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A Salute to New Orleans Women in Jazz 2016

By on March 24, 2016
1st Lady of Jazz

NEW ORLEANS – BY: Vincent Sylvain

History Month is an annual declared month worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States. In keeping with the National Women’s History Project’s mission of recognizing and celebrating the diverse accomplishment of women; the New Orleans Agenda offers a salute to the following “Women in Jazz/Music” performers for their cultural contributions to the continued growth of America’s only original art form, jazz.

The 100th United States Congress declared jazz a “rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood, and promulgated.” Jazz has inspired some of the Nation’s leading creative artists and ranks as one of New Orleans’ greatest cultural exports. These women are to be acknowledged, recognized, and celebrated for their demonstrated commitment to the future of music, and jazz standards in particular.NEW ORLEANS – Women’s History Month is an annual declared month worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States. In keeping with the National Women’s History Project’s mission of recognizing and celebrating the diverse accomplishment of women; the New Orleans Agenda offers a salute to the following “Women in Jazz/Music” performers for their cultural contributions to the continued growth of America’s only original art form, jazz.

The 100th United States Congress declared jazz a “rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood, and promulgated.” Jazz has inspired some of the Nation’s leading creative artists and ranks as one of New Orleans’ greatest cultural exports. These women are to be acknowledged, recognized, and celebrated for their demonstrated commitment to the future of music, and jazz standards in particular.
New Orleans Women in Jazz Keeping Jazz Standards Alive!
Germaine Bazzle

Germaine Bazzle is often referred to as one of New Orleans’ important jazz vocalists. After graduation from Xavier University of Louisiana, Germaine began a teaching career and entertaining in the same year, teaching during the day and playing bass in a local traditional jazz band at night. After 12 years as a teacher, she left the classroom for a short time and began singing with various bands in New Orleans.

Three years later, she returned to the classroom, but continued to perform with such jazz greats as Alvin “Red” Tyler, Peter “Chuck” Badie, Victor Goines, bassist/vocalist, George French, pianist Ellis Marsalis, Emile Vinnette, Larry Siebert, David Torkanowsky and many more. Germaine Bazzle can be heard on her CD entitled “Standing Ovation”.

One of the true legends of New Orleans jazz, Germaine Potter Bazzle has been under-recognized nationally and internationally through her entire career. On par with R&B queen Irma Thomas, her voice in jazz is as distinctive as any, with a sweet soul to match. Influenced by the greats like Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billy Eckstein, she took on a repertoire of classic jazz, American popular songs, show tunes, and the music of Duke Ellington. Sounds of the church were never far behind, and she sang regularly on Sundays with the Saint Louis Catholic Choir. A graduate of Xavier University, Bazzle chose to stay at home, instructing mostly young girls in choir and music appreciation at Xavier Prep.

A teacher of music at heart, Germaine Bazzle is still a faculty member of the at the famed Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp in New Orleans.

Lillian Boutte’
On the musical scene for more than 30 years, Lillian Boutte’ is a monument to jazz, Gospel and R&B. A talented singer, she has literally traveled the whole world, bringing her music from Asia to Europe. She was decorated Ambassador of Music by the city of New Orleans (the only musician since Louis Armstrong to receive this honored title) for her many decades of activity.

She can be seen in Stevenson Pallifi’s award winning documentary “Piano Players rarely play together” featuring Professor Longhair, Toots Washington and her friend and mentor Allen Toussaint. She can also be seen in her cameo appearance in Allen Parker’s film “Angel Heart” and is featured on the soundtrack with the Blues great Brownie McGee.

Her life long friend Mr. Vernell Bagneris molded her acting skills when he cast her in his black Vaudeville music ONE MO’ TIME. He kept her busy with the show for 4 years; touring New Orleans, Sweden and Brazil. She has performed and can be heard on recordings with legendary music greats as Edward Frank, Lloyd Lambert, Joseph ‘Smokey’ Johnson, Jay Mc Shane, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Milt Hinton, Gus Johnson, Sammy Price, Doc Cheatham, Arnett Cobb, Al Casey, Dr. John, Benny Waters, Danny Barker, Professor Longhair, Clark Terry and with England’s trumpet great Humphrey Lyttleton and more.

