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The Soul of Jazz: Stories and Inspiration from Those Who Followed the Song in Their Souls

Trish Richardson By

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For me, one of the most enjoyable parts is playing for people who have never seen my band, or seen me on stage, and trying to win them over. I love the fact that there are some strong women out there changing people's minds and holding up the torch, saying, "Hey, this is a new millennium; women can do anything."

Was there anyone who said that you wouldn't be able to make it in the music business? What was your response to him or her?

Sure, of course. I remember the mother of one of my friends in high school said, "This isn't a real possibility. Girls don't go out and become musicians for a living. So you really need to sit down and come up with something that is more acceptable."

I looked at her and said, "I don't want to do anything else. I've done it up to this point, and it's been fine. I just think I kind of have to make my own."

She said, "Well, it's just not done."

So I didn't try to tell her she was wrong. I understood that it was something that she just didn't think was acceptable for a young woman to do. But sometimes you've got to break the rules and do things your own way. I just kind of went out there and tried.

Many people along the way said, "Oh, that's impossible! You can't move to L.A.—that's such a huge town. What will you do, when you don't know anyone?"

I thought, "Well, you know, I'll figure it out." So, with all the "No's," I just figured I would find a way to prove them wrong. Maybe that's all you need: someone that you want to prove wrong. You can't do it! Yeah, watch me! Anyone who said I couldn't, I just thought, "Well, we'll see. I'm going to go out there and give it my best shot." This is what fuels me; this is what gets me up in the morning; this is what I look forward to. If there's any chance at making a living with something that you look forward to and something that inspires you, you should give it every chance, I think.

My mom went to an office every day to work, and she told me, "I hope you don't become like me. I hope you go out and go after your dreams. I go to a job that I don't love, every day. But I have to. And that's fine; I understand that's what life is. But I want you to be able to go after your dream." That was something I was able to do because they were supportive of my doing that. Again, I think you go after what you love. If it doesn't work, okay, fine. But at least you have to go for it. I'm definitely fueled by people telling me I can't do something.

In 2010, I was elected as a governor for the Los Angeles chapter of The Recording Academy. They asked me in an interview what my secret to success was, and I responded that a lot of people had told me, "You can't." That just makes me want to do whatever it is even more.

Were there times when you thought that you might not make it as a professional musician?

I've always believed in myself. I had really supportive parents growing up, and I have great friends and family around me now. I believed my teachers and family when I was a kid and they told me, "You can do anything you put your mind to."

Life doesn't always take the path you think it'll take, but if you keep working toward what you want and doing what's in your heart, you'll have a pretty interesting journey, if nothing else.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires or motivates you?

I have a cocktail napkin from a party that I stuffed in my pocket, and I have had it on my desk for a few years. It has this girl on it in this crazy outfit from the turn of the century. It says, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." It's a quote from Oscar Wilde. Those are good words to live by.

That's always been a theme in my music. I have an album called Come as You Are (GRP Records, 1994), and my first album was named It Just Happens That Way (Verve, 2003), which is a piece of a quote from a Julian "Cannonball" Adderley In New York: Live (OJC, 1962) record that he did. He was basically saying he wanted to record a live album in front of a real jazz audience, an audience that "got it." Some people try to pretend like they are hip, and they want to go and see jazz and feel like they're cool. But you can't make coolness happen; it just happens that way. You either are cool, or you aren't.


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