Lois Deloatch
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Lois Deloatch


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"JazzTimes Review-November 2008"

Hymn to Freedom: Homage to Oscar Peterson

If it strikes you as odd that one of the first posthumous Oscar Peterson tribute albums comes not from a pianist but a vocalist, consider that a half-century ago Peterson and his triomates, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, shaped a superlative homage to a singer on their A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra without a single note being sung. Though North Carolinian Lois Deloatch has a deep appreciation for Peterson’s entire career, it is his trio work that entices her most and which she here salutes.
The project actually began more than a year prior to Peterson’s death in December 2007, when Deloatch persuaded Thigpen himself to participate. Rounding out her supporting trio are Chicago-based pianist Willie Pickens (who, given the unenviable assignment of trying to fill O.P.’s bench, rises elegantly to the task, though Bill Evans seems more an influence than Peterson) and bassist John Brown, with guitarist Scott Sawyer added on two numbers.
The majority of the 10 tracks are jazz standards associated with the Peterson trio, ranging from Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’” (with Deloatch’s sanctified lyric replacing Jon Hendricks’) to “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Stardust.” Deloatch, whose rich full voice, with its layers of gospel, soul and jazz, recalls the mid-career Della Reese, handles all beautifully; and Thigpen, at age 75 (at the time of the recording), remains as vibrant and imaginative as throughout his six-year tenure (1959-65) with O.P.
But what moves Hymn to Freedom beyond classy commemoration are the two tracks at its center, both Peterson compositions with lyrics added by Deloatch. “When Summer Comes” is transformed into a wistful nod to the lasting memory of a departed friend, while the title track becomes a towering rallying cry for peace and equality. Both reflect the man as much as the musician, capturing the sweet open-heartedness and also the resolute fortitude that were lifelong Peterson trademarks. -Christopher Loudon


- JazzTimes Magazine

"Jazz Improv Review"


PERSONNEL: Lois Deloatch, vocals; John Brown,
bass; Ed Thigpen, drums; Willie Pickens, piano;
Scott Sawyer, guitar; Tyson Rogers, piano.

Reviewd By Bob Gish

It’s Deloatch! It’s delightful! Yes, here’s a delightful, de-lovely, and with the inclusion of ballad renditions such as “The Very Thought of You” and “My One and Only Love,” a downright delicious and delirious series of recordings. The late, great Oscar
Peterson, to whom the project is dedicated, is present in spirit and would no doubt be pleased and honored by the performances of two of his songs among the
many other fine song selections. The album features superb vocals, lyrics, and a group of very accomplished musicians. Willie Pickens and Tyson Rogers
alternate on piano, surely reminiscent of Peterson, reverential to be sure, yet very much in keeping with their own respective touch and talent.

Hoagy Carmichael is present as well in the interstices of his signature standard, “Stardust,” a classic which takes on new luster in Deloatch’s version.
Art Tatum’s ghost is present too, especially in the freedom songs. In a word, the piano is prominent on all the tracks—guaranteed to appeal to any and all jazz piano enthusiasts, and to those loyalists who contend that jazz vocals and piano accompaniment are inseparable. Part of Peterson’s legendary quartet sound,
however, is also due here to Ed Thigpin’s drums, John Brown’s bass (a legendary name in context be sure), and guitarist Scott Sawyer who seemingly pays homage to Herb Ellis with a quote or two but adds his own bountiful bag of riffs and licks in solos
that absolutely radiate—each and every one of them adding to the soulful joy of the recurrent thematic message of freedom. It’s the piano, however, that rings out the good
news with solos ranging stylistically from stride to spiritual to swing to ballad, always as passionate accompaniment to Deloatch. “Down by the Riverside” and “Auld Lang Syne” frame a sparkling showcase of other dazzling gems—these respective first and last
songs bridge African American and Scottish longing and celebration.