With success in 1992 she spearheaded 45 of her New Orleans Music Friends and brought the sounds of Cajun, Soul, R & B, Gospel, Traditional N.O. Brass band and as well the New Orleans cuisine to 22 cities in Germany under the title SPIRIT OF LOUISIANA. In 1993 she originated the project GOSPEL UNITED in co-operation with 2 Danish organizers, where she was able to show her musical and social influences. This project in 1994 brought LILLIAN and her New Orleans Gospel group together with 1000 voices of students from all over Denmark – including a Live-CD and TV-coverage with great success, which went into another project in 1995 with a choir this time of 3000 voices on stage with her.

Lillian still continues to share her music throughout the world thru concerts, festivals special Music projects and her passion for workshops with kids and Adults have taken her around the world.

The unconditional love of her beloved city New Orleans was magnified on the 29th of August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Musically Rich city. She was contacted on that morning by good friend and college Elmar Hoff whom together started a Musicians Fund to help her city in whatever means they could. An account was opened and over the last years the fund has been successful in sponsoring a New Orleans Elementary School, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Transportation Support for fellow musicians to travel over in order to tour and earn money in the midst of the disaster.

The Ascona Jazz Award 2006 is bestowed upon New Orleans singer Lillian Boutté for her profuse efforts in support of Katrina victims in her role as World Ambassadress of New Orleans music and Godmother of the SOS New Orleans Jazz Heritage Fund launched last by JazzAscona.

Tanya Boutte’
Tanya Boutté; a member of the musical Boutté clan that includes Lillian and John Boutté sings a soulful mix of R&B, jazz, and gospel with an authority few other vocalists can lay claim to. A New Orleans native, Tanya grew up performing. A member of New Orleans Boutté clan with all its musical talents, she learned to sing as she learned to walk.

Tanya found the spotlight and developed her unique style and interpretations with a passion found in New Orleans musicians who not only know the ropes they feel them and use them to spell bind listeners. She began her public performances with the J.F. Kennedy Senior High School Gospel Choir, and soon became a mainstay with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Matching her expansive vocal range her repertoire includes R&B, Jazz, Gospel, Top-40, reggae and Motown. She has opened for and performed with musical legends: Latimore, Shirley Brown, B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Connick Jr, Leroy Jones, Craig Klein, Mark Braud, Walter Wolfman Washington, Wendell Brunious, and of course, Lillian and John Boutte.

Her dynamic presentation and stage presence has endeared her audience around the world. She is a regular at international music festivals including Ascona Jazzfest Switzerland, Slida Jazzfest Norway, Tuna Festival, Denmark, and The Gospel United Tour, England. Her reputation for powerful soul renditions have many a night flowed into the hot sultry air of the French Quarters where she is the new generation ensuring New Orleans always sounds like New Orleans.

http://www.tanyaboutte.com

Topsy Chapman (c) and Solid Harmony
Topsy Chapman is one of New Orleans’ finest singers, adept at gospel, blues, rhythm and blues and jazz. Her trio Solid Harmony – with daughters Yolanda Windsay and Jolynda Phillips – is one of the best, most soulful vocal harmony groups working today. The group records and performs their original compositions, as well as their signature arrangements of traditional and modern jazz, blues, and gospel, in New Orleans and around the world.

It all started for Topsy Chapman on a farm in Kentwood, Louisiana – a farm where gospel music was raised right along with the cotton. Topsy Chapman has performed for presidents and royalty (the Queen of England), received rave reviews from the New York Times, Variety and the New York Post, appeared in such publications as Time, Jet, Ebony, and Essence and most recently, performed in the award-winning Steve McQueen film, 12 Years a Slave (2013); The Modern Masters of New Orleans (2013); and No Cross, No Crown (2009). Topsy was also chosen as an original cast member and vocal arranger of the off Broadway hit One Mo Time which received critical acclaim.

