Etta’s WORLD / Redray Frazier – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – January 27th, 2019

Etta's WORLD / Redray Frazier

A double-dose of earnest, brilliant Portland soul musicians with incredible voices

Etta's WORLD / Redray Frazier

Sun, January 27, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$8 ADV / $10 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seats 

 

Etta's WORLD
Etta's WORLD
There are people who know how to take the tragic and make it magic. Arietta Ward is one of those people. The eldest daughter of the late, legendary Janice Scroggins, the sudden loss of her mother became the catalyst to solidifying her space on the stage – a space that Arietta, commonly known as Mz. Etta, has already occupied for years.

Alongside everyone who is anyone in Portland’s multi genre music scene, Mz. Etta has been a staple. From Linda Hornbuckle to LaRhonda Steele, Ken DeRouchie, Tony Ozier, and Norman Sylvester, Arietta has shared the stage with the elite and on her own merit. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone affiliated with jazz, soul, funk or R&B that doesn’t know who she is. Yet only now is she on the cusp of releasing her debut solo album, a body of carefully crafted musical masterpieces.

When asked why now in regards to releasing her work, Ward says “Carrying on my Mother’s legacy is a huge motivation”. She also acknowledges that her mother did a lot of the work so that she and her sister, Nafisaria Scroggins-Thomas, who is also an established vocalist, don’t have too. Subsequently, Mz. Etta is able to successfully navigate an often male dominated and difficult industry – and she does so with a following of respect. “I got grandfather into it [the music scene]. It’s a blessing because I can get into rooms that it takes years for others to access.” For example, Mz. Etta’s third solo show was at the renowned Jimmy Mak’s - - a venue typically reserved for music royalty, not still blooming solo artist who haven’t yet released an album. And as if being booked for a show at the venue wasn’t impressive and powerful enough, Arietta’s show was sold out. That is the power of Etta’s world.

Even though most would assume that singing is what she’s always done, Arietta acknowledges that her mother never pressured her or her sister to sing. “We grew up with music, it was always a part of our lives but Mom didn’t push us into the industry. She gave us freedom and choice to be whoever we wanted to be.” A glimpse into the powerhouse that she’d become came by way of a stage appearance in the “Red Beans and Rice” play. “Even close friends were shocked; they didn’t know I could sing like that.”



While others were shocked at her vocal prowess, Mz. Etta was dealing with her own type of shock. “I had really bad stage fright.” However, as an original member of the famed Doo Doo Funk All Stars, Arietta eventually grew more comfortable in the spotlight and her talents quite easily manifested into greatness. Arietta worked closely with the late Obo Addy and she credits him, amongst others, for helping her “work outside the box”. Addy’s friendship and mentorship was a blessing, even leading to her learning different Ghanaian dialects. Ms. Ward is featured on Obo’s last recording, which was released in September 2015. Arietta has also shared the stage with many local turned national and international stars including Liv Warfield and Esperanza Spalding, Thara Memory, Jarrod Lawson, Curtis

Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Farnell Newton and far too many more to name.

​By trade, Arietta is a licensed cosmetologist and spends her days as an educator in the field. It’s not really a secondary career but instead, a compliment and conjunction of her life as an artist. “Singers and Stylist actually have a lot of commonality” she says, flashing her warm smile that reminds you of a woman filled with wisdom well beyond her years. “In both fields, you have to create. “ The steady income from the cosmetology career gave Arietta the stability she needed to raise her now 22 year old son. “Music money comes and goes but in Portland, you can make it – you can definitely make it.”



As she plans to release her first solo album in Spring 2018, Arietta seems destined to be among those who will not only make it, but make it big. The album will not only stand as a testament to Ms. Etta’s unrivaled vocals, but it will also serve as a tangible contribution to the continuation of a legacy. “I am indeed, my Mother’s child. All the music, all the songs, these are my stories. They’re stories that need to be told, and I am here to tell them.”

While many labels of style exist, Arietta doesn’t define herself by any particular genre. Some would call her neo soul, others jazz, and still others R&B. But Mz. Etta is more focused on content and the responsibility that she believes every artist has. “Be mindful of how you deliver. Be mindful of your intent while delivering your messages. When you open your mouth – always hold that intent in the highest positive vibration possible. Artist are healers, music has healing power. Music is sacred.”



And from that sacred and healing space, we meet Arietta Ward. A name you’re bound to be hearing for a long time; a name that, like her Mother, will be spoken of in reference to legendary music royalty for a long time coming.
Redray Frazier
Redray Frazier
Over a solid groove and razor-sharp DJ cuts, Redray Frazier lays it all out on the title track of his new album, Blood In The Water. The artistic process can be a difficult struggle, Frazier tells us over the thick slow-boil, but the results are worth the battle. "I’ve been making music for a long time, but maybe I was worried about what people may think," he says of the song's origins. "And so 'Blood In The Water' is about feeling that vulnerability, but also getting it together and doing what you have to do. Sink or swim."

