Although not planned this way, the release of Georgia Stitt’s album, “A Quiet Revolution” probably could not have been at a better time with music lovers having the time to sit down and reflect on music during the quarantine. As a kid, “Un-Block The Music” read every liner note and voraciously dissected and listened to each note of every song over and over again. Today, the music experience is so different. No one buys albums, they download the song for free and they run. Georgia’s album is meant to be inhaled.
While you don’t need to be a theater lover to enjoy the songs, it is a great big plus to have this who’s who of talent performing your songs. That talent includes names most everyone will recognize like Sutton Foster, Jeremy Jordan and Laura Benanti. Check out the link here for the complete list. https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Revolution-Georgia-Stitt/dp/B085KQ2N3V
Georgia told “Un-Block The Music” that she hadn’t made an album in years. “I watched as the music industry was changing, and I couldn’t figure out how you could spend the money to make an album and make your money back when nobody is buying albums anymore. Then years went by and I thought no one knows my music anymore. There is no way to get my songs known unless I produce them and put them out into the world.” So, in October, Georgia went through the catalog of songs she had written but hadn’t recorded, and tried to figure out what statement she was trying to make about life and being herself right now.
“The album is the way I see the world,” Georgia commented. “There is something to be said for releasing an album and leaving a marker of who you were at that time in your life. At this time, we are being forced to reflect, and I am interested to see what art comes out after this; or just art about the pandemic but about who we are …reflecting inward and consider deeper parts of ourselves during this time.”
While those who love Georgia’s work think of her as a theater professional, and she is, of course, but it didn’t start out that way. “I very much wanted to be a musician. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be in theater. I played piano, studied composition, was in the marching band. I went away to summer music camps. I learned a lot of instruments.” It wasn’t until later in high school that she got her first theater jobs. It was when she worked in summer stock that she realized making a living in theater is possible.
Georgia earned her Master’s Degree at New York University. She was in the musical theater writing program, and part of that was a lab. That meant every Tuesday and Thursday you presented music you wrote to the class. Georgia was one of two pianists in the class that could play anything, so she was often asked to play the work of her classmates. When she graduated, the faculty pointed her to two jobs back to back. One was Michael John LaChiusa’s “Broken Sleep” at Williamstown Theater. The other job was for Polly Penn “who hired me to do a regional production of her show, ‘Bed and Sofa’. That’s all because of the way I was positioned at grad school. I think there is something about being young in the city and being willing to work for not a lot of money and not having a lot of overhead. You have to be willing to go out of town and do a job just for the experience After that first summer, I had these credits on my resume and had these composers looking out for me.”
Georgia has assisted several great Broadway conductors and she continues to have colleagues who root for her like Marsha Norman,( playwright, “night Mother”), Molly Smith (Artistic Director, Arena Stage) and Paul Gemighani (musical director) to name a few. “Then there is Mary-Mitchell Campbell (musical director, “Mean Girls”). We have spent decades having each other’s back. Never had an actual mentor, more like many allies,” she said.
With that in mind, Georgia is on the Board of Directors for The Lilly Awards, advocates for women in theater https://the-lillys.org/), and she of course founded Maestra. This organization provides support, visibility, and community for the women who make the music in the musical theater industry. Our membership is made up of female-identifying, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers, music directors, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, rehearsal pianists and other musicians who are an underrepresented minority in musical theater. (https://unblockthemusic.blog/2020/04/09/maestra-music-a-free-source-to-find-creative-women-collaborators-in-theater/)
Georgia founded Maestra because she felt “a lot of women musicians are invisible.” She is successful, but, in many cases, while she was lucky enough to be considered for a job, “I was often the only woman on this list. Historically, women are the ones who lift up other women and pull them forward. There is the whole idea of being there and holding the door open for other women instead of the feeling they are your competition. However, that only works if there are women in power in the first place. I can tell you that until recently every commission I received was from a female producer or director. I just got my first one from a man a few months ago.”
The first meeting of Maestra came right after the Presidential Election, and they incorporated in January 2019. “I have been really proud of our organization. We had our fundraiser scheduled for March 30, then Broadway and the country shut down. It took us some time to understand the scope of it. We thought at first, we might not have to cancel. And, now here we are in May and looking at a Broadway shutdown through summer. We had to pivot really quickly.”
Georgia said, Maestra began to offer online workshops every Tuesday and Thursday, and in the summer, they are going to be every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. “The workshops are free online, but we encourage donations of 10-15 dollars if you can. If you can’t, you are still welcome. This is an opportunity to learn from someone who is an expert in her field.” Check out the offerings at: https://maestramusic.org/
“Un-Block The Music” asked Georgia what else she been working on during the shutdown and what’s on her bucket list. “Hunter Foster and I are writing a musical and are online with each other twice a week. I am also working on a big oratorio for choir, soloists and musicians.” And, she has already started working on her next album. “I recorded 5 songs before we went into quarantine, and I am writing the rest now. As soon as we are allowed back in the recording studio, we can finish it.”
Georgia is always striving. A main goal is to have one of her shows produced in New York. “I don’t sit here in my office and think…wow I am so successful. I am here every day trying to move forward and also make more spaces available for my colleagues. For now, I just want to be in the rehearsal room again. I enjoy the process!”