Take Five With Erin Dickins

Erin Dickins By

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Meet Erin Dickins:

I am a jazz singer and a founding member of the The Manhattan Transfer. I have performed and recorded with everyone from Jaco Pastorius and The Talking Heads to Leonard Cohen and Dr. John. After taking a hiatus, I have returned to jazz with a new solo CD, Nice Girls. I am passionate about the power music has to to change lives, and have devoted many years to bringing the performing arts, especially music, to kids through summer programs in my area. For me, it's all about the joy!



Teachers and/or influences?

My voice teachers have been Anne Countryman, Myron Earnheart and David Sorin Collyer.

I have been influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Julie London, as well by Sting, Eartha Kitt and Helen Humes. I learned much of what I know from listening to Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. And Randy Newman's writing knocks me out.

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

Man, I was into this hook, line and sinker at about age 10 when my father bought me my first guitar. I would sit for hours on end singing and playing. I had groups in high school and college, and knew it was for real when I moved to New York to start the Manhattan Transfer. I was over the moon singing those harmonies and learning about so many brilliant styles of vocal jazz.

Your sound and approach to music:

First and foremost I care about the story and the heart. I am moved by great melody and lyrics. When a lyric is powerful it completely takes me over. There are so very many great and talented singers, with chops beyond belief, who cannot deliver a lyric. For me, that's all that matters. Connecting on a deep level with the story to be told and really bringing that story to life for my listeners— and the shared experience is truly a gift.

My sound? Silky, a little funky, and swingin' hard! I love to dig into a groove. What a turn-on!

Your dream band:

My dream band is comprised of great players who listen as well as they speak. I have had the good fortune to play with many wonderful cats, famous and not. Gotta have a good trio, a few horns, a couple of singers, and maybe even an accordion! My favorite pianist in the world to sing to is Rob Mounsey. On bass, I could name many, but Francois Moutin is indescribably delicious...talk about swinging! I'm also crazy about Tim Leahey, from DC, on trumpet.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I really got off on doing backgrounds for the Talking Heads' Little Creatures. They are so creative and interesting as a band. Really loved every minute of working with Leonard Cohen. I love best my new release, Nice Girls, as it is the first thing I've ever done that is all mine.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

King Pleasure, Moody's Mood for Love (with vocals by LH & R)

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Passion. And joy. I believe that music is transformational and can literally heal our planet. A big part of my job is to share the great joy that music has brought into my life, and in doing so I hope that I can help lift hearts and minds.

CDs you are listening to now:

Pink Martini, Hey Eugene;

Sting, Symphonicities;

Coralie Clement, Toystore;

Amos Lee, Mission Bell;

Ella Fitzgerald, The Intimate Ella.

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

Chef or an actor.

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