What is your name?
I’m Debbie Golt – so many times people say ‘So you’re Debbie Golt!’ when we meet for the first time as I am quite well known by name in my field, so here I am!
How old are you?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
In most cases ‘What do you do?’ asks about work rather than leisure or what a person’s calling is. In a recent conversation with Nadia Chambers who I encouraged to write “How a good life is connected with a good death” in AoA in the summer, we questioned this – especially as women who no longer have a clear professional definition. We are free to redefine the answer to that question. However for me what could be called work and what could be called leisure meet very closely as what I do is within both my and other people’s entertainment zones and left to myself I do much of the same as what might be called work. I will touch on the more true leisure things in a later question.
I call myself a Global Music Consultant with my company Outerglobe.co.uk. Basically I draw together all my hard (and pleasurably) gained experience and expertise in the music business/industry over nearly 40 years under the Outerglobe umbrella. I chose the name because whilst I am in what is more widely called the World Music zone, I don’t like the term as I think it is too watered down and a tad Euro-arrogant. I am part of Campfire Convention, which is bringing people together in a new social media, events, putting the world to rights platforms.
I broadcast The Outerglobe which takes African music and wider arts as its starting point with music and wide-ranging interviews on the wondrous art radio Resonance 104.4 FM (& DAB) London/ www.resonancefm.com and Wycombe World, as part of a team, which is mostly speech based with some excellent global vibes music that I select on Wycombe Sound, newly awarded 106.6FM www.wycombesound.org.uk. with festivals both secular and faith based as the driver; and I teach radio skills in the community. I also DJ mostly African music and am also part of an all women DJ collective called Sisters of Reggae. I promote an occasional night called Outerglobe Female DJ Relay where any woman can have her 15 minutes of DJ fame – playing mostly Afrocentric music as that’s what I prefer! And I am chair of national organisation Women in Music.
I used to manage musicians full tilt alongside being a Local Authority Arts Officer, however these days I lightly manage some – Mosi Conde (Guinean Griot, master musician, composer, performer “steeped in tradition with a global sonic awareness”), Caroline Trettine (Guitar goddess/ prolific composer/singer – she of Be a Devil from some while back) and Koral Society which is Caroline, Mosi and Double Bass supremo Alison Rayner. I also advise Juwon Ogungbe (Nigerian afropop/art music composer/singer/educationalist). I’ve showcased artists at WOMEX, Decibel, Modal and more and got artists signed as well as overseeing self released albums.
Back in the day, my then company Half the Sky, in partnership with another woman, gave, now household name, Oumou Sangare her first UK dates and toured Stella Chiweshe and Ami Koita. Our mission was to put African women musicians centre stage taking our name from Mao’s statement ‘Women hold up half the sky’. And I secured a Radio One session for my then husband’s band Taxi Pata Pata – the first for a UK African band and wrote Angelique Kidjo’s first published UK interview. We also championed UK-based artists and this is still crucial.
I live in West London and I have a Freedom Pass. I am very close to my older daughter Ella, and I know I would have been with my younger daughter Maya if she was still here. My website is www.outerglobe.co.uk
Tell us what it’s like to be your age?
I can’t really say. I am just me. Sometimes I feel I am just starting out – certainly a whole heap of new opportunities are opening up. I need to actually take them up or definitely say no rather than as in the past letting things slip. I am very good at attracting good opportunities. I am getting better at making the most of them and knowing which really are opportunities and which can pass me by. Sometimes I am brought up sharp and realise yes I have lived a long time already.
Sometimes when I am tired or I don’t want to do something that I would have leapt at in the past, I ask myself ‘is it because I am older or is it a residual result of grief?’ Either way I choose what I go out to and do more carefully than I did in the past and I am very happy simply being in. Though I still go out and also see friends and mostly I love both. Sometimes, I have to be very quiet as the grief is still very present though I hesitate to write this as I do not want it to be my currency.
What do you have now that you didn’t have at 25?
