Meghan Stabile, who creatively bridged the gap between young jazz musicians and hip hop artists by bringing them together to perform in nontraditional venues, with the goal of creating younger audiences with a new interest in jazz, died on Sunday, June 12 in Valrico, Fla. She was 39.
Bikbaye Inejnema, her counselor, told NPR that the cause was suicide. Inejnema spoke on behalf of Maureen Stabile, Meghan’s maternal grandmother. “She knows she didn’t meet any of Meghan’s community. But she does want Meghan’s memory to be honored in the way that reflects who she really was, not what she went through.”
Stabile, the founder, CEO of Revive Music and young concert impresario, stepped away from the hectic music scene in recent years, partly to focus on her own wellness. In 2020, under her company Revive Music, she embarked on yet another important mission; she described it by stating, “We now look to focus on another extremely important and vital part of advocacy and that is the health and wellbeing of each member and musician in our community.” During that year’s Winter Jazzfest, along with its founder Brice Rosenbloom, she coordinated a benefit show entitled ‘Revive Yo Feelings’ to benefit Jazz Foundation of America and MusiCares, that featured Robert Glasper. The initiative was organized to address the music industry’s surrounding issues of mental health, addiction and recovery (just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“Meghan possessed a rare combination of intuitive wit, coupled with when to time a strike to present her artistic vision for success, and she miraculously accomplished it tenaciously!” 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 now in the process of completing its 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 were influenced by hip hop music and many hip hop artists sampled jazz music,” said Stabile during an interview with this writer in 2009. “We’ve become a link that brings together jazz and hip hop artists that don’t necessarily know each other but have respect for each other’s creativity.”
Stabile presented her debut concert series Revive Da Live in 2009 which featured Jeru the Damaja, Large Professor (producer for Common and A Tribe Called Quest), and Daru Jones. They were teamed 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 developed into a friendship that grew until her untimely passing.
“I’m so honored to have been part of many of the projects you presented. They were always so much fun and you brought so many people of all ages and races together with those shows,” stated Shaw.
Stabile presented her Revive Da Live concerts in unorthodox venues like Webster Hall, Le Poisson Rouge and little unknown spots on the Lower East Side that proved to be neutral territory for young jazz fans and the hip hop crew. The admission was very reasonable, no quiet rules, dancing and talking permitted. Her concerts were packed and it was my first time seeing young jazz musicians and fans mixing it up with hip hop lovers and here I was the oldest in the place giving me hope that jazz was reaching younger people crossing genres. At the end of her 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 Black music tradition with today’s music for digestion by larger audiences that included many races of various ages and circumstances.
During an interview with The New York Times in 2013, she noted, “We have a strategic plan to get both hip hop and jazz fans together. The show is a vehicle to educate the audience about hip hop and jazz, some have never seen a live jazz performance. It also shows another side of hip hop other than the stereotypical bling, bling, money and women lyrics.”
Meghan Erin Stabile was born July 26, 1982, in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in Dover, N.H. She was raised mainly 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 kicked out of four schools—three high schools and a middle school,” Stabile told John Leland. “For fighting. I went through a lot, and I made it through. It didn’t break me. So always having that strength has been able to pull me through any type of situation.”
She attended Berklee, in Boston, as a guitarist and a singer, but eventually decided on music business courses. The seeds for concert promotion and producing came from her experiences at the local hangout spot Wally’s Cafe, where jazz musicians played regularly. Stabile told “Jazz Night in America.” She began to wonder “why this music isn’t readily available, or why this music isn’t on the radio, why this band isn’t selling out venues.”
When she moved to New York in 2006, Stabile brought her new business acumen and a desire to bring live shows to the people. She started on a shoestring budget while waiting 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 in a world of older men who weren’t looking for any changes in the system.
Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, took notice of her accomplishments and partnered with the organization to release an album, “REVIVE Music Presents: Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1),” in 2015. “I think Revive has a keen understanding of the basic nature of the music, which is that it’s got to keep moving forward,” Was said in press materials. “Not decade by decade, or year by year, but every day.”
Others affiliated with Stabile’s mission 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 power to uplift, must unite to combat all stigma and misinformation related to mental health by promoting messages of wellness through music,” said Stabile in 2009, extracted from a larger statement. “Our message not only serves our community of musical innovators but also the audiences receiving the music and thus humanity as a whole.”
In addition to her grandmother, she is survived by a sister, Caitlin Chaloux, and a brother, Michael Skidds.