Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deena Goodman: The Queen of the Scene

No grass grows under Deena Goodman’s feet, the fiery songstress and powerful promoter of New York City’s independent artist community. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Deena is well-versed in all aspects of the industry, from performing and booking to songwriting, socializing, and selling. Well-known by friends and colleagues as the founder of Rebel Spirit Music, an organization formulated to help network and nurture the artist scene; Goodman has been immersed in the NY music world since moving to the city at age 18, and continues to share her whirlwind force of talent, passion, and philanthropy on every road she travels.

Diving head first into the music business on both ends, Deena spent most of college songwriting, meeting producers, and interning with hard-hitting companies like Warner Brothers Records and the prestigious PR firm Susan Blond, with whom she got a job upon graduation. Choosing to heavily pursue a solo music career, Deena eventually left Blond’s agency, picking up the position of Saturday night party promoter with client The Canal Room, and spent the rest of her time lighting up the stages of Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, and Joe’s Pub with her mesmerizing, soulful voice. A brilliant networking force, Deena simultaneously started bolstering relationships with fellow artists through BMI, strategically booking shows with musician friends who drew strong followings such as Casey Shea, Atomic Tom, Wes Hutchinson, and Brent Shuttleworth.

Four years into her musical pursuit fate stepped in and handed her an unfortunate card- a cyst was discovered on Goodman’s vocal chords and surgery was required, rendering an uncertain future for her singing career. Not willing to walk away from the life she worked so persistently to build, Goodman took a new approach to the industry. “I was always as good of a businesswoman as I was a singer, maybe even a better businesswoman,” Deena reveals. Using the necessary sabbatical as an opportunity to try something new, Goodman joined forces with Dean McCarthy, a fellow music enthusiast, to create and promote events through their newfound organization, Rebel Spirit Music. The goal was simple: to discover great music, perform it for big audiences, and in turn get the individual artists to start playing with one another, promoting a “troubadour, 1970s hippie-vibe” that translated beautifully into the current scene. Deena enlisted the great and powerful Rockwood Music Hall as the main venue for these events, which hosts Rebel Spirit once a month since its inception in December 2007. “The fact that it’s at Rockwood really helps because it’s the center of music for most of the community in the Lower East Side,” Goodman explains, crediting Rockwood’s senior booker Tommy Merrill with intelligently constructing which acts perform each evening. “[Rebel Spirit and Rockwood] work hand-in-hand very well together.”

Rebel Spirit Music Series has since expanded to include venues like the Canal Room, where Deena also works as a booker, and Tavern on the Green during the summer season. Drawing industry representatives, artists, and music lovers from all over the city, the concept has been warmly received and is eternally evolving. Goodman had the first ten months booked in her head from the start, pulling from friends and contacts she made during her involvement with the New York Songwriter’s Circle, and pairing those with new, undiscovered gems McCarthy found hidden throughout the city and Brooklyn. “People really like the community vibe,” she notes, observing that most advertising for the series comes from positive word-of-mouth.

In working first with the Songwriter’s Circle, Goodman was able to establish friendships with groups of musicians, getting to know the different cliques who played together both professionally and socially. Becoming increasingly aware of the importance of introducing people, Deena proceeded to blend the lines of the groups that had formed. “Cliques are not a bad thing. They are what help artists cultivate, grow and support themselves,” she states confidently and smiles, “I just think they should all know each other.”

Goodman excitedly shares what Rebel Spirit has brought to the scene: “People treat each other as artists, put each other in their bands, feature their friends in sets, utilize each other’s talents to make their shows better, and bring these different personalities to the light of their audiences.” So many of these artists would not have found each other if not for sharing the common stage, further proving the incredible power music has of bringing people together.

The organization’s home base can be found at www.rebelspiritmusic.com, a website developed “by artists, for artists,” that grabs writers, photographers, PR people, and other resources and displays them at one table for everyone to feast on. Deena wisely rationalizes, “It’s better to pursue something as a group than one-on-one,” which has been a major factor in the success of this useful coalition of artistry. One of Goodman’s goals is to develop the website even further- expanding the database, promoting additional series, and tie in more industry representatives. “It’s all about building a name for this grass roots community of artists doing everything for themselves,” Deena affirms, showcasing a passion for this project that’s parallel to the sparks that fly when she takes the stage.

An exemplary model of the duality between business and the arts, Goodman is inspired by good lyrics, perfectly executed live music events, happy audiences, music lovers, people who believe in sharing the wealth, and most of all, people. The strong, confident, and dynamic enthusiasm she emits is simply captivating, and her well-constructed words and devotion to the indie music journey will hook anyone eager to hear, know, and discover more.

To learn about Deena as a singer-songwriter please visit www.myspace.com/deenagoodman. To be further educated in opportunities with Rebel Spirit Music check out www.rebelspiritmusic.com.

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