As a solo artist, Topsy has toured all of Europe, Asia, Australia and has traveled the Americas performing gospel, traditional and Dixieland jazz. She has also performed and/or recorded with Nicholas Payton, the Magnolia Jazz Band, the Blue Serenaders, Willie Humphrey, Chester Zardis, Alvin Stardust, Butch Thompson, Dick Hyman, Herb Ellis, Lionel Ferbos, and has made several appearances on Garrison Keillors A Priarie Home Companion.

Through it all, her humility and genuine caring have endeared her to generations of New Orleans musicians. Topsy Chapman is quite simply one of New Orleans’ living musical treasures.

www.TopsyChapman.com
Leah Chase – singing
Leah Chase
The daughter of trumpeter and bandleader Dookie Chase and restaurateur and namesake Leah Chase, vocalist Leah Chase grew up surrounded by music and undoubtedly good food. She cites her father’s love of jazz and her mother’s penchant for vocalists like Johnny Mathis as influencing her musical preferences – jazz and ballads. As a child, she became aware of her vocal abilities after winning praise for a performance and thereafter she was often called on to sing at various events.

Chase joined the high school choir at Xavier Prep and studied voice and piano at Xavier University Junior School of Music. Singing in the New Orleans Recreation Department Theater’s production of Hallelujah Baby offered her further experience. She considers her first “professional” gigs as singing pop hits with a group called Market and also portraying a “woman of the blues” in a Las Vegas-type show.

While Chase was majoring in classical voice at Loyola University, where she earned a degree in vocal performance, she also participated in the jazz band. The mezzo-soprano went on to study classically at the Julliard School of Music but after a year, she says she realized that the style “wasn’t where I think I live.” It was the late 1970s when Chase came back home and got a job at the Chateau Sonesta, where she spent a year doing what she describes as a cabaret show. When her pianist, Craig Fisher, decided to head to California she went, too. During her 12 years on the West Coast she had the opportunity to sing more jazz. “I’m most comfortable with jazz,” she says. “I like the freedom you have to create.” After the sudden death of her sister in ’90, Chase returned to New Orleans to help out at her mother’s restaurant, Dookie Chase, “It was time to come back – it was good to have my daughter around family.” She got back into singing again when Dolores Marsalis, the wife of pianist Ellis Marsalis, asked if she would perform at a program for St. Mary’s High School. Afterward, Dolores said, “You really ought to be doing this.” She has been back on the scene ever since, leading groups filled with New Orleans’ finest. Chase is also an adjunct professor at Loyola and Tulane universities and the University of New Orleans, as well as being involved with Delfeayo Marsalis’ children’s theatre program.
Leah is a staple of the New Orleans music fabric, performing with such luminaries as Michael Pellera, Philip Manuel, Harry Shearer, Jesse Boyd, Larry Sieberth, Matt Lemmler, and Ed Petersen. She can be heard at the Windsor Court Hotel, Sweet Lorraine’s, Snug Harbor, and notable festivals such as the French Quarter Fest and the Jazz and Heritage Festival.

After Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, she, along with pianists David Torkanowski and Tom McDermott and clarinetist Evan Christopher were invited by the French Ministry of Culture to perform in Paris and throughout France. Leah can be heard on her CD entitled “At Last” and also on the Matt Lemmier CD “Portraits of Wonder”.

Her sense of humor blends with her inimitable stagecraft and vocal skills, rending her one of jazz’s most sought-after vocalists.

Lady B.J. Crosby (In Loving Memory

Lady B.J. Crosby

She went from a little New Orleans girl to a Broadway star,” says Vernel Bagneris of Lady B.J. Crosby, his lifelong friend and musical and theatrical cohort.

Born Joanne Clayton, the vocalist and actress gained national acclaim in the Tony-nominated production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller.” She was also nominated as the musical’s Best Featured Actress. Lady B.J. Crosby died on Monday, March 27, 2015, at the age of 62.

Pianist/vocalist Henry Butler explains that he gave Crosby the title Lady B.J. in the early 1970s when she was working at Mason’s on South Claiborne Avenue under the moniker Black Jack. Interested in taking her beyond the small, black neighborhood clubs to bigger spots on “the other side of town,” Butler realized that her nickname wouldn’t work. “I talked to her about it and said I would call her Lady B.J.-and it stuck,” Butler says. The duo soon began working at Lu & Charlie’s and branched out to play French Quarter spots.

