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Take Five With April Hall

AAJ Staff BY

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April Hall Meet April Hall:

April Hall, a Florida native, has roots steeped in southern tradition, music and culture. Her deep roots in southern gospel and blues combine with urban soulfulness and sophistication, to create music that's pure, gutsy, and unmistakably authentic.

In 1993 April graduated from the Berklee College of Music, where she received the prestigious Louis Armstrong Performance Award. She has done projects for Atlantic Records under the direction of Arif Mardin and for the likes of Bette Midler and Chaka Khan, and appeared onstage with artists including Al Jarreau, Rosemary Clooney and Dinah Shore. She continues to create new music and perform throughout the US and Europe with her latest release of classic jazz standards, Fun Out of Life.


Voice and guitar.

Teachers and/or influences?

I had a great voice teacher in College, Sharon Brown. She was a classical lady and took no jive! She was perfect. Technique, technique, technique... you can be "arty" later! I learned a great deal about the vocal instrument from her that has served me so well over the years.

The other great influences, I'd have to say is George Jones, he could break your heart in one phrase or less! Love that Mr. Jones. Of course there are too many influences to name, but some of my very favorites are Joe Williams, Nat King Cole and Mr. Louis Armstrong.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

Well...I didn't know that "professional musicians" existed until my senior year in high school. I grew up in the southern church where everyone sang, played and did their part. So it didn't seem too unusual that I could sing. All my cousins and family members did too! I was always told that if you were given gifts, it was your duty to share them.

But as I entered my last year of High School and started really gigging for the first time and making money, it dawned on me, hmm, this could be my job. From that moment on, I was focused on doing just that, becoming a working musician. It's been a fantastic journey.

Your sound and approach to music: Well, I'm often asked this question, and my answer is always the same, I try to have a good time, singing good music with good musicians.

Music should be fun, beautiful and alive. That's what I try to do each and every time I perform, whether it's 2 or 2,000. The person in front of me should feel like they've just heard and seen something special and it was just for them. Of course that doesn't mean I won't try and break your heart here and there with a soul wrenching ballad, or enjoy a good joke in a clever up-tempo tune, but all-in-all I wanna have a good time.

Your teaching approach: I try and instil in my students the art of being themselves. There are millions of musicians—great musicians—and you can be one of them if you work hard, but there is only one you. That's what people want. Sing what you understand and what you connect with; and continue to take chances, which will allow you to grow. Make a mistake and learn from it. Be better each time...

Your dream band:

My dream band, well I'd have to say that I'm living that dream.
Luckily for me, I work with some of the most beautiful players around anywhere.

There are lots of great players I would love to hang out and play with, but that is something that is always evolving.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Geez, is this PG? These stories are for the strong of heart only, and best told in dark rooms over cocktails!

Favorite venue:

I love the Hatchshell in Boston, great energy! The Hershey Theater (Pennsylvania) is very luxurious and you're always treated with respect.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? The latest project, Fun Out of Life, I'd have to say is my current favorite.

There's a big spectrum of emotion and tune styles that is fun for a vocalist. I get to scream and shout on the blues, and whisper on the duet, "You Must Believe in Spring." The whole project allowed for a lot of vocal and musical freedom.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

The King Cole Trio (Capitol, 1944).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I'd have to say that I'm contributing me. Unfiltered and true. I'm trying to make each song special. Sometimes that's by singing and sometimes that's created by laying out and creating something unique in another way. I'm not pretending, there's only one time around.

Did you know...

I can shoot a gator, clean and cook it! Does that count?

CDs you are listening to now:

Leo Parker, 1947-1950;

Amalia Rodrigues, The First Recordings;

Getz Gilberto;

Lefty Frizzel, Look What Thoughts Will Do;

Joe Williams, Dave Pell's Prez Conference;

Tony Bennett/Bill Evans, Together Again.

Desert Island picks:

I don't intend to get stuck on a desert without a fully loaded iPod and solar charge panel!

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I think there is only one answer to this.... People need to continue to support live music by going to concerts and by purchasing there favorite artists' records.

What is in the near future? I'm currently writing new arrangements for a new jazz album which I'll start recording over the summer. I'll also being touring the Northeast this fall [2009] and touring Europe next spring [2010]. There is also a South-Eastern state tour planned for the winter of 2009.

By Day:


If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Horse Trainer.

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