“I was born in Albany but got out as soon as I could. I knew New York City was my thing because that’s where I had run always away to; it was a different city than it is now. Back then it was affordable, dirty, dangerous and fun.
I was 19 and wanted to sing. I sang with an old school jazz orchestra, did the showcase thing. Played The Bushes and Ruskay’s on the Upper West Side, a little joint in the village, Seventh Avenue South, the Brecker Brothers club.
We moved to Los Angeles in ’91. For a place that had no jazz clubs there were a lot of gigs; I worked a lot. I opened for John Doe at the Viper Room in a big straight-ahead jazz band led by Buddy Arnold. I had a trio but sang with other trios and big bands; I was a sideman, which I loved—ahhhh, that was heaven.
I started working movies; that was my fall-back job. I would take a job, make some money and go, ‘now I can make a record.’ My husband Mark Carroll is a musician and we planned on moving to New Orleans the fall of 2005 when Katrina forced a detour to New Mexico and a brief stint as farmers. It was a really odd left turn.
We moved back to New York briefly then it was New Orleans, finally. A casting agent friend who had given me work had cast you [Paul Sanchez] in a Rob Reiner film and we went to see you perform at The Ogden.
I formed a band with pianist Oscar Rossignoli and bassist Jasen Weaver who recorded an album of my original modern jazz songs, Howling At The Moon, at The Marsalis Center last year.
I don’t think there’s any place I’ve loved living as much as I’ve loved living here. It is under my skin. The beauty, the feeling, the smells of it, the tastes of it, and the people are… I feel normal here; I know that’s an odd thing to say. I’ve never felt normal anywhere the way I feel normal here but there’s nobody here who’s normal. So my mental craziness seems to be comfortable here.
I love the audiences here as well. When you play an original song that you’ve written, it’s a piece of you and the audiences here want to hear, they want that piece of you, they want to share in that piece of you, know the story of that piece of you… that means so much to me. I’ve never had that kind of acceptance anywhere.”