Crosby began singing in the Baptist church and was a featured soloist with the Gospel Soul Children. Her talents as an actress gained attention in the late 1970s for her work in Bagneris’ musical, “One Mo’ Time.”

Crosby was teamed with the Ellis Marsalis Quartet on the 1988 Rounder Records release The New New Orleans Music and at shows at Snug Harbor.

“It was fun to work with B.J.,” Marsalis says. “Like any singer, when they’re really good at what they do, it’s fun.”

The word “fun” pops up often when people speak of the spirited Lady B.J. “B.J. was a very fun-loving person and enjoyed life to the fullest,” says her good friend and frequent collaborator vocalist Charmaine Neville. “She was crazy when she needed to be.”

In 1987, Crosby headed to Los Angles to further her career. It was her move in 1995 to New York that resulted in her great success.

Her stage credits include the aforementioned “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” the cast album of which won a Grammy, “Dreamgirls,” “Staggerlee,” “Chicago,” and “Harlem Song.”

“Everybody in New York knew her as a Broadway star,” says Bagneris, who calls her “hard-working” and her talent “stupendous.”

“She had a great mothering, nurturing spirit,” says pianist/vocalist Davell Crawford, who knew Lady B.J. his entire life. “She wanted and demanded the best from everybody around her. She demanded that from the musicians that she worked with and even from the audience that came to see her.”

Crosby returned to her hometown in 2007 and recorded her debut album as a leader, Best of Your Heart. Often performing at Jazz Fest, her last appearance there was in 2014 at the Gospel Tent as one of the guest vocalists on Jo “Cool” Davis’ se

Nayo Jones
Nayo Jones (pronounced Nīyō) was born in Chicago, Illinois into a family of musicians and destined to be in show business. Her parents noticed her musical gift at an early age. As an accomplished jazz musician and music educator, her father William “Doc” Jones groomed and nurtured her natural ability from the very beginning. Thanks to her father’s love of jazz, Ms. Jones grew up listening to standards that proved to be a solid foundation and would later become a signature in her own show. Though she doesn’t play much anymore, Nayo Jones is a classically trained flutist. She’d go on to compete on a state level throughout high school on into her college years. Growing up Nayo Jones would even join her dad on stage to play with him and his jazz band. Additionally, at her mother’s insistence, Jones sang in the gospel choir at church but would never take solos since she was and still is ironically very shy.

A graduate of Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia, Nayo Jones though still in love with music focused her life on the corporate world not realizing music was still her in destiny. On a whim, Nayo Jones found herself back on her musical journey. No longer able to ignore her calling, Ms. Jones sang for an event to help her dad raise funds benefiting his non-profit music organization in Phoenix, Arizona. The audience received Ms. Jones with joy and jubilation; stage fright aside, she enjoyed singing for them as much as they loved having her. Ms. Jones didn’t realize it then but that day was the beginning of her-story. To date, Nayo Jones wows her audiences (large and small) and consistently gains loyal fans with her sultry voice and her obvious passion for every note she sings. Nayo Jones debuted at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2012 where she has appeared annually since then. Ms. Jones has opened for such greats as Chris Botti, Otis & the Temptations, The Whispers & Lakeside. In addition to her own show, Ms. Jones currently tours alongside New Orleans’ iconic jazz trumpeter, Kermit Ruffins. Though still a babe in the music industry she already has the savvy of some of the most classic female artists and has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Ms. Jones has an extraordinary ability to capture her audience and keep them in a trance every time she hits the stage. Nayo Jones continues to cherish those classic tunes she heard growing up and is committed to bringing back the “authenticity of music” each time she performs. Her fans have compared her to the likes of Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack and even Billy Holiday as she belts out tunes from jazz standards to adult R&B.

Nayo Jones is featured on the latest album release by Kermit Ruffins, #imsoneworleans. Her body of work also includes her first original album “My Name is Nayo Jones”, a “Holiday Collection” and her EP simply titled “Nayo”. Jones is currently in the studio working on her first Jazz album. Stay tuned…

www.nayojones.com

Stephanie Jordan
Stephanie Jordan
Jazz at Lincoln Center notes, “every so often a new voice stands up and proclaims itself, but few do so with such supreme depth and understated soul….”

