I had my guitar and some talent so that I could make friends with intelligent people and could talk my way out of difficult situations.
I listened to Billie Holiday a lot in order to learn to sing. She remains one of the extraordinary jazz singers. But my intent is to become my own voice, to be able to interpret these songs in my own way.
I love playing to people and seeing them react.
I think I was probably an early teenager when I discovered Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and a bunch of people that are on a long list of artists. They were important to me, especially as an early adolescent.
I was just learning to play guitar when Tracy Chapman came out. She wrote these songs, she played them by herself and I so admired her for that.
I was very lucky. Things happened, both bad and good, but I never got into real, deep trouble. But it wore me down. By the time I was 18, I was done. I didn’t want to live the life any more. I needed to develop past the point that busking takes you to.
I’m very conscious of developing my singing, technically and stylistically. I want it to become more individual, express more of me. That’s my goal. These songs are steps along that way.
I’ve always loved singing. I find it exhilarating.
It’s wonderful to work with someone with mentor status.
Jazz really does try to include everything. It’s always been popular music. But the wonderful thing about jazz is its willingness to take chances.
My father had a varied ear, from Hank Williams to Ravel.
My father’s record collection was full of New Orleans music of all kinds. I used to listen to the radio in New York, and all there was on it at the time was Madonna and Michael Jackson, so it sort of passed me by.
No matter where we come from or where we’re going, we’ve all got memories to contend with, and it’s always best not to do this alone!
Once I was in the city, I really enjoyed it. Just to experience things. There was so much new stuff.
Second records aren’t usually very good. Even Bob Dylan’s was a bit disappointing.
Seeing how those companies operate, it didn’t amount to a massive vote of confidence in their artists. There was talk of me going to Columbia after that, but nothing happened. I got disillusioned, and I pulled back.
You have to let it all hang out, let go of the ideas that were more comfortable and embrace some of the sadness in your life.