Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with musician Kate Paradise.
Q: So are you splitting your time between Nashville and Urbana?
A: I'm here most of the time. I only go back to Nashville twice a month and will move back in July or early August. But I'll be coming back to do preliminaries and the test for the doctoral of musical arts degree and to finish my paper.
Q: When did you first start singing seriously?
A: I sang all through school, and I went to college to study music. I started getting really interested in jazz in high school because our big-band teacher took an interest in my singing and gave me an Ella Fitzgerald CD. He let me sing with the big band. Before that, I was into the whole Lilith Fair and singer-songwriter thing.
Q: What made you focus on being a jazz singer?
A: I think it's the combination of the creative side and the intellectual side of jazz. It's one of those art forms you can study and study and still learn something new.
Q: What I really appreciate about your singing is how passionate you are about it, how you seem to really enjoy it.
A: Thank you. I've usually been more of an introvert, especially because a lot of jazz is background music. So you learn not to acknowledge the audience. It's been only in the last two years that I feel comfortable on stage and with not staying in the background and with just letting myself be myself.
Q: How often do you perform in Nashville?
A: When I'm living in Nashville, I do a weekly Sunday jazz brunch at Boscos Restaurant and Brewing Co. And I'll do private parties and events. I mostly spend all my time teaching.
Q: What's the jazz scene like in Nashville?
A: It's actually quite good. People don't associate Nashville with jazz. But there's a growing jazz community. There's a wonderful symphony orchestra and lots of great classical musicians, too, and lots of creative musicians. One thing you might want to look up is the Nashville Jazz Workshop. They teach classes and also bring in performers. It's a really cool spot. Downbeat magazine voted them a great jazz venue.
Q: Haven't you won some Downbeat awards?
A: Yes, when I was at the University of Miami, I won a soloist award and several awards with the jazz choir. And my group, Jazzmin, that I teach at Belmont University has won several awards as well.
Q: Are you still a full-time instructor at Belmont?
A: I'm not teaching this year. They gave me a study leave. I'm still considered a full-time faculty member.
Q: Why do you want a DMA?
A: Higher education, teaching music in college, is really what I want to do. In order to do that, having a doctorate is really important, and Belmont was willing to support me.
Q: What about your performance career? Do you want to continue that?
A: Yes, absolutely. I'll work on my second CD and travel more and perform. Right now, I'm so focused on the school thing.
Q: What kind of repertoire do you sing? Do you write your own songs?
A: I don't write my own music, but I do arrange. I've taken a class with Chip McNeill to learn big-band arrangements, and I arrange for jazz vocal choir and do my own arrangements for my CDs and performances. I sing mostly standards — the Great American Songbook is the blanket term. It's usually what most people want to hear and it's the easiest to perform because other musicians know the songs. For my recital, I hope to do different, more intricate songs; Chip has been encouraging me to explore different songs, especially instrumental.
Editor's note: Paradise will sing from 5 to 7 p.m. April 12 and possibly every second Friday through June at The Iron Post, 120 S. Race St., U. Her second DMA recital is tentatively set for April 29 at the Post.