May 18, 2024

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Interview with Rebecca Kilgore: I want to express joy and hope in my music, and hopefully beauty too: Video

Jazz interview with jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Rebecca Kilgore: – I grew up in Massachusetts, on the east coast of the U.S. When I was a teenager I was listening to the radio and heard a DJ playing records by Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. They completely captivated me.

JBN: – 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?

RK: – See above. It was discovering the recordings of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I had no teachers and learned my craft on the bandstand, learning by example from other instrumentalists.

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

RK: – I don’t know. I just tried to keep getting better and please myself. I listened to many other vocalists on record, and in live performance when they were available.

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

RK: – I don’t have a practice routine. Instead, I use learning new songs all the time to develop and improve my musical ability. Some songs may have a wider range, or difficult intervals, and I see that as a challenge. I also studied the music of Anita O’day who had a great sense of time and phrasing.

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

RK: – I only incorporate what I love.

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

Do not have intellect and soul?

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

RK: – I’m always happy when something I perform resonates with an audience. I’m definitely a “niche” artist, since most of my material is obscure. I find that what comes across most successfully is when it’s clear I love what I’m singing, so I try not to stray from that concept.

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

RK: – Hmmmm….. I remember my first recording for Arbors Records which took place in 1995 in New York City. I was thrilled to be recording with Dan Barrett, Dave Frishberg, Bucky Pizzarelli, Michael Moore. The CD was called “I Saw Stars.” I went on to record many other projects for Arbors.

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

RK: – It’s still beautiful and fun and interesting. And it’s open to reinterpretation by new generations. I’m not saying it’s the only valid music by any means, but it still appeals to me.

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

Do not life? 🙂

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


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

RK: – Vocalists Veronica Swift and Cecile McLoren-Salvant. Also a young (22 years old!) singer i met in New York called Karlea Lynée. But I often revisit Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, etc.

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

RK: – I want to express joy and hope in my music, and hopefully beauty too.

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

RK: – I’d like to see Ella Fitzgerald at the Apollo when she was “discovered” in 1934.

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

RK: – Where do you see jazz heading?

JBN: – In Europe …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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