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CAY FATIMA The first multimedia graduate of SUNY-College at Old Westbury, Fatima transferred from Boston University as a psychology and political science major. After graduation, Cay saw the need to include filmmaking and applied to the prestigious film school Institute for New Cinema Artists (INCA) run by the late actor Ossie Davis. Upon graduation, Cay became part of the first female cable installers for Manhattan Cable Television (Time-Warner).

 Men were not ready for women in these positions. Many issues came up with regard to discrimination for these early pioneers. Moving on, Cay became a member of the jazz group FeBop. Here she was able to show her skills as a composer and arranger. Opening for artists such as Grover Washington Jr. at jazz festivals was exciting, but to pay the

 “I got tired of selling televisions, stereos and video equipment and decided to open up my own audio/visual installation company after the late owner of In-Flight Newspapers of Valley Stream,” Cay remembers, “demanded that I install the $10,000 walk-in purchase (the largest company sale at the time) he had just made from at the local Stereo Warehouse I was working for.”

 Still knocking on record company doors, it was Fatima ’s skills as a photographer that got her to the attention of jazz guitarist George Benson. Benson then bought some of her work that was included in one of his concert programs.  Confidence can be the wind beneath your wings in an industry that is known for slamming doors in your face.  Over the years, Cay has had the opportunity and client base that reads like a who’s who of music giants.  Like a big game hunter, Cay set her sights on Miles Davis .

 “I was not going to be satisfied until I had photos of Miles Davis. Trust me it was not easy and I feel very fortunate when the opportunity came about. Firstly, he had to come out of retirement. In this business, you have to speak-up for yourself and go for what you know. My favorite and one of my most expensive photographs is one that only two photographers have which is a picture of B.B. King asking Miles for his autograph in Miles’ dressing room. With only available light from the light of the dim bulbs from around the dressing room mirror and with perfect timing of the other photographer’s flash, I clicked off a frame that was good enough for my printer, a master craftsman, to create a great photo out of very poor conditions.”

Regretfully, artists like Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald were heading into retirement or became ill and passed away so Fatima never got the opportunity to photograph them. As the industry changed over to rap and hip-hop most of the artists Cay wanted to capture she had photographed already.  In 1995, Fatima semi-retired after a Stevie Wonder concert at Radio City Music Hall and began to work in the tennis industry. There would be a few artists that brought Cay out of retirement and they were Toni Braxton and Chaka Khan, but it was the energy of stars in a different arena that caught Cay’s attention.  The Clinton era changed the face of politics and created “rock star status” out of politicians.  

“The tennis industry brought my attention to the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. I was able to attend the Shea stadium event after befriending the late Joe Black , Robinson ’s Brooklyn Dodger road roommate. Another exhibit photograph I am very proud of is that of President Clinton honoring Robinson ’s legacy at Shea.”

After bubble in the club industry burst, Cay put her jazz group FeBop to “bed” and started free- lancing with other artists and groups, like the Senegalese group Roots Talibe. Opening for acts like Kenny Loggins and playing in famous New York clubs like Sounds of Brazil still left Fatima restless for a new creative direction.  In the mid-nineties Cay came upon the attention of drummer Mark Bonfacico and they formed the group Real Time- Jazz for the 21st Century. Playing in clubs like Birdland and Manila was not enough to sustain the emotional and financial commitment, which soon meant members had to choose between personal direction and group direction. Subsequently, Fatima decided to go solo and begin performing with her own trio.

 “I welcome the opportunity to show-off how talented I am,” beams Cay “When you work hard at what you do you eventually want recognition for the fruits of your labor. I like the fact that gallery or library patrons can see my photographs of B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Dizzy Gillespie and Davis in addition to hearing me perform their signature compositions and pieces.”

 JAM the work of photographer Cay Fatima and about nine guest photographers that include Bernard James, Lu Figgs, Sherry Rayn Barnette, Ronnie Wright, Kwame Brathwaithe, Salimah Ali, Everett James and Harold Rhynie who also have a passion for performing and musical arts photography .  Jazz And Music is an extrapolation of a larger exhibit “People, Places, Politics”, but JAM only features musical visual themes. The WBGO exhibit will feature musical talent such as Buddy Guy, Freddie Hubbard , Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis , Nina Simone , Tupac Shakur , Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin and the Staple Singers.

 “Not everyone can make a living at photography or music so they must have “day jobs” to support their artistic passions,” reminds Fatima .

The current 2010 installation will be on display at WGBO for two months and then Harlem is the next on the tour schedule.  This exhibit features new portraits of Kirk Whalum and Gerald Albright as well as some never exhibited before in this collection. 

            “The New Jersey community has been very positively responsive to my talents as a photographer and musician.”  “Exhibiting on a local level gives me as an artist the ability to be in-touch with the everyday person, who has just as much pizzazz as some of the celebrities I have photographed,” says Fatima .

"It was hard to select about 50 works from the greater collection," says Fatima. "I have a hard time choosing, so some exhibitions may not show the same pieces all the time. The hardest to choose is the politicians and I am adding to the collection all the time. As people, places and politics change, I hope to continue in this mode to document with photography the transformations, while continuing to explore other forms of audio-visual expression."         


For directions and gallery hours call (973) 624-8880 or visit www,; for more information about Cay Fatima , please visit, or contact KMA (516) 442-3059