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Jazz On A Summer’s Evening : Nadia Washington at The Club

Photo: Deneka Peniston

by Steve Desroches

Nadia Washington might be in New York City, but she’s in a Provincetown state of mind. The jazz musician is in New York to make her debut at Joe’s Pub, the famed performance venue at The Public Theater. Her debut album Hope Resurgence came out in February of this year, a thrill after six years of hard work writing and recording. And that was all while teaching at her alma mater Berklee College of Music and, of course, a global pandemic. Come early summer Washington began to take stock of her career and work as a musician when she made her Provincetown debut at The Club, the harborfront jazz hotspot. Her smooth and gentle vocal stylings blended beautifully with the soft summer breezes coming in from Provincetown Harbor. Becoming part of Provincetown’s artistic community has been such an amazing experience, says Washington, in particular as the town is home to such a supportive community ready for whatever an artist has to offer. Open-minded and interested, Provincetown audiences provide fuel to any artist’s creative fire. Her June gigs in Provincetown truly felt like the beginning of a season of renewal. It isn’t so much an arrival as she’s been a musician all of her life, but rather a rebirth of sorts.

“It’s just been such a beautiful summer,” says Washington. “I’ve had a lot of touring opportunities and this summer has been about recharging and rejuvenating. As an independent musician it’s just been such a wonderful experience. And to start the summer off at The Club, I’m really grateful.”

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Washington’s mother was a musician that introduced her daughter to music of all genres. Describing her mother as “multi-talented,” as she was a classically trained musician who sang at church as well as at jazz clubs, Washington often went along for her mother’s gigs when she couldn’t find a sitter. Watching her mother perform instilled a lifelong passion and love for music, which led to her studying at Berklee. And in turn, living in New England led to establishing a relationship to the Outer Cape, which she describes as a “fabulous story.”

In addition to being a talented musician Washington is also skilled in ceramics and she studies with Susan Bernstein at Mudflat Studio in Somerville, Massachusetts. The two grew to be friends and ceramics colleagues while teaching a course at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill last summer. The course involved making udus, ceremonial drums originally from southeastern Nigeria made by Igbo women. The course involved making the udu drums as well as learning how to play them. To have an opportunity to learn about Igbo culture, part of Washington’s ancestry, and combine ceramics and music is a rare opportunity and one of the elements of the culture of the Outer Cape that she loves so much.

It was during this stint in Truro that Washington developed deeper roots when she, Bernstein, and Castle Hill executive director Cherie Mittenthal went out for a night at The Club, in part to introduce Washington to the musical venue that has grown into a staple of live music in Provincetown. That night last July led to Washington returning to The Club, but this time as a featured performer, a role she’ll reprise this month with weekly gigs performing a mixture of tracks from Hope Resurgence, as well as older songs, both covers and originals, from her repertoire.

Inherent in Washington’s voice, her speaking voice that is, is a warmth and kindness that acts as an invitation to listen and to learn. Her passion for music is perhaps on par with her affinity for being an educator at Castle Hill and at Berklee, where in addition to teaching courses, she is affiliated with Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute and the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. Art is essentially the DNA of a culture, be it the Igbo traditions of ceramic drums or the American creation of jazz, and how that musical tradition has evolved as it infuses itself into other cultures. Founded by Danilo Pérez, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute is a program that allows students to explore jazz via various musical disciplines and apply their own talents to the genre as well as their own cultural identities and experiences. Through the Institute Washington has been able to travel the world teaching and performing. And with the Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice Washington has been part of the effort to create “jazz without patriarchy.” As art is at the core of what it means to be human and in turn express that experience, it is incomplete and distorted if any genre is male-dominated, like jazz has been, or excludes anybody else. Every time an artist presents their work there is a special opportunity for cultural exchange and human connection.

“It’s cultural expansion,” says Washington of working internationally with jazz musicians. “It is taking American music and finding what other cultures have done with jazz and exchanging those ideas. It’s a form of diplomacy. When other cultures get together and share music, that’s a powerful form of diplomacy.”

Nadia Washington performs with the Ken Field Quartet Wednesdays at The Club, 193A Commercial Street throughout August at 9:30 p.m. For more information visit or call 508.487.1527.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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