[Community Interview] : Sarah Teh’s Reflection on WLJ SG Celebrates International Jazz Day 2019

A singer-songwriter inspired by the philosophy of Jazz, this year’s Noise Singapore mentee Sarah Teh thinks that Jazz can be a social movement. She joined WLJ SG squad in January and helped to plan the International Jazz Day celebrations in Kult Kafe.

Let’s hear what Sarah has to say about WLJ’s international recognition!

What was your reaction when you heard that Aya was going to Melbourne?

I was super proud and excited because she has contributed so much in so many ways. It was not just her, but also WLJ’s work being picked up and recognized at an international level. Which is really nice because in contrast to the local scene, sometimes WLJ dosen’t get much attention as a non-profit arts organization. To me, the whole announcement was really an awesome milestone.

Now that WLJ has been recognized on a global level, do you feel that Singapore’s jazz scene can be more accessible?

Having been talking in depth with Aya and the other members, I think WLJ has a lot to work on as an organization in terms of defining its goals and objectives, how to measure org’s effectiveness in terms of aims and operations. To me, it’s good that WLJ is recognized. But in terms of how it has impacted the small local scene, it depends on how people are taking the news and their understanding of what this means in the grand scheme of things. WLJ still needs to raise awareness.

Sarah with her parents, friends and Dawn Ho at WLJ’s International Jazz Day celebration

I think WLJ is trying to show that jazz is fun and relatable. During the International Jazz Day program, the organization brought the energy, spontaneity and color of jazz to the community. It challenged the idea that there is a social hierarchy in music and other art forms. We’re all creating, processing and sharing our love for artistic expression in different ways, and its all beautiful.

There’s that technical aspect in every genre, not just in jazz. So it shouldn’t scare people or take away the depth or expression in the music. WLJ is trying to help people realize that by inviting anyone from any background to participate in our events. Hopefully, they’ll see that jazz a lot more accessible than they think.

Is there anything you would like to say to the WLJ community?

Take this as a huge milestone and a very strong form of encouragement. There is a point in what all of us are doing. And we need to bring people together instead of just hanging around in our circles. Just work harder from where we are, but also keep looking forward and not lose the joy of just being and feeling the music.

With Ridz Razali from The Jazz Djogets

Written by Kenny Khoo

Photos by Dusk Low

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