A while ago I watched, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” a documentary about Nina Simone. A sad story of a remarkable and talented artist who was not embraced by the world as the beautiful human being she was. In the documentary Nina Simone sang “I Got Life” from the musical Hair. I’ve heard the music and lyrics before, and yet I had never heard the music and lyrics before. Not this tone. Not this emotion. Even the storytelling was unlike any other version I’d heard.
That’s the power of jazz—to communicate stories that are unique to the musicians—and the moment.
My husband and I discovered the Jazz community in Portland after becoming regulars at the 1905 bar. It’s a warm and welcoming place filled with gifted and passionate people. Before connecting with the musicians and singers there, it had never occurred to me that I could sing. Now that I’ve started studying Jazz singing, I’m humbled by how much I need to learn, but I love it.
Art is a commitment. Singing is hard. It’s challenging. I will never be a star. Honestly, I don’t have to be. But one day I’ll be able to take a classic Jazz song and make it my own, to tell my own story. I hope so.