Miss Justine: The Many Moods of a Philly Jazz Treasure
MJ: You know, I've done religious music, but not Gospel. My voice isn't a gospel-y voice. I love it, but I just don't have that voice. I've done faith-based music like "One God. But not gospel I don't have the right sound. You do what you feel you do the best. I grew up in an A.M.E. church. The music there is not gospel. It's more "anthem-y in that sense.
AAJ: What do you do when you're not working? How do you relax and enjoy yourself?
MJ: Well, when I go out, I love to go to good restaurants- especially seafood. And I go to hear some good music, go to a good show. I like to read. I can curl up in a chair, put on my CDs, and just read. I like biographies of people I've admired especially. And I like mysteries. One of my favorite authors is Walter Moseley, The Devil in the Blue Dress. And I also like Mary Higgins Clark. Sidney Sheldon. As a kid, there was Langston Hughes. But then I was a partner in a book store, called My Solitude, where we sold African American literature. I found out about J. California Cooper, Maya Angelou, Tony Morrison. I read a lot of those things.
AAJ: What's coming up for you musically?
MJ: I'm doing my Friday nights at La Collina in Belmont Hills with Tom Lawton, 7:30- 11:30. And every other Thursday with Tom at L-2 in Philly. Then I do my concerts in the homes of jazz fans. The hosts and I send out invitations for a limited number of folks. The next one is going to be in September in Villanova. I also have a jazz picnic every year. Coming up soon. All the musicians are there: Bootsie Barnes, Tom Lawton, Tony Williams, to name a few.
AAJ: Sounds marvelous. A feast of sounds. Well, it's as if we're just getting started, but I see that time's up. This has been a great interview, Justine. Thank you so much for speaking with me.
MJ: Thanks, Vic.
Photos courtesy of Kathy Ridl, Dreambox Media.