In the liner notes to When I Look In Your Eyes, Jazz vocalist Amy London’s 2007 debut CD as a band leader, WBGO radio host and author Sheila Anderson cites London among an “elite group of female stylists, including Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone and Shirley Horn.”
High praise indeed for a singer whose voice has been described by acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch as “a beautiful and expressive vocal instrument.” Like Hersch, London has Cincinnati roots, so her upcoming appearance here will be a homecoming of sorts.
London was born in Cincinnati in 1957 and at the age of 7 declared her intention of becoming an entertainer after seeing a production of Fiddler on the Roof. London played piano as a teenager, learning the Laura Nyro songbook and finding inspiration from Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and her uncle Harry, who played organ for the Taft Theatre’s silent films.
London studied Jazz piano as a senior and took voice lessons from Milt Weiner, vocal coach for Rosemary Clooney and Doris Day who taught her the importance of phrasing and getting across a song’s story. After getting her BA in opera from Syracuse, London relocated to New York City and pursued her real passion, singing in Big Bands and musicals. Along her path, London sang in the Trinity Church choir on Wall Street, formed Jazz Babies with singers Judy Niemack and Alexandra Ivanoff and sang with Vocal Jazz Inc., a group that visited New York elementary schools.
She subsequently toured with trumpeter Tom Browne, sang back up for Charles Aznavour, did a three-year stint in an Afro-Cuban band and eventually landed a plum Broadway role in the Tony award-winning City of Angels. London took time off from her career after the birth of her two daughters — she was allegedly fired from her Rainbow Room gig for being pregnant — but with the release of When I Look In Your Eyes three years ago she began her return to the stage.
In addition to her singing career, London is also an adjunct professor for the vocal program (which she helped found) at New York’s New School and runs numerous clinics and workshops with her husband, guitarist Roni Ben-Hur.
Jazz talent doesn’t come much more diverse than Amy London’s.
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