LE Newsletter -
November 20, 2008
Meet The Jazzy Cynthia Holiday: She's Going 'All The Way'
Source: Sandra Trim da Costa -
(November 19, 2008)
*One of the most exciting aspects of jazz is discovering a new
performer who appears on the scene with a singular presence.
A jazz vocalist can connect with an audience in a unique and
emotional way, and with style, delivery, phrasing and natural
'This is between you and me,' a vocalist may say, 'let me tell
you what's on my mind.'
Communication. Style. Personality. And, of course, talent. All
a part of the package that
Ms. Cynthia Holiday
brings to her live performances and to her brand new CD, CYNTHIA
HOLIDAY: ALL THE WAY.
Her journey has been one of determination and perseverance,
fuelled by a love of music and a desire to perform. A native of
Newark, New Jersey, Cynthia Holiday has been involved with the
arts since childhood. Her first experience on stage came through
modern dance. She studied as a young girl, and dance was a part
of her life throughout her college days. Through this early
experience, Cynthia felt the allure of performing and connecting
with an audience.
Music, however, was the foundation of her household. Cynthia's
stepfather, Calvin Hughes, a trumpet player of considerable
renown, was one of the most popular and talented musicians in
New Jersey and the Tri-State area. Hughes had a magnetic
personality and a tireless work ethic. He played or toured with
jazz greats such as Clark Terry and Count Basie and blues woman
Big Maybelle. He led his own band, Calvin Hughes and the Swingin'
Jets, and young Cynthia was immersed in his jazz world.
Musicians were always coming by the house to play, and she was
particularly impressed with her father's work ethic, daily
practice schedule how it all came together when he performed on
Holiday's mother helped provide the vocal inspiration in her
life. "My mother and aunt were singers; they were members of The
Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark. I grew up listening to
Dakota Staton, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, all
the greats. Her musical exposure also included listening to
blues singers like B.B. King, Bobby Bluebland and Etta James.
"My grandfather used to play blues records and teach me songs."
My style is heavily influenced by the blues, because I love it
Cynthia goes from the board room during the day, to jazz gigs
after five. She graduated from Montclair State University in New
Jersey, and became a successful marketing executive, a position
she holds today. But one day it hit her: she had not fulfilled
her goal, her passion. She wanted to sing. She HAD to sing.
So she approached the one person who would understand this
passion - her stepfather and presented him with a tape she'd
recorded a cappella. Calvin Hughes offered his full support, and
Cynthia began the next phase in her journey in earnest - jazz
vocal studies with Rita DaCosta Turrentine; classical training
with Jim Carson in New York; sitting in on gigs with her
stepfather; performing with the New York-based Swing band, The
Bob Harris Orchestra; singing at Trudi Mann's open mic sessions
at Cleopatra's Needle in uptown Manhattan. She was working hard,
determined to hone her craft.
Eventually Hughes introduced her to jazz educator and pianist
Radam Schwartz, with whom she began to study intensively to
cultivate her sound and approach as a jazz singer. And, it has
all come together - her lifelong immersion in jazz, and blues,
her training and her performing experience have resulted in a
seasoned entertainer who sings well and knows how to captivate
There is no better example of that style than her new recording
CYNTHIA HOLIDAY: ALL THE WAY. It's bluesy, sassy, yet tender and
introspective, with a healthy dose of swing. Cynthia showcases
her versatility and confidence with a program that includes
familiar standards, contemporary classics and entertaining
originals. "Never Make Your Move Too Soon," written by Stix
Hooper of Crusaders fame, opens the recording, and tells the
listener they're in for a lively good time. Ms. Holiday covers a
wide spectrum of selections with ease. There's a wonderful brisk
interpretation of "I Thought about You," the groove of "More
Today than Yesterday," and a warm emotional reading of the title
track, "All the Way."
Cynthia surrounds herself with talented musicians on this cd.
Radam Schwartz has been Cynthia's musical director for five
years and their comfort level and artistic communication is
evident here. Together they wrote two of the recordings most
playful selections, "I Like What I See," and "You've Got a Job
to Do." The great pianist Cedar Walton and his trio (bassist
David Williams and drummer Joe Farnsworth) are predictably
tasteful and swinging ("I Like What I See"), and soulfully
supportive ("My Little Rainbow"). Bassist Bob Cunningham's
melodic, propulsive "Samba De Amor" and the Eddie Floyd classic
"Knock On Wood" add to the eclectic nature of this cd,
highlighting Ms. Holiday's unique abilities.
The journey continues for Cynthia Holiday; it becomes more
exciting day by day. If you have a sense of discovery, a desire
to experience a talent that's fresh and new, a talent who
honours tradition, join Cynthia Holiday as she goes ... ALL THE
For MORE on Cynthia Holiday and to HEAR her music, visit here