Everyone sings, some just sing better than others and New Orleans-born jazz singer Anaïs St. John changes words into music and songs into memories. Her soulful and smoky additions to the genre has become a must see act when visiting the Big Easy. The performer and music teacher has used her satin voice to lay out a career of accomplishments that fits her bayou blues pedigree. Fresh off the recent release of her self-titled debut album St. John sat down and spoke with us about music, family, and love for New Orleans.
Tell us a little about your professional training and how you got your start in performing?
Well, I received my Masters in Vocal Performance from the University of New Orleans. And I started out singing in the New Orleans Opera and then singing cabaret in various clubs, hotels and festivals. It grew from there.
You’ve made quite a name for yourself in the world of modern jazz, a genre that has seen some pickup in popularity recently as artists incorporate it into modern R&B and pop styles. Who are some jazz artists who have influenced your personal sound?
Interesting question. I’d say Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.
What has been the best performance experience you’ve had?
The French Quarter Festival. It’s an outdoor festival and you get the chance to reach a broader audience than the club scene. The spirit of the city becomes so active; everyone is in a good mood and dancing in the streets. It’s a feeling of freedom!
Your first studio album aptly titled Anaïs St. John was released just last month. After more than a decade of live performances, what was the process of bringing this album together?
I just went out and got the best musicians I could find and I just took my time. I had already waited so long to put the album together, so I just wanted to take my time and make the best possible album that I could.
How has your hometown of New Orleans influenced you as a performer and songwriter?
New Orleans really is the epitome of jazz. You hear music in clubs, churches and everywhere else you go. And when I go out, for me, it’s always about live music. This city really in influenced me greatly.
If there were a quintessential album that described you as a person, what might it be?
Another interesting question. This is tough but I’ll say The Great American Songbook by Ella Fitzgerald.
You’re a very busy woman: full-time music teacher, full-time mom, performer, and recording artist. How do you find balance in your life?
You really have to find time and take advantage the breaks. The time to really take care of is so very rare.