Tucked away behind two strong, exquisite, yet welcoming mahogany doors on Fulton Street, in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is a place called Jazzy Mondays. This cultural hideout, owned by the late educator and community activist Jitu Weusi and his wife Angela is a gathering place for Jazz lovers. It was in this unassuming space that the renowned Jazz Artist Cynthia Joyce Holiday and Friends performed before a packed, appreciative house on Monday night.
In this cozy atmosphere, Ms. Holiday used her melodious voice and belted out some authentic Jazz tunes to the delight of her fans. Her musicians were Rodman Swartz on Organ, Anthony Atkinson on Drums and Anthony Ware on Saxophone. There is no pretense in this Artist. She is beautiful, humble and secure in her skin, having been raised in a household of musicians. Her eyes glitter with pride as she tells of her father who was a trumpet player and leader of his own band named Calvin Hughes & His Swing Jets in their home town of Newark, New Jersey. Her mother, just as talented, has a background in Gospel music which she perfected while singing in church and performing at weddings.
Ms. Holiday started out as a dancer with the Garden State Ballet and the Morse Modern Dance Company. After graduating from college she worked with a major corporation as she continued singing on the side and taking voice lessons. She somehow knew that her destiny was in music and one day abruptly quit the corporate job to pursue her passion. She wanted to be a singer and do what made her happy. Her dad took her to a trainer whom he trusted and her journey to stardom began in 1990. While growing up with her mother, she recalls listening to Artists such as Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and musicians such as Count Bassey, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. She drew strength from these artists’s musical talent while emulated their style and launched her career as a Rhythm and Blues singer. She attributes her interest in Music not only to her upbringing but also the ability to hear great Jazz music on the Radio as a child, and believes that for the sustainability of Jazz, the music industry must play a part and bring it to the youths. She believes that students are losing out in schools because Music is just as important as Reading and Writing, since it instills discipline, an art she learned from her father’s daily routines, which were required, because of his dedication to music.
Cynthia Holiday has had the privilege of entertaining audience throughout the United States and Overseas. She has performed in Russia twice and was greeted warmly by her fans there, in spite of the language barrier. She is looking forward to her November appearance in Osaka, Japan with T.S. Monk and Helen Sung. Ms. Holiday brought a breath of fresh air to Jazzy Monday. It was a perfect setting in which to enjoy her powerful voice. The African Artifacts and outdoor/indoor setting enhanced the flavor of the notes and words, as they danced across the room and found rescue in the ear to tingle the heart. Ms. Holiday is smooth. Her latest CD is titled “I like It Like That” and all the fans agreed that they like it like that.