Megan Stapel, who linked jazz and hip-hop, dies at 39

Megan Stabel, who saw jazz and hip-hop as genres that could cross-fertilize, and who, hoping to bring jazz to younger audiences, started a small concert production business that explored the intersection of the two, died June 12 in Valrico, Florida. She is 39 years old.

Her grandmother, Maureen Freeman, said the reason was suicide. She said Ms Stabile had recently moved to Valrico in the hope that it would help her struggle with depression.

Ms. Stapel began producing shows when she was still a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She used to call them Revive Da Live, a name that caught her interest at a time when turntables were dominant in supporting hip-hop artists with jazz musicians performing live.

“It’s an organic blend,” she told The Boston Globe in 2012. “Jazz is part of hip-hop’s DNA.”

Once she moved to New York in 2006, she continued organizing Revive Da Live events and formed Revive Music Group, which produced shows, created an online forum called Revivalist and released several albums in partnership with Blue Note Records, a popular jazz label.

Ms. Stabile generally worked outside of mainstream jazz, booking performances at small clubs, but gradually became something of a powerhouse in New York.

“The past year and a half,” The New York Times Written in 2013“I’ve emerged as a presence across town—booking, promoting, cajoling, advising and nurturing young musicians, many of whom are still finding their way.”

Don Kance, now president of Blue Note Records, told The Times at the time that he first met Ms. Stapel two years ago, when he joined the company as creative and went looking for the hot new stuff in jazz.

“I started going online, four or five hours a night,” he said.

He continued, “And consistently, every thread I followed led me to Meghan’s location. So, night after night, she seemed to be in the center of the energy.”

She was also producing shows in Boston and elsewhere. The goal, she explained to The Globe, was to revitalize the jazz scene and connect it with audiences trained in hip-hop. For example, Berkeley’s music revival program in 2012 was called “Hip-Hop 1942” and featured jazz-playing bands, then it turns out how hip-hop artists sampled them.

“It’s important to respect the tradition of music, and we still have shows that do,” she told The Globe. “But we also have to honor today’s music and make it more relevant.”

Blue Note posted a tribute to her on Twitter.

“Loved by the musicians she worked so hard for,” the post said, “she was a passionate advocate for jazz who built a vibrant scene around music and provided a platform for many deserving artists.”

Megan Erin Stapel was born on July 26, 1982, in Grand Prairie, Texas, to Gina Marie Skids. Her father was not part of her upbringing, and she was largely raised by Mrs. Freeman and her aunt in Dover, New Hampshire. A certain quality is quick to anger.

“I was expelled from four schools – three high schools and one middle school,” she said. “To fight. I’ve been through a lot, and I managed it. It didn’t break me. So always having this strength was able to pull me through any kind of situation.”

Berklee got in as a singer and guitarist, but Ms. Freeman said in a phone interview that she couldn’t overcome stage fright and quickly focused on the music business. I also got a job as a bartender at Wally’s Cafe, a jazz club in Boston, and began absorbing the jazz scene.

Her grandmother said she started producing, “with nothing but her brain and pen,” adding that she especially liked helping up-and-coming musicians, even though she didn’t have much money.

She did whatever she does, but it was always a stampede,” Ms. Freeman said.

As Ms. Stapel’s reputation grew, some of her shows were in good-sized venues. In 2013, for example, the 19-piece Revive Big Band booked the Highland Ballroom in Manhattan and lined up with dancer Savion Glover to appear with her. But such an event belied her one-staff operation.

“The external delusion is great,” she told The Times. “Everyone thinks we’re a huge company. But look – I’m sitting here.”

In 2013, Ms. Stapel struck a deal to produce and organize records for Blue Note, which led to “Revival Music Performances: Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1,” released in 2015.

“The idea of ​​a strain of modern jazz with familiarity with hip-hop—of course, rather than arithmetic—dominates a lot of this music,” nate chinen books In a review of this record in The Times.

Ms. Stapel has reduced her production activities in recent years, focusing on her health. But in 2017 interview With the CQP website, she said she believes her work over the years has helped connect two different worlds.

“When I first started promoting shows, I had to learn how to promote specifically to jazz heads and specifically to hip-hop heads,” she said. “I had to find ways to attract them. If you called it a jazz show, the hip-hop chiefs wouldn’t buy tickets. If you called it a hip-hop show, the jazz heads wouldn’t buy tickets.

“So I had to create a new narrative early on. Once we got them into the room, as soon as they heard the music, there was no denying how fresh it was.”

In addition to her grandmother, Ms. Stapel is survived by her brother Michael Skids and sister Caitlin Challox.

Ms. Freeman said that although Ms. Stapel had reduced her production activities, she had a long-term goal inspired by the difficulties she was facing.

“She wanted to promote a health center for jazz musicians, so when they don’t have a concert and they’re struggling, they can go to her center,” she said.