Wednesday, 30 September 2015 09:25

A Q&A with Dianne Reeves: Vocalist headlines at St. Cecilia Music Center

Written by  Shelby Pendowski
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Dianne Reeves Dianne Reeves COURTESY PHOTO

Dianne Reeves – Great Artist Gala
St. Cecilia Music Center — Royce Auditorium
24 Ransom NE, Grand Rapids
Oct. 29; $125 and up
scmc-online.org; (616) 459-2224

While the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties may be long behind us, that energy still thrives today thanks to artists like five-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves.

Her new LP, Beautiful Life, includes Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” along with a roster of originals. The Denver-based songster is now touring the country in support of the LP; she performs Oct. 29 at St. Cecilia Music Center’s Great Artist Gala in the Royce Auditorium. The concert kicks off the center’s 2015-16 season.


When did you know you wanted to make singing and performing a career?

In middle school, it was something that empowered my life and I loved how I felt when I was performing. I loved how it made other people feel. My grandmother always used to say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I remember walking down the hall after a concert in junior high school and I said, “I am putting all my eggs in one basket.” I was that sure.

How was it taking these well-known songs for Beautiful Life and making them your own?

That has always been the tradition of jazz, to take music and give it a jazz tradition. This particular record, one of the reasons [I chose] “I Want You” is because Marvin Gaye is one of my favorite artists and I love the fact that his artistic voice is so sophisticated in soul music. This record was a jazz record steeped in soul music so I thought that was the perfect song to start out with.

What was it like producing with Concord Records and people like Terri Lyne Carrington, Lalah Hathaway and George Duke?

It was great. My very good friend Terri Lyne Carrington, who currently has a record out, too, she was the producer on the record and I have known her since she was 10 years old. She is an extraordinary producer, so we worked on this record and a lot of different people contributed to it. It is called a Beautiful Life but it should have been called a Beautiful Experience because the process was really nice.

You won your first Grammy in 2001 for In the Moment – Live in Concert. What was that experience like?

You know, I had been nominated many times and so to hear your name called is pretty extraordinary. It’s pretty amazing. It is like a feeling of disbelief and at the same time it is a feeling that you are on the edge of glory.

You worked on the soundtrack for Goodnight, and Good Luck. Was there any difference between working on your albums compared to working on a soundtrack?

This was amazing because the music that you hear in the movie was live. George Clooney wanted the music to be performed in the best way possible — jazz music is best experienced live. In the film, that is a real band and I am really singing. That part was great and it was kind of crazy because I have a lot of recordings and videos of singers from that time period so, you know, I was taking all of these singers that I loved and kind of putting them all in one performance. 

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