Stephanie Jordan’s current show continues her signature trademark of singing jazz standards from the Big Band era, including highlights from her “Stephanie Jordan Sings A Tribute to the Fabulous Lena Horne” CD which honors the legendary Grammy Award winner.

Jordan is consistently praised for her poise, elegance, and soulful articulation. She draws frequent comparisons to her mentor-the legendary jazz chanteuse Shirley Horn-as well as Abbey Lincoln, and Carmen McRae. Critics have also likened Ms. Jordan to jazz stars Diana Krall and Nancy Wilson. As a late minute replacement for Grammy Award-winning singer Leis, Chicago Tribune’s leading art critic Howard Reich was led to proclaim, “The woman can sing …

The Washington Post boasts of her Kennedy Center performance, “A poised, soulfully articulate vocalist, Stephanie Jordan turned in a performance that warmly evoked the influence of Abbey Lincoln, Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae and other jazz greats.” JazzTimes Magazine wrote “Stephanie Jordan, a standout here, was the real discovery of the evening… Singing with a clarity of diction that recalled Nat “King” Cole. The London Monthly Herald declares, “Ms. Stephanie Jordan reminds me of the flashy dashy days of Josephine Baker at the Lido in Paris”. Recognized internationally, the Sud Ouest French publication calls her “unbelievably superb.”

Just as she had ten years ago at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Stephanie Jordan Big helped frame the moment of the evening at “The Power of Community: Katrina 10 Commemoration” on August 29, 2015 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Jordan said “I am honored to have been asked by Mayor Landrieu to sing the classic tune “Home” from the Broadway musical “The Wiz” during the commemoration”

Stephanie Jordan has performed before such dignitaries as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, Susan Taylor and a national PBS NPR televised audience. Jordan whose musical career began in the DC area has performed on such stellar stages as the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the NBA All-Star Game, Chicago’s Harris Theater, the Marians Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland, and the inaugural International Jazz Day which was celebrated by millions worldwide.

Jordan has appears live on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the Kennedy Center, Jazz Standard, Club Dizzy’s, Marians Jazzroom in Bern, Switzerland, St. Croix Blue Bay Jazz Fest, The Setai – South Beach Miami, Manship Theatre, Takoma Station, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Duke Ellington Festival, Chicago JazzFest Heritage, Glenwood Springs, Co., Adagio’s Jazz Club, Hayti Heritage Center, Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club and is a regular at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The Washingtonian Magazine labeled her “JAZZHOT.” Audix Microphones has dubbed her “Lady Jazz!”

Jordan is the fifth performer to emerge from a family of New Orleans bred musicians. As the daughter of saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Stephanie’s musical roots run deep; siblings include flutist Kent, trumpeter Marlon, and classical violinist Rachel Jordan. A graduate of Howard University, Stephanie is also a certified fitness instructor and creator of Jazz Pilates which is offered free to the public every Wednesday in partnership with the French Market Corporation and the New Orleans Jazz National Park Visitors Center.

www.StephanieJordan.com

Sharon Martin
What makes a voice unique and entertaining is surely exemplified in the ever-changing expression of the singer of songs and the teller of musical tales. In New Orleans, that mistress of coal soul is none other than Sharon Martin, a petite frame that carries one of the most powerfully soulful voices around.

Martin is a deft performer, navigating her Billie Holiday through stages of disintegration onstage – but more to the point, her vocal mimicry of Holiday’s distinct style is spot on,” writes Gambit magazine. Martin appeared in two episodes of the HBO production of “Treme” as well as in T.D. Jakes’ movie “On the 7th Day”. Sharon Martin has been serving up exciting music not only to her loyal fans in New Orleans but also around the world, including a tour of Japan with the legendary Joe Sample. Her performance in the Republic of Georgia has earned her the respect and admiration of audiences everywhere.

