My main influences on the jazz and rhythm and blues side are:
Ella Fitzgerald – I love her glorious tone and her phrasing is so hip. Billie Holiday for her unbelievable ability to convey emotion with so few notes and her laid back style. Etta James for her kick ass delivery and raw sass singing rhythm and blues and same goes for Ruth Brown. Louis Jordan for his masterful phrasing and articulation, and the humour in the way he rhymes his lyrics is pure genius. Dinah Washington’s gorgeous bluesy jazz style.
Miles, Bird, Monk, Herbie and all of those truly great instrumentalists of that bebop era opened me up to another world. Mind blowing musicianship and innovation.
Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder – all sublime soul singers with their roots clearly in gospel. They move me with a single phrase or even a note like no one else.
Funk is one of my most favourite genres because I love dancing – James Brown and all of his funky people especially Lyn Collins, Chaka khan, Earth Wind & Fire, The Meters, Parliament, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson. My teens were 70’s disco, I loved to get down and boogie oogie oogie (check out “A Taste Of Honey”).
One of the artists of today that I admire is Beyonce– what an amazing performer! I love that she is a feminist and proud to say it, that she is comfortable with her sexuality, she is making a difference to so many young women’s lives, and she is dynamite on stage! What an inspiration.
Also Sharon Jones, a current artist who is old school but she delivers in every way. She’s like a female James Brown, wild and unpredictable – she inspires me to push my boundaries little more.
Closer to home, I acknowledge my husband Steve Wilson and life long partner in music for introducing me to jazz and a world of other music that I had not yet come across. His particular way of making the guitar ‘sing’ so beautifully, his passion for music and his attention to detail and not accepting anything less than the best anyone can offer has pushed me to always strive to be better. He has taught me so much about music, about the importance of having the blues as your foundation, about what it is that makes something hip, or not, and I would not be the singer I am today without his influence.
To all of the musicians I have had the good fortune to work with, I value each and every one for what they have taught me, how they have moved me and the sheer joy of what we do when we make music together.
My vocal coaches Connaitre Miller, Urszula R. White, Pauline Jamieson, and Janet Leadbeater– all were so encouraging and each had unique and very valuable insights on technique, phrasing, improvising, and stage craft. Never underestimate your ability to learn something new- I learned so much from going to drum clinics, from conversations with musicians just listening to their philosophy, it doesn’t have to be a vocal coach – it’s just more specific.
The women of Unite Your Light, and specifically Elizabeth Ellames founder, life long friend and Chief Change Agent, for supporting me in my personal and spiritual development. Your unwavering commitment, courage, clarity of vision and determination to see things through no matter what comes hurtling our way, is inspiring beyond words. The support of our sisterhood has allowed me to step up and be all that I came here to be.
My daughter Bella has been the greatest influence on who I am as a person and as an artist today. When she came into my world the love that exploded from my heart was so much more than I even knew possible. She has taught me so much about life, she is caring, funny, intelligent, has a passion for justice and has an amazing ability to call out bad behaviour (including mine) with compassion, and sometimes sarcasm. She has inspired me to the best version of my self, and to do whatever is within my power to make this world a better place.
And last but certainly not least all of the family, friends and fans that have supported me throughout the years, you make it all worth while, you inspire me to keep on groovin!