A native Texan, I make my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Singing, recording, performing and songwriting consumes my world. I am a voting member of The Recording Academy, San Francisco Chapter, aka ‘The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). Volunteerism on the Membership and Special Events Committees give me an opportunity to contribute my industry and business experience to further assist in supporting the art of music making. I was twice nominated for a seat on the Board of Governors 2005-2007 (singer) and 2007-2009 (songwriter). Original work is registered with ASCAP.
Jazz and big band music was introduced to me as a result of a flea market binge with my mother where I acquired my first collectable 78-RPM record. It was a Columbia Records label of the Les Brown Orchestra featuring Doris Day on vocal singing "Sentimental Journey". I played that record on my 33 1/3 turntable over and over burning out more needles than my allowance could afford. Growing up listening to Soul, R&B and Blues amalgamated has cleared and paved the way for what is becoming referred to as Neo-Soul. It's a fusion of these genres and the compelling phenomenon of spoken word emanating from the beatnik generation.
I relocated from Dallas, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia in the mid-80’s and began my music career in jazz vocal after witnessing one of few final performances of the late great Sarah Vaughan. Her performance at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park wet my appetite and sealed the deal. This was a pivotal moment that ignited my quest to deliver jazz vocal performance.
Living in the heart of Midtown Atlanta offered a short walk or cab ride to all things art ushering me through a golden maze of jazz clubs, musicians and creative types of every stripe. I struck up working relationships with very talented musicians, arrangers and composers. I frequented open-mic clubs and sang my way around town. Ultimately, I had to take a break to get a real job with real pay until the recession of the 80’s leveled off.
Back to the Drawing Board
I took some years off from singing to study dance and acting, as well as great female jazz vocalists and recording artists of the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. These pioneers are the inspiration behind my musical styling. They are Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Dinah Washington, Mildred Bailey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone and Edith Piaf. The greatest contribution to my musicality was the works and pieces of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Count Basie, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, Cab Callaway, Benny Goodman and Antonio Carlos Jobim. It remains a necessary education.
People often assume that if you grew up singing in the Southern church it automatically qualifies you to deliver a passionate and heart felt song. Though I began my life with community exposure to the gospel music of the Rev. James Cleveland's charismatic and Mahalia Jackson's reverent styles, church life took a drastic turn. In my teen years, I was ejected by parental right from a charismatic church environment to one without musical instruments. I had to learn to sing acapella without support of acoustic instruments.
Musical Roots Run Deep
Father raised me and my siblings in the entertainment business. Both parents had aspired to become professional singers, but life had specific plans for each. Mother performed at many venues and later elected to sing solely for the church. Father became an AM/FM in the soul music tradition when AM was king. He was the first black Southern markets cross-over radio personality transmitting from Dallas/Ft. Worth stations playing the popular soul acts of the 60's and 70's. Insiders called him the man with the golden voice because he had millions of loyal listeners. He was the voice of the people introducing some major black musical talent whose lyrics spoke to the heart of the black community. His reach extended beyond Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. For a significant time during the late 60's and early 70's, he reined in California's Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan area markets. He became a network television personality hosting and showcasing top acts on his show entitled "Operation Soul", which aired on area affiliate TV stations. My siblings and I had opportunities to meet some phenomenal people in the music industry like Ike and Tina Turner, Bobby Blue Bland, Wilson Pickett, B.B. King, Johnny Taylor and some memorable one-hit wonders who all made it a point to focus on the community. During the height of the civil rights movement, some of these artists practiced in our garage prior to scheduled performances. I had learned first-hand the skills of entertainment from the pros. Father never actively encouraged me because he knew singing and entertaining is in my blood.
An On-going Education
I'm actively enjoy working with big band and orchestra. I continue my stewardship in music appreciation extending my understanding of classical, country, world beat, alternative rock ... and hip-hop. It all continues to be a necessary education.