Meghan Stabile, Jazz Revivalist and Promoter, Dead at 39
Meghan Stabile, a presenter, producer and promoter whose intent to create a resurgence in jazz led her to be the president, CEO and founder of Revive Music Group and an executive producer at Blue Note Records, died Sunday, June 12, in Valrico, Fla. She was 39 years old.
According to NPR, Bikbaye Inejnema–who acted as Stabile’s counselor for the last three years–told the public the cause of death was suicide. Inejnema was authorized to speak on behalf of Stabile’s maternal grandmother Maureen Stabile. “She knows she didn’t meet any of Meghan’s community. But she does want Meghan’s memory to be honored in the way that reflects who she really was, not what she went through.”
The first news of her passing came via an Instagram post by bassist, vocalist and producer, Thundercat, who wrote, “To my lovely Meghan, thank you for everything you did while you were here. Without your work, care and love a lot of us musicians wouldn’t be in the places we are now. Wish you could have experienced the love and care that you treated everyone around you with. You will forever be in our hearts. Rest In Peace.”
As the word of her passing spread, more and more stepped up to express the impact of her presence on the culture of modern jazz and who Stabile truly was as a person. Bassist Ben Williams wrote on social media, “Meghan was just as important to the culture as the artists she helped. She worked so hard to create a world for us young artists to express ourselves. It wasn’t about style or genre. Whether you were a rapper or an avant-garde saxophonist, she made space for us all. She LOVED us. She built a stage when she didn’t see one available for us.”
Vocalist and keyboardist Nigel Hall shared his connection with her, writing, “My heart is broken today. my dear friend Meghan was one of the first people to believe in me and give me an opportunity to be around people I looked up to, vouched for me without even knowing me, and her and I had many nights where she talked me off the cliff when i wanted to quit. She is responsible for a lot of the best shit we know in the scene. I will forever be grateful to have known her, laughed with her, had her shoulder to cry on and now, and her memory will live on with me.”
Questlove called her “A True artist,” “A lover of music in its rawest essence,” and someone who “Gave her all in keeping the culture alive.” He continued to say, “For you people who enjoyed those magical moments watching Glasper/Dave/Hodge/all the new jazz & #revivethelive events of the past 15 years we lost a gem & a champion in music.”
Meghan Erin Stabile was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 26, 1982, and grew up in Dover, N.H. She was raised mostly by her grandmother and aunt and had no relationship with her father. Stabile’s mother, Gina Marie Skidds, died last year, though they were estranged.
Stabile attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, first as a guitarist and singer but shifted her focus to the music business. She found her true rhythm at Boston’s Wally’s Cafe, where jazz musicians held sessions regularly. She told NPR’s Jazz Night in America that after becoming a regular, she started to ask herself, “Why am I just discovering this right now?” “Why this music isn’t readily available, or why this music isn’t on the radio, why this band isn’t selling out venues.” She also asked and answered her most important question: “How did I come to fall in love with this music? I saw it live.”
Stabile moved to New York in 2006 and set out to correct what allowed those questions to originate in the first place. Before long, as she was waiting tables in the East Village, Stablie was hustling putting on shows – creating a concert series titled Revive Da Live. The earliest shows featured Robert Glasper, Marcus Strickland and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Artists that had been considered staples of the jazz scene in New York were also present, including Wallace Roney. In 2011, Stabile connected Roy Ayers with hip-hop expert Pete Rock for a two-night performance; she also enabled collaborations with Mos Def and the Robert Glasper Experiment.
John Leland described Stabile in a 2013 New York Times profile, “The Making of a Modern Impresario,”: “Ms. Stabile, who stands five feet tall, with a sweep of straightened brown hair pinned and tucked behind one ear, is a woman on a curious mission: to make jazz matter to the hip-hop generation, and to do so as a young woman in a jazz world dominated by older men, at a time when both jazz itself and the recording industry feel decreasingly relevant.”
By 2015, Don Was, president of Blue Note records, took notice and partnered with Revive to release REVIVE Music Presents: Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1). He wrote in the press materials for the release, “I think Revive has a keen understanding of the basic nature of the music, which is that it’s got to keep moving forward. Not decade by decade, or year by year, but every day.”
In recent years, Stabile took a step back from the music scene to focus on wellness – both her own and others. She worked with Winter Jazzfest promoter Brice Rosenbloom to shine a spotlight on mental health at winter Jazzfest 2020, which came just weeks before the first lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also spoke about her childhood trauma, battles with addiction and history of issues related to mental health before Revive Yo’ Feelings: A Wellness Benefit for Musicians, which Glasper headlined. She performed in public for the first time in over 12 years during the concert and sang a tune she had written while in rehab. Following the performance, she embraced Glasper.
“Meghan was my sister,” Glasper told NPR. “She was the backbone of the modern creative force in NYC which was spreading all over the world! We are going to miss her.”
In addition to her grandmother, she is survived by her sister, Caitlin Chaloux and her brother, Michael Skidds, who organized a fundraising campaign for her funeral services.
If your life is currently in danger, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, find information, support, and services via Backline or the National Institute of Mental Health.