Affectionately known as “Bass Bae”, Endea Owens is on the precipice, not only as a musician but also as a philanthropist.
For this episode of The Pulse, I virtually met Owens in his dressing room after a rehearsal with the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. We talked about her burgeoning career as a composer and performer; navigate male-dominated spaces as an African-American musician; and his personal mission to feed and entertain the masses. (Her music and story are featured in a recent episode of Jazz Night in America.)
The Pulse with Endea Owens
Often finding herself as the only woman in the group, Owens holds firm to her goal when faced with difficult situations. When she is denied opportunities, she creates her own. Navigating an industry and genre traditionally dominated by men, she surrounds herself with those who support and affirm her.
It was her mentor, Marcus Belgrave, who hired Endea for her first gig as a child in the YouthVille Detroit music program, where she was first exposed to jazz. She credits her Detroit School of Arts teacher Rodney Whitaker with teaching her how to play bass properly. Fellow Detroit native Marion Hayden also influenced a young Endea through her work with Straight Ahead, recommending her for her very first Spellman College tour.
She then graduated from Juilliard, and in 2019 Wynton Marsalis selected her as one of Lincoln Center’s emerging artists, composing a four-part sequel dedicated to the life of Ida B. Wells for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Now, she is honored to call the legendary Ron Carter an advisor. All of these people believed in her and continue to support her as she reaches the next level on her path.
Community Cookout is an initiative Owens knew she had to create. Growing up in Detroit, she and her mother often benefited from free community programs where they could eat. She knows what it’s like to be hungry and gives back because the community has fed her when needed. She always knew she wanted to give back and it was only a matter of time before she could. Today, his Community Cookout initiative fed hundreds of people for an entire year, while inspiring young people to learn more about jazz. She also uses the program as a ship to bring jazz back to Harlem. Endea funds the program with 90% of its own money, paying musicians a fair salary and supporting local restaurants where it offers quality meals to the general public. She is using her musical powers for good.
In addition to her work as Community Cookout, Endea has kept busy during the pandemic by loaning out her basslines for the film’s soundtrack. Judas and the Black Messiah. She landed the cover of Walkers magazine, was featured in the New York Times, the the Wall Street newspaper and Billboard, and is currently composing the music for the Pyer Moss show for Paris Fashion Week. Endea is clearly on a rocket to stardom.