MUSIC & MAKEUP ??? (Part 1)
LET THERE BE MUSIC
There is one thing all people have in common and that is the love for music.
There is a frequency in the earth that calms even the most raging storms. And there are people who create this frequency called music …these creators of that frequency are called musicians.
Even they (the musicians) themselves can be as tumultuous as the earth and natures elements, yet are capable of bringing harmony.
Even before there were “moving pictures”(movies) there was music. Music is the voice of social consciousness. It’s everywhere on every movie set, TV set, Fashion set creating a feeling to be somehow captured on celluloid.
In music a sound can be transcribed to a note and a note on paper to describe that sound in a series of written frequencies called “bars and notes”.
But…,okay now how do you translate a sound to a look? And translate one who creates a sound creating that frequency called music? The look of a musician.
AN ARTIST WAS BORN
On June 28, 1967 in New York City was born an “Artistic Aesthetic Medium Translator”given the name NZINGHA which also carried it’s own frequency…to one man who is a frequency shifter (musician/media artist) and one woman an intellectual ingenue (artist/model/educator).
Ok, I’m gonna stop toying with words and give it to you how it was and is (laughing right now).
I was born in NYC to a Jazz Musician & Media Artist Father and a Model/Artist and Teacher Mother.
My Godparents were all Jazz Musicians Drummer Max Roach and Jazz Vocalist Abbey Lincoln and Actor Frank Adu.
I grew up with Jazz Music being the frequency most heard in my home. I was consistently surrounded by the elitist Jazz Intellegencia and fine artists. At home and even once passing through at a dinner party Dizzy Gillespie who I would encounter again in Jr High School to instruct one of my music classes. That early indoctrination to music and art formed a never ending love for me.
Early on I’d shown musical aptitude in school so my Mother had me take private music lessons and studying art because I was fairly good at painting and sketching as well.
In Jr. High School I was involved in an intensive music program (that had us in various school competitions) that had me playing in the schools band and as one of the bands soloists and singing in the school’s chorus (love and thanks to Mr. Vinas my music teacher).
All of this rigorous training was preparation for what would come later. I would be soon be accepted to a Performing Arts High School auditioning and accepted as a Music Major and Art Minor in addition to the schools Honors Program which toted pre collegiate courses with Law being one of my interests in that program.
My instruments of choice in school were the Flute/Piccolo and Piano. I was determined to become like my then idol Jazz Musician Bobby Humphrey.
In this school, I was surrounded by all types of other Artists not just music. I was fascinated by how each department would operate…dancers singers, artists and actors.in my second year I’d switched majors and minors , leaving music and art for musical theater and dance. I drove my Mom crazy with this switch!
Finally graduating as a Dance Major and Musical Theater Minor. Mother always had her eyes set on me being a lawyer and give up all the frivolous artistic stuff which appeared to her as transient due to my annually switching majors! (I can laugh now but it sure wasn’t funny then).
WHATS NEXT? THE 80’s
So, fast forward…how did you become this Makeup Artist??? I’m confused you’re saying to yourself at thus point right?
Well…, I was always a well groomed young lady and would not leave my house unless I was spot on with Makeup and Hair…it was the 80’s (all about Makeup and BIG HAIR)!!! My influences weren’t fashion or movies but music and musicians…we were a unique breed.
During all school performances I was always applying Makeup to myself and to the other performers as well it just came with being a performer. For auditions I was always Makeup and Hair ready (those tales will be for another post). Not to mention my Mum being a former model showing me how to groom myself.
I was always around musicians it was natural for me to be prepared for any performance, I was a musician. So doing makeup was natural just as a means of grooming. Musicians weren’t actors or models…they were always a separate entity that would create their own look much like the sounds they created.
It was the 80’s Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner all influencers. We, wore tube skirts, rubbers for bracelets, cut up jeans, spray your hair up so high no one could see around you. This was art…music art, music fashion. Calvin Klien sold pristine jeans but in the hands of a musician depending on who it was would wind up precision ripped or precision ironed…either way it was transformed from it’s original state.
After HS and during college I found myself still involved in the arts by night but by day doing retail cosmetics in Bloomingdales.
The pressure at home to settle in and get a “real job” was the voice of reason (My Mother). A “real job” to her found me no longer in cosmetic retail but now teaching for the NY Board of Education! Yes I was a teacher now!!! Unhappy but a person with what was considered a more “respectable profession”.
I cant remember now but, I met this makeup artist who saw some work I’d done on the side while working as a teacher and asked me if I wanted to assist her on this photo shoot for a hair magazine doing makeup.
“Well I’m no makeup artist” I said…but I did it anyway she had me do two models. Those models wound up being the opening pages and cover of that magazine!
She called me again not knowing that the magazine chose my girls as the cover and main page. I didn’t know at the time either. She asked me to help her again and said “Uhh look I have this music video I’m doing and I need good makeup assistants and you’re strong in makeup honey. Can you do it?” I was reluctant and told her “Look this ain’t my thing, I don’t know anything about videos or makeup really. But, just out of curiosity how much will it pay?”
When she told me how much I would get paid for the day, I said “I’m in!” It was more than I’d ever been paid in a day even at Bloomingdales! It was a really popular R&B musician with a number one hit that was currently on the radio, that we were about to do the accompanying video for. It was music my comfort zone.
She had me come to the production meeting with her. I caught on quickly what they were saying in preparation to shoot the video. Now after the meeting, we set out to meet the artist…he was sitting in a chair in the adjacent dressing room. He had on a pristine green suit. She introduced me to him and he said “Oh, I saw you standing outside, I thought you were one of the models. So you’re doing my makeup?”. I said “No, I’m just assisting.”
AND SO IT BEGINS….
The Makeup Artist called me the night before and said calmly “NZINGHA…emergency, I can’t do the job. I got an even bigger opportunity so you’ll have to do it. Everybody already met you and they’re comfortable with you replacing me.” I was in shock and scared remember I’d never done this before and now to be thrust into a major position!!! PANIC!!! My first music video! I called her what seemed like every hour (bless her she walked me through everything)! And back then there were only land lines so that meant I had to step off set!!
I remembered crying my eyes out in panic in the bathroom during crew lunch break. But I faked my way through the day and after it was all said and done the director never complained about my makeup or corrected anything or even called for touch ups , seems somehow I knew I had to be on it! The video had different vignettes with food in it!!! That meant possible makeup disaster for my first time out?!!!
The Artist was Freddie Jackson and the song was called “Main Course”. Freddie and I got along famously taking about music and harmonic chords and just music stuff. Finally the day was over. I’d done my first music video ever. It would now become part of my resume!
Not even a couple of days later after the video, I got a call from the production company booking me for a commercial and a series of Record Label EPK’s (Electronic Press Kits/ Video’s for retailers Introducing the musicians to the labels CEO’s and Record stores for selling their albums)
AND….I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A WHAT….PORTFOLIO???
Part 2 Coming Soon