Toni Gates is a versatile musician from Kansas City who has an all-encompassing voice that contains great power, range, agility and gracefulness.
"If it's good it doesn't need a label." - Toni Gates
This sums up the attitude and music of Kansas City native, Toni Gates.
Toni began her singing career in the comforts of her own home. Her
mom says she started singing along with popular TV jingles as a toddler.
The neighbors might remember what would have been otherwise quiet
summer evenings if Toni had not been swinging in the backyard
unabashedly wailing Like a Rhinestone Cowboy.
No one expected that small voice to become what it is today. Toni
recalls being fortunate to have a lot of different styles of music to listen
to when she was little, "What my folks didn't have in their classic Jazz,
Country, Soul & Blues collection, my teenage sister made up for in her
armory of Pop."
The list of influential artists includes Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin,
Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Billy Joel, Elton John, Ricki Lee Jones
and Stevie Wonder. "I was a sponge. I listened constantly and it was
not uncommon for me to rehearse three or four hours a day." Early on
her goal was to be a versatile singer.
Having far surpassed that initial goal, Toni has developed an all-
encompassing voice that contains great power, range, agility and
gracefulness. Toni's professional experiences include being a church
soloist, recording radio commercials, touring as lead vocalist with a big
band, singing in cabaret shows, fronting jazz combos and directing and
uniting with others in traditional choral and vocal jazz ensembles.
Ms. Gates added songwriting to her repertoire and produced her first CD
of nine originals, Outside the Lines, in 2003. Each song reminds me of
some place I have been or of someone I have known. The listener will
find nice surprises in Over and Over, which focuses on the battles a
loved one with drug addiction tackles; Look, written for her husband,
light-heartedly covers new love and how it keeps us slightly off kilter and
Good Things, speaks to everyone who struggles with depression and
reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
From there Toni started producing and showcasing herself and area
talent in her annual One by One concert series in 2004. Previously
featured artists include Teri Wilder, Monique Danielle and Fredrickson
Hill. In February 2008 Toni co-produced and released her second CD,
I'm Old Fashioned. The project features fresh takes on classic jazz
standards like: the Billy Strayhorn classic, "Lush Life;" "The Boy from
Ipanema" ("Garota de Ipanema") with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim
and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes with English lyrics written
later by Norman Gimbel; and the title track.
As an educator, she has worked with theory and vocal music students at
Paseo Academy for the Performing Arts, the 18th & Vine History and
Performing Arts Summer Academy, Missouri State University, The
University of Kansas, the Music Arts Institute and Penn Valley
Toni has had the great fortune to hone her musical skills and talents in
Kansas City and during visits to Florida, Chicago, the Caribbean and
London. Meeting individuals such as Nancy Wilson, Clark Terry,
Chris Burnett, Teri Wilder and Clarence Smith
have encouraged her to continue listening and growing to become an
even more versatile musician.
"I am so grateful for having music in my life; it sustains me and
constantly surprises me. I can not wait to see what is next." - Toni