4:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. ET
This month, meet Vivienne Aerts '14 of New York, NY, and the Netherlands, and learn about her newest album, which focuses on empowering the female cacao farmers of Virunga State Park in the Congo.
What is the "elevator pitch" for this project?
I am a vocalist, performer & composer specializing in experience design. This new album will consist of my original music and features over a hundred female musicians. On top of that, with every CD you buy, you will receive a bar of Original Beans Femmes de Virunga, the chocolate that is truly an “all women chocolate”, and for every bar sold, a tree gets planted. So when you buy this album, you are not only getting all-women-music and a bar of chocolate, but you are also actively replanting trees and giving women in Congo a better future!
What inspired you to create the album?
Having met and worked with tons of talented female musicians as a Dutch vocalist and composer while living in Boston and New York these last few years, I wanted to make a musical project that features them all. Since it’s not possible to get together because of the pandemic, we are forced to get creative and meet in a different way. Currently everybody is able to record in their home studio, so this inspired me to create a musical project together with more than 100 female up-and-coming new-generation musicians from over 40 countries.
How did you learn about Original Beans and develop this partnership?
Together with my husband (pastry chef Ted Steinebach) we have been organizing multisensory performances under the name Vervool using jazz, haute cuisine, and modern art. When I first got in touch with the Dutch chocolate brand Original Beans, the story behind it really resonated. Especially the Femmes de Virunga project has always held a special place in my heart. Living in an area in Congo that is torn apart by civil wars, these women are often left on their own. Because their men are taken by militia and other rebellious groups, they have to take care of themselves and their families. This Original Beans project has now 1,500 women that run this sustainable cacao farm and tree nursery where chocolate is grown and sold in a regenerative way. With Original Beans giving them a fair, stable price for their cocoa (up to 90 percent on top of the world cocoa price), they are empowered to send their kids to school and take care of themselves and their community.
What is one thing you would like your audience to take away from this project?
This is my way of women helping women. There are a lot of very skillful and talented female musicians out there that deserve our attention. We all connected through music and I feel very grateful that I have this opportunity to make music with them. Especially in this time of pandemic, it is so important to stay connected.
How can people learn more?
For starters, I've asked some female music friends to send me a video of themselves playing or singing one note, any note, any length. Then I used all these little clips of 40 women to create this one-minute soundscape video that was presented in celebration of International Women's Day. I’ll be launching a pre-order campaign to support this album project, so for more info, please subscribe to my newsletter via my website, www.vivienneaerts.com.
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As a member of the alumni community, you have access to various resources and events hosted by the Library. Learn more about these resources and find information about upcoming events here.
Alumni Artists: Submit Your Music
The Berklee Internet Radio Network (BIRN), which presents four channels of streaming music 24/7, is accepting submissions from alumni for airplay and live, in-studio performance opportunities.
Submissions for the 26th Annual USA Songwriting Competition
Attention, songwriters, and composers: Don’t miss this opportunity to enter your songs. You could win a grand prize of $50,000 and music industry exposure. Winners in the past include many Berklee alumni. The deadline is May 28.