Artist of the day: Whitney James
A dance student since age 5 and a musical theater enthusiast since the days when she and the neighborhood kids charged a dime for shows, singer Whitney James first took the stage at age 9. That’s when she played Dorothy in a children’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
But the jazz bug bit hard when James was 13, courtesy of her mom, who bought the budding vocalist a pair of cassette tapes by legendary jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker.
“That tape really set me on the jazz path,” she said. “You had to be yourself and interpret the lyric, certainly, but you also had to infuse yourself into the song. That way, you can really expand and explore the boundaries of your voice. Charlie took a little longer to grow on me. Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker were my gateway drugs to the jazz world, if you will.”
Today James, who lives in Tierra Verde, tours around the country in support of her most recent CD, The Nature of Love. She was featured in Downbeat magazine in August. And on Sunday, James will perform at the Palladium’s Side Door Jazz series with her band, which includes Joshua Wolff on piano, Jeremy Powell on sax, Alejandro Arenas on bass and Ian Goodman on drums. The show is at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20. Click here.
To read Philip Booth’s full 2010 profile of James, click here.