Sharing Jazz Magic: Lizzie Thomas

Lizzie Thomas in her Album release show 2020 at Triad Theatre in Manhattan with the recording band
New York City’s Lizzie Thomas is drawing new fans into a vintage world through her recordings and performances.

Image: Lizzie Thomas in her Album release show (New Sounds from the Jazz Age) at Triad Theatre in Manhattan

Lizzie Thomas moved from Nashville to NYC to be a part of the Jazz scene.  She’s self-produced four albums, becoming known for her innovative interpretation of classic standards from the American songbook.

We just love Lizzie’s vocal passion and precision! We caught up with her between online-performances, recording and practicing – asking her to speak with all singers about her vintage recording techniques, social media and singing insights.

Your recordings have such a great “feel” – what’s the secret?

In the studio we recreated a “vintage” recording technique, setting up all instruments including the vocalist in the same room.  No headphones, no separation or no booths.  This approach was used from the 1930s to the early 1960s in order to achieve a “swingin’ live room” sound. 

What are the benefits and challenges of this recording style?

You can feel each other’s energy and have authentic musical conversations with all the instrumentalists.  That’s the Magic! The main challenge with this setup is that you can’t go back after recording and re-record vocals or an instrumental solo aka “overdubs.” You have to be surrounded by the best musicians—players with incredible intonation, timing, and freedom of expression on their instrument. And we achieved just that on New Sounds From the Jazz Age.

Lizzie’s recording setup for her album, “New Sounds from the Jazz Age”

An important lesson on vocal health:

I cannot separate myself from my voice, it’s always present, I never put it away in a case. This requires self-consciousness and a lot of water!  The warm-up is my best practice to maintaining vocal health.  I start simply with a long tone of “AH”, holding it out as long as possible and then breathing in and doing it again. One note, one tone. This brings awareness to any tension and prepares my mind and body.  I believe in having a weekly vocal lesson as well. Showing up weekly keeps my voice healthy and flexible. 

One thing you are liking about Singdaptive?  

I LOVE IT! The videos on Singdaptive are extremely comprehensive! Whether you are new to singing or a professional, there is a course for you to be the best version of yourself.  Thank you for creating a safe place to come as you, to build upon what you know and learn something new!

First gig?

I was 12 years old when I first sang in public.  I was petrified. As soon as I started to sing, all my fears evaporated. At that moment I realized that singing was my way of communicating joy, freedom and emotion.

What did you learn from that first gig?

I had a lot of work to do and I loved singing!

Lizzie singing at the Harlem Club, Gin Fizz

What’s your relationship with social media?

Don’t Forget to be Social on Social Media! Instagram and Facebook are not just about posting  your photos and videos; remember to really engage with your fans. Direct Message is a huge tool that I use to engage with fans, future collaborations, and musicians.

Can you give us some tips for engaging?

Fans: A “Thank You” can go a long way. Receive feedback/song requests and find out where they live, so you can prepare upcoming gigs in their cities. The power of engagement with one fan can be great! 

Future Collaborators: Social media connects you with endless opportunities! Are you passionate about wine or sports, or travel? Connect with others around hobbies and/or passions. At some point someone will throw a party or have an event and they will want YOUR music. 

Musicians: Comment and ask questions on your friends pages and even musicians you don’t know. You might find your next musical partner on someone else’s page! If you are going to a musician’s show and you don’t know them, take a moment and send a message to introduce yourself before you go to their show. They will appreciate your forethought and you might have a little more to talk about if you meet them after their show. I don’t recommend reaching out to musicians you don’t know and asking them to have coffee so you can “pick their brain.” First things first, go to their shows, introduce yourself, and repeat often.

Lizzie Thomas’s Album – “New Sounds from the Jazz Age”
[Album Image: caption: Lizzie’s latest album, with innovative arrangements and heartfelt lyricism.]

Favorite Quotes?

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” -Socrates

“To thine own self be true.” -Shakespeare

“I can call a tune for the rest of my life and never sing it the same way. That’s freedom, that’s provocative, that’s Jazz.”  

Lizzie Thomas

What are you currently working on?  

During quarantine I’ve been singing every Friday Night @ 7PM on my IG @lizziethejazzsinger with my pianist John Colianni.  This has given me a great opportunity to connect with fans internationally and to continue “gigging.”  It’s also allowed me to grow a larger audience.

When did you fall in love with the American Songbook? 

Growing up, I was listening to Whitney Houston, the Police, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.  Then I heard Linda Ronstadt’s “What’s New” album with arrangements by Nelson Riddle. It was love at first sound. The American songbook had to be mine. And, where did those songs, those melodies, that smoothness come from? I’ve spent my career exploring the American songbook and the endless way it expresses human experience.

Lizzie Thomas’ Website | on Instagram | On YouTube | On Facebook

BIO  Vocalist and musician Lizzie Thomas has made a name for herself in NYC as a swinging, sultry vocalist with a beautiful stage presence. She captivates her audience with the rare ability to sing with absolute precision on lightning speed tempos, with melodic freedom and control.  Her phrasing is effortless and naturally swings. 

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