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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 27, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 22
Jazz causes insanity?

An interview with Cat Hayes
Arts & Entertainment
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Jazz causes insanity?

An interview with Cat Hayes

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

'JAZZ INTOXICATION PROJECT'
WASHINGTON HALL
http://www.sitespecificarts.org
June 9 (preview) & June 10


Did you know that at one time, jazz music might have gotten you incarcerated into an insane asylum? It's true. Back in 1933, a Seattle politician tried to pass a bill outlawing the music as being a cause of mental insanity, known as Jazz Intoxication. Shedding light on the anniversary of this now absurd chapter of our city's and state's history, Washington State HistoryLink through King County's 4 Culture Site Specific Arts program presents a night of 'Jazz Intoxication.' The multi-floor live exhibition will be presented at Washington Hall, the very building where jazz intoxication was first introduced in Seattle. The Seattle Gay News spoke with (Gypsy) Cat Hayes, a local performer and one of the people involved in the 'Jazz Intoxication Project.'



Eric Andrews-Katz: You perform in several different genres. Who were your earliest influences in becoming an actress?

Hayes Cat: Judy Garland was a huge introduction for me. Not from The Wizard of Oz as much from hearing her sing 'The Man That Got Away' and that kind of torch music. Rodgers & Hammerstein are always good influences, but there's nothing like Sondheim torch songs.

Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a jazz singer?

Hayes: Karen Carpenter was the first person that grabbed my attention. She isn't a jazz singer, but she had a nuance to her voice that had soul. There's Billie Holliday - of course! And the 5th Dimension, I grew up listening to them. Marilyn McCoo had a hell of a range to her voice and Ella Fitzgerald, Satchmo, and Johnny Mathis.

Andrews-Katz: How did music help you deal with your ADHD?

Hayes: I was on meds for a while, but they didn't work for me. I think of ADHD as a palette with lots of colors, but the edges are frayed. When I perform, it is automatic and I don't have to think about what I'm doing. When I put myself into a musical place the edges get calmed and put into place.

Andrews-Katz: How does the project 'Chairs' reach out to the Seattle community and beyond?

Hayes: The Company that produces 'Chairs' is Silver Kite; Jen Kulik is the director and founder with a degree in theatre. The show consists of five actors ranging from 18-71 and has them tell stories that somehow involve a chair. One actor is an 18-year-old Korean gal and then there is a 71 year old Grandpa, and they tell stories crossing boundaries and lines that [most people] don't think about on a daily basis.

Andrews-Katz: Is it true that in Seattle, jazz could get one incarcerated to an insane asylum?

Hayes: Yes! Back in 1933 a representative named William A. Allen tried to pass a bill at the Capitol Building in Olympia, to put a law on jazz music because it caused delirium and 'intoxicative behavior in people.' He even got doctors to back him up. The music was causing nerve damage; it was bad for the country, and it should be banned. Those listening or promoting jazz music should be arrested and go to an asylum. The bill obviously did not pass, but what a different world it would have been if it did.

Andrews-Katz: Tell us about the 'Jazz Intoxication' at Washington Hall.

Hayes: The building has been renovated and is going to be reopening. The insides [for this event] will be sectioned off - like a maze. They are using the space as part of the story, bringing all these very bizarre events to life along with the history of the hall. The Washington State HistoryLink (http://www.HistoryLink.org) is sponsoring the evening's event. Everything will be going on simultaneously, on several different floors. There will be performances, exhibits, and 'ghosts of who were there.' One woman is playing Miss Lillian Smith who did a benefit concert for the NAACP back in the day. She will be singing with a live jazz band.

Andrews-Katz: Given the opportunity to travel through time, if needed, what jazz singer would you like to have performed with and why?

Hayes: I have to go with Billie Holliday. Why? Because it's FRIGGIN' Billie Holliday, duh!



The nickname Gypsy comes easily to Cat Hayes (http://www.mauishack.com) as it describes her life and the way she lives it. She can be seen in Murder Mystery Co. productions, or singing/acting at various venues around town, or even working at the Maximus Minimus food truck - the big steel pig. 'Jazz Intoxication' will have a preview at Washington Hall (153 14th Avenue) on June 9, with the full event on June 10. (http://www.sitespecificarts.org)

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