Vaughnette Bigford
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Vaughnette Bigford

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"Lord Kitchener celebrated"

http://guardian.co.tt/features/entertainment/2009/10/09/lord-kitchener-s-music-show - Trinidad Guardian


"Jazz in Her Soul"

While many local singers strive to make their names known in soca, calypso, R&B or gospel music, Vaughnette Bigford makes no qualms about her openness to another avenue of expression - jazz. Her delivery is instantly appealing and even otherworldly at times. With each note, she explores the broad parameters of contemporary jazz, drawing you in with her earthy, soulful renditions of some of the most timeless standards. Vaughnette BigfordSo, why jazz? Bigford, 33, said: “Jazz allows you freedom of expression - the ability to improvise or express yourself through the music. I love jazz music because that’s what I know. That’s what I grew up on as my grandparents often listened to vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughn and I listen to Carmen Mc Rae, Diane Reeves and Thelonious Monk.” “I’ve been singing since childhood and through my school years but I never thought about singing professionally until 2003 when my husband Shurlan asked if I didn’t intend to take my music seriously. After that, I decided to go get some voice training with Cristiana Balbosa and that’s where it started.”

Bigford, who’s also an Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner at Petrotrin, said she then did vocal training with Jessel Murray and foreign vocal training. “I learned from Howard Rees in Toronto, Dr Barry Harris, Sheila Jordan who’s a 75-year-old vocalist and educator and a pianist named Hank Jones,” she noted. While many local singers strive to make their names known in soca, calypso, R&B or gospel music, Vaughnette Bigford makes no qualms about her openness to another avenue of expression - jazz. Her delivery is instantly appealing and even otherworldly at times. With each note, she explores the broad parameters of contemporary jazz, drawing you in with her earthy, soulful renditions of some of the most timeless standards. So, why jazz? Bigford, 33, said: “Jazz allows you freedom of expression - the ability to improvise or express yourself through the music. I love jazz music because that’s what I know. That’s what I grew up on as my grandparents often listened to vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughn and I listen to Carmen Mc Rae, Diane Reeves and Thelonious Monk.”

“I’ve been singing since childhood and through my school years but I never thought about singing professionally until 2003 when my husband Shurlan asked if I didn’t intend to take my music seriously. After that, I decided to go get some voice training with Cristiana Balbosa and that’s where it started.” Bigford, who’s also an Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner at Petrotrin, said she then did vocal training with Jessel Murray and foreign vocal training. “I learned from Howard Rees in Toronto, Dr Barry Harris, Sheila Jordan who’s a 75-year-old vocalist and educator and a pianist named Hank Jones,” she noted. “I then started off singing with Carlon Zanda and the Coalpot band after a referral from Rudolph Thomas - a co-worker at Petrotrin.” But, she said there aren’t enough spots catering to jazz music in Trinidad. “I so desperately want there to be a place where jazz musicians can air their music. There are hardly places where we can play. We need more avenues for us to exhibit our craft. Jazz isn’t really happening as much as we want it to happen in Trinidad. That’s why I have thank 110 Jazz and Calypso lounge in San Fernando as it’s one place where jazz artistes are featured on a more regular basis.”

Bigford’s professional entry onto the jazz circuit came at the 2004 Steelpan & Jazz Festival (formerly Pan Royale) as she performed as a guest vocalist with Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Phase II Pan Groove. For three consecutive years she graced the stage at the San Fernando Jazz Festival, appearing with Carlton Alexander’s Coalpot Band. Also at that Festival, audiences would have been treated to her leading the chorus line for world-renowned Botswanan flugel horn player, Socca Moruakgomo. Now, for the most part on her own, Bigford says she uses similar musicians for every gig and contracts musicians as the need comes up. “When I get gigs, most of the time I work with Theron Shaw, a jazz guitarist who arranges most of the music, Dougie Redon on bass, Richard Joseph on drums and Mikhail Salcedo on steelpan (tenor). But I work with other musicians as well.”

So what’s next for Bigford? She said: “The last show I did, I was one of the featured vocalists for the Return of the Hat for the Steelpan and Jazz Festival.

“My next project is my CD but I’m still working on getting the right arrangers. I know Thieron Shaw for sure but I’m not limiting myself. I am also a member of the International Women In Jazz based in Manhattan, so the arrangers could also come from there. And I’m one of the featured artistes for an upcoming event called Women in Jazz and I hope a lot of people come out and give their support.” - Trinidad and Tobago Express Newspapers


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Bio

Since her debut in 2004, Vaughnette's rich, earthy jazz vocals have been making audiences sit up and take notice…and she’s been developing quite a fan club, too! She is recognised for her haunting delivery of some of the most timeless jazz standards and confesses that when she discovered jazz, she knew she had found a “home”.

Hailing from South Trinidad, Vaughnette’s professional entry onto the jazz circuit came at the 2004 Steelpan & Jazz Festival (formerly Pan Royale) as guest vocalist with Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and Phase II Pan Groove.

For three consecutive years she graced the stage at the San Fernando Jazz Festival, appearing with Carlton Alexander’s Coalpot Band. Also at that Festival, audiences would have been treated to her leading the chorus line for world-renowned Botswanan flugel horn player, Socca Moruakgomo.

Vaughnette has trained and continues to perfect her craft with some of the finest local and foreign vocal coaches and musicians. The list includes Cristiana Balbosa and Jessel Murray (Trinidad), Howard Rees (Toronto), jazz legend Dr. Barry Harris, Hank Jones and vocalist Sheila Jordan. She currently works with the esteemed Ms. Donna Mc Elroy of Berklee College of Music.

Closer to home, Vaughnette has worked with some of Trinidad and Tobago’s most celebrated jazz musicians: Carlton Zanda, Theron Shaw, Raf Robertson and Ray Holman. Topping her list of most noteworthy performances to date is her smoldering centre-stage solo act at the YWCA’s “Sisters in Song” - a Caribbean jazz concert featuring local greats like Mavis John and Chantal Esdelle.

Vaughnette remains an active member of the US-based International Women in Jazz (www.internationalwomeninjazzz.com) .When she's not spinning her magic on stage, she can be found performing duties as an Occupational Safety and Health practitioner with a major oil company. She is also a student of BerkleeMusic online and was awarded a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music for the Summer Performance Program in 2008.