jane-monheit color.ext.jpg

Jane Monheit: Smooth As Silk

Not quite 30, Jane Monheit is considered to be The Next Big Thing in the world of jazz. This champagne chanteuse can be sultry, sweet or swinging at the drop of a note. Her voice is as gorgeous as she is and understandably, her fans circle the globe. This month she’ll be in Texas performing old favorites, as well as tunes from her new album, Surrender. Here, in an exclusive to us, she reveals her love of classic songs,Brazil, and her very fashionable point of view toward clothing.

Lance Avery Morgan: Jane, you started singing really young, yet your voice is so mature. Why did you pursue jazz so early?

Jane Monheit: I started singing before I started talking. Plus. I grew up hearing the standards and I love performing and really, all kinds of music, yet jazz is always a focus.

LAM: Which female jazz artists have influenced you most in your career?

JML Ella Fitzgerald was a big influence. And there have been other greats: Sarah Vaughn, Keeley Smith and Carmen McRae, to name a few.

LAM: What are your thoughts on your contemporaries like Diana Krall and Diane Shurr? All of you are so different.

JM: I don’t know them, yet I have the greatest appreciation for them. They paved the way for contemporary female jazz artists…not only for me, but other young vocalists. I’m immensely grateful that they laid the ground work for us.

jane_monheit performing .jpg

LAM: Tell me about your latest album, Surrender. It may be your best one yet.

JM: Thank you and it’s definitely my favorite record that I’ve recorded so far. It’s the perfect sort of a snapshot for where band is now. I sing songs that I love on it, which made it almost perfect to me.

LAM: You’ve done some Brazilian tunes, too. Very sexy stuff. Tell me about your love of that country.

JM: I love everything about Brazil. The music, the people. Everything. And, I think a lot of jazz musicians here inManhattan would agree with me that that music scene is great. Most of us are influenced by it. Sergio Mendez performed on my latest album. He’s a legend.

LAM: You sang a duet with cool crooner Michael Buble’, I Won’t Dance, something that Astaire and Rogers did decades ago. Was that fun?

JM: You know, it was, and it takes a special chemistry between the performers to create a successful duet. Like that one, anyway. You have to want to sing together. Michael and I were a good match on that.

LAM: How about old school artists – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the rest of the gang then… would that have been fun for you to sing with them?

JM: Are you kidding? I would have gotten up on stage with the whole darned Rat Pack, cracking jokes, drinking scotch and doing my best to keep up with them.

LAM: One of your trademark songs has been Over the Rainbow, which is very moving. Not a dry eye in the house after you sing it. What does that song mean to you?

JM: It was the first song I ever learned. Honestly, its meaning changes every time I sing it. Sometimes it’s the most hopeful tune and I’ll sing it to a little kid in the audience. And, sometimes it can be dark. Like Judy Garland was sometimes with it, too.

LAM: Since this is our Fall Fashion issue, tell me about your personal style on stage – it’s beautiful. Does that help you create your persona to sing those great standards?

JM: I love clothes and I always need to feel like I am looking good when I get out there to perform. I used to be wear more gowns. Now, I’ve gotten a little more loose with my clothes – they’re funkier and younger.

LAM: Which designers do you favor these days?

JM: It never fails that I find something at BCBG. They are affordable and well made. I buy clothes constantly since I am photographed more now. Another designer that is simple and elegant – I wore them when I sang at Memorial Day concert in Washington, D.C. – is Badgley

Mischka. They do beautiful cocktail dresses under $1000. I also wear a lot of Carmen Marc Valvo to events. But I don’t have to have the designer label.

LAM: What’s next for the very stylish Jane Monheit? Are there new music genres you want to explore, classic songs you’ve not recorded that you want to?

JM: I’m very excited about the future. I’m making another record soon. There are so many things I want to do with that with big orchestral charts with show tunes. Maybe I will work with an ultra swing big band and do theatre tunes again.