Relationships are highly valued commodities—particularly within the entertainment and art worlds, where having connections is generally regarded as a necessity for career mobility and success, and a metric of industry equity. A trusted confidant can provide the encouragement and support we need in our darkest hour of perspective—while a betrayal can serve as a mentorship tool towards self-actualization as an artist, providing a window into our greatest strengths and weaknesses. There is no doubt to the power and necessity of relationships with notable influencers and achievers, regardless of the creative industry you are called to, however, the most successful and empowering relationships are those that are able to grow beyond the limited economics of give and gain into a level of coexistence marked by a genuine, palpable enjoyment, mutual respect, unforced productivity and a willingness to serve towards a shared vision. These attributes are commonly coined within culture as #relationshipgoals.
One of the major graces of jazz as an art form is in its demonstration of the #relationshipgoals dynamic. The expression of jazz is wholly dependent on the unfettered relationship of its participants for successful, fluid creativity and communication during performances. When musicians and vocalists come together in unity with the goal of creative exploration, illumination, beauty and purpose, the byproduct is transformative creative power via musical communion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a jazz aficionado and avid fan of Charlie Parker, spoke on the impact of jazz within culture at the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival.
“Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.”
Ultimately, as a creative, the benefits of a relationship with the Creator supersede the gains of any professional, collaborative or interpersonal relationship that you can form independently. Through prayer, meditation and study, renewed levels of faith, hope and insight can be cultivated, while walking out the daily disciplines, goals and strategy necessary to fully develop as an artist.
There is an account within scripture, where Christ, himself a creative—who worked as a carpenter prior to his three-year ministry—was approached by one of his disciples, outside of the twelve apostles within his immediate circle. Christ extended an invitation to the disciple to follow him. The disciple responded, asking if it would be possible for him to go back and bury his father first, to which Christ responded, “Let the dead bury the dead”, effectively providing insight to the disciple’s reality within the Kingdom of Heaven, and clarifying the level of commitment necessary for the path ahead. In turn, sometimes, as artists, we may find ourselves living and producing within a former capacity or creative expression in which we have already peaked, that is no longer serving our growth. In further cultivating your relationship with the Creator, and exploring the wisdom provided through study, a greater mentorship can be gained through the revelation of dead space and limiting thought patterns within your heart and mindset that remain unseen in your professional and interpersonal relationships with others.
The power of relationship is a key component in achieving continued growth and success as an artist. Ultimately, every encounter physically, mentally and spiritually mirrors our potential and shortcomings—sharpening us into the highest version of ourselves, as creators and producers.