We asked a few of our favorite up-and-coming jazz vocalists to share a time when an unlikely artist or music genre positively influenced their lives or their art form. From coping with chronic illness to a few Joni Mitchell awakenings, it was the unexpected that helped push these artists out of their comfort zones and into new creative spaces!
All Music Is Connected!
I don’t think I’m actually a very creative person–I’m more of a “craftsman” than an “artist”. But I recently got on a Marvin Gaye kick and was absolutely blown away by all his early albums.
It helped remind me how much other genres have in common with jazz
and how that overlap can inform my musicianship. I had a similar experience listening to Stevie Wonder and realizing how many genres are apparent in his work–in one album, you might hear rock, samba, jazz, and orchestral influences back to back.
It was a powerful reminder that truly great musicians absorb musicality from a broad base of genres.
Joni Mitchell Awakening
I am a little late to the party here, but as my friend Maddy said, everyone has their Joni Mitchell awakening at some point in life. I had mine a few months ago, when I heard Hejira.
I grew up listening to a lot of folk music, but Joni’s music is its own thing. Her stories and lyrics really hit home in an inexplicable way. She said during an interview that she doesn’t know what chords she’s playing,
she just experiments and if it “feels” right, then she lets that feeling guide her along when she writes.
I find that really inspiring. I also love that she worked with Jazz musicians. Her Mingus album is really something special.
Inspired by Female Artists
Olivia Van Goor
My young students are a huge reason that I listen to any current pop music. I am especially grateful for them whenever they do show me something I wouldn’t have checked out on my own since my ear is mostly listening to music made a long while ago.
There are amazing current young female artists that are talking about some real truths, something that has been missing in jazz and music in general.
These courageous young women writing about their own experiences has honestly inspired me to write more of my own original music.
Joni Mitchell made me think a lot about how to deliver lyrics in a way that paints a picture in the mind and tells a more abstract story. Her artful delivery of each of her lyrics not only places emphasis on each word, showcasing the integrity and intention to the story, but also makes for easily listening.
Her approach enters into the territory of carrying a more nebulous and profound message beyond the tune itself,
as the listener is guided in their interpretation of the tune by Joni’s ever-purposeful delivery.
The words function on a very fluid, almost improvisational level that gives an authentic feel to her lyrics.
For me, the effect is a more interesting song to listen to.
Music Passion Reawakened
Listening to Laura Mvula for the first time had a really profound effect on me. When her 2013 album “Sing To The Moon” came out, I’d spent about a year dealing with chronic illness and hadn’t been able to sing (and didn’t have any desire to listen to music either), but
…her voice and her album completely reawakened something in me
and the very next day I was hungry to sing and make music again.
More About These Vocalists
Abigail Flowers is a jazz vocalist based in Nashville, TN who was recently voted “Best Jazz Vocalist” in the Nashville Industry Music Awards. She can be seen performing in the town’s premiere venues (including the Nashville Jazz Workshop and Rudy’s Jazz Room) and as the featured vocalist with the Music City Big Band. Abigail performs seasonally as a member of the Grand Hotel Orchestra at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Abigail’s most recent EP, Forgettable, released November 2018. Website Facebook Instagram
Laura Anglade is currently making a name for herself on the Canadian jazz scene and beyond. She has made several appearances on the New York, Toronto, Québec City and Montreal scenes and has performed at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Her debut album “I’ve Got Just About Everything”, came out in June 2019 on Justin Time Records. Laura has appeared on Global News, Jazz Today, Whole Note Magazine, and has been recognized by Radio Canada’s Ici Musique as one of the top 5 female jazz musicians to watch out for. Website Facebook Instagram
Olivia Van Goor is a young performer with an old soul influenced by swing and bebop jazz from the mid-20th century. Raised in Hudson, OH, Olivia learned how to play piano, sing in choirs, and eventually how to perform as a soloist. Olivia moved to Southeast Michigan in the winter of 2017 with her family, and fell in love with the Detroit music scene. She has performed at historic Detroit clubs such as Cliff Bell’s and Aretha’s Jazz Cafe at Music Hall, along with the Blue Llama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor. Website Facebook Instagram
Holly Moyer began playing the piano on her own at as young as three years old. While studying music at UT, Holly met her teacher and mentor Donald Brown, as well as studied classical and contemporary voice, contemporary composition, vocal arranging, production and sound design. She is now based in Harlem, studies with globally acclaimed post-bop jazz pianist Aaron Goldberg, and plays regularly in New York City, also traveling for performances as a jazz pianist and vocalist. She has performed as artist in residence at venues such as the Woolworth building and The Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island, MI). Facebook Instagram
Olivia Chindamo is a New York-based jazz vocalist from Australia with a special love for improvisation. Olivia’s musical endeavors offer a fresh combination of old and new as she continually fuses an ever expanding knowledge of jazz history with her modern sensibilities, impressive technique and vocal versatility. As the first ever vocalist to receive the prestigious Bell Award for “Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year” in 2016, and as the first Jazz vocalist to complete Juilliard’s masters program, Olivia has firmly cemented her place in her local and national jazz scene. Website Facebook Instagram