It had been years since I did much singing. I would sing from time to time for benefits but not with a group, that is until this past January. My background was in Opera. While all my friends were listening to Woodstock I was listening to Madame Butterfly and my all time favorite Verdi's La Traviata. I wanted to be an opera singer and studied with the vocal coach for the Metropolitan Opera, David Blair. I was with him for a year until I got my first taste of jazz. He told me I had to make a choice and I chose Jazz. I booked myself singing pop and show tunes until I could get my feet wet as a jazz singer. I was starting to get booked into some jazz clubs when all at once Disco came in and changed the entire music industry—in my opinion, not for the better.
Before Disco almost every restaurant had live music. Once Disco came in, musicians were out and DJs were in spinning records. It is really only within the last 10 years that there is a resurgence of live music and yet not even close to its previous heyday. I left the music industry until I met a friend who talked me into writing Country tunes with him. My grandfather loved Country, but he would listen to all that real twangy stuff that I couldn't stand. I called it the "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know About HIMMMMMMMMMA" music. But I immersed myself in the music so that I could get the feel of it. After all if I was going to write it, I would have to live it. I started going to karaoke bars to sing the latest country songs like Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Feel Lucky Today." I got pretty good and wrote several good Country tunes but Jazz was still calling me. But it was not yet time to follow my heart.
The next time I was asked to sing, they wanted me to sing Blues. So I immersed myself in the Blues and really liked it. It was singing the Blues that I realized I was really not a Soprano after all. In the lower register my voice was much richer.
While I was in France on a trip I went to hear Ella Fitzgerald sing. Wow, she was amazing. I loved her smooth velvet voice and her scat was fantastic. I mentioned that I wanted to sing jazz like her to a gentleman sitting across the table from me and he said, "that's not Jazz, that's the great American Songbook. silly." That was the first time I had ever heard the term used. In truth, some of the greatest Jazz you will ever hear is really from the Great American Songbook. Most of the wonderful songs of Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and other greats are from the great American Songbook.
Good music withstands the test of time.The songs from the great American songbook are standards for a reason. They will be around long after heavy metal and rap are long forgotten. People love beautiful melodies with great lyrics and that is what continues to sell to every new generation. Tony Bennett is having a more successful career in his 80s selling records to young people than he ever did when he first came out. Why? Because of the American Songbook. Harry Connick Jr. and his big band and Michael Buble are successful singing the American Songbook. Even Rock and Rollers like Rod Stewart and Linda Ronstadt found their most successful records of all time were the ones where they recorded the American Songbook. That should tell you something about this great music.
Back in January of this year a friend knocked on my door at 10 p.m on a cold snowy evening and said he would like me to come sing with his band. The band performed primarily blues, country, some light Rock and a little Jazz. He wanted me to add more Jazz and American songbook standards so the group would be more rounded. I agreed. I learned all their music but when it came time to learn some of the music that I came on board to sing, their hearts were not in it. I was about to leave the group when we hired a great bass player, Owen Rasmussen. I could see at once that Owen was a phenomenal musician and I wanted to stick around to see what he could do to bring this group back to life. But from one week to the next they could not retain the songs. We finally disbanded and Owen and I went off on our own to bring my life's dream of singing the great American songbook/my kind of Jazz to fruition.
Owen is such a talented guy. He not only plays bass, guitar, drums, piano, trumpet and some trombone but he is also a great musical director, arranger, and videographer. I will be forever grateful to the other group for bringing us together. Owen is able to create great arrangements for us as a duo clear up to us as six pieces. We are just getting revved up so if you have a special event that you need music for, give us a call and let us know whether you are looking for something smaller and more intimate that a duo can bring or you are looking for more dance music with a fuller sound. We are looking forward performing the great American Songbook. It just goes to show, you are never to old to go after your dreams. Believe You Can Fly!