Her versatility as a vocalist and an entertainer has garnered her many spots as an opening act for major artists such as Roy Ayers, Gill Scott Heron, Nagee, Ronnie Laws, Buddy Guy, and Boz Scaggs. In New Orleans, Martin helped to establish the once thriving Showcase Lounge as one of the city’s most exciting addresses for Jazz and Blues. Her talents are unlimited. As Program Director for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation she furthered showcased her talents producing many of concerts for the NOJHF programs.

Voted as one of the best vocalists by her peers in the OffBeat magazine, Martin has shared the stage with some of the finest musical talents the music world has to offer including Grammy winners; Ray Parker, Jr., Benny Carter, Nicholas Payton, Alonzo Bowens, Donald Harrison Jr and Dave Bartholomew. She has worked with New Orleans legends, Wilson “Willie T” Turbinton, Deacon John, Ellis Marsalis, Walter Payton, Michael Ward, Herman Ernest and The House of Blues All Stars, The Carl LeBlanc Group, Donald Harrison, Jr., and a host of others.

Sasha Masakowski
“There is a rare musical triple point where talent, vision, and a wicked sense-of-humor meet. Damn few artists ever make it there. I believe it must be the address of one Sasha Masakowski.”- All About Jazz, 2015

Sasha Masakowski was born into a family of musicians in New Orleans, Louisiana and has been a leading voice on the New Orleans music scene since 2009, when she was awarded “Best Emerging Artist” by the Big Easy Association.

“A charismatic performer and one of the brightest young talents in the Big Easy” – Offbeat Magazine, 2011

She has since performed major clubs and festivals across the United States and abroad, and leads three bands of her own that range from traditional New Orleans jazz (Sidewalk Strutters) to contemporary jazz and world music (Musical Playground) to experimental electronic art-rock (Hildegard).

“Her material choice shows a daring disregard for the commercial mainstream and a courage to step out and do something different…very successfully”- All About Jazz

“Masakowski’s marvelous voice can be sly, sexy, exotic and arresting as she works her way through an incredibly diverse array of music that crosses cultural and stylistic lines in interesting ways” – All About Jazz

“The young singer makes it clear that this is high-fashion music that lives beyond the borders of the Big Easy..” – All About Jazz

SashaMasakowski.com

Lena Prima
Lena Prima is a New Orleans based singer, recording artist, songwriter, artist and author. She is also the youngest daughter of music legend, Louis Prima. Born in Las Vegas, Lena grew up in two exciting cities, Las Vegas and her father’s hometown of New Orleans. Her childhood was spent on the road with her father, where he would frequently have her come out to sing with him on stage, delighting the audiences.

Her musical influences come from her adoration of the sheer joy of her father’s exciting, raucous swing as well as the rock and funk artists she loved listening to as a teenager.

Lena created her own production show in 2000 titled “Louis Prima That’s My Dad” which headlined to rave reviews throughout the country at theaters, festivals and showrooms, also enjoying a wildly successful two year run at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas where her Dad had once ruled.

After moving back in 2011, Lena has become a beloved member of the community, actively supporting the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, Italian Heritage Organizations and gladly donating her performances to worthy charities.

Lena, an avid supporter of Italian American causes both locally and nationally, was recently the Grand Marshal of the St. Josephs Day Italian Parade in New Orleans and has headlined over 50 Italian American festivals around the country. She has received several awards and honors including the American Italian Cultural Roundtable, Inc. Distinctive Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding achievement and contribution to the development of Jazz by Jazz Italo Americano New York.

Her recordings and her show today reflect all these influences, featuring her own wonderful songs, beautiful ballads, jazz standards, rock and roll and, of course, a healthy dose of her father’s hits. Over the years Lena’s show has grown into a rousing, highly acclaimed celebration of her musical roots as well as her musical journey, never failing to leave audiences smiling.

Lena currently performs regularly at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, has four albums to her credit and travels frequently with her highly acclaimed show. She is proudly continuing an amazing musical legacy with quality and love.

