Meet Vaunita Goodman, a theater artist, vinyl selector, member of The Baltimore Kissa Society, and founder of The Harmony Pharmacy. The Baltimore Kissa Society hosts listening parties for jazz enthusiasts. They gather once a month to listen to records by a different artist or instrument in a relaxed atmosphere. Kissa in Japanese means cafe, and they specifically take their inspiration from Japanese jazz kissas, where patrons can spend hours listening to jazz records over a cup of coffee or a cold beer. The Harmony Pharmacy is an all vinyl listening session to soothe every ailment.
I had the pleasure of meeting the talented force that is Vaunita at Clayton LeBouef‘s play RS/24. In her free time she says: “Travel, it’s in the blood. Cooking, it’s in the blood. Last year I started a patio garden, still learning!”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
My father taught me how to use a turntable when I was 3 years old. At that time we lived overseas and we spent much of our time engaging with our environment. My parents hosted social events in the home, I still remember the smiles on the faces of all who attended. I lived in a very creative household where my mother was an interior designer, our surroundings shifted season to season. The elements of music and ambiance gave birth to a deep sense of freedom within me. That is how I started to pursue the arts, I stayed very busy within the world of dance for many years.
As I grew I lost touch with this feeling for the most part, yet the albums were always near. After undergrad I dated a young man who worked at a prominent radio station, he had 10,000 albums in his home! They were even in the bathroom (we didn’t use that one). Living with him for a summer ignited my desire to reconnect with my collection. So I went to my parents, collected my inheritance, and set off to build upon it.
What is a day in the life like?
My day starts in gratitude. I have so much for which I am thankful. Three years ago I was diagnosed with kidney disease, and I have been on dialysis since that time. Now my time is divided between my doctor’s appointments, my medical treatments which last 10 hours each day, my artistic pursuits, and my personal life. Which, until now has been rather private…..smiling.
Yet these latest “transitions” in my life have encouraged me to go deeper into the music, I’ve found there’s a song for every occasion, and even ailment, that’s premise of The Harmony Pharmacy. Currently my song of the moment is “Equipoise” by Max Roach on the Members, Don’t Git Weary album.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Connecting with the people is the ultimate for me. I’ve had the opportunity to build with serious creatives like yourself. I’m very ecstatic about linking with Women In Vinyl and Furnace Record Pressing, no doubt. The women have blessed me greatly, about half of my collection was inherited from two women collectors, Queen Mother in NJ and Ms. Spadaro in Baltimore. Finding these links just helps me in my learning. Other fantastic occurrences were playing a role in Clayton LeBouef‘s production RS/24, working with Mr. Melvin Van Peebles on a project, and now my latest endeavor The Harmony Pharmacy, an all vinyl listening session to soothe every ailment.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part honestly is me getting over my own fears.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Ha! What am I doing? Making myself smile, amusing myself!
I’m really just doing what I’ve always done, acting upon my intense passions. But one never really knows what one is doing!
If we’re referring specifically to the vinyl my suggestion is to talk to the “grey heads” as my friend calls them, the elders. Get to know ones in your family, your neighborhood, your community. Many of them have spellbinding accounts from the source, they will help you develop your appreciation and understanding of the music culture. Some of the elders can be cantankerous, yes, but many are cool.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Roy Hargrove said, “Take care of the culture, and the culture will take care of you.” So yes, I am a collector. Wonderful memories from childhood drew me back into collecting, plus when I play certain music it’s like my medicine for the moment.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I’m thrilled to see the innovations in equipment, production, and album art.
Finally, tell me what you’re listening to right now that you’re loving:
Some of my favorite sounds of the moment, in no particular order: Theon Cross, Fiyah album. The Comet Is Coming, Trust In The Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery album. Ethel Ennis, Baltimore’s chanteuse. Any tune by The Blackbyrds or The Crusaders. Flora Purim. The Photosynthesizers and The Cornel West Theory.
Baltimore Kissa Society: @baltimorekissasociety