit down immediately.

Instead, remind yourself of just how incomparable you are Girl Warrior. And keep your eyes on the road ahead, as you cruise down the highway of infinite possibilities.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: We Marched.

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Girl Warrior. Sometimes a Girl Warrior’s gotta do what a Girl Warrior’s gotta do. Here’s my story.

On January 21, I did something I’ve never done before. Something so deeply marrow wrenching and profound that I believe it has changed me. Irrevocably.

I marched.

Shockingly it took decades for this to happen. If ever there had been a quintessential time, surely it was during my budding feminist years in university. But no, I did not march. Not even then. Truth is, I don’t even recall there being any marches in our neck of the woods. But then again, we were pretty backwoods. The university’s claim to fame at that time was their male-oriented Forestry Program. Says it all.

My feminism came in the form of a monthly subscription to Ms. Magazine and a huge secret girl-crush on Gloria Steinem. I read it in my room and kept my thoughts to myself. Thoughts like, I don’t want my mother’s life; I want to get the hell out of this town; I want to go to Paris; I want a career; I want to write; I want to make a difference and be a part of changing things for the better, especially for women. But I also had thoughts like, I want to fall in love; I want a family; I want a nice home with two cats in the yard; I want to be part of a community; I want to teach and have a positive empowering impact on the hearts and minds of youth, especially girls.

Most of that happened. Not all at once and not nearly as quickly as I thought it would. It’s taken a lifetime to unfold and there have been many twists and turns, surprises and derailments along the road. I still haven’t been to Paris and I’m okay with that.

Up until my mother died sixteen years ago, for the most part, I was still that young girl in her room reading Ms. Magazine and keeping her thoughts to herself. But after she died, things started to change. At first it was a slow steady percolation, a burning and churning inside my head, heart and gut. Then five years ago, I unleashed my Girl Warrior spirit and spoke. And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Girl Warrior blog posts, Girl Warrior books and now a Girl Warrior production company and website.

With two strong ferocious daughters, a granddaughter and a daughter-in-law I learned close-up and intimately what courage looks like. Inspired by them, I was compelled to speak up and use my words to help bring about change, at least in my own small way. Now I focus all of my attention on the last two thoughts at the end of both lists that I created all those years ago.

Take all of that in for a moment. Then think about the horrifying spectacle of the current American political scene with the rise to power of the unqualified and unfit DJT & Friends. What you get is the perfect storm for this Girl Warrior. And the biggest reason in her entire life to march, shoulder to shoulder, and in support of her American sisters, and all women across the world.

The Women’s March was magnificent in its purpose, resolve and scope.

There we stood in the crowded overflowing square, side-by-side, one-voice-in-many, wholly united and carrying signs with messages like Nasty Women Unite, The Future is Female, Ally to All Slave to None Let’s Unite, Trump Violence Against Women, A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution, We Will Not be Silent, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, and I’m With Her. There we stood and joined forces with other women, children and men – all ages, all different stages of life, and diverse backgrounds and beliefs. There we stood fighting for a cause that touched all of us, affected all of us and was far, far, far bigger and more important than we imagined. And we knew it. We felt it on every level, and with every fiber of our collective souls. Now was the time.

And now is the time Girl Warrior to fight for all human rights, to respect our natural and fragile habitat, to remember our prevailing humanity, to restore our faith in each other and our shared decency, kindness and goodness, to extend compassion and grace at every turn, and most importantly, to grow our capacity to always love divinely in the face of ugly hatred.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Piss or Get Off the Pot.

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Girl Warrior. Make this the year you piss or get off the pot. This is your great big powerful year where you kick all the excuses, delaying tactics, postponing, stalling and deferring to last year’s dragging-your-feet curb. No more of that. It’s done.

The clock is ticking and the truth is there is no more time to waste. Time waits for no man. Or Girl Warrior. So get on with it.

This is the perfect time to pull all your dreams, plans, schemes, resolutions and to-do lists out of the vault and unleash them. This is the perfect time to show the world just exactly what it is you can do. This is the perfect time to rally your troops and all your resources and get some shit done. This is the perfect time for action not reaction. This is the perfect time to become a force to be reckoned with. This is the perfect time to light that fire in your belly. This is the perfect time to take your life to the next level and beyond. This is the perfect time to have the best year of your magnificent life.

What’s stopping you Girl Warrior?

Take a moment to think about what exactly it is that’s holding you back, keeping you from doing all the things you want to do and accomplish. There’s probably a lot of negative self-talk and emotional baggage fogging up your beautiful brain and clogging your thinking. It’s creative constipation caused by the likes of fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of making waves, fear of losing friends or family, fear of being considered a bad girl, fear of being abandoned and left alone, fear of being thought of as crazy. So what.

Say so what to all of those fears. Odds are, none it’s going to happen anyway. And if it does, you’ll deal with it. Head-on and brave-on like you always do. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit crazy either. It’s the juicy sweet stuff of imagination and innovation. Harness it and make it work on your behalf. Make it crazy vision. Crazy inspiration. Crazy motivation. Crazy inventiveness. Crazy originality. Crazy artistry. Crazy genius. Crazy love.

So Girl Warrior, go completely crazy this year doing all the mind-blowing extraordinary awesome things you’ve been putting off. Make this the best year of your life.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Why You Shouldn’t Edit Yourself.

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Girl Warrior. Resist the urge to constantly edit yourself. Change, if necessary. Improve, yes. Grow, most certainly. Challenge your current state of reality, absolutely. Evolve, positively. Do all these things. Engage fully and passionately in the process of becoming.

But also remember the beautiful being you are. Right here and right now.

While you’re on the progress path, realize with every precious scrap of your consciousness that there are wonderful dear things about you that are quintessentially perfect. These are the idiosyncratic things, the singular, sometimes quirky, rare and unusual characteristics that you, and only you, possess. No one else can claim ownership of these truly marvelous qualities. Remember that.

Herein lies your X-Factor. The je ne sais quoi of you. The distinctive trademark that no one else can copy, duplicate, replicate, plagiarize, pirate, poach or clone. Your bona fide stamp, your permanent tattoo, your indelible birthmark. Don’t hold something like this back. Flaunt it.

So wear your bedazzling Lone Ranger brooch Girl Warrior, and let it shine. Loud and proud. No editing. No paring back. No curtailing. No reining in or diminishing. No not ever.

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