If you’re a fan of the Cultural Council’s music program (and why wouldn’t you be?), then you’ve no doubt heard the dulcet tones of jazz vocalist Yvette Norwood-Tiger. She, along with her jazz ensemble, will join the Council once again for the inaugural Virtual Summer Performing Arts Series concert on June 20, 2020. Ahead of her summer performance in 2019, we asked a few questions from the Council’s resident chanteuse!
Can you tell us about your background and career as a musician?
Yvette Norwood-Tiger (YNT): I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the home of Motown, and both my mother and father were musicians. My mother played drums and my father played the guitar in church. I have five older sisters who all sang in the church choir but, due to my shyness, I never sang in church while I was growing up. Although I have loved to sing since I can remember, my shyness kept me from singing in public until much later. After much encouragement from my husband Stephen Tiger and my musician friends, I finally got the courage to sing publicly at jazz jam sessions at a local art gallery (El Lobo Negro) in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It’s been nearly 14 years since my first professional gig as a jazz vocalist which was at that gallery in 2005. I now perform internationally, in Europe and South Africa, here in South Florida, Michigan and New York. In addition to singing, I also produce jazz events including the Palm Beach International Jazz Festival, which I founded in 2018, and I collaborate with the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County on their Summer Jazz Series.
Give us a description of your performance process: from choosing the set list, rehearsing, on to the final performance.
YNT: First, I determine the theme and title of the show as well as what sub-genres of jazz I would like to perform: Great American Song Book, bebop, Latin, etc. I then contact and confirm the musicians who will accompany me. I create a set list which includes (for each song) the song title, key, composer, tempo and arrangement. I then send the set list to the musicians and I designate a music director who will ensure that the charts are made available to each musician. If the event includes songs that the musicians and I have not yet performed together, I will rehearse with the music director, at least. The entire band will rehearse after the sound check before the event starts.
Who are some of your musical influences (dead or alive)?
YNT: I am often compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and I would say that they have influenced me with their presentation, as well as their vocal quality. I love the childlike innocence in Ella’s voice and I love the emotional but tender depth of Billie’s voice.
What’s next for you and your career?
YNT: Before 2012, singing was basically a hobby for me. I performed predominantly at small venues where live music was secondary (i.e. restaurants, bars). In the fall of 2012, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and because of the size and location I had surgery and radiation treatment. After surgery and treatment, my doctors told me that they could not remove the entire tumor because of its location and they told me to get my affairs in order because at any second I could die. I went through a horrible recovery from this experience, where I can only credit God for getting me through it. So now, performing has become my profession/mission and is no longer just a hobby. I now perform in concert settings all over the world with a mission to inspire and uplift the audience with my singing and my music. I will also continue to produce jazz events like the Palm Beach International Jazz Festival.
You’ve been a longtime member and partner of the Cultural Council and its music program. Can you talk about why you support the Cultural Council, year after year?
YNT: It’s a great experience to be a member of the Cultural Council, going on four years now! I appreciate that the Cultural Council supports local artists and musicians. Their staff, including Marlon Foster (Musician Services Manager), has been very supportive of me in my music endeavors. They are truly a great team to work with!
Anything else you’d like to communicate to the Cultural Council, its members or other artists/musicians in the community?
YNT: I would just like to offer many thanks to the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County for being a pillar of support to the community and to local artists including myself through the presentation of art through concerts, lectures, exhibits, workshops and more. I strongly encourage other local artists and non-artists who are not members to get involved with the Council and become members to help ensure that our community is supported through the arts.