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Interview: Lizzie Thomas
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I like to say it was a divine touch that got me into music. I loved music and expressed myself musically from an early age. I started playing piano at age 8. My parents were a little curious as to where I got the desire to play, but liked the idea that I was expressing myself and eager to learn music. They always encouraged me. If I wasn’t creating music, I guess I would be teaching or a stock brokerage investment advisor. I really like numbers.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
As a curious human, I like to be inspired by what is different and what is great. I’m a xenophile so I love to travel, explore, and I’m kind-of obsessed with languages. Encountering greatness inspires me, whether it be a classical pianist, a bricklayer, architecture/art, or a great meal! This thirst for information inspires me to then create and express myself.
How long has music been your career?
I have had two main careers as I have built my musical career. I was in the Fashion industry in NYC for a decade while I was performing in smaller clubs and restaurants. I was employed with the brands Saks Fifth Ave, Celine and Herve Leger and I managed stores with all the products and people inside of them. It was a big job but taught me how to manage almost anything. I met so many great people and they are still my friends and support me as a musician and entertainer. I walked away from the fashion world 4 years ago to focus all my energy on music! When I lived in Nashville and attended Belmont Univ. I had a piano studio and taught about 20+ students for a decade. It was wonderful to share music and develop young brains. I also graduated with early childhood music education degrees and taught babies and young children music with their parents. Now that was interesting. I love teaching but decided to devote my musical energy to my own musical self when I moved to NYC.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based out of NYC! I love this city and simply walking down the street is exhilarating. NYC keeps me hungry and driven to find my authentic voice and keep going and going and going. Who I am today is not who I was last week. I work with the best of the best and that is because I live in NYC. It’s a special city and being exposed to top talent is a great perk!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show I ever played was my return to the Triad Theatre after covid. It was so fulfilling to be creating with my band back on stage. Having my friends and fans supporting me was a great reminder that we only live once and give it everything you’ve got! The worst show? Don’t remember.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite venues to play are ones where the people are there to listen and enjoy the music. The room size doesn’t matter. I could have the audience 5 feet away from me or a huge theatre. I am a big fan of theaters, not only is there a nice big stage to move around on, but that is where I really learned how to entertain! I was in the show choir for about 6 years and performed on some great stages. What matters to me is the vibe- I’d prefer it to be positive! Places I’d love to play? Birdland, Ryan Auditorium, Dizzy’s Club, Ronnie Scotts, JALC.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I would play with my living icons- Kurt Elling, Diana Krall, JALC orchestra, & Tony Bennett.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Oh gosh- There are so many things I’d say but most importantly- Listen to as much music as possible, go to music school, and surround yourself with musicians, hangout at clubs and sit in as much as possible. Also- find a benefactor so you don’t have to worry about making money!
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
You are worthy, & You are enough. you have everything you need. It’s going to be ok. Rise to the occasion and show’em what you got!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love to play ballads- I find this is my purest expression because there is enough time to reflect and think about encompassing the music. I can dig deep into emotions and really connect with the audience.
One of my requested songs is Jobim’s “One Note Samba” played at warp speed.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay" I've recorded it twice. On my latest New Sounds From the Jazz Age and Easy To Love album. I was thrilled to feature Russell Malone on guitar and it was a dream come true to play with him.
Check out my short video on youtube to hear me talk about why I love it so much! https://youtu.be/u52nyIBOLBs
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I don’t have a traditional type band setting, so disagreements don’t really happen. I call & hire the cats I want on a particular gig. I do work closely with my pianist. I find that there is a great level of respect between myself and my pianist. We share ideas and are willing to try out anything. The music usually decides what is the best offering and we are the vessels.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have two very exciting things that I am focused on currently. I am working on a new album! I'm in the process of deciding song selection, overall feel and personnel. It's an exciting time and I love creating and visualizing new music to share with the world. This one is gonna be deep.
The covid lockdown opened a new path for my creativity and I created a jazz lifestyle brand called the Jazz Diva Collection. I designed a fashion line with original contour drawings of the Jazz Divas: Billie, Nina, Ella, and even yours truly. The collection includes loungewear, cinched bags, and scented candles. Imagine this, you come home, put on your Nina loungewear, light the candle “Evening Jazz” , sit back and enjoy the aromas of clove & palo santo while listening to Billie Holiday.
The Jazz Diva collection is fashionable, comfortable and pays homage to the great female artists who shaped the sound that we call Jazz. Visit LizzietheJazzSinger.com to view the collection and embrace your inner diva.
“Jazz is about experience. Not just listening, but engaging all the senses—sight, sound, touch, smell and even taste. A glass of bubbly goes well with Jazz, or maybe you’re a scotch man? I tried to bring all of that to the Jazz lifestyle,” Lizzie says.
STAY IN TOUCH with LIzzie on her website: LizzietheJazzSinger.com & on IG @LizzietheJazzSinger