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The “Go Between”: Lois Deloatch, June 17 at the River Music Experience PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Wednesday, 13 June 2007 02:40

Lois Leloatch The theme of Lois Deloatch's workshop on June 17 at the River Music Experience is "the singer as an interpreter of music," and the irony is that her first CD (1998's Sunrise) was a collection of her own songs.

But for the North Carolina-based jazz singer - who will also perform a concert that night as part of the Third Sunday Jazz Matinée & Workshop Series presented by Polyrhythms - the line between original work and interpretation is hazy.

She even mixes the two, as on a forthcoming tribute to Oscar Peterson on which Deloatch wrote lyrics for three of the pianist's tunes.

Whether singing her own songs or performing standards, Deloatch said that the goal is the same: expression.

"You bring to the music who you are, what you are, and how you feel about it," she said in an interview last week.

With standards, she said, "you know that tune well. ... But you are now putting it in your own personal context."

And that context can be a radical reinterpretation. "I've witnessed or heard musicians do some classic songs where you were well into the tune before you recognized what the tune was, which in a way was a good thing," Deloatch said. "They were sort of departing from that standard in a way that completely changed it. ... In that sense, it's not completely different from writing something original.

"I personally do love to hear things I have never heard before. It doesn't mean it has to be an original."

Deloatch said that by presenting music in surprising ways, a performer can get around an audience's biases and reach people. "Early on in my career, I rarely started a set of music that didn't end up being very bluesy," she said. "As I've matured as an artist, I've been able to temper that a little bit more ... . Sometimes I don't want the style to get in the way of the audience fully experiencing the possibilities of the song. ... I want to be able to explore it in different kinds of ways. ... Casting music in different genres can open it up."

That's one reason she includes some more-contemporary songs in her sets, such as Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - both done as jazz. She said that some audience members tell her, "I hadn't really thought about it in that way."

She said she likes to "go between" genres, as a way to show that "jazz is more of a feeling" than a style. "Sometimes when you attach a word to something, it automatically limits its possibilities," she said. "Sometimes it can be limiting when there's an assumption."

Deloatch began her music career 15 years ago and said she's been singing traditional African-American music all her life - spirituals, blues, and jazz. "They're not distinct among themselves, because ... it's really a continuum," she said.

She calls herself a "triple career person" - jazz singer, professional fundraiser for Duke University, and a "professional volunteer."

She plans to release the Peterson tribute, tentatively titled Reminiscing the Music of Oscar Peterson Trio, in late summer or early fall. "Oscar Peterson had what many called the definitive jazz trio ... in the '50s, early '60s," Deloatch said. "This recording paid homage to that music."

Although she's released her previous four albums on her own label - "I want to maintain the independence and freedom that that allowed me," she said - she's shopping this record around to national and international labels. "I do want it to get as much exposure as possible."

She admitted that writing lyrics to a legend's music was daunting. "You want to honor their work in way that you hope they will be pleased with," she said.

And although she didn't ask for Peterson's feedback on the lyrics before she recorded, she said she wants to make sure he hears the new words before the CD is released. "I hope he will approve of it," she said.


Lois Deloatch will conduct an all-ages workshop at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, at the River Music Experience. Admission is $3. A performance (also at the River Music Experience) will follow from 6 to 8 p.m., and tickets are $10.


For more information on Lois Deloatch, visit (

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