Frazier was born in Harlem and raised in Queens and Jersey in an exceedingly musical family. His father is a Baptist minister, his mom a classically trained vocalist, one of his uncles a saxophone player, and everyone else was always at the ready with a tune. "At family gatherings, it was really something else," he says. "If any one person sung any one line at any time, there would be a three-part harmony joining in." Music wasn't Frazier's original career plan, but a knee injury disrupted his athletic ambitions. "I knew that I wanted to do something that gave me that same rush of running down a football field, or getting a basket," he says. "Music was right under my nose the entire time. And I finally realized, okay, this is something that I can do." He formed a band with his brother and cousin, and played every party he could.

Frazier worked with a few different groups, and in 2007, he released his solo debu tFollow Me, a half acoustic, half electronic-music experiment. "It was so Frankenstein-like. I was just getting some demo songs together to play clubs," he says. "I never meant to release it as a record." But he liked the way it came out, and decided to put it out officially. Another person who liked the way it came it out was David Byrne. After hearing the album, he invited Frazier to sing and play guitar on his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today tour. "The chance to learn from David," he says, "that’s something you can’t pass up."

After the tour wound down, Frazier returned to his home in Portland, and started playing out with some friends. Before long, he assembled the illustrious group of musicians that he's been touring with for the past few years and with whom he recorded Blood In The Water: Jeff Baxter (Curtis Salgado, Dr Theopolis, The My Oh Mys, Jive Talkin Robots, Five Fingers of Funk) on keyboards, Matt Brown (She & Him, Storm Large, The Motels) on lead guitar, Ezra Holbrook (The Decemberists, The Minus 5, The My Oh Mys, Dr. Theopolis, KMRIA, Casey Neill & the Norway Rats, Little Sue, Jeremy Wilson, The American Girls) on drums, Tom Nunes (Jive Talkin Robots, The My Oh Mys, Little Sue) on bass and DJ Radical Klavical (Salem's Lot, Sick Mediks, Abangatang, Mic Crenshaw) on turntables. Over time, they've become a locked-in unit, as comfortable with smooth, in-the-pocket slow-burners as they are with firey rock 'n' soul bashers.

"When you get together with these guys to play, you don’t want to make them do something that’s unnatural," he says. "My voice is a soulful voice. But my lead guitarist, he’s a rocking dude. So if you have this thoroughbred, why are you going to keep him in the stable? "I grew up listening to soul music, rap music, rock 'n' roll. And to have a DJ in the band who has all those sensibilities, let him do what he does. Our drummer is an amazing vocalist, and a multi-instrumentalist," he says. "He wants to hear drums played if he’s playing bass, or if he’s playing guitar. And that’s the common thread with all these guys. Everyone has respect for the land that everyone else is thriving in. But there’s still room for them to do what they do naturally." Frazier knew he had something special with his crew, but he was in no hurry to hit the studio, and was instead content to focus on writing songs and touring. Early in his career he'd been signed to a few different major labels, and the experience left him with an aversion to the business part of the music business. ("When you sign to a major label, you have to do whatever they say," he says. "But sometimes everything they say is not in your best interest.") But eventually, he realized what he had was too good not to share.

"I knew that I was always going to play music, but I didn’t think I was actually going to record music anymore," he says. "And I think through these songs, through these guys, it feels new again. I mean, I have no faith in the record business anymore. And for a long time, I didn’t want to be part of it. So this record saved me."

He's releasing Blood In The Water independently, which he admits is not an easy thing. "But every step of it, I know that I’m doing it because I love this." That defiant spirit and ability to shake off past struggles and push on for the love of music fuels the album, which crackles with analog warmth, but also feels distinctly modern, especially on "Ain't No Way," the emotional centerpiece of Blood In The Water. "The lyric is, 'Ain’t no way I’m going to be that man/I’m going to get up again and again,'" Frazier says. "It’s about fighting. If you lay down, you’ll never get off the mat. So it’s definitely about being a survivor."

That indefatigable spirit is on every song on the new album. Some things are worth fighting for; the songs on Blood In The Water inspired Frazier to keep pushing onward, and the finished album is both his ultimate reward, and only the beginning. "This record is coming about because I dig the guys that I’ve been playing with, I dig the songs that we’ve been writing, and I really think that we’re not alone in this," he says. " I feel like this music is going to touch a lot of people. So it’s time to share it."