Name: Jacqui Sutton
Band: Frontier Jazz Orchestra
What inspired your album, Billie and Dolly?
I suffered a pulmonary embolism, something that someone my age should not have been experiencing. It was the result of working very long hours, leading a very sedentary lifestyle and lots of air travel. So in the spring of 2010, something told me to get serious about pursuing music. By summer of 2010, I was recording my debut CD, Billie & Dolly, which pays homage to my two favorite vocalists, Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton.
How would you describe your music style?
I have named it “Frontier Jazz,” which means predominantly jazz and bluegrass, but with elements of classical, musical theater and R&B mixed in. I have received positive reviews for having a sound that can hold up on its own without being forced or hokey.
What difficulties have you faced from this male-dominated field?
All of the musicians with the exception of my flutist are men, and I can say unequivocally that I have been treated with nothing but the greatest respect by them. I have in the past had the experience of musicians who look down on jazz vocalists because they are not considered real musicians. In order to prove yourself you must know theory and learn how to scat. I suppose there is still time to encounter some of that male resistance, but it hasn’t happened yet. In fact, women are now making major strides in the jazz horn world, especially saxophonists. For my part, I love the members of the Frontier Jazz Orchestra and hope I get to continue working with them.
I’m currently collaborating with composer Danny Ashkenasi on my third CD, which will be entitled American Anthem. This project stemmed from the anger and frustration that I felt with people constantly questioning President Obama’s nationality. It got me to thinking, “Who decides what an American is supposed to look like? Who’s anthem is it anyway? So I’m writing songs about poor, black Southern girls using their imaginations to overcome adversity, Appalachian coal miners, proud LGBT Americans, and many other groups. Obviously, it’s not possible to cover everyone, but I’m taking a stab at addressing as many as can fit in one CD!
For more information, please visit www.jacquisutton.com.