JAZZ NOTES: Meghan Stabile, founder of Revive Music, dies at 39
Meghan Stabile, who creatively bridged the gap between young jazz musicians and hip hop artists by bringing them together to perform in non-traditional venues, with the aim of creating a younger audience with a new interest in jazz , died Sunday, June 12 in Valrico, Fla. She was 39 years old.
Bikbaye Inejnema, his adviser, told NPR the cause was suicide. Inejnema spoke on behalf of Maureen Stabile, Meghan’s maternal grandmother. “She knows she hasn’t met any members of Meghan’s community. But she wants Meghan’s memory to be honored in a way that reflects who she really was, not what she went through.
Stabile, the founder, CEO of Revive Music and young gig impresario, has taken a break from the hectic music scene in recent years, in part to focus on her own well-being. In 2020, under her company Revive Music, she embarked on another important mission; she described it, saying, “We are now looking to focus on another hugely important and vital part of advocacy, which is the health and well-being of every member and musician in our community.” During that year’s Winter Jazzfest, with its founder Brice Rosenbloom, she coordinated a benefit show called “Revive Yo Feelings” to benefit the Jazz Foundation of America and MusiCares, which featured Robert Glasper. The initiative was organized to address mental health, addiction and recovery issues surrounding the music industry (just before the COVID-19 pandemic).
“Meghan possessed a rare combination of an intuitive mind, paired with the timing to showcase her artistic vision of success, and she miraculously accomplished it with tenacity!” said trumpeter and friend Charles Tolliver.
Stabile collaborated with trumpeter and composer Igmar Tomas to form The Revive Big Band which he leads and is currently in the process of finishing his debut album. For approximately 13 years, Revive Music Group promoted and produced live shows while maintaining an online publication, The Revivalist, in association with Okayplayer.
“There is a lack of exposure to live jazz for the younger generation. A lot of young musicians have been influenced by hip hop music, and a lot of hip hop artists have sampled jazz music,” Stabile said in an interview with this writer in 2009. “We’ve become a nexus that brings artists together jazz and hip hop that we don’t necessarily know each other, but we respect each other’s creativity.
Stabile presented their first concert series Revive Da Live in 2009 with Jeru the Damaja, Large Professor (producer for Common and A Tribe Called Quest) and Daru Jones. They teamed up with young jazz musicians like bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave, alto sax Jaleel Shaw and pianist Aaron Parks. Over the years, Stabile continued to work with these artists, which turned into a friendship that grew until his untimely passing.
“I am very honored to have participated in many of the projects you presented. They were always so much fun and you brought together so many people of all ages and races with these shows,” Shaw said.
Stabile performed his Revive Da Live concerts at unorthodox venues like Webster Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and little undiscovered Lower East Side spots that proved to be neutral territory for young jazz fans and the hip hop crew. . Admission was very reasonable, no quiet rules, dancing and talking allowed. His concerts were packed and it was the first time I saw young musicians and jazz fans mixing with hip hop lovers and here I was the oldest in the place, which gave me the hope that jazz would reach the youngest by crossing genres. At the end of his concerts it wasn’t jazz or hip hop, it was good music. Stabile understood Duke Ellington’s statement “there is only good music and bad music”. She combined the tradition of black music with the music of today for digestion by a wider audience that included many races of varying ages and circumstances.
During an interview with The New York Times in 2013, she noted, “We have a strategic plan to bring fans of hip hop and jazz together. The show is a vehicle to educate audiences about hip hop and jazz, some have never seen a live jazz show. It also shows another side of hip hop other than the stereotypical lyrics of bling, bling, money and women.
Meghan Erin Stabile was born on July 26, 1982 in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in Dover, NH. She was raised primarily by her grandmother and an aunt, and had no relationship with her father. She was estranged from her mother, Gina Marie Skidds, who died last year.
“I got expelled from four schools – three high schools and one middle school,” Stabile told John Leland. “For the fight. I have been through a lot and I have succeeded. It didn’t break me. So always having that strength got me through any type of situation.
She attended Berklee, Boston as a guitarist and singer, but eventually decided to take music business classes. The seeds of concert promotion and production came from his experiences at the local hangout Wally’s Cafe, where jazz musicians played regularly. Stabile narrated “Jazz Night in America”. She began to wonder “why isn’t this music readily available, or why isn’t this music on the radio, why isn’t this band selling out rooms.”
When she moved to New York in 2006, Stabile brought her newfound business acumen and desire to bring live entertainment to people. She started on a shoestring budget waiting for tables in the East Village. She developed her Revive Music into an institution, a New York Hang that brought musicians together for the greater good. Which wasn’t easy for a young woman navigating a world of older men who didn’t seek any change in the system.
Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, took note of his accomplishments and partnered with the organization to release an album, “REVIVE Music Presents: Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1),” in 2015. “I think Revive has a deep understanding of the fundamental nature of music, which is that it must keep moving forward,” Was said in press materials. “Not decade by decade, or year by year, but every day.”
Other Stabile mission affiliates were keyboardists Ray Angry, harpist Brandee Younger, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, rapper producer ThunderCat, drummer Justin Brown, and producer Raydar Ellis.
“…The music community, known for its uplifting power, must come together to challenge all mental health-related stigma and misinformation by promoting wellness messages through music,” Stabile said in 2009, excerpt from a larger statement. “Our message not only serves our community of musical innovators, but also the audience that receives the music and therefore humanity as a whole.”
Besides her grandmother, she is survived by one sister, Caitlin Chaloux, and one brother, Michael Skidds.