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Using an Upright Bass to Break Through the 'Boys Club'

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Jazz musician Caroline Chung wear a bright yellow dress as she bends down, posing next to her upright bass.
Jazz musician Caroline Chung was one of the musicians selected for Bay Beats in 2023. Now the streaming platform is looking for more Bay Area music.  (Via Caroline Chung)

Upright bassist Caroline Chung uses music to heal. She says creating and performing her work has helped her engage with social issues and recover from a battle with cancer. But being a jazz musician isn’t always smooth sailing.

Chung says she’s been overlooked for gigs simply because of her identity– an Asian woman who plays the upright bass. “Hey, I’m a female jazz bassist,” says Chung. “It’s like nobody really cares, because it’s the ‘boys club’.” 

Despite this,  Chung has found collaborators in people poets and other jazz musicians.

After releasing two projects last year, Chung is gearing up for another push in 2022– starting with this weekend’s show at SF Jazz where she’ll be paying tribute to Nina Simone.

But before you see her in performance or check out her music, I invite you to get a little more of her story… Rightnowish.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.


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