Interview | Deelee Dubé

DEELEE portrait

We find out what makes jazz vocalist Deelee Dubé tick over some quick fire questions…

You’re a resident singer at Ronnie Scott’s, that’s pretty cool – how did you get that gig?
Yes, that’s right, since December 2014. I suppose it all happened by chance. I walked into Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club Upstairs one Monday evening, where Renato D’Aiello’s Acoustic Jazz Lounge takes place every week. This happened to be just one of those spontaneous nights where I’d be going out late to join the cats jammin’ in London’s jazz jam circuit, but this time I was invited to perform and asked to come back. Renato liked what he heard and decided to have me back as a featured singer, and from then onwards I had very fortunately secured a residency.

You trained at the Brit School – what was that like?
Studying at the Brit School was like a stimulating and adventurous roller coaster experience. Every day had something new and different to offer, and the opportunities were endless. I was (and still am) on a very driven and ambitious path to improve and progress as a musician, and so I would often lock myself in a piano room and play until late hours. It was at the Brit School where I also learned a great deal about the basics of how the music industry operates from a creative and business perspective.

What attracted you to jazz and blues?
There has always been a place for jazz and blues in my heart, and I have always listened to jazz influenced music. I had a singing teacher (Clare Foster) who was also a jazz singer who would often encourage and challenge me to try jazz pieces as well as Stevie Wonder songs.

I should also mention that I’m particularly drawn to jazz and blues merely because it somehow connects with me and resonates in a deep, meaningful and heartfelt way. I’m partial to exploring and learning about the pioneers of jazz and blues as well their origins, and how they nurtured and delivered their craft and artistry to audiences. It’s all about the journey and I like the idea of breathing new life into this amazing idiom.

Who were your musical influences?
I listened to a lot of radio growing up  and my mother would often play an eclectic mix of great music which included the Beatles, Miriam Makeba, Jim Reeves, Jackson Five, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Motown, and some classical music.

So, I guess I have many influences, but my main influence in music began with Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. That’s where it all started for me. Then there was a mix of popular and soulful music which included the likes of  Whitney Houston, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Beethoven, Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Sade, Bob Marley, James Brown, Natalie Cole, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Donna Summer.

If you weren’t a singer, what job would you have done?
[Sighs and smiles] That’s almost unimaginable, but if I must, then perhaps it would have to be either an art historian, laryngologist, music librarian, musicologist or a music therapist

Tell us what are you working on at the moment?
I have recently completed recording my upcoming album, Tenderly, which I am very excited about. I’m also working on some new ideas and material for the next album and a few collaboration projects. Following a great gig in February, I am excited to return to the Green Note in Camden on 27 May .

What top five tracks would you recommend to any one new to jazz?
Sarah Vaughan ‘Have You Met Miss Jones’
Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley ‘Never Will I Marry’
Carmen McRae ‘It’s Over Now’
Rachel Gould and Chet Baker ‘All Blues’
Betty Carter ‘Moonlight In Vermont’
One extra for good measure Gil Scott Heron ‘Lady Day & John Coltrane’

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