Wanda Rouzan

Wanda Rouzan Wanda Rouzan, THE SWEETHEART OF NEW ORLEANS MUSIC, is best known as one of the crescent city’s premier musical ambassadors. Wanda is usually seen leading her band, “A Taste of New Orleans”, as well as singing with other bands and orchestras, performing at night clubs, festivals, conventions, casinos, river boats and cruise ships. She has toured the United States, Australia, Europe, Brazil and Japan, taking her music all over the world. Wanda fuses Blues and Jazz, Gospel and Soul, into a ‘Jump on your feet and sing along’ music revival. Ms. Rouzan’s performances will fill your heart and spirit. Her show business career has been greatly influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, Etta James, Dinah Washington, Irma Thomas, Mahalia Jackson and Ellyna Tatum, New Orleans’ First Female Grand Marshal. She carries on the New Orleans Tradition of leading Jazz Funerals and parades and Wanda is one the few females to do so. Rouzan was honored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival when her Grand Marshall portrait graced the 1999 promotional poster and program book commemorating its 30th anniversary.

Her show business career spans nearly fifty years. She appears regularly at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, Tulane University’s Commencement, and as a regular in HBO’s “Treme”. Wanda has four recordings; Mama Roux, A Taste of New Orleans, It’s What I Do, and Where Ya’ At?! She fuses jazz and blues, funk and soul, R&B, second line, spiritual and show into a ‘Jump on your feet and sing along’ music revival.

Ms. Rouzan has a Master’s Degree and teaches Theatre Arts at Audubon Charter School. Musical Theater plays a prominent part in Wanda’s career. She’s a veteran performer in Tours of Vernel Bagneris’ Musical “One Mo’ Time”. She was also recognized for performances in “A…My Name Is Alice”, and the CAC’s 1960’s hit musical, “Where the Girls Were”, where she regularly received standing ovations for her portrayal of Tina Turner. The ovations continued for her brilliant performance as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” with Ellis Marsalis for which she received the Gambit’s ‘Big Easy’ Best Actress Award. She has also received a ‘Big Easy’ award for Best Female Performer and continues to be recognized as one of New Orleans’ Treasures. Wanda served as honorary music chair for the 2000 Gambit Big Easy Entertainment Awards.

Critical acclaim says that Ms. Wanda Rouzan is not just a “Taste of New Orleans”, but, a “Whole Meal”.

Betty Shirley
Jazz Vocalist extraordinaire, artist and teacher Betty Shirley has come full circle in her life and is now reaping the benefits of her hard-earned endeavors. The Times Picayune declares “…her range and command of the stage make Shirley’s a voice that should be heard round the world.”

Blessed with all the range and tonal control one might expect from a first-class Jazz singer, Shirley can scat, propel, coax and hang on to a note. She improvises with unerring instincts and delivers exactly what a song needs, spinning notes like silk. Michael ‘Mr. Jazz’ Gourrier (of WRIR-FM, Richmond Virginia) says about Betty, “One of the top female vocalists on the New Orleans scene. sensitive, sassy, coy and a great interpreter.”

Betty Shirley says, “most of my singing is a natural expression, the voice is an instrument and to be able to sing illuminates the entire world, it has given me a chance to express my sincere devotion to this music.” Shirley’s extensive repertoire ranges from original compositions, Jazz (modern and traditional), and Blues to R&B, and Bossa Nova. Lucy Galliher, Musician and former East Coast Editor – Jazz Now Magazine writes “… her songs are alive, mixing vocalizing, talking and scanting into a wonderful blend of colors…”

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Shirley spent her childhood in Chicago, and “ran off” to study music and art in New York City at the age of 16. Betty Shirley honed her skills on the New York scene making use of Jazz Mobile, and performing in such clubs as Birdland, Green Street Café and the Village Gate. In the early 1990’s she followed her muse and settled in the great Jazz city of New Orleans where she has continued to perform at such clubs as Snug Harbor, Royal Sonesta and Donna’s.

She has sung with some of the best Jazz musicians in the world: Ellis Marsalis, Art Blakey Jr., Benny Green and Bross Townsend, to name a few and her tours have included Europe and Brazil. Her credits include the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Pensacola Jazz Festival, Essence Fest and the Women in Jazz Series.

Betty Shirley most recent award was being named and honored as a 2007 Jazz All-star by New Orleans Magazine. Her other awards received included Best Jazz Vocalist, Gambit Magazine’s Big Easy Awards and Duke Ellington Concerts Award.

