The Admiral plays host to living legend
April 30, 2008 · 3:07 PM
Though she’s not always immediately recognized by name, almost everything about Tacoma-born singer Diane Schuur is legendary.
Over the course of her decades-long career, the vocal jazz juggernaut, also known as Deedles, has released more than 20 albums, headlined prestigious venues across the world and toured and recorded with some of the greatest names in jazz: Stan Getz, B.B. King, Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillepsie, just to name a few.
At her next headlining gig, this Saturday at the Admiral Theatre, she’ll be joined by the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra for a few songs.
Ticket proceeds both the Admiral and the BSO, but the audience, on the other hand, will benefit aesthetically from the illustrious chords of Deedles’ famed three-and-a-half octave vocal range.
“Come and experience jazz like never before,” the Admiral Theatre’s press release read.
Even though the grammy-winning singer wasn’t able to be reached for an in-depth interview at press time (she’s out of the country, touring in Tokyo and Korea) her story is still one quite worth telling.
Blind since birth, Schuur’s got the air of Ray Charles (incidentally another of the jazz greats with whom she’s shared the stage) seated at the piano with her shades and a smile on, keys jangling and vocals emanating something intoxicating.
But she’s got a style all her own.
Schuur was born in 1953 in Tacoma and grew up in Auburn in a musically supportive household where she got the nickname Deedles.
Her pops, a local policeman, was also a piano player, while he and her mother kept a formidable collection of Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington on hand throughout Deedles’ childhood.
In that environment, she started singing at a very young age. She learned to sing Dinah Washington’s signature song “What a Difference a Day Makes” as a toddler and had her first professional gig at age 10.
A recorded song from that first Deedles performance is the final track to her newest album “Some Other Time,” released in Feburary this year, an ode to her mother and the jazz that served as a sort of soundtrack to her childhood.
Schuur kept singing through her childhood, writing songs and wowing audiences into her teens at the Washington State School for the Blind.
Then in 1979, when she was in her mid-20s, she was singing a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the Monterey Jazz Festival in California and she caught the ear of the famous Stan Getz. He liked what he heard so much that he invited Deedles to join him for a presidential performance at the White House a few years later.
At that gig, she caught the ear of Nancy Reagan who asked her back to the White House to perform with Count Basie’s Orchestra a few years after that.
Schuur seems to have had a knack for catching the attention of illustrious ears throughout her career.
In the mid-80s touring Asia in support of her debut album “Deedles,” she met and caught the attention of the legendary blues guitarist B.B. King, which led to the two recording an album together called “Heart to Heart” 10 years later which reached the top of the Billboard charts.
That was just one of 12 of Schuur’s albums which made Billboard’s Top Ten Jazz albums.
Adding to her prestige, she took home two Grammy Awards in the mid-80s, one for the album “Timeless” in 1986 and another for “Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra” the following year.
Over the years she’s been nominated for a total of five Grammies both for jazz and traditional pop performance.
With a Best Of collection, two live albums, a host of solo and collaborative recordings and a world of touring under her belt as she enters her mid-50s, Schuur isn’t showing too many signs of slowing down. She’s got live shows slated in Bremerton, Dayton, Ohio and Los Angeles in May alone.
Still, you might not want to miss the chance to see this legend live.
Info: www.admiraltheatre.org or call the box office at (360) 373-6743. For more on Schuur: Check out www.dianeschuur.com.