Stanley Jordan’s look and spirit “transcends gender”

Featured photo (above) titled “Stanley Jordan” and by Anna Staselovich on Flickr: Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use permitted. 

By Phillip Martin

Over the past year, gender identity became a hot issue. During this time, Bruce Jenner transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner, emerging as the citizen she intended to be. Then in May, President Obama’s administration mandated that all American public schools install transgender-friendly bathroom policies or risk losing federal funding. Recently, guitarist Stanley Jordan’s change in look and dress, to a more “femme” style, garnered attention to the issue.

In a January interview with the Jazz Times, Jordan spoke about how he arrived at his androgynous appearance and how it has affected his life and music. He experimented with different looks to go with each new project and fit his art form, Jordan said.

“If jazz is about expressing who you are, you gotta really deal with who you are. And who am I? There’s so many different facets,” the guitarist said in the article.

Jordan, 56, told the Times that he started changing his look around the year 1990. 20 years later, while shopping for himself and his girlfriend, he found himself an open-armed mini-dress. After trying the outfit on and enjoying how it brought out the masculine and feminine elements of his appearance, he said he realized in that moment “that my spirit transcends gender.”

Later on in the article, the guitarist spoke about how his girlfriend of 10 years has supported him through his changes. He also mentioned how he felt he has helped create change in people’s perspectives towards gender equality.

Jordan played this weekend at Brian Culbertson’s fifth annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway. The guitarist is known for his distinct two-hand touch technique, by fretting two hands on the guitar neck. He also plays the piano.

Jordan has earned four Grammy nominations, and his 2011 Friends album earned an NCAAP Image Awards nomination. He and Kevin Eubanks recently recorded an album titled Duets.


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