Jazz Vocalist Jacqui Naylor
released her new
"LUCKY GIRL" on DVD
June 19, 2012
(August 14, 2012) - Music is private. Music is personal. Music is public. Jacqui Naylor has merged these qualities into a documentary - a film that shares her distinct vocals and music to the world and allows the viewer to experience a glimpse of who she is as a person. "Lucky Girl" isn't a heavy weight documentary about the life of an artist - it's more of a casual exploration of Naylor's jazzy attitude through interviews, images of pets, her musician friends and music. Naylor was kind enough to share her thoughts on music and her new documentary, "Lucky Girl".
- Mark D. McKinley
Mark McKinley: It's a pleasure meeting you. I know you have an extensive tour schedule coming up in support of your latest CD and your brand new documentary, 'Lucky Girl'. Suffice to say, you're a busy artist, so lets jump right into things ...
Jacqui Naylor: Great to meet you and thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about ďLucky Girl.Ē
MM: What prompted the change from a marketing career in the fashion industry to the world of music and, jazz, in particular?
JN: I always loved to sing and secured a voice teacher, Faith Winthrop, while I continued to work in marketing. I studied for many years with her but did not play out as I saw this piece of my life as more of a hobby than a career. After playing my first gig, I realized how much I enjoyed performing and began to take more shows. Soon after, I had to move to New York for my job but continued to study with Shirley Calloway there. When I returned to San Francisco a year later, I decided to record my first album and make singing the focus of my career.
MM: If you had to narrow your influences down to only 3 people that have most inpired you during your music career thus far - who would they be and how have they contributed to who you are as a person?
JN: Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie and Bill Withers. Early in my career, I learned most of the standards from Ella. Even with her amazing ability to improvise, she always honored the songwriters by singing the tune the first time through as it was written. I take that seriously in my own work along with conveying a sense of joy and gratitude when I sing, another quality I identify with Ella. Blossom Dearie is perhaps my favorite female singer. I just love her. A fine singer and pianist and quirky as the day is long, determined to do things her way, right down to having her own label well before that was popular. She makes me smile and inspires me to continue to be my own artist with my own voice. Bill Withers is included on my short list for his incredible soul. He never over sings. He just tells the story. I see that as my job as a singer. All the chops in the world canít make someone sincere, only life and authenticity can do that. There should be no separation between art and life.
MM: My introduction to you and your music came by way of reviewing an advance copy of your 2008 CD 'You Don't Know Jacq' (nice recording by the way!). Define "Acoustic Smashing"
JN: Itís a term I came up with to describe the arranging technique where I sing the lyrics and melody of a standard over the groove of a tune from another genre. I wanted to distinguish it from what DJís do with mash-ups since we are not looping or changing tempos to create the effect but instead actually playing two complete tunes over one another. So Iím singing one song and the band playing another. I always liked the idea of mixing genres, especially as a way to bring people from different generations together through music, and itís become a great way to add our own take on popular songs. For example, the song we did this with was ďMy Funny Valentine.Ē A wonderful song but sung by everyone. I had a show on Valentineís day and knew I would have to sing it so wanted to make it our own. Art Khu, my arranger, recognized the chord progression as the same as ACDCís ďBack In BlackĒ and arranged them to work together. Our rule is that the song should be enjoyable and sound organic whether the listener knows one tune or both tunes we are smashing.
MM: Tell me about your song selection process, i.e., covers, styles, etc.
JN: I like a lot of different music from many genres and eras. As the youngest of seven kids, with older parents, jazz was a mainstay but the rock and soul music of my older siblings also featured heavily. So all this different music is in there, in me. That said, I tend to approach everything I do the same as I would a jazz song ... choose songs that speak to me, learn them and tell the story with the band in a way that is uniquely us. As a songwriter, the process is the same once the song is written. For a long-time, I thought it was so strange to hear people call me a singer-songwriter. I just feel like a singer who sometimes sings songs Iíve written. As my own music is featured more heavily in what we do, Iíve embraced the idea and am honored since I respect so many wonderful song-writers, especially those who wrote standards.
MM: Within the context of both music and vocals ... explain why you embrace restraint.
JN: If I need to yell about it, Iím doing something wrong. I should be able to touch peopleís hearts without hitting them over the head.
MM: The brand new documentary film "Luck Girl" was released in June, share a bit about the project - who directed it, what your ambitions are for the film, etc.
JN: The film was created by Artidocs, a Bay Area film making duo that creates portrait style documentaries of artists. Mary Cravat is the director and Jules Kobelin the producer. They approached me about making the documentary after we worked on a music video together and got to know one another. The goal of the film is to give some insight into my life as a whole, not just musically, and to show how my life informs my music and back again. For me personally, I am hopeful that the film will encourage and inspire the people who watch it to appreciate their lives and make the most of every little nook and cranny life has to offer. Creating a sense of community in all that I do is a large piece of that.
MM: Do you see yourself becoming more involved in film?
JN: Iíd like that. I certainly enjoyed the process and I feel like our music is well-suited for film. I studied acting at ACT for a while and it remains something Iím interested in. Iíve just found Iím best at being me so performing music affords me that opportunity.
MM: Tell me about the musicians featured in the film - your musical relationship - introduce them.
JN: There are many musicians featured in the film. Primarily I perform with a trio and have played with Art Khu (piano, organ, guitar), Jon Evans (bass) and Josh Jones (drums and percussion) for almost a decade so they are featured most heavily in the film. They are all incredible musicians and super nice people. We truly enjoy making music and spending time with one another and I think that shows in what we do. Art Khu began as my pianist then musical director and guitar player and somewhere along the way, about five years ago, I fell in love with him and married him. He was classically trained at Oberlin Conservatory and recently had his first symphony commissioned by Oakland East Bay Symphony. Jon Evans is perhaps best known for his playing with Tori Amos and is very adept at playing both jazz and rock /pop. Heís also a talented engineer and weíve recorded a number of albums in his studio. Josh Jones is a formidable teacher and player, known for his drumming work with Don Cherry, Steve Coleman and Omar Sosa. Josh brings an element of Latin and Soul music to what we do that I really appreciate. Other musicians featured include bass players Scott Steed and Phil Steen and young pianist and guitarist, Matt Wong, who studies with Art.
MM: What are your future ambitions for the following genres - stage, acting, and music?
JN: My main ambition is to keep going ... keep improving my craft and my ability to create and recognize opportunities to encourage others. I hope I can do that with my voice and my music for a long long time. Iíd also love to do a musical at some point. Maybe we will write one.
MM: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
JN: Even happier than I am today and Iím pretty happy. I try not to strategize too much about how it will all unfold. That said, I plan to be writing, performing and recording even more music than I have in the last decade and with an even stronger voice. Guess I better get crackiní. Our next release, our ninth, is called ďDead Divas SocietyĒ and pays tribute to some of my favorite singers, from Ella Fitzgerald to Freddie Mercury and everyone in between. So much wonderful music to love. Itís a society I hope to be in one day ... but not today.
MM: We look forward to your next project and wish you all the best on tour and with the release of your new film!
JN: Thank you.
(C) 2012 Mark's Online Music Source
01 Lucky Girl
02 Nothing Could Be Better Than You
03The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
04 Since I Love You
05 It was Supposed To Work Out
06 Only Love Can Break Your Heart
07 Dreamin' Wishin' Prayin'
08 Moon River
09 Sunshine And Rain
10 I Promise
11 Angle Eyes
12 Close The Door
13 You're My Favorite Person
14 I Can't Make You Love Me
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