It’s more than noteworthy that in addition to her beautiful singing, intelligent interpretations, and mellifluous phrasing, Deloatch wrote the lyrics for Peterson’s
two songs, as well as additional lyrics to “My One and Only Love.” Part of the efficacy of the tribute to Peterson is the poetry of Deloatch’s words. “When Summer Comes” holds out the promise, as in “Auld Lang Syne,” of what might be termed compensatory
loss, the consolation that although much has changed and much has passed with life’s seasons, summer holds out the promise of a blossoming compensation:
When summer comes-Maybe hope will be arriving on its gallant wings,- And all the dreams you dream will come true.- With every breath you breathe-New life, new beauty-Will make your heart sing again.

“Hymn to Freedom” and “Moanin’” echo the resolve of “Down by the Riverside” to leave war and violence aside and persevere in the quest for peace. “Hymn to Freedom” asserts: “Bless the tie that binds all humanity/To take a stand and today demand/
That all God’s children are free.” More a tribute, though implicit, to Bobby Timmons (and all those many other “moaners” who have recorded this tune)
than to Peterson, “Moanin’” becomes a prayer and a paean to the solace of the blues:
‘Cause the light will come in mornin’ If I just endure the pain.-
(If ) blood runs warm all through my veins -Yeah, the light will come in mornin’.

Thus, as jazz vocalist, with a sultry voice and presentation in the tradition of Sarah Vaughn, and as a lyricist, Lois Deloatch gives testament to the well known but not always observed fact that knowing the meaning of lyrics is essential to any meaningful
interpretation of a song whether one is a singer or instrumentalist. Nevertheless, only some voices are blessed with that jazz sound, feeling, and intuition, and Lois is surely one of them.

Yes, Deloatch’s efforts on Hymn to Freedom are indeed delightful, worthy of our enjoyment, our celebration and our defending!
- jazzimprov.com

"Lois Deloatch-More than a Jazz Singer"

Lois Deloatch is more than a jazz singer. Her fluid interpretation of a vocalist's role transcends being only a medium for the music. She often becomes a caretaker of the music's history, an advocate of its redemptive power.

Her latest album, Hymn to Freedom: Homage to Oscar Peterson, strikes flint on both notes, as she not only pays tribute to a jazz great but also shares her reinterpretation of jazz standards in hopes that they will attract new listeners to an old art form. Fittingly, she's ventured through jazz and the blues, and she started from the same line of singers who got their beginnings standing on the stage behind an altar, not an auditorium.

"Like many African-American singers, I developed my voice and gained experience by leading solos in church choirs," says Deloatch. As an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, she sang with the Black Student Movement Gospel Choir. She recently contributed to a compilation of traditional Negro spirituals. "Although I'd been exposed to all types of music throughout my life, it was during my college days that I began to expand my appreciation for jazz, particularly classic and straight-ahead jazz."

It's of little surprise, then, that pianist Oscar Peterson—a Montreal native who established a standard in mainstream jazz that remains untarnished today—is the subject of Deloatch's latest record. The Montreal native cooked on piano, in a resplendent and gracefully restrained style; Duke Ellington called him the "Maharajah of the keyboard." His own trios are still seen as some of the most remarkable ever in jazz.

Ed Thigpen, who played drums in one of Peterson's trios, performs on Hymn to Freedom. Deloatch reached him through a mutual friend, and he was eager to join the project.

"With few exceptions, I've found most jazz musicians—young and old—to be very humble, loving and giving people," Deloatch says. "Ed understood and appreciated my desire to pay tribute to Oscar's music, so he and [her friend] Donald Meade provided the motivation and guidance."

Hymn was recorded in two days in 2006, a year before Peterson's death in December 2007. Deloatch's resounding contralto voice caresses a song in gentle strokes. She can dip low or belt out a mountain-high declaration. Backed on Hymn mostly by Thigpen, bassist John Brown, guitarist Scott Sawyer and Chicago pianist Willie Pickens, Deloatch's voice nestles into a rhythmic lattice, swinging just enough to cradle the songs' emotional heft.

Alongside the group's solid takes on standards like the bluesy "Down by the Riverside" and the classic finesse of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," Deloatch penned lyrics for two Peterson numbers, bringing Peterson's pieces forward in time, singing a call for grace very familiar today: "In these troubled times/ When lands are torn to pieces/ And sorrows flow and no one knows/ What tomorrow may bring," she sings on the title track. "Bless the tie that binds all humanity/ To take a stand and today demand/ That all God's children are free."

