Although there have always been examples of athletes being the voice of social change, 2020 was a watershed year in the fight for social justice. The COVID-19 pandemic and the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers were three primary events that coalesced in a short period of time to bring the need for social justice to the forefront and the voices of athletes led the call. Morgann Mitchell, Senior Director, Integrated Brand Communications, Turner Sports, moderated Amplifying Athlete Voices Off The Court, a panel discussion during 2021 South by Southwest. Guests were Candance Parker, Analyst and Host for Turner Sports; Eric Jackson, SVP of NBA Digital Content Operations and Diversified Sports Content at Turner Sports; and Chris Webber, also an Analyst for Turner Sports.
When both the WNBA and the NBA returned to playing games during the pandemic, each league was separately sequestered in their own bubbles to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus. This unique situation allowed the athletes to meet more often and formulate their responses to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Mitchell: “How in the bubble were you able to come together?”
Parker: “Preparation is in the small moments when the cameras weren’t there. I think the WNBA was built for moments like this. We are a league of women – 80% are women of color, we have all economic backgrounds, and LGBTQ members.”
Mitchell: “Chris, you were on the air the night Jacob Blake was shot – what was the response of people?”
Webber: “I have to give a shout out to Turner. Turner wanted to know if I wanted to say something. The response was overwhelming great.”
Jackson: “Black voices have been heard for years – Ali, Hank Aaron. The WNBA was great – you left out (Candace) that you were mothers, so you had to balance that as well.”
In the midst of social justice issues, there was an owner of a WNBA team (Kelly Loeffler) that was also running for a permanent seat in the Senate. She opposed the Black Lives Matter stance of the WNBA players and wanted them to keep politics out of the game. As a direct result of this, players vocally supported her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock. (Note: Loeffler sold the team in February, 2021)
Mitchell: “How did the senate conversations come about?”
Parker: “I have to speak on leadership of the WNBA and NBA. We have a pretty solid player’s union – in both leagues. There were times we would hop on calls, one time with Michelle Obama. Because we were in the bubble, everybody was connected. We were able to surround that message and amplify it. We could have meetings whenever we want. I really commend leadership of WNBA and WNBAPA.”
Mitchell: “What is your role in this fight?”
Webber: “I think it’s cool that the younger players are embracing what has come before them and taking leadership. I am inspired that the lessons of the past weren’t wasted.”
Mitchell: “How is social media amplifying the stories?”
Jackson: “The beauty is the youthful exuberance of having voices heard. Authenticity makes a difference with social channels. Here is a guy or a lady that looks like me, that through art and expression do their own thing with social media. It’s beautiful to watch. The older people need to get on board.”
Mitchell: “Can the younger generation do or be so much more than the glass ceilings from before?”
Parker: “It is important to see something, but so, so crucial to see someone. This generation has seen so much that they don’t set boundaries and limits. I know my own daughter is this way. They care for others. It means more for Chris Webber to sit here and talk about women’s sports. Like it means more for our white allies to talk about Black Lives Matter.”
Jackson: “I’m a girl dad, (they are in their younger 20’s) so I’m seeing their engagement in the political election. They are seeing the responsibility of voting.”
Webber: “For my son, as a Black male, I hope I don’t have to worry about how he engages with the police later in life. For my daughter, she doesn’t have any limits, she thinks she can do anything! I have twins and they are still small. I’m excited for them to live in the glory of these times. I’m optimistic for the future.”
Mitchell: “Eric, how are you building diversity in your team?”
Jackson: “This is a passion of mine. Didn’t feel good, but felt comfortable for 20 years out of 30 I have been working. I went to a HBCU (Tuskegee University). I demonstrate my work ethic, I speak out. I need to set the example so when the next guy or girl who looks like me is applying to work here, it will be a no brainer. You want to be in the room where the decisions are made – hiring, content – I’ve tried to do that.”
Mitchell: “Why was ownership so important?”
Parker: “I have to make sure that I put my money where my mouth is – to support women’s sports. (Candace Parker is part of the ownership group of Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.) I am championing women’s sports plus teaching generational wealth. I am looking forward to going on this journey with my daughter – she is on the investor calls with me!”
SXSW Summary: Athletes have been using their platform and voices for decades to bring light to social issues on and off the field of play, but 2020 brought upon new urgency when COVID-19 and the killings of Black citizens like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor coincided in the span of a few months. Bleacher Report and Turner Sports will bring together a panel of stakeholders including, Turner analysts Candace Parker, Chris Webber and Senior Vice President of NBA Digital Content Operations and Diversified Sports Content, Eric Jackson, will dive into how these brands are concentrated on raising athletes’ voices on social issues to new heights and the importance of highlighting athlete activism.
