Z, Pamela (née Pamela Ruth Brooks)

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Z, Pamela (née Pamela Ruth Brooks)

Z, Pamela (née Pamela Ruth Brooks), lively American composer, performer, and audio artist; b. Buffalo, July 13,1956. Her mother was a singer and her father played German blockflutes and choreographed musicals for local high schools. She sang as a child, making her first public appearance at the Smedley Elementary School in 1961 at the age of 5 in a duet with her older sister; also played viola and guitar. She began formal vocal training with Barbara Eanes; also composed songs for voice and guitar. She studied at the Univ. of Colo, at Boulder (B.M., 1978) and had vocal training with John Paton. After teaching in public schools (1978-80), she pursued a full-time music career, performing in clubs, coffee houses, and restaurants (1980-84). She began composing experimental performance works for voice and electronic processing in 1983, as well as a score for a short film by Elena-Maria Bey, Diese Jugend. She moved to San Francisco in 1984, where she continued performing works for voice and electronics and also began composing works for dance; she also studied bel canto technique with John McLain (from 1990). In 1987 she began producing a bi-annual performance event presenting integrated evenings of works by experimental artists of various disciplines called “Z Programs/’ In 1989 she began touring throughout the U.S., and, from 1996, internationally. From 1988 she began collaborating regularly with such artists as Donai Swearingen, The Qube Chix, Miya Masaoka, and the choreographer Jo Kreiter. In 1999 she studied Butoh dance with Kazuo Ohno and Yoshito Ohno in Yokohama, Noh theater with Richard Emmert, and Japanese singing with Etsuko Takezawa. Pamela Z works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, and sampling technology, and her compositions, imaginatively scored, often make use of found texts and such found objects as cellular phones and boomboxes. In her performances, she creates layered works combining operatic bel canto and experimental extended vocal techniques with a battery of digital delays, spoken word, and sampled concrete sounds triggered with a MIDI controller called The BodySynth, which allows her to manipulate sound with physical gestures. Her performances range in scale from small concerts to large-scale multimedia works appropriate for proscenium or flexible black-box venues. Her numerous awards include grants from the Calif. Arts Council (1993-97), an ASCAP Music Award (1998), and an NEA/Japan U.S. Friendship Commission fellowship (1998).


City (1984); Modern World (1985); Broken Glass (1985); Pearls (the Gem of the Sea) (1985); Giant Faces (1985); 2 Black Rubber Raincoats (1985); Badagada (1986); Pop Titles “You” (1986); In the Other World (1986); Mad (1987); Ciao Fun (1987); Echolocation (1988); Z Songs (1989); Zunddadit (1989); What Will It Be (1989); Unaccompanied Melody for Minor Ninths and Octaves (1989); Harmonized Whisper (1989); In Tymes of Olde (1991); Sali Sali (1991); Smleheessege (1991; in collaboration with Richard Zvonar); Obsession, Addiction, and the Aristotelian Curve (1991; in collaboration with Barbara Imhoff); // You Want To (1991); Bald Boyfriend (1991); Heh Zahno (1992); Bone Music (1992); Stch-tch-na-ko (1992); Circle of Bone (1992-93); Plastic Orchestra (1993); Dream Encoding (1993); Trip (1994); Parts of Speech (1994-96); Correspondence (1995); Typewriter (1995); Soudscore for Wind Water Wings (1995); ReSounding (a Portrait of Downtown San Francisco) (1995); The MUNI Section, from Metrodaemonium (1996); Mona Lisa (1996; in collaboration with Donald Swearingen and Laetitia Sonami); Hoist (1996); The This (1997); Layers (1997; in collab. with Lukas Ligeti); Carpark (1997); Sustain II (1997); Shifting Conditions in the Southland (1998); The Schmetterling (1998); Parts of Speech (1998); Keitai (1999); Nihongo de Nanashoo (for “Gaijin”) (1999); Excerpts from Gaijin (1999); Hito-bashirafor Voice, Processing, Samples, and Text (1999); Copra Dock Dances (1999); ...and on your left...(2000).

—Laura Kuhn /Dennis McIntire