Elaine Lucia – Biography
by Scott Yanow
Elaine Lucia has a beautiful, high and clear voice that is versatile, quite powerful and perfectly fits her swinging style. “My goal has always been to be as great a singer as I can and really master my instrument, to soak songs with emotion while singing in a simple and straightforward style. I don’t want to sound like anyone but myself.” One listen to any of Elaine’s three CDs shows that she has already accomplished that goal and is a memorable jazz singer.
She was raised in upstate New York, and was very impressed at the age of four when she saw Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” on Garland’s television show. “I remember thinking: ‘I want to do that!’” When she was 12, Elaine discovered Ella Fitzgerald and that was soon followed by Peggy Lee and Lorez Alexandria. “I like singers who are powerful, musically emotive, with clean, clear tones. I was as amazed by the quality of Ella’s voice as I was of her virtuosity.” Elaine performed her first solos in seventh grade with her school choir, started singing with her choir teacher’s jazz trio on weekends when she was 13, and taught herself guitar. “I simply wanted to be “a great singer”, so I begged my father for voice lessons and started studying opera when I was 15. The training helps me to this day, allowing me the vocal stamina to sing seven nights a week, if I had to, without tiring or harming my vocal instrument. The classical training also helped me win auditions and carried me through the many musical theater productions, rehearsals and shows I was in during my teen years.”
Elaine won a summer scholarship to attend the Chautauqua Institute for the Arts and, after graduating early from high school, received a theater scholarship to the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University). She soon switched her focus from theater back to music. Two years later, Elaine transferred to the Eastman School of Music on a vocal scholarship but, when the Reagan administration drastically cut back on college grants, she was unable to attend her fourth year of college. “I decided to take a year off from school and go to northern California. Within a month I was singing in a rock band and recording background vocals with a country group, and I never did get the money to go back to music school. I still dream about it!”
Since that time, Elaine Lucia has sung in a countless number of situations, performing all kinds of music. “I would sing anything, anytime, anywhere with anyone. I had no fear! I would beg to sit in at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, and the veteran musicians there were so generous; they taught me a lot about jazz performance. I learned early to only sing with the very best musicians, and that has been a very educational and joyful experience. It gave me the confidence to put together my own jazz combo, and musical shows, like my Peggy Lee tribute (2002) and our “Classical Jazz to Jazz Classics” repertoire. Ultimately, the great players I have with me now have given me the freedom to experiment with a pretty eclectic song list.”
In 2001, she recorded her debut jazz CD, “Elaine Lucia…Sings Jazz and Other Things.” “I felt that I had arrived at an important musical place, so I simply recorded songs that I loved. On my second CD, “A Sonny Day,” I followed a specific musical theme, and dedicated the project to my late father, Frank “Sonny” Lucia. The CD musically depicts a day of the life of my father, starting with ‘I Love the Sunrise’ and ending with ‘Final Remembrance.’ It is a very personal project.”
Elaine Lucia’s newest CD, “Let’s Live Again,” is a tribute to the vocal LPs that the George Shearing Quintet of the late 1950s/early ‘60s recorded with such singers as Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Dakota Staton and Nancy Wilson. “On “A Sunny Day,” I had the same instrumentation as the George Shearing Quintet – that beautiful combination of vibes and guitar with the piano, bass and drums. So we just carried that same quintet into the new project.”
“My trio ¬ with pianist Jonathan Alford, bassist Pierre Archain and drummer Alan Hall¬ has been playing and recording with me for over 20 years now. We added Gerry Grosz on vibes when we did “A Sonny Day;” Gerry really fits in very well with the band and wrote almost all of the arrangements on this new CD. And then I asked Randy Vincent to bring his wonderful, classic jazz guitar sound into the mix. The quintet was the perfect setting for me to record some rare songs like the title track ‘Let’s Live Again’ by Nancy Wilson, ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Azure-Te’ by Nat King Cole, and ‘In The Night’ and ‘I’d Love to Make Love To You’ by Dakota Staton.”
Elaine Lucia has appeared at nightclubs and festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno and Lake Tahoe areas for many years, gathering a solid following among fans and musicians alike. In 2010, her jazz sextet was chosen by Michael Bolton to be his opening act at the Lincoln Theater in Napa Valley, CA: “He was on “Dancing With the Stars” that night, and was flying to Napa from the taping of that show. He was pretty late getting to the venue, so we did a full-on 90 minute show. It was such a blast! And he was very charming and sweet when we met afterwards. And his show was amazing…what a singer he is!”
In 2013, Elaine will release her fourth studio CD, “Twist Run Road,” a compilation of all-original songs she has written over the past two years. “I’m so excited about recording my own music…it’s scary, but the next step in my musician journey. And I also look forward to performing in larger venues and traveling more with my songs, my band, my family. I really just want to sing as much as possible!”
Her growing number of fans look forward to hearing the very appealing Elaine Lucia singing many more times in the future, adding to her already impressive musical legacy.