I came across this flyer in the Stratford Circus Arts Centre. It brought up a load of issues from my past, which I felt has not been resolved or put to account.
Sara was the original singer in Diáspora when the band first began in 2009.
In late 2009, HN (before I was living with him) phoned me up. He jovially said "can you sack your existing trombonist and book me instead? I want to be involved in Diáspora!" At the time, I refused because this was completely unfair on our existing trombonist. I would take HN's wish into consideration if we ever needed a replacement trombonist. Sure enough, our existing trombonist became severely ill and was no longer able to do any more work with us. True to my word, I got HN involved.
We had these photos taken at a gig in Cardiff. On the night, Sara said "these are not good enough photos, we need to get them done properly with a studio and a photographer". I arranged new photos and a video to be recorded of the 1st year anniversary performance we were due to give at the RNCM.
10/31/09, 11:14 AM
In the past, Sara encouraged me to be more confident about organising more rehearsals. When we were starting to earn money from our gigs, I could be more insistent on rehearsing. However, in the weeks leading up to the gig, Sara was dismayed at the number of rehearsals that I was organising. She said "that is a lot of rehearsals, Rory". My response was "there are a lot of gigs".
I arranged new photos. Unfortunately, our "regular" pianist, Patrick, was not available for the photoshoot or gig. We hired in Sara's partner, AK, as a deputy pianist. He was supposed to attend both photoshoot and gig.
Sara (who was in a relationship with AK) turned up at the RNCM looking extremely distressed and agitated. I asked her what the problem was. She said that she was fine. Judging by her body language, I could see that she clearly was not.
During the brass section rehearsal, the horns were all over the place in Déjame Soñar. I was trying to coach them as best as I could. Sara kept taking over and stipulating the rhythms and accents to them in a forceful and aggressive manner.
As the next hour unfolded, it became apparent that Andy was missing. Panic flared up inside me. I took myself out of the situation, i.e., I physically removed myself from the room.
When I came back in the room, Sara shouted at me in front of the whole band. She said: "How can you expect a working pianist to come home after a hard day's work and attend a photoshoot? For no money?" I tried to explain that the problem was that I did not know that he was not willing to come and that if I had known, I might have made alternative arrangements. Then Sara shouted "AK is not even in the band, why should he be in the photoshoot?" In retrospect, I might have said something along the lines of "I decide who's in the band". Afterwards, Rosie was upset because I was not even defending myself.
We proceeded with the photoshoot without our pianist and without our male vocalist.
During the break between the photoshoot and the gig, I felt bad about the confrontation. I also felt bad because AK was doing the gig for no money (I had not realised that this was a problem before, I wanted to make it up to both of them). I bought a bottle of Havana Club rum. I ordered it specially wrapped to give to them as a present after the gig.
During the gig, Sara would not look at me as we were singing our duo number "Silencio" by the Buena Vista Social Club. I had the whole gig photographed and filmed. This inadvertently would turn out to be Sara's last gig with the band, which was unfortunate, as I was spending a lot of money on the photos and videos. However, I had organised these recordings on Sara's persuasions.
After the gig, Sara and AK disappeared. I was running around frantically trying to find them. I wanted to give them the Havana Club gift as a token of thanks. But they had gone. I tried to contact Sara. I left her several missed calls and a voice message explaining that I had a gift for her that I wanted to give to her.
I cried all afternoon. I ended up sharing the bottle of Havana Club with my flatmate, HN, who was consoling me. He encouraged me to book Alice Z as a replacement. He said that she is actually "nice".
Sara phoned me up about our approaching gig on Thursday. She sounded happy and cheerful, as if none of what had happened on Monday had happened. I told her that her behaviour was unacceptable and that she should think long and hard about whether she actually wants to be doing the band or not. I told her that I did not want her to sing with us on Thursday.
Sara phoned me up and apologised for the way in which she behaved at the RNCM on Monday. She said that she was unhappy with some of the more contemporary repertoire in our play list. She said that she would be happy to leave the band and for me to find a replacement.
