More on connection and a nod to Motown!


Last week when we were in LA we sparked a conversation about connection, and we took a trip way back to the Motown era. We really lucked out on this trip with connection. Every interview we conducted had a contagious energy in the room. After vibing with our first two guests Ashley Moyer and Mr. Harvey Mason we were on a high note. The feeling didn’t stop when we turned in for the night after each session. We were fortunate to feel that in each of our interviews. There also happened to be some interesting connections between our interviews!


After our session with Ashley Moyer, discussing her work as a beatboxer and seeing her art first hand, we interviewed Reed Blaylock and Shri Narayanan.

Reed Blaylock & Shri Narayanan

Reed* and Shri* are both Faculty members at the University of Southern California. The pair has completed an in-depth study of the way a beatboxer makes the sounds they do. Their studies focused on how sounds are made in the mouth and throat of a beatboxer, on a physical level. We’re talking phonetics, languages, articulators, percussion, rhythm and what connects them all! Gillian says this is the kind of stuff she really likes to “geek out” on. The connection is natural when there is mutual interest! Reed and Shri were easily able to articulate their scientific findings in a manner that was easy for anyone to digest, which we think ties nicely into our project!

James Gadson

Rounding things out for this trip south was James Gadson, Motown legend and one of the most down to earth guests we’ve interviewed. Talking to James is like talking to your neighbour (who is exceptionally talented!!) Gillian commented “When you think you can’t connect with someone because their life experiences have been so different from your own ask questions that go deeper than the surface and then listen.” This speaks to the kind of person Gillian is, and it also speaks to James’ willingness to be open and raw with us about the world he worked, and works in! James shared war stories of a different time, bright lights, big hair, and all those matching suites! It was through work with acts like The Jackson 5, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Bill Withers that James solidified his place in the story of the “Sound that Changed America.”


That’s it for this week friends! We’re heading to New Orleans this weekend so we’ll make sure to update you on the festivities!


*Reed Blaylock is a linguist and an amateur competitive ballroom dancer.

*Shri Narayanan is a Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science as well as a Professor of Linguistics, Psychology and Neuroscience and a Professor of Pediatrics.

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