Follow That Star
A native Texan, I reside in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been performing throughout the San Francisco Bay area and some west coast and central U.S. appearances. In addition to live jazz and cabaret performance, my career has evolved to professional recording. I am a singer/songwriter registered with ASCAP. I am a voting member of The Recording Academy, San Francisco Chapter (formerly known as The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences). I volunteer on the Special Events committee strategizing in such chapter and academy event efforts as annual Academy Honors, local and regional music showcase, performance, production and education including recording support. I was a 2005 - 2007 nominee for a seat on the Board of Governors. As far back as I can remember, I've been in love with jazz ensemble and big band orchestral music. As a teen, I recall a particular 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. During the 80's, I relocated from Dallas, Texas to the east coast's Atlanta, Georgia. I began my music career in jazz after witnessing one of few final performances of the late great Sarah Vaughan. I had an opportunity to see her perform at Piedmont Park while living in Atlanta. This was a pivotal moment that ignited my quest to deliver jazz vocal performance. I was fortunate to live in Midtown, the heart of Atlanta and significant area of the arts district. Musicians and creative artists of every appreciation dwelt near me. It was useful to live within walking distance and a quick taxi ride away from Atlanta's hottest jazz clubs. I struck up relationships with some very talented intern and professional musicians, arrangers and composers. As with many a start-up act, I often auditioned my share of band members. I frequented open-mic clubs and sang my way around town. Those were the days! The recession of the late 80's kicked in and I had to get a real job with a steady paycheck and benefits. It gave me time to improved upon my musical and business skills. Back to the Drawing Board Something had to change and it had to be me. While being a corporate puppet, I took some years off from singing to study dance and acting, as well as some great female vocalists and performers of the 30's, 40's, 50's and early 60's. Some of these pioneers are Mildred Bailey, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone and the European sensation, Edith Piaf. I consumed the works of Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Cab Callaway, Benny Goodman, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the French equivalent to Frank Sinatra, Gilbert Bécaud ... The list goes on. It was and 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 warming song. Though I began my life in the 60's 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 acappella on key without support of piano or organ. That's fine if you truly enjoy delivering barbershop quartet like singing. I just needed a more refined personal expression, but I did what children do - what they are told to do. Musical Roots Run Deep My father raised his eldest three children, including myself, in the entertainment business. Father and mother 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 disc jockey, when AM was king. Father was the first black cross-over radio personality in the Texas market and a spin-doctor for the popular soul acts of the 60's and early 70's. Insiders called him the man with the golden voice because he had millions of loyal listeners. He was the voice of the southern black community introducing some major black musical talent whose lyrics spoke to the heart of the black community. His talent extended beyond Texas to Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and for a time during the late 60's and early 70's, California's Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan markets. Dad 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. People like Joe Simon, Bobby Blue Bland, Wilson Pickett, B.B. King, Johnnie Taylor, Ike and Tina Turner and some memorable wonders like Little Gary Ferguson, who all made it a point to focus on community. For lack of rehearsal space (translated: not welcomed here) during the height of the civil rights movement, some of these artists often jammed 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 enjoying working with a big band and full orchestra. I continue my stewardship in music appreciation extending my understanding of classical, country, world beat, alternative rock ... and yes, hip hop. It all continues to be a necessary education.