Is it seriously such a surprise that women play in bands on cruise ships? Lately it seems like finding women in the band astounds all the guest entertainers and comedians that come on the ship. Yes, we make music too. It’s not such a new thing. Carol Kaye was one of nine bass players in Hollywood playing for Motown from 1963-1969. Kaye wrote one of the first books about how to play the electric bass. She still teaches and plays and she’s won awards both as an educator and as a musician. And she’s just one bass player. Let me reiterate: she (and many others) have played for decades, and people are still adjusting to women in bands.
Right now we have women in the piano, second trumpet, and bass spots, and the guest entertainers act surprised. They make a huge deal that we’re in the band, maybe they joke about hoping we can play, and then, on a more “serious” note, they mention how cool it is to have three such beautiful women in the band. Aaaarrrrggh! Compliments are great, but our looks do not affect the way we play our instruments.
Maybe the guest entertainers are just surprised to find women working on ships. There are much fewer women than men working on ships in general, but the bands are especially male-dominated. I grew up in Des Moines, and one of the main jazz educators in the city is Susie Miget, a female bass player. People grew accustomed to seeing women in jazz settings. I love that about Des Moines-people can play together and hardly say a word about what sex the players are. One’s sex shouldn’t matter in music, but unfortunately that idea hasn’t spread to ships. However, this is a great gig-travel and music all rolled into one, and at this point in my life that’s exactly what I want.
I’m sorry to do a venting type of post, but this has bothered me lately, and I think it’s just a fact about ship life that I’ll have to accept. With time more women could start doing ships, and then (hopefully) it will be less of an event to find women in the band. I just wish it wasn’t such a big deal at the moment.