Musicians and activists Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, with musician and Rail music editor George Grella, discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.
Jesse Paris Smith is a writer, activist, musician, producer, and co-founder of Pathway to Paris. She has been composing, performing, recording, touring, and collaborating with other musicians and artists globally since 2004. Her compositions have been commissioned for documentary films, commercial work, installations, audiobooks, and live score performances. In 2014, Jesse and cellist Rebecca Foon founded Pathway to Paris, a non-profit organization dedicated to turning the Paris Agreement into reality and offering tangible solutions for combating global climate change, helping cities to design and implement ambitious climate action plans to go 100% renewable/zero emissions by 2040. In September 2019, she released a collaborative album with Laurie Anderson and Jesse’s longtime collaborator Tenzin Choegyal called Songs from the Bardo, released on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. In February 2019 she began performing her own songs, playing piano/ukulele and singing, and has performed solo in and out of NYC. On New Year’s Eve 2019, Jesse released her first ever solo song entitled, ‘Legacies,’ with all proceeds going to Pathway to Paris. She was born in Detroit, and spent her childhood in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. She currently resides in NYC, working on various writing and music projects, and Pathway to Paris projects and initiatives for 2020. Read more.
Rebecca Foon is a musician, activist, producer and co-founder of Pathway to Paris. She has performed and recorded in a wide array of contexts, most notably as co-founder of the modern chamber post-rock ensemble Esmerine, as a member of Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra (2001-2008), Set Fire To Flames (2001-2004), member of Colin Stetson’s, Sorrow ensemble (2015-2020) and more recently at the helm of her electro-acoustic songwriting project Saltland. With these entities, Foon has performed around the world and released over a dozen albums on various imprints. Esmerine’s 2013 album Dalmak won the Canadian music industry’s Juno Award for Best Instrumental Album. Following a series of six critically-acclaimed releases by Esmerine and Saltland from 2011-2017, Foon began working on new solo music with her first album under her own name released in February 2020 with all proceeds going to Pathway to Paris. In 2014, Jesse Paris Smith and Foon founded Pathway to Paris, a non-profit organization dedicated to turning the Paris Agreement into reality. Together they launched the 1000 Cities Initiative for Carbon Freedom in 2017, supporting cities in developing and implementing ambitious climate action plans. Read more.
George Grella is a musician and writer. His performing experience includes playing jazz, classical and improvised music at CBGB, the original Knitting Factory, and Weill Recital Hall. As a composer, he has produced chamber music, opera, electronic music and has created music for dance and cartoons. He is an important voice in music criticism, serving as music editor at the Brooklyn Rail, critic at the New York Classical Review, and the author of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, the first jazz title in the 33 1/3 series from Bloomsbury. To see Grella’s contributions to the Rail, visit this page.
Carla Harryman is the author of more than 20 books. Recent publications include Sue in Berlin (PURH), Artifact of Hope (Ordinance Series, Kenning Editions), and L’impromptu de Hannah/ Hannah Cut In (Joca Seria). A Voice to Perform: One Opera/Two Plays (SplitLevel Texts) will be released this year. She lives in the Detroit Metro Area and serves on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University.