Candace Parker – Host, Turner Sports Eric Jackson – Turner Sports – SVP of NBA Digital Content Operations and Diversified Sports Content Chris Webber – Turner Sports Morgann Mitchell – Senior Director, Integrated Brand Communications, Turner Sports
**elizabeth schneider is a former employee of the NBA and NFL and qualifies as both a sports critic and aficionado.
For a rip-roarin’ good time, country singer/songwriter Charlie Treat’s new album is the perfect answer to your prayers. Beginning with the amped-up energy of “I Ain’t Gonna Be The One To Do It,” he finds a way to lure the audience in with wit and a bite of nostalgia in the instrumentals. Even the slow down of pace with the second track “Drink With Me” holds lengthy, rhythmic lines, with (what appears to me to be) clear nods to The Black Crowes. (“Hard To Handle,” specifically, for those of you asking. And yes, it did take me calling the insanely talented music journalist Elizabeth Schneider to pinpoint the exact sound. Kudos to her.) Just those two tracks will have your mind spinning, but there are ten more inspired songs left to enjoy past that with this new release.
“The Two Best People” really brings the energy down, while singing of “bringing each other down.” Bluesy, beautiful energy to launch you into a light, airy “Tune As Pretty As You.” “Steamshovel Blues” brings the pace up again, but “So Much Better” lulls us back into that slow, glittering, 70’s sound. “Rain Again” comes at you with an edge off the bat, with some quick bongos and even quicker lyrics.
“Drive My Blues Away” is the most melancholic track we have yet to experience on this collection. The vocals seem very inspired, at times Springsteen, and at others Steven Tyler. The piano and whirring guitar solo make the whole thing feel like it could have been recorded in the 90s.
Thank goodness “Dollar For Dollar” brings the pace back up, as the subject matter isn’t entirely something to celebrate. However, the idea of rallying for the working man is something we can all relate to, especially after the trials the last year has presented us with. “Dancing At The Bar (The Quarantine Song)” starts out with glittering synth, and honestly we could see this track being performed alongside anything by ABBA. (Can you hear it?) “Candi” plays with dissonance before the first vocals hit, making it feel almost calmer as the lyrics set in. The whole album is rounded out quite well with “Biggest Fool,” which somehow blendsseveral of the aforementioned genres into one song. (Is that sitar? Are we in a 70’s music video? Where did that trumpet come from?)
One thing is for certain. Charlie Treat has chops. His ability to write lyrics that somehow perfectly complement each instrumental, creating new sounds that simultaneously pay homage to genre-spanning predecessors, is actually quite unique and very appreciated. The Comet should be approached as an adventure and a very appreciated leap into nostalgia.
I count live music as one of the great pleasures in life. People from disparate backgrounds getting together in one venue, all brought together with a common love of the music. I went to live shows often and already had plans, in some cases purchased tickets, for shows through 2020. Whoops!
During the first weeks of quarantine and isolation, I kept myself busy with all the unfinished projects around my house, waiting to be called back to work. Six months later, I find myself without a job, returned tickets and cancelled plans. I am grateful for all that I have, including my health and the health of my family, and live music.
While the music industry has suffered greatly during this pandemic, art will never be stopped. We see this with street murals, short form videos, soaring interest in crafts and cooking, and all the performance art that is available on your computer, in most cases free of charge or for an artist tip.
Imperfect Fifth celebrated their 3rd anniversary September 7 – 13th and viewers got the gifts – six nights of performances along with seven days of Instagram takeovers that included performances! Here are a few highlights from Day #1!
Instagram takeovers on September 7 included Austin Archer and Griffin Holtby. Austin Archer is a Los Angeles based artist with plenty of great music under his belt (“Sweet Rejection”, “Dangerous Liaison”), as well as acting, writing, and directing credits. Griffin Holtby calls Texas home and gave us a tour of sites in and around Dallas where he would be creating his newest video. The Blues guitar will reel you into his music.
The headliner on FB Live on Day #1 was Eric Dash. The New Jersey native, now living in Los Angeles, played a spirited 40-minute set that covered older material as well as songs he is getting ready to release (“Jealousy” and “I Just Need to Get Away”). Although he hasn’t played a live show in awhile, he sounded fresh and very excited to play. Dash broke out with an acoustic version of the Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” that was higher energy than you might imagine with just a guitar. The second song he covered was “Lithium” by Nirvana and he made it his own. My favorite of the night was “Stay Arms Reach,” a ballad with energy.
Make a plan to watch the replay of Eric Dash’s show below!
2020 was the first year Imperfect Fifth was accepted as an official press outlet for SXSW. Though two members of our team have been listed as press in the past — and we have attended and done extensive coverage even when we aren’t listed — this was a huge feat for Imperfect Fifth as a bootstraps music publication. But our reach is larger than we know. We are bringing new music to the forefront as best we can, especially in these times when people are turning to the arts for an escape, or peace of mind.