Many more years of living. I don’t know that I have a greater self-awareness or more confidence. I have many of the same traits though I am much kinder to myself and others. I have the knowledge of long-lasting relationships (in the usual meaning) and friendships and of many more short-lived ones too. I have a career and life passion for what I do – trajectory through the working world that is most people’s leisure world – that I created for myself and I know what I am here for. I didn’t have that knowledge at 25.
I no longer have my parents alive, I have experience of much deeper grief than I ever believed was possible even though one of my dearest friends died when we were both nearly 25 and others have gone along the way; my deep grief is not for my parents or friends but for Maya. I have overcome things I could never have imagined happening, let alone being still able to be joyful much of the time.
I have the most beautiful and fine relationship (in its truer meaning for me) with my daughter Ella who is now 32 and one of the most honest, loving and creative people I know. We see each other through. Maya my younger daughter would have been 28 this coming Christmas Day. She died on International Peace Day September 2013 a year after being diagnosed with the one of the most virulent and rare cancers in the book. She didn’t make 25. We became truly close and resolved more or less everything.
I know that love is all there is. I didn’t know that before.
What about sex?
What about it? It used to be a big factor in my life leading to both terrific and terrible relationships or encounters. I much prefer making love!
In recent years, I decided I needed to make better judgements and withdrew myself from the fray. The huge life-change I described above has and does occupy most of my senses so sex, per se, is not something I am bothered about currently. Of course if someone amazing was to appear in my life who knows what might happen. I think I am more ready now for something that could be really good for me.
Relationships in my current vocabulary mean deep friendships as well as the more usual interpretation of an intimate sex-based relationship. I do manage to be friends/friendly still with some people I have had scenes with. I would never sleep with any of them again, even though I find some people seem to think time stands still whoever finished it, and make truly annoying suggestions, and sometimes I think ‘Yes! I was with you for a while’.
I have some very dear friends whom I have known over many many years – my two longest standing closest friends I met originally as my sister’s teenage friend and at university respectively. I have great new friends too, I have a good capacity for making friends though I rarely invite people to my place. I plan to change that very soon.
At different times, I have not been able to be anywhere near my ex husband for many reasons, most recently connected with what happened, however I feel we are now the best friends we have ever been.
How free do you feel?
How free? I am lucky – I have a place I like living in and plenty to live on and no one is putting me in any direct day to day danger. I love most of what I do and I can pick and choose what I do – the only constraints are those I choose to put on myself like maybe taking too much on. Truly. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to, most of the time. I do have a great sense of myself and I do have high standards for myself so I don’t do anything I would be ashamed about. Although currently there are some people I have not spoken to in a while, and I think it is time I overcame the obstacles I have put there.
And I wish I would allow myself a week to do nothing else but make my home as beautiful as I really do want it to be. That’s when I realise I do not give myself complete freedom as I find myself doing all the other things I have set myself to do rather than that. So now I have admitted this, I will do this.
There are some things I think, but would be careful where I said them because of family or friends. I do not feel completely free to join protests or campaigns, because I am the front line of my family and if anything happened to me it would be so difficult for them. However, because I am the front line and I care what happens in this world I have to do what is necessary and right so I do join them.
What are you proud of?
I am proud of still being here despite the huge grief that consumes me a part of most days. I am proud of my daughters. Maya was an amazing person and the more I miss her the more I realise what a deep grasp she had of life and how she is lived. Such a practical person and such an artist, poet and so musical – she could hear a song once and sing it back note perfect in whatever language from very small and made us the most remarkable CD compilations every Christmas. Almost everything in my house that makes it better is due to Maya’s flair. Ella is an amazing person – so full of integrity and so creative – one of the best artists and writers I know, a circus and cabaret clown (who reading this would love to call Ella the Great to entertain?) and a brilliant visual artist with a deep wisdom and like her sister a fabulous sense of humour. I enjoy her company immensely. I am so proud of the very fine mother/daughter relationship I have/had with my girls.
