Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

IInterview with Song Writer and Singer: Cory Jamison

I met Cory on the elementary school playground. Her smile warmed me from the start. Then her personality drew me closer. Before I knew it, I'm volunteering for the school as per her request. But that just makes her more awesome!

I got the chance to see Cory live for the first time at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre, in Mill Valley, CA. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, because like I said, I met her on the playground. Where we wear workout clothes, don't have makeup on, and chase our kids around.

When she walked out on stage, she blew me away, and that was before those amazing pipes burst forth with notes I couldn't believe possible, especially from one so petit. Her songs touched me and actually drew tears. I never cry - and I mean never. This tells you how amazing she truly is. 

Cory's a gem, a star in our community. That's why it's so hard to say goodbye. She and her family will be embarking on a new adventure back home on the East side of the States. We will miss her voice, her smile, and her warmth. 

Thanks Cory....for shining. Please come back soon...

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.    In 5 words describe your feelings on stage.

Happy, comfortable, alive, loving, fulfilled

2.    What is the hardest and/or fastest song you've ever sung?

I do The Monkey Song from my 1st CD and it's crazy fast but right now my hardest is The William Tell Overture (Mom version).  Crazy fast and scary.

3.    Your debut CD "Here's to Hoagy" became a top seller in 2000. What were your thoughts when you found out?

 I cracked up and thought there must not have been a lot of good CDs produced that year.  

4.    How much recording time does it take to create a great CD?

It depends on who's doing it.  Sometimes a great CD happens so beautifully and spontaneously and like a lot of art, you can't plan on that.  Most times, it's a painstaking process full of obsession, time, inspiration, a lot of planning, talent, good taste, and luck.  Oh, and money.  Hard to say how much overall time it takes.  

5.    What do you think about jazz singers today? Is the younger generation missing out?

I think there are still a lot of great jazz singers out there and so many with amazing technique and talent.  It's hard to become an original and seems harder and harder in any field but they're out there.  I think Kurt Elling is one of those.

6.    What is your favorite quote?

Life is uncertain, have dessert first.

7.    Do you sing in the shower? If so what song?

Yes.  I warm up a lot in the shower so those are not pretty sounds, trust me.  Actual songs though are sometimes Singin In the Rain, especially if my daughter's around anywhere.

8.    You've sung in front of audiences across the US – what was the most exciting venue and why?

Town Hall in New York is fantastic and even The Auditorium Theatre in Bloomington, IN.  It was a huge hall and I was singing an orchestral concert at Indiana University with one of Hoagy's sons.  Very fun.  

9.    What is the one word that best describes you?


10.    I've seen you perform at the Throckmorton Theatre – you're funny. Where did you get that wit? Do you write your own jokes?

Ha! From a lifetime of pain;-) I guess from life.  Life is funny.  And yes, my own jokes, such as they are.  

11.    You've been known to throw back bourbon – how do you drink it? Straw? Ice? Sip? Pound?

Another Ha! Just had some the other night.  Preferably on the rocks.  Or sometimes, neat, with a water back, if it's a really yummy one.  My 'going out drink', like my grandmother's was, is a Maker's Manhattan, up.  Any better bourbon in a Manhattan would just be wrong.

12.    How do you keep those pipes clean? Gurgle salt? Warm tea?

Lordy, it's hard sometimes.  Sleep, sleep, sleep.  That doesn't happen enough though so yes, lots of liquids, with lots of honey and lemon if possible.  

13.    You are moving East…where will your first performance be?

I'd like to perform in DC asap.  Either at The Birchmere or Blues Alley.  They would be great but I've got a lot to explore out there.

14.     Are you excited about the move?

       Yes.  Stressed a little and super sad to be leaving San Fran/Mill Valley but it will be a good move when I get there. Very good.

15.    Who was your best singing coach and why?

She is still Faith Wintrhop, here in San Fran.  She's a dear friend too which is a joy.  Her technique is simple and sustainable.  Natural.

16.    When your heart is breaking…what song would you sing?

If I can get through them "I Get Along Without You Very Well" or "Autumn Leaves/When October Goes".  So many beautiful, sad songs.

17.     When your heart is light and full of love…what song best captures that feeling?

Also so many choices. "It's a Wonderful World" (not Louis Armstrong's but a different, swingy standard). "Singin In the Rain", "Zippadee Doo Da".

18.    What time do you get up?

Around 6:15 or 6:30 on weekdays.  Hopefully, 8:00 on weekends.  That depends on the kids, God bless 'em.

19.    What defines a true cabaret singer?

Oh boy, a true cabaret singer.  Someone who finds the heart of the lyric of a song and then makes that intent the force behind their interpretation and arranging choice.  They make it completely their own story, one way or another.

20.    And what is the difference between Jazz and Cabaret?

Cabaret, to me, has to do with the lyric as the driving force in an interpretation.  
Jazz, in my opinion, chooses the music of the song as something to play with and experiment with.  The lyric is not nearly as important and they allow themselves a lot more freedom with the melody.  Their voice is the true instrument and is used just as a sax or trumpet would be in either solo work or with an ensemble.  
That's not to say that cabaret and jazz interpretations are mutually exclusive.  If it's thoughtful, and for the right reasons, a great, crazy, experimental jazz arrangement can be great for a song as long as it's staying true to the lyric also.  I love the freedom of being able to do both whenever possible.  

21.    You've been singing for some time now…what is the feeling of walking on stage now, as opposed to when you first started?

Wow, so different.  I used to be so nervous for both theater and cabaret work, especially cabaret.  Once I realized there was no real 'right' or 'wrong' when I performed as myself in a cabaret format, I really freed up.  Now it just feels like a conversation with good friends and that makes all the difference in how I perform, I think.   As long as I'm prepared with the material and I'm not stressing about learning new songs or words, I feel so comfortable on stage.

22.    How can my blog readers help you become an even bigger success?

        They can buy my CDs and come to my shows when I come back to the Bay Area;-)  And spread the word and ask appropriate radio stations to either play my music or ask when I'm performing.
Also, check out her website:

23.    What will you miss most about Mill Valley?

Where do I start?  The people first-all our dear dear friends.  And the redwoods, The Depot, Mill Valley Market, Mt. Tam, The Proof Lab, Blithedale Canyon and the trails around the railroad grade, Joe's Taco Lounge, 142 Throckmorton, the air.  Good, rich, beautiful air.  And that's just the beginning..... Thanks Angie!!

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