Though we can’t make things physically better at the moment, we did decide to move forward with our in-person interview format… but from our couches. Elizabeth Schneider — music journalist, writer, and DIY queen — came up with the name, and we’re sticking to it! So relax for a few minutes, and delve into the first episode of our quick-hitting third season of our podcast, The Sofa Sessions.
Stephen Clair is doing everything he can to stay involved in the music community during quarantine. During our first interview of what would have been our SXSW series, he talks Al Franken, social distancing, and Beacon Music Factory!
The end of October brought with it more than just a weather cool-down. As we started to bundle up for the winter ahead, we took time to pause on a breezy Autumn evening to celebrate the last 2 years of accomplishments with Imperfect Fifth. We were lucky enough to partner with Do Good Co., an incredible company on 38th Street in Kansas City, MO, who was also celebrating their 2nd birthday that evening. Together, we brought in vendors (Sugar Buffet KC, Scorpio Rising Botanicals, Crystal Ramirez Jewelry) and unique shopping opportunities with an evening of music and fun. Guitarist James Schneider opened the evening, followed by the talents of Danza Special and Fathers. We captured some photographs, caught up with friends, and were able to celebrate some incredible people locally, to boost our change globally.
Check our merch shop all week for discounts! Sales end at midnight, 11.11!
**photos by Erin P.S. Zimmerman, Elizabeth Schneider, and Meredith Schneider
The day after we were intoxicated by punk rocker Haru Nemuri absolutely destroying her midnight set at Elysium on March 14th, we had the pleasure of translating her energy into portraits. She was delighted that two generations of our family were there to enjoy her late set the night before – it’s not my fault we have the coolest mom ever, honestly – and we were able to joke around a bit while she threw stunner poses at us.
The notorious rock collective Kings of Leon dropped their new album Walls last fall. Being a massive fan of the band myself, I needed help getting more objective opinions on the piece. So, in the dimly lit dining room of my parents’ house after a dinner of fried chicken, my immediate family (and grandmother) sat down to add our two cents about the work. (This is one of my favorite posts from my Impose days.)
The first track of the album, “Waste a Moment”, allows swirling guitar to bring in a good little melody. It’s the uptempo single you may have heard on the radio, lending itself to the typical sound Kings of Leon is known for. But after that first track, the band seems to have attempted to deviate from their norm, nabbing bits and pieces from different genres to make the album into a diverse, warm body of tracks to feast your ears on. For example, when second track “Reverend” begins, you immediately notice the vintage 70’s feel to the keys, a mid-tempo track that starts slower as lead singer Caleb Followill reaches for octaves we didn’t realize were in his range, providing a hazy, more ethereal sound to his vocals during entire stretches of the song.
While “Around the World” may begin with a lightweight guitar riff, there is a solo that is borderline earth shattering awaiting your ears. It definitely makes us want to pack our bags and escape to a place unknown. “Find Me” comes in deeper, and gets straight to the point. 44 seconds in, Caleb starts to sing and the song loses some of its momentum by reducing the instrumentals for his vocals. The song gives off the impression that he is singing while he’s driving a car, and the momentum picks back up during the chorus. “Over” has a darker feel to it with the deep, consistent guitar riff. Sounds like The Killersblended with some David Bowie, something my entire family picked up on. (I will note that my grandma claimed it had a Phantom of the Opera feel to it.) We all agreed that Caleb’s vocals sound blatantly different on this track, although no less beautiful.
The song “Muchacho” proves the notion that when you add castanets to a song, it automatically becomes more vibey. Slightly reminiscent of some of our favorite R.E.M. tracks, Caleb’s voice is delivered at an even deeper range, if that’s possible. It’s slower, with a very tropical disposition and a tempo that reminds us of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Brilliant Disguise”. (Which was a brilliant move on their part.) Percussion leads in to “Conversation Piece” slowly, with lyrics like “take me back to california, to those crystal neon signs” allowing the listener to reminisce on days past. The song is low key, like the majority of the album, and could easily be played in the background of a back road drive with your significant other during the autumn months.
“Eyes On You” brings the tempo back up, the instrumentals noticeably reminiscent of some of our favorite Weezer tracks. The song deviates to a punk spectrum, although the way the melody is composed is actually very beautiful and works perfectly with Caleb’s scratchy bravado. “Wild” brings the album back to a warmer instrumental composition, and we’re led to a place of relaxation. The album rounds out with its title track, which sets in at a glacial – but incredible gorgeous – pace. Simple instrumentals allow the vocals to be highlighted moreso than its predecessors. Lyrics like “I can’t get there on my own / You can’t leave me here alone / I’m just trying to do what’s right / A man ain’t a man unless he’s fought the fight” make this a very introspective and personal piece. It’s a delicate way to end the album, and slows your heart rate down immensely. “Walls” can be summed up as an existential piece that leaves you questioning life, love, and your own pursuit of happiness.
As you may have noted, our evening included quite the roundtable discussion. As fleeting as it was, we all maintained the opinion that the album is experimentation at its finest.