Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dianne Reeves Talks Music and Her Upcoming Show At The Ford in Los Angeles

Diane Reeves / Getty
Diane Reeves / Getty

*Dianne Reeves.

That name says it all. It has long been associated with excellence and classic, good music.

Reeves, who has a rich, smoldering tone coupled with daring, melodic improvisations, is set to take the stage at The Ford on October 14, as the guest of pianist extraordinaire Billy Childs.

Reeves said when she performs with Childs, she’s performing with “family.”

I recently caught up with the Grammy Award-winning Reeves to talk about her career and her upcoming performance.

DD: You have a date coming up at The Ford with Billy Childs.  Talk about what it’s like to work with him and what the audience will hear.

DR:  I’m his guest. This is his show. We have been working together since the early 20s. He’s my brother.  I love performing with him. I will be performing his music and his arrangement. He wrote a wonderful piece that is soul-stirring. It’s powerful. We will surely do something from his brilliant ‘Enlightened Souls.’

I will do a couple of things that I’ve recorded with him. He is always so colorful with his approach to music. When we’re together, we are family. It’s magic.

DD: Is this work or is this fun?

DR: It shouldn’t be work. You put in the work to make sure fun can happen.

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Diane Reeves1 (Getty)
Diane Reeves (Getty)

DD: You’ve been in the business for a while now, what gets you excited now to perform live or record a new CD?

DR: The fact that I can. The fact that I want to, and the fact that I’m able. I love all of that. Every recording is different. Different people, different experiences. I love collaborating.

DD: Describe the dream you had for yourself in the beginning. What was the dream and did it manifest or are you still working toward it?

DR: All I knew was I wanted to sing. Didn’t know what to sing. I knew what I didn’t want to do. I started doing the things I wanted to do – that I didn’t even know was out there for me. There were things I didn’t imagine could be there for me. They were greater than my imagination.

DD: What didn’t you want to do?

DR: I didn’t want to be a singer in front of a band. I wanted to be part of the band. I wanted to be a co-creator. I wanted to change up. I did not want to do everything the same every night.

DD: How has the business of music changed since you started?

DR: I don’t even recognize it. I don’t know what this is. Young people are doing what record companies used to charge you for. They do it with their fingers, thumbs, and a phone. They can do many things. These are interesting times.  Record companies are no longer the power brokers they used to be.

DD:  Do you ever feel pressure to change your style to fit today’s music?

DR: I can only be me. I try not to chase after anything. I like to work with young people. It inspires me. I’m not changing my style.

DD:  Talk about today’s music.  What do you think about the music you’re hearing?

DR: There is so much out there. You can see how many slices of the pie exist. There are just so many people doing so many things. It’s very broad. It reminds me of when I came up and you just had jazz musicians being experimental. Motown was breaking barriers. Music was coming out of Philly. It was extraordinary. I sound like my mother asking, ‘What are you guys listening to?’

DD: Who do you listen to?  Who do you think has staying power?

DR:  In terms of staying power – Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jazzmeia Horne, and Jean Bailey, The Bailey Project are all making an impact.

DD: For anyone going into the music business today, what’s the best advice you would give them?

DR: It is a business. Learn as much as you possibly can. Be thoughtful in terms of the decision you make for yourself and what line you sign your name on. Make a well-informed decision.

DD:  Where do you go mentally when you’re on stage?

DR: I’ve been doing it a long time. I feel butterflies. I find the best thing is that two hours before the show when we break bread together and laugh and talk. It’s the perfect recipe to set up the show. We have to trust each other. That connection is important to me. We find a place we can relax and then we take it on the stage.

DD: When you’re not doing your music, what can we find you doing?  What else brings you joy?

DR: During the pandemic, I sewed a lot. I used to make all my clothes when I first started singing. I love to cook. My skills got better. I saw ‘High On The Hog,’ and invited friends over and cooked for them. I live in Colorado. It’s beautiful. I love the quiet of the mountains.  I love things that give you balance.

DD:  What do you want people to know about the upcoming show?

DR: I want the audience to know that this is my opportunity to be a part of “dearest dear of dears,” Billy Childs, and lend my heart to what he’s doing. That’s what we say to each other when we see each other. We say, ‘hello, my dearest dear of dears.’ I believe in his music. I’m always excited to be in the position where he’s the driver.

**Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble with special guest Dianne Reeves, 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, The Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E, Los Angeles, CA; 323 850-2000.

Darlene Donloe

Darlene Donloe is a seasoned entertainment and travel journalist whose work has appeared in People, Ebony, Essence, LA Stage Times, The Wave newspapers, LA Watts Times, Black Meetings and Tourism, This Stage, Los Angeles Sentinel, EMMY, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Grammy, BlackVoices.com and more. Contact her via [email protected]

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