I am very proud of all I have achieved in radio and in the music business world – panels I have been on, promotions I have done and do, my poems, my radio shows, friendships, close family, being able to be friends with my ex husband, my open heartedness, my beliefs. I am proud of what my parents achieved and both the love they gave me and ways to approach life. I am proud that I still am very political with deep principles, still with people-oriented ideals.
I am proud that we stood our ground and Maya followed a strong natural medicine route alongside the conventional one, that she accepted and stuck with. I am proud of how she kept so positive throughout everything, and the overwhelming affect that had on both hospital and hospice staff. We felt we were teaching the medics how to treat a young person full of hope who was sure she would come through. We found through specialist tests that high dose intravenous Vitamin C was the best remedy for her and we fought and fought with the doctors to allow her to have it. At points where they said there was nothing they could do, we persisted and said; ‘Yes there is. You can allow her to have the Vitamin C.’ But each time she found huge strength and got through some more, they refused and offered what they knew. Eventually, they gave up but we didn’t, and at last I persuaded them to allow it. The difference the IV Vitamin C made was immediately visible and staff who had seen Maya about to go were amazed how articulate and strong she became as she had the treatments. Sadly, it was way too late to make the biggest life-saving difference. I do believe that if Maya had had it sooner she would have come through or certainly been able to go on longer with a proper quality of life.
One thing we achieved was that a person in statutory care – combining being in a hospice with ongoing NHS curative treatment – was allowed to have the most progressive alternative treatment alongside. I know we made medical history because the natural consultant helping Maya told me that he was able to instigate the dual treatment with another person almost straight afterwards. Never before had that happened.
What keeps you inspired?
My plants are my great companions and keep me happy by simply being and growing. Some kind of life force keeps making me go on. Life and Love.
When are you happiest?
I love sitting by the sea or by wilder rivers. I was forced to live by myself when Maya died (she was living with me until then) and at first I could not handle being alone. Now I am very happy just doing this and that at home by myself. If Ella is free that is also wonderful. And I love being on air broadcasting!
And where does your creativity go?
It doesn’t go – it grows! I create my radio broadcasts, I listen to music with great pleasure sometimes for itself, sometimes to create DJ sets or to give my artists notions of ways forwards. I write poems and sometimes read them in public and Ella says I must exhibit my doodles.
What’s your philosophy of living?
Love is all there is. Live to my own best fully doing right, making a difference and being kind to myself first and also others when possible. Keep strong principles and act on them. Making clear here that my principles will not please anyone on the right in politics or in repressive mode. I am not here to please anyone else.
I have died many times – meaning I have found myself at total odds with anything I knew, as if watching myself from afar and bounced back. I do feel that sometimes. Yet when Maya was so very weak in body yet tremendously strong in mind and the greatest company to the last as we hoped and believed she would make it through, I did not die when she did not make it through the last night.
I think we live on so long as there is someone that cherishes all that they know of us, and thus we meet in spirit often in our minds with those we love who have gone from this life and with those that offer guidance.
Are you still dreaming?
Yes very much so.
What was the most outrageous action of yours?
I don’t do anything I consider to be outrageous! I am very broadminded! I do however condemn as outrageous racism in all its outbreaks and unequal or violent treatment of women, let alone children or vulnerable men too. Inequalities of financial wealth or living conditions are outrageous. And I think the way our NHS is being torn apart and sold off to profiteers in ways we do not even realise is beyond outrageous as is politically defined occupation of other people’s land and nations and bombing them into oblivion. Children left without any means of support open to trafficking, is outrageous. I’ve only just started with all this…
The Outerglobe Thursdays 6.30-7.30pm UK time Repeats Mondays 11am (Seasonal break December 22nd, 29th & January 5th – back on air January 12th)
Resonance 104.4FM (+ DAB) London www.resonancefm.com
Also repeated a week in arrears on Mondays at 2pm from January 16th on extra.resonance.fm & DAB Brighton area
Wycombe World Mondays 8-10pm UK time on Wycombe Sound 106.6FM Wycombe area and www.wycombesound.org.uk (part of presenting / producing team