With its rich musicianship, Peterson's music works for Deloatch on several levels. It has since she first heard it at UNC. "The combination of force and control were magnificent," she says. "It was adventurous and virtuosic, but the groove and swing was familiar and comfortable." It reminded her of the church music she loved. The tunes Peterson performed with bassist Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen remain her favorites, especially on the Night Train album. "The trio always sounded like they were having so much fun."

Peterson's work acts as an entry point for jazz newcomers, a point not lost on Deloatch. As jazz continues to become a marginalized market, community radio and university programs depend on individuals to educate others about the genre. Deloatch's music works in this way, though she also has more direct roles as a jazz educator. She and her husband, Ed, are volunteer DJs at WNCU 90.7 FM, N.C. Central University's radio station, where they host Sunday Evening Classics, a weekly jazz show.

"We don't realize how fortunate we are to live in an area where you can hear jazz 24 hours a day," she says, commending WSHA 88.9 FM, Shaw University's station, and WNCU. The current director of Duke University's jazz program, John Brown, plays bass on Hymn. Like her, he's known as much for his own performance as his dedication to music education through ensemble coaching, academic roles at UNC and N.C. State, and the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble for high school students.

"The jazz studies programs at area universities such as NCCU, Duke, UNC and Shaw, and those at the middle and high schools, are key to the Triangle's jazz scene," says Deloatch, who has also held a position as a fundraiser at Duke for the last 15 years. "In addition to bringing in world-class jazz artists, the university programs provide students and the public opportunities to participate in and learn about jazz."

Though Deloatch doesn't work full-time in music, her career allows her to pursue it passionately as both a performer and an educator. After all, at work or at home, the music never leaves her, she says: "For me, singing is very personal, so it's difficult to separate from my personal life."

Musicians performing their music and those attempting to teach others about music operate too often through different channels: For Deloatch, the two endeavors are inextricably connected. She's the performing teacher and the teaching performer. Either way, she's much more than a jazz singer. - Independent Weekly


"Roots: Jazz/Blues/Spirituals" (Sept. 2010)
"Down by the Riverside" Single (2008)
Closure (2005)
Holy Night (2003)
Sunrise (1998)



Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, and radio host, Lois Deloatch has recently been lauded by JazzTimes Magazine and music critics throughout the country for her extraordinary voice and songwriting skills. Immersed in music all of her life, Lois has has headlined concerts around the country appearing with jazz luminaries such as Ellis Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, and Freddie Cole. She conducts music and creative arts workshops and lectures at colleges, universities, elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as hosts and emcees special events. Lois and her husband, Ed, host Sunday Evening Classics, a weekly jazz radio program on WNCU 90.7 FM.

Her new release, "Roots: Jazz/Blues/Spirituals,will premeire in early September 2010. The recording is a provocative and compelling mixture of jazz standards (Without a Song, Good Morning Heartache, and Pennies from Heaven), spirituals (Wade in the Water, Steal Away, and When the Saints Go Marching In), and original compositions (You Will, May I Have this Dance, and Someday Soon).

Her previous (limited) release, "Hymn to Freedom: Homage to Oscar Peterson," was named one of the top CDs of 2008 by jazz reviewer Owen Cordle.

A North Carolina-native, Lois is known as a unique songwriter and storyteller with roots in gospel and blues. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and a Masters of Arts from Duke University where her curriculum included extensive research on Mary Lou Williams, Louis Armstrong, and Thelonious Monk.

Her first commercial recording, "Sunrise", was released in 1998 and was followed by "Holy Night" with Tyson Rogers in 2004 and Closure in 2005. Other musicians appearing on her recordings over the past ten years include trumpeter Tom Browne, saxophonist Ira Wiggins, drummer Bobby Cohen, bassists Carroll Dashiell and Ron Brendle, and pianist Gabe Evens.

Lois forges novel partnerships with artists in other art forms and has partnered and performed with Chuck Davis and the African Dance Ensemble and Wellness Partners in the Arts (Dance) as well as well as numerous visual and nontraditional artists.