As a recording artist, Shirley has 3 critically acclaimed CDs to her credit as a leader. Unveiled (1995), Betty Shirley Sings (with the Chuck Chaplin Trio, 2002), and Close Your Eyes (released March 2007). Unveiled was described by Offbeat Magazine as “not another album of tired standards. Shirley works the songs into new forms and lets them fly into unaccustomed orbits.” Her latest work “Close Your Eyes,” was completed just at the time Hurricane Katrina was rolling in. Other collaborations include working with pianist Betty List to write the lyrics for the song Jazz Waltz that appears on the CD Unveiled.

Judy Spellman
A New Orleans native born into a family of music with a BA and MA in the visual arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY and Tulane University’s Newcomb School of Art. Judy’s father the legendary NO R&B; singer Mr. Benny “Lipsticktraces” Spellman made a significant contribution to New Orleans music and of course developed a hugh international following due to his work with the likes of Paul Mccartney, Allen Toussaint, Earl King and many others that re-recorded his original songs. Judy’s mom has also been a gospel pianist/vocalist for greater than 69 years in New Orleans and still going strong.

Judy’s vibrant personality and Ecclectic musical sound allows her the flexibility to move fluidly across many genres of music styles, from Jazz to Blues, and standards to Gospel, which of course is where she started and still intimately involved with her church choir.

Judy has performed over the years at multiple Jazz Festivals in New Orleans, and is now sought after not only by local establishments, but regionally as well as cities across the US and Europe! In her first international collaboration, during the fall of 2012 Judy toured several European countries with the German based band, “Phavior Adelic”.

“Judy’s life motto is….”If I Can Help Somebody As I Pass Along This Way, Then My Living Is Not In Vain”!

Anais St. John
Anais St. John
Elegant and seductive, Anaïs St. John is a singer whose daunting stage presence sends sensual shivers up the spines of audiences in venues both intimate and grand. A native New Orleanian and daughter of jazz alto saxaphonist Marion Brown, this Creole songstress is a seasoned performer deft at jazz, opera and musical theater.

With a master’s degree in vocal performance and years of experience as a music educator, Anaïs challenges her audience to sit up and take notice. Influenced by a wide variety of musical genres, Ms. St. John sets herself apart with a boundless hunger to use lyric, harmony and vocal power to weave a spell around audiences.
Her operatic and theatrical training is evident as she sings and purrs through a myriad of moods and vocal styles. In keeping with a classic cabaret tradition, she sprinkles her tunes with a bit of naughty and a whole lot of spice.

As voracious as she is versatile, Anaïs continues to expand her musical repertoire. In 2004 and 2007, she attended the prestigious Cabaret Conference at Yale University. She received an invitation in 2009 to participate in the Sarteano Choral Conducting Workshop in Tuscany and in 2011 was awarded the Iona Richardson Award for Excellence in Teaching at Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans.

Anaïs received a nomination for a Big Easy Award for her 2010 cabaret tribute, A Purrfect Evening… The Songs of Eartha Kitt. Named one of New Orleans Magazine’s”People to Watch,” she has also been honored by Gambit Weekly with its coveted L’Image award.

A longtime headliner at the Polo Lounge at the Windsor Court Hotel, Anaïs has graced the stages at some of New Orleans’s most revered jazz clubs including Snug Harbor, D.B.A. and Le Chat Noir. As alluring on the big stage as in those intimate settings, she has been a staple at the annual French Quarter Festival as well as at Bayou Boogaloo and the steamy summer Satchmo Fest.

ANAïS, her first C.D., was released to critical acclaim in 2012. With 14 standards to showcase her talent, the collection combines St. John’s skill and sensuality with an uncanny blend of lusty earthiness and elegant stylings. Terry McDermott, runner-up on The Voice, described “her remarkable voice… cradled by luxury and as warm as a single malt.”

Summers and holidays send Anaïs to festivals far and wide. Most recently, she made her way across the Atlantic to take her place among the women in jazz featured at Switzerland’s Jazz Ascona. In December, she helped ring in a sultry New Year at the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival in Orvieto, Italy.

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