I lived in Los Angeles for a long time, and in a lot of ways, I felt like I lived in my car.
A lot of young people want to become jazz singers, but there are not more jam sessions like there used to be. I just want to have the opportunity to be able to bring that to some young people.
The biggest thing is to just keep your voice in shape so that when the emotion hits, it's there to have the colors to paint those pictures with the lyrics as well as the sound.
I think people have come to know that I am not comfortable in a box, you know, and that I love music.
In high school, we had a really great jazz program that I finally was able to be a part of. They only wanted instrumentalists; they didn't want any singers. But I made my way in, and I remember the conductor of the band wrote a lot of arrangements and asked me what I wanted to sing.
Lizz Wright, we call her lovingly 'Amazing Grace.' She has a folk and gospel kind of approach to the music, and she writes beautiful lyrics and songs. She's like this balm that is really full and very rich and deep.
Oh my gosh, I love Jon Hendricks.
I always say that improvisation is the utterance of one's spirit, and it dictates your life experience, and that's how you find your concepts and your way for painting your musical picture.
In any event, I'm proud to wear the badge of jazz vocalist if that's what people want to call me; but at the same time, there are many other things I like to do.
My friend Harry Belafonte is an activist and musician, an extraordinary man who has dedicated his life to human rights. He taught me the power of words and that music can be used to heal and educate people.
I never looked or really believed that music should be categorized into particular genres.
I have a sketch of an idea and I never really talk about: perhaps do another jazz record, but with other elements involved.
I think an artist who has it in their heart to do or say something, they'll say it. It's not something that's mandatory, but it will come out.
I really enjoy going out with my jazz group. That's something that I don't ever want to stop doing.
Some people think that all you do is record, and it's not the case. You take on other projects as well, and you have to live a little bit because it inspires your work.
Art is a direct reflection of the life you live. What you experience comes out in your work.
Even in a world with much sadness, at its essence, life is beautiful.
Jazz musicians have always tended to have cult followings, which is pretty wonderful.
I'm a great cook. People have asked me to do a cookbook.
The thing that I tell young people is everybody is unique in their approach to the music, and you have to protect that.
I've always liked a lot of different kinds of music.
I grew up listening to all kinds of music. When I came up, you would hear people like Marvin Gaye talking about Sarah Vaughan. You would go to a show and see Ella Fitzgerald performing the music of the Beatles.
I never called myself a jazz singer. I just call myself a vocalist because I love to sing all kinds of things.
I love to create something new every night onstage; that makes a big difference.
If a song feels good to me, it's not very difficult to make it my own.
Each project that you do is something you believe in for that moment in time.
When I first heard Nina Simone, her naked truth shocked me. Whenever she sang, it felt like lightning bolts in my soul. Every song was like a movie, a unique and very different vignette.
Jazz onstage is a very intimate exchange between everybody that's onstage.
The Confederate flag is a divisive presence - it's the opposite of everything my artistry means and represents.
My mother was actually born in Toledo and raised in Detroit.
I've always had really wonderful people around me. But early on, I remember I would walk into a session or go do something with some musicians, and they viewed me, basically, as their chick singer.
Jazz musicians have always taken the standards of their time and performed them with a jazz sensibility.
When I was in junior high school, I knew I really wanted to sing.
The music we do is weaved together through stories and life experiences. When people come to hear us, I hope they are are uplifted and that we give them a lot to take home.
I've always respected and taken care of my instrument.
Jazz is such a living art form. It happens right in the moment. You weave a story by changing certain elements and components.
Art and culture and all of these things - they really matter. They shape your individuality.
I come from a family of musicians.
There is a certain kind of fire that happens when you fall in love with a musician. I guess you understand one another because you're connected by a creative desire.
I came up at a time in the late '60s, early '70s where music was without boundaries. You'd go into a music store, and the music was in alphabetical order. I hadn't heard of that word 'genre.'
I did a project called 'Sing The Truth', which was a lot of fun. It started out being a celebration of the music of Nina Simone, and it was me and Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo.
I didn't learn the word 'genre' until way, way late - I mean, like, in the '80s.
My musicians know all of my music, and so that makes for something different.
I don't like a lot of monitors on stage. I like the real raw sound of the open piano.
People think jazz music is all standards and the Great American Songbook. But it's really about the sensibility, the feel you bring to the music.
I'm a chameleon. When you put me in certain soils, musically speaking, I will be in that place.
I remember my grandmother used to always say, 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket.' But when I realized that music was inside of me, I decided I'm putting all my eggs in one basket.
I come from a family of storytellers. My grandmother was great at telling stories, and my mother was an amazing storyteller.
Anything that had to do with music is what I wanted to do.
Now, jazz institutions are more readily available for young people, but for me, the institutions were the bands that I was in. When I worked with Clark Terry, that was the beginning of school for me, and Harry Belafonte and Sergio Mendes, they were all my universities.