The article, "Not Putting Up with the Status Quo," is about trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, arranger, bandleader, activist and entrepreneur Ellen Seeling.
Professor Thomas Erdmann in the Department of Music had an article published in the June 2021 issue of The International Trumpet Guild Journal.
The article, “Not Putting Up with the Status Quo,” is about trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, arranger, bandleader, activist and entrepreneur Ellen Seeling. Growing up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the trajectory of her professional career includes one year at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee before transferring to Indiana University where she was the first woman to receive a degree in jazz studies.
Moving to New York, she joined the all-women original R&B, pop, and soul group Isis, who headlined their own shows and opened for bands like Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In addition to releasing three critically acclaimed albums, the group made television appearances on ABC in Concert, American Bandstand with Dick Clark, The Mike Douglas Show, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and Soul Train, to list a few. During this time Seeling also joined Laura Nyro’s band and later the disco and pop powerhouse band Chic. Her remarkable ability to play solidly in any style brought her to the attention of artists like Little Anthony, Joe Cocker, Bo Diddley, Cornell Dupree, Slide Hampton, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, and Luther Vandross. Latin artists Ray Barretto, Paquito d’Rivera, Larry Harlow and Latin Fever, and the Machito Orchestra also came calling. Other sidemusician appearances include playing with Sister Sledge including on their huge hit We Are Family, Holly Near, Margie Adam, Patti LaBelle, Phoebe Snow, and guitarist John Tropea, among others. In addition, Seeling found time to perform with a variety of jazz big bands including Diva, the Larry Elgart Orchestra, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Maiden Voyage.
Seeling’s movie soundtrack work includes Chicken Little, The Full Monty, and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion. She’s been biographically profiled in numerous books including Peter Erskine’s 2019 The Musician’s Lifeline, Chris Becker’s 2015 Freedom of Expression, Interviews with Women in Jazz, and Leonard Feather’s 1987 The Jazz Years. She is Founder and Chair of the Jazzwomen and Girls Advocates organization, was a 20-year Voting Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and is a 30-plus year member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Seeling is Founder and Director of the Montclair Women’s Big Band whose recording Jazziz called, “a blues-drenched gem that swings with dazzling aplomb,” and co-founder with saxophonist/flutist Jean Fineberg of the power R&B/soul/pop group Deuce described as “high-energy” and “musical fireworks” in Hot Wire. As if this wasn’t enough, she’s a decades-long leading activist in the movement for equal participation of women in music events and ensembles. Her extensive teaching resume includes currently teaching at The Jazzschool in Berkeley, California, and founding and directing their annual Girls Jazz & Blues Camp. She taught jazz trumpet for over 10 years at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Consultant and Panelist at the 2017 Jazz Congress of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Record Industry Association of America has given her three Platinum Awards, one for Chic’s C’est Chic, one for their Risque album, and the other for Sister Sledge’s We Are Family. She’s been awarded numerous grants including those from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. She still plays, teaches, and advocates for women musicians with an undiminished fervor we would all love to possess.