COCA /Tallahassee Arts continues a brand-new feature called “Artists Inspire” to feature local artists of all genres in our community. “Artists Inspire” will give us a glimpse into the lives of our working artists and cultural leaders – promoting what is unique to Tallahassee and our surrounding area. In August 2021, we celebrated National Black Business Month and continue this series of posts.
Gerri Seay, a teacher for over 40 years, is a retired FAMU School of Business and Industry tenured professor. Her husband, Clarence, is a jazz musician who has played bass with some of the most important names in the business. Clarence and Gerri have created a performance organization and venue where musicians are treated with respect. Learn more about B Sharps here.
What is necessary for your creative process?
The creative process wants an outlet, a place for the idea to rest, and to display the results of creativity. An outlet for creativity is always a most prominent feature that supports continued reinvention and growth.
What fictional character would you like to bring to life and meet?
Any of Zora Neale Hurston’s female characters. Most of them were feisty and refused to be broken. They understood what obstacles were put in their way and they figured a way around them. Then there is Charles Dickens. I love “A Tale of Two Cities.” Sometimes we hit snags and we have to let that part go and start over. We can’t be afraid to start over…and over again if necessary. ‘Recalled to Life.’
What music is playing in your car?
Joshua Redman’s new CD. I’m obsessed with the cut ‘A Simple Love Song.’ But the whole CD is incredible. I’m trying to figure out how to bring him down to B Sharps.
What is the last local live performance, or book you have read, that had an impact on you?
B Sharps had two live performances this spring of ‘21. Two FSU jazz graduates, Dave Meder and Jalen Baker, brought their groups in with the Jazz South Program. Other performances patrons and I still talk about are from Rene Marie and Cyrus Chesnutt. Then there are the FSU faculty and their performances. And of course, some of the most incredible student performances. The students used to be allowed to have their recitals at the club, and oh my goodness, the energy in the room was beyond description. We had several classical salons on Sundays, and those performances were also able to give us all chills. It’s the room. The acoustics are remarkable.
It’s time to explore Tallahassee and Leon County; where are we going and why?
In Tallahassee, there is a wealth of history and very interesting sites rarely visited outside of this region. There are many restaurants to choose from. There are parks, lakes, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico to spend time with. And there is B Sharps’ live music in a National Register venue unlike any other, anywhere.
If you were trapped in a TV show or movie for a month, which would it be?
I’ve always loved musicals and grew up on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ I grew up on my brother’s jazz albums. I knew Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Cal Tjater and Count Basie before I knew The Temptations. And I also still like a show called ‘Cop Rock.’ But, I grew up on my brother’s jazz albums, and my attachment to jazz is more organic and a part of my DNA.
What superpower would you like to have?
I see myself as a catalyst. So many organizations and people are inert. Instead of being active and vibrant they are simply not moving at all. I’d like to say that I’m a catalyst, and that I work to make something happen. If ‘making something happen’ was a superpower, that’s the superpower I’d like to have!
What do you like best about living in Tallahassee?
I really like the accessibility to various government, agencies and to people in the City. It’s possible to have a conversation with almost anyone here. I also love the natural environment here and how most people want to protect it.
What have you learned from failure?
Failure for me has never been an option. As a child, my mother NEVER let me quit something that I started. I learned to be careful what I chose to do because I knew it’d be with me until I finished it. I’m always surprised and pleased to have been able to always figure something out and make it work. Failure’s not an option; determination, commitment and perseverance generally win out.
By Erica Thaler
Council on Culture & Arts (COCA)
Want to learn about more artists in our local community? Check out these recent “Artists Inspire” posts.
Visit www.tallahasseearts.org for more information about local arts and cultural events and ways to get engaged in our area’s cultural community!