A few weeks later, Sara, AK & I met at my house to discuss what had happened and how to move forward from here. I made tea for them. I asked Sara why she had not answered her phone after the RNCM gig. She said that she was "too upset with me to talk". She stressed that "the band is not sounding good" because it does not rehearse enough. I cited the logistical difficulties with managing everyone's availabilities. What did she want? She wanted the whole band to rehearse more? Or only the horns and not the vocals? Andy said that if one section is not up to scratch, it brings down the other sections, it brings everyone down. The whole band is like a sinking ship. In the end, I said to Sara that I would still like to continue working with her in Diáspora as a deputy. She seemed reluctant and hesitant, but OK with it. They left without drinking one drop of their tea.
I do not have the exact date to hand so using the date of the Manchester Jazz Festival Performance.
I booked Alice Z as a replacement for Sara on the interim gigs. Unfortunately, things did not work out with her. Although she treated me well, she was not into Latin music and she did not do her homework or study the repertoire. The band was offered Manchester Jazz Festival. I was without a singer. I asked Sara back in. She took a while to get back to me. Eventually, she did. She seemed reluctant and sent me a text saying (reconstruction):
I feel a bit awkward about doing the gig because some of the band members thought that I was a negative influence. I am not saying they were wrong because I was but I feel uncomfortable about doing the gig for that reason.
The photo was used in a campaign by Your Event Musicians. Sara texted me about the photos. This is a reconstruction of our messages.
I mentioned this in passing to my flatmate, HN, who was trombonist in the band. He initially said that this crosses over into a grey legal area. We exchanged the following messages (reconstruction):
Sara began calling me. Eventually, I text back saying that I would be re-doing the photo shoot in the autumn but that I would continue using the existing images until the new images are done. Sara said "thank you and noted regarding you getting new images done."
That was that.
Again, I do not have the exact dates to hand so using the date of the 2nd Diáspora photo shoot. Upon the advice of existing band members, a new professional photo shoot was arranged for November. I sent all band members availability requests. Most got back to me pretty promptly and accurately with the exception of HN - ironically the one who was most vocal about me not using Sara's photos in the first place! Also compounded by the fact that HN was the only one with whom I was living at the time. I was finding it easier to extract availability information out of everyone else despite them not living with me.
In the end, HN sent me a brusk message in passing dealing with a variety of personal and professional matters - bills, contracts, property and music business. It sounded like he was "Busy". Within that message, he wrote "NO to photos". At that point, I clarified that if he did not participate in the photo shoot, this would jeopardise his membership in the band. I received no response or acknowledgement to that fact. By talking his way into the band, HN created more issues than I might have had otherwise.
A few months later, HN & I were contracted on a Latin gig together with Mojito salsa band. During the rehearsal, he dismissively said "at least we are not playing [expletive] Bossa Nova". Bossa Nova was the research topic of my master's thesis. His conflation of "Bossa Nova" with "Latin" music showed up his prejudices and homogenisation of distinct styles of music. This is the same guy who openly advocated the 9/11 attacks.
The photoshoot was a nightmare.
On the day, I got everyone to sign an image consent form, copies of which I still keep to this date.
From: Mike C
To this day, I have not responded to these messages. The truth? I felt like saying "look what happened after that." I could not come up with a positive response. She hurt me. When I was lacking in confidence, she showed enthusiasm and encouraged me with the band. Afterwards, she became the problem that made me lack the confidence to begin with,
Over the years, I was offended by Sara's shouting / swearing Facebook posts. I did not get to the bottom of what happened on 26/04/2010. Why she acted so aggressively towards me and the band. I did not understand what that was about. There is a possibility that there was something else going on behind the scenes that was not aware of. The anger and aggression was taken out on me.
Yet another reason why Red & Black Music has to take precautions and keep business strictly professional and in writing to avoid future confusion. These interpersonal interactions go back to a time when the management was more "generous and flexible" and "people-friendly".
Look what happened. Correspondences were lost. Accounts were unresolved.
I look back on this time. I think that this whole experience was a whirlwind - never mind the validation of my alleged "talent" - none of that would matter, even if it were the case.
If she did follow up this message, I would respond. I am in a better place. Since so much time has elapsed between her sending it and now, I would not be sure how to address it. But if she got back in touch, I would respond this time.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
332 Brixton Road
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I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.