Andromeda Turre: a real-life wonder woman! Living right here in Katonah, Turre applies her artistic talent as a jazz vocalist and composer to her advocacy and activism work as chair of the Idea Committee, Bedford’s Diversity Equity and Inclusivity committee, and as the founder of Growing Up Jazz, an educational program that merges music and history. She also serves as the artistic director for this Sunday’s Juneteenth festival at Caramoor. The free event begins at 3:00 and will include family-friendly activities and a performance from an internationally-acclaimed musician, Jeremiah Abiah.
Everyone is encouraged to come and participate in the festival which Turre describes as “a fully immersive experience” where you can utilize all of your senses to experience Juneteenth and black culture. Plus, there will be free tours of the Sound Art exhibit, including individual tours for those who get overwhelmed in large groups. Katonah Connect sat down with Turre to find out more about her story and what we can look forward to at the upcoming Juneteenth festival.
Katonah Connect: To start, can you tell me about yourself and how you got into advocacy and music?
Andromeda Turre: Advocacy and music are my family legacy. My aunt Gayle, who I was very close with, was a civil rights activist within the realm of music. Many people that work in music are familiar with the blind auditions– it’s actually the result of a lawsuit my aunt pursued because she couldn’t get jobs as a black musician, even though she had the same training and qualifications as white musicians. My aunt held a Human Rights Commission hearing and sued; thus, blind auditions began, so people could pick based on what they heard and not what they saw.
My aunt also chaired a DEI committee, before they even called them DEI committees, for the musician’s union in New York City. She wrote a lot of articles and was a consummate advocate and activist. I grew up around her, so I think it just rubbed off. My own personal start was in high school when I started as a teen correspondent for MSNBC, speaking about tough issues.
KC: What overlaps have you discovered between advocacy, DEI consulting and music?
AT: For me, it’s all coming from the same place, and that is really wanting equity for everyone and seeing music as a healing tool that brings people together. It’s a way for people to understand perspectives outside of their own. So that’s the overlap. For me, music is the great unifier.
KC: At Sunday’s Juneteenth event, there’s everything from Double Dutch and stepping to quilting and music. How did you come up with all of these activities? Did you look to other events or organizers for inspiration?
AT: No, no, no! I have a background in immersive theater and shows. Before the pandemic, I created immersive experiences for corporate events and private parties. But I couldn’t have done it without Caramoor’s Adina Williams (director of school programs & community engagement). She was an incredible thought partner in developing the festivities.
For Juneteenth, I wanted to immerse people in black culture. So when people come to Juneteenth this year, they can really have a full experience. You can learn Double Dutch, step routines and try some traditional cuisine. You can taste foods, you can hear the music and the stories, you can go on sound art tours – it’s just a fully immersive experience. It’s like utilizing all of your senses to experience Juneteenth and black culture.
KC: Out of all the activities listed on the Caramoor website for Juneteenth, what are you most excited about?
AT: I’m most excited for Jeremiah Abiah, our performer. He’s truly an extraordinary and underrated vocalist and songwriter. I’m really excited to hear what he’s going to bring to the stage.
KC: So, will you participate in any of the activities?
AT: I’m probably going to be very busy, but I am definitely going to try to jump! I love Double Dutch and used to play growing up in New York City. In regard to stepping, I didn’t go to a historically black university where they typically would do the step routines, and I haven’t spent a lot of time in the south where that’s more popular. So, I’ve never learned step routines, but it’s a part of my culture that I’ve always wanted to explore. So, I will definitely try to learn some step routines on Sunday!
KC: Should we be expecting a Double Dutch pro? Are you any good?
AT: Yeah, I meannnn, when I was 12! It’s been a while!
KC: Apart from this Juneteenth event, how else can people best support and celebrate African American freedom and achievement on this coming Juneteenth and throughout the year?
AT: Don’t be afraid to experience another culture and another perspective! Juneteenth is a holiday for everyone. If you really think about the Fourth of July, everyone in America celebrates the Fourth of July, but it’s the celebration of freedom from British rule and there are people who live here that aren’t British. So we can all celebrate Juneteenth as well. It’s just about celebrating freedom and the liberation of people. And I think freedom is something that our country really stands for. So anybody who’s here in America can celebrate Juneteenth and just show up, try to learn, and keep an open mind.
KC: I didn’t see any tour dates on your website, but I’d love to see you perform live. Do you have anything in the works?
AT: I will be performing at the Serious Fun Arts Festival in White Plains in October. I will also be at the jazz club that’s opening in Mount Kisco in November. Butttt… people can listen to me every weekend on my SiriusXM radio show, Real Jazz, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.! I play jazz and talk about history.
KC: What’s different about your radio show?
AT: I think it’s similar to my Growing Up Jazz program, which teaches a different, important perspective that’s been missing from the broader American narrative. On my show, I try to use music as a way to share information and start conversations that might be difficult to have otherwise. So, for example, last weekend I played a song about 40 acres and a mule. Then, I talked about the history of 40 acres and a mule in our country. After sharing that information with people, I had several people write me on social media saying like, wow, I never knew that, and I’m learning so much from listening to your show!
KC: As a jazz singer, do you listen to other types of music? Is there a genre or singer that people would be surprised you like?
AT: EDM!I love EDM. I’m a super huge Armin van Buuren fan.
KC: Wow! EDM? That surprised me, too! Why do you love it so much?
AT: It’s incredibly emotional. I think with jazz, its expressiveness and live nature – especially when you see it live. It’s such emotional music, and it takes you on an emotional roller coaster. And EDM does the same thing. It’s incredibly emotional music, and I think I connect with it on that level. And it’s just fun!