Interview with jazz vocalist Fiona Ross

Fiona Ross is a Jazz vocalist, pianist, composer and music producer based in London. Her new album, 'Black, White and a Little Bit of Grey', explores the story of a husband, a wife, and a mistress: a web of emotions, of desires, of regrets, of ecstasy. We have conducted an interview with Fiona.

photo credit: Alexander Barnes-Ross

In your new album, 'Black, White and a Little Bit of Grey', which particular track is one of your personal favorite? 

I don’t have any personal favourite’s I’m afraid, they all mean something different to me in different ways. So ‘Busy…..Always Busy’ and ‘Touch Me, You Make Me Feel So’ for example, are really fun to sing and have an easy groove to go along with so I like performing those without having to get too deeply emotionally involved. I think ‘The Evidence Suggests’ is the hardest one to sing, as vocally as it is quite challenging with the range of notes I have to hit and it is a song that shows a wide range of emotions. There are a few songs that I think demonstrate my writing skills more than others. I can’t choose!

In your opinion as a Jazz artist, who are the two most influential scat singers of all time?

Well, Ella Fitzgerald, without a doubt. She is the queen of scat – and I am pretty sure I am not alone in thinking that. I spent hours trying to copy her scats when I was training and in fact do this as part of my daily vocal practice routine. Dee Dee Bridgewater is also an amazing scat singer and has and is, a huge influence for me. Amazing vocals. Amazing woman.

photo credit: Stefan Ferrol

Which word or words would you use to describe your voice?

No one has ever asked me that question! Wow. I don't really know. It’s just me….just how I sound. I know people always struggle to compare my voice to other singers. No one has ever said –‘oh you sound like ****’ which I take as a compliment. I guess my voice is just a result of the musical experiences I have had since I was very young, which was a very wide and diverse range of music and training.

How long did you take to write, arrange and produce 'This Chemistry' of your album? What was the most challenging?

Well, I can’t really separate that one song. I had quite a specific schedule that I wanted to keep to. I wrote the album over two months, then we had a couple of rehearsals where I made a few changes to the arrangements. The recording side of things took six weeks, including mastering. It was a little crazy, but amazing. Some of the arrangements for ‘This Chemistry’ did actually change while we were recording. The fade during the instrumental section, was initially an accident, but decided I really liked it, so changed a few things there and then. I love working like that. I have very clear ideas and intentions when I start something, but then I love it when something just happens to change it – I like to go with the flow, which is a little contradictory to my previous comment, I know. It’s a Jazz thing I think!

photo credit: Steven Tiller

If you could do one thing in your jazz music career all over again, what would it be and how would you change it?

Well, that’s a tricky one. I am not one for regrets. In many ways, the only thing I would change, is starting when I was slightly younger. But…having said that, I am in a much better position now than I would have been. The experiences I have had, have put me in a much better