Songs from the Heart
There has always been a rich tradition of female soulful singers extending back to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, and the rest of the Smith girls, to Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and beyond, who have in some way or another, been influenced by gospel music. Whether they sung in church or were rose in it's environment. Lady CiCi is no exception. This exposure has enriched her phrasing and inflection. It is the heart of her performance. The gospel influence allows her to put so much of herself into a song. This is inherent style, not learned in school, and comes from living life. Lady CiCi, born in Newark, N.J., has had early exposure to gospel music as well as to popular songs. Her formal education led her to a teaching profession in the public school system; her jazz education led her to singing as a professional artist. The mentoring she received early on from stalwarts such as Duke Anderson and Corky Caldwell, who really helped her, unlocked her vocal ability with keys in her range to afford her the benefit of finding and developing her own distinctive sound and style. Also working with the likes of Jimmy Ford who gave her, her first professional gig and the Billy Ford band along with Corky Caldwell where the experience prepared her for an ongoing stage performances. She gigged several years locally with many bands including her own band. Then, with the support of her now spouse drummer Don Williams, Lady CiCi continued to broaden her horizon by going on the road with Arthur Prysock, and the Jimmy McGriff/Hank Crawford Quartet. She has performed throughout the U.S. as well as abroad, in other words, the lady is well schooled. Any wise vocalist will certainly admit a strong part of their performance is based on the quality of the accompanying musicians. Lady CiCi is fortunate to have some of the best backing her. Joey DeFrancesco and Dave Braham on organ, Eric Alexander and Bill Easley on sax, Bill Easley also on flute, Geary Moore on guitar, Don Williams on percussions and Butch Johnson on congas. The tunes on this CD, "Songs from the Heart", are all familiar standards that I am sure you have heard before, yet they retain Lady's individual touch. Charlie Chaplin's SMILE, an old chestnut is given new life. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT LOVR IS and I COVER THE WATERFRONT revive Billie Holiday and Prez. IN A MELLOW TONE recalls the Duke while HONEY SUCKLE ROSE gives us a glimpse back into the Fats Waller era. The legends are well represented, yet each bears the distinctive flavor of Lady CiCi's vocals along with the fine backing of these instrumentally crafted masters. Remember, a true artist, no matter what their discipline, brings not only their talent to the presentation, but also a bit of themselves as well. Lady CiCi brings a lot of herself to this presentation. Enjoy! Jazz Historian Stan Myers.