The Dazzling, the Beautiful, the Eloquent Rose Bilal
Her voice is beautiful in its simplicity and clarity, The Diva can croon a ballad and articulate in a unique way. If you don’t know Rose Bilal this is an excellent place to start your familiarization .
JAZZREVIEW: When did your interest in music begin?
ROSE BILAL: Music has always been in my life. My parents played the music of all the big bands on the radio and I’d use my make believe microphone to imitate the singers I heard.
JAZZREVIEW: What vocalists, jazz or otherwise influence your growing up?
ROSE BILAL: There were so many of them I stop counting. There was Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Cleo Lane, Earnestine Anderson, Ella, Sarah, etc. Whenever I try picking a favorite I’m always blown away by the next captivating voice.
JAZZREVIEW: In your opinion, what is the most difficult challenge that musicians face today?
ROSE BILAL: I think the challenge for us is to keep on believing that people still appreciate- and will pay-to hear live music. Technology has made it harder for musicians to practice their craft and making it even more difficult is a slowed economy, but venues do exist where the healing effects of live music is still in demand. If we can’t find them, let’s create them!
JAZZREVIEW: What makes you want to sing jazz?
ROSE BILAL: That’s a good question because jazz wasn’t the music that held my attention. I loved Rhythm and Blues, it wasn’t until I heard a beautiful love ballad, I don’t remember the title being sung by jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and listening to the depth of her voice how she clearly pronounced every word of the song that I believed inspired me to want to touch others in that way.
JAZZREVIEW: What are your thoughts on vocal improvisation?
ROSE BILAL: As a vocalist I try to stick with songs I feel fits my style of singing. I haven’t had the privilege of being formally trained in voice, and I’m not very strong with scat-ting so mostly I sing songs that speaks to things people identify with in everyday life, or songs that have touched me in a certain way.
JAZZREVIEW: What was it like singing with the Super groups Such as the O’jays, the Delphonics, Wilson Pickett, Chubby Checker, and Gladys Knight and the Pips?
ROSE BILAL: First, let me say I didn’t actually sing with any of those groups, but was the opening act for them as well as other well known entertainers of the 1960’s. The group I sang with was called Philadelphia, and we were managed by George Woods. He was a popular radio personality back then who had booking connections to five star night clubs from New York to California. It was an unforgettable experience for me and a pleasure to have met and shared the stage with such huge personalities.
JAZZREVIEW: Finish this sentence when I am not singing you can find me
ROSE BILAL: Working on the next event for my non-for-profit organization Jazztorian, Inc. Such as Women of Jazz III, coming to The Palladium theatre on Saturday, March 20, 2010 or in my studio painting or sculpting.
Then there’s acting in one play or another, or working on my second book and then I get to have a day to rest.
JAZZREVIEW: What advice would you give a new vocalist coming into the music industry?
ROSE BILAL: I strive hard to be on time to gigs, have knowledge of what’s expected from a performance and being prepared by knowing the songs I want to sing and the keys I sing them in. That always saves time for the musicians and will also aid in developing a respectful relationship between me and them assuring a fun-filled night and a successful show.
JAZZREVIEW: Your surety of tone and intimate style of delivery is exceptional and inviting... What do you base it on?
ROSE BILAL: I’m not sure, I think it comes from listening to all the great legends and trying to understand what they’re conveying in the way they’re feeling the music because I want to bring those same feelings to my music.
JAZZREVIEW: Has it been a struggle in your opinion for many women in jazz? Have you ever felt as if you should have chosen another career?
ROSE BILAL: I think women have always had to struggle in any profession dominated by men, but in most cases talent won out and a way was made. The struggle for equality and sign of the times for women who sang back in 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s - especially African American women no doubt made it much more difficult for a woman to be taken seriously as a singer.
I never wanted to sing and wouldn’t have chosen singing as a profession because of the deep fear I had of being out in front of people, but when my mother discovered I could hold a tune she immediately put me in the church choir: The rest is history!
And now I wouldn’t change a thing.
JAZZREVIEW: Are you working on any projects right now?
ROSE BILAL: Yes, as I mentioned earlier Jazztorian, Inc. in collaboration with the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz association and the Palladium theatre will present phase III of the Women of Jazz on Saturday, March 20, 2010. For further info on that and other upcoming events please check our website, Jazztorianinc.com or contact me at 813-221-3088.
JAZZREVIEW: Can you tell us a little more about the Women of Jazz III concert?
ROSE BILAL: I’m excited about our upcoming Women of Jazz concert and of the fantastic line-up we have with Sue Terry and Peggy Stern, Saxophonist and Pianist out of New York, and of course we’re fortunate to have our very own, well known Theo Valentine. In addition I’m looking forward to working for the first time with great Tampa Bay area jazz musicians Patty Sanphy on guitar, Anne Van Atta on bass, and Sandi Grecco on drums.
This show is a must see!!!
JAZZREVIEW: Thank you very much, Rose, and I agree this show is one that should not be missed.