Jazz vocalist and keyboardist Cheryl Hodge, 58, was born in California and raised mostly in Oroville. She also lived in Europe and Canada before she attended, graduated from, and taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
She's one of the guest performers at a "Jazz Ladies" concert presented by Bob Storms at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall Rotunda Room, 121 Prospect St.
Bob told me he's thrilled about the concert, the sixth "jazz celebration" he has presented, because the theme is in conjunction with International Women's Day - yes, it's March 8 this year.
(Note on Bob: He has performed in Whatcom County for 50 years and is celebrating the achievement of his lifetime goal of entering 500 of his original songs into copyright, which he's worked on since high school and accomplished in 2008. He has now exceeded his goal. In December, he raised that number to 800.)
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The concert also features the Honeybees, vocalist Kim Bowman, saxophonist Cheryl Clark and pianist Becky Billock. The concert will feature a mix of jazz styles, including ragtime, Dixieland, ballad, Latin and swing. For more about Cheryl, who lives in Bellingham, go to cherylhodge.com.
Question: Cheryl, when did you realize that music was something you wanted to pursue seriously?
Answer: My mother tells me I started singing before I could talk. I taught myself piano starting at age 3 1/2. At Oroville high school I was dubbed "the Torch Singer."
After graduation I sang with California rock band Pride and Joy in the San Francisco area. I toured Europe at 19 and 20; mostly busking, concerts and clubs. I attended Berklee and became the house singer at the infamous (now defunct) 1369 Jazz Club in Boston.
Q: What has been your job path?
A: I taught college at Berklee and Selkirk College in Nelson, B.C., for 29 years. Some of my highlights so far include several song nominations, being the featured artist spot on George Noory's show "Coast to Coast a.m." magazine interviews in New York; the Top Ten artist for Latin Beat Magazine in New Jersey, a Grindie Award, and, most recently, receiving the award for Best Jazz Song 2013 at the Hollywood Music In Media awards. It was so much fun walking the red carpet and "rubbing elbows!"
Q: What are some of your current interests?
A: I love playing wineries and vineyards. I'm semi-retired, so that just figures, right? I also play lots of concerts and do some private teaching in Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C. (I'm a dual citizen).
Q: What is the concert March 8 all about?
A: Ferndale saxophonist and composer Bob Storms' concert is part of a lifelong project Bob has had with his songwriting in the jazz idiom. Most of the concert will feature his songs, with several female performers being featured as players and singers.
It is a joint project relating to his work; and "women in jazz," with the celebration of International Women's Day. It's gonna be lots of fun!
Bob is a living legend with the jazzers in Bellingham. I've got the coveted last spot of the evening as the featured performer.
Q: You are also involved with the Tree People organization (treepeople.org). What's that?
A: Tree People is about the endangered Awa tribe (as well as five others in the Amazon). These people are being forced out of their homes because of massive logging of the rainforest. Most people do not even know this is happening! It's tragic.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I should probably slow down, now - but of course that wouldn't be my way. I've got a new CD that should be done in June (look for a Bellingham release date). I'll continue to do tons of concerts, and have lots of fun with my audiences; rippin' it up together, and providing lots of laughs and pathos, too, in the field of jazz and blues!
There will be some touring; more on that later. I've got a possible tour to the East Coast in July or August that I'm working out right now.