Tribute to Virginia Giordano
by Amy Horowitz, music producer and co-founder of Roadwork/Sisterfire:
It wasn’t long after Roadwork started working with Sweet Honey In The Rock that Virginia Giordano contacted me to propose a New York City concert. She had long-term and large scope plans – and as with few with a far-ahead vision, she was ready and willing to start small. Small for her meant a school in the Village for a first round. That seemed pretty big for us.
She asked for not only the sound specs but the light specs — and thus the first lighting plot for Sweet Honey was created – with her help. Virginia had an understated way of doing great stuff. Over the years, step by step Sweet Honey’s New York audiences grew until they could sell out Carnegie Hall with nearly a whisper -well that’s how it seemed to us. But it was not like that. It was strategic planning, thoughtfully combining political and business smarts and really getting to know the heart and soul of Sweet Honey In The Rock.
Our most ambitious project was to record Sweet Honey live at Carnegie Hall. This took all hands and hearts on deck, Art Steele, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Evelyn Harris, and myself – but most of all Virginia who had created such smooth working relations with such a challenging hall that even some of the ushers and stage hands were clapping along and well almost forgetting the clock. Between the Village school and Carnegie there was Symphony Space, Apollo, Towne Hall, churches in all boroughs, festivals at Lincoln Center (inside and out) Prospect Park. It was quite a run. One of my most cherished memories took place a few years before Virginia crossed over at Madison Square Garden at the 90th birthday celebration for Pete Seeger. It had been some years since Bernice had retired from Sweet Honey – but she still called upon Virginia to join her backstage as her artist friend and help her negotiate the space and the event.
Virginia was part of the women’s music network and much more. When the story is fully told, we will understand the multiple cultures of women’s music in its West Coast and East Coast iterations where SisterSpace, Sisterfire, and Virginia Giordano had distinct and yet interconnected sensibilities.
I am filled with joy that SisterSpace is honoring Virginia in this way and I hope to pour libation on this stage this fall.