May 27, 2024

Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Beth Stapleton: I want them to feel something: Photos

Jazz interview with jazz singer Beth Stapleton. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Beth Stapleton: – I grew up in a small town in Alamo, Georgia, USA.  I have had music in my life for as long as I remember.  My mom played piano and organ for the church, and I participated in choir and was a member of the band (marching, concert, and jazz).  My first love for making music was with the trumpet, starting at age 10.  I still play it now, and it helps me relax.   I remember going to the local library in the 70s and checking out vinyl records of Maynard Ferguson, Al Hirt, Nat King Cole, and others.  I listened and played them over and over, then played along on my trumpet.  Those were formative days for me in learning to feel the music.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?

BS: – Singing is just in me… I sing with the radio, along with tv commercials, and of course, in the shower.  I like jazz because it is so expressive.  I also like the wide range that jazz brings for vocalists.  You can easily sing across all emotions in jazz.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

BS: – I have always been an alto/ contralto in my range.  My voice has become deeper and raspier over the last 3 years, due largely in part to natural aging of the voice and changes in hormone levels.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

BS: – I have been working with a vocal coach to help keep my voice in the best singing condition.  I do exercises with breathing and warming up with straws to help keep me in head voice.  In terms of rhythm, I like to play around with classic songs and modify them for jazz and blues options.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

BS: – I like some dissonance but in general, I like to keep it smooth.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

BS: – Everything is ok with me.  Music is creative and we learn from each other.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2019: <Love. Loss. Redemption>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

BS: – The song selection for the album retells my life over the last 10 years.  I wanted to sing about being in LOVE, then sing about living through the LOSS of that love, and finally to celebrate the REDEMPTION love for my healing after the loss.  All the songs are familiar, but I needed to sing them as part of my story too.  I live in Mississippi now, and visit New Orleans and Memphis often.  I wanted to pay homage to my local influences with some jazz and blues selections.    I enjoyed working with Tyler Kemp, a fabulous colleague and friend, and some gifted musicians: Chris Probst, Tim Avalon, Paul Heindl, and John McNaughton.

Since this is my first release, I am still getting my feet planted a bit.  I have some invitations to play gigs in Mississippi, as well as in Brazil and Spain.  I am working on the schedule and finances to see if that can happen soon.   I would love to collaborate with others if they are looking for vocals.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

BS: – It might be a question between thinking and feeling.  I think you can play/ experience music from your head, but it works best for me when it comes from the soul and heart.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

BS: – I like variety, so I like to mix things up when I sing or play.  That doesn’t mean the audience dictates what I do, but in variety, I think you give a better performance. You can touch people on different levels when you change things up.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

BS: – I recorded this album at a local studio.  It was my first one, so everything about it was fun and exciting.  For the next one, I will know more of what to expect.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

BS: – The standards have never left us.  We just need to continue to sing and play them.  Music preferences change over time and the standards can be renewed with each generation.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

BS: – My spirit gives me life, a new life.  I have been filled by the Holy Spirit so everything creative comes from that source, including music.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

BS: – I would create a time every Monday night across the world as a “jam session” where we could collaborate easily across the web and just DO music freely.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

BS: – This depends on my moods.  I have Chuck Mangione “Children of Sanchez” playing this week. I also listened to Chris Stapleton, Anita Baker, Lauren Daigle, Diana Krall, Michael Buble, and Carol King just to name a few.

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

BS: – I don’t have a message per se.  I just want people to react to the music and feel something… it can be any emotion really, but I want them to feel something.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

BS: – Probably to an early Beatles gig. They were so important to all genres and it would have been great to see them in person.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

BS: – What are you listening to now, Simon? What has struck you as really interesting this year?

JBN.S: – Thanks for answers, but you don’t even have a video? Many things: Brad Mehldau, Jerry Bergonzi, William Parker, Chick Corea, Al Foster, David Liebman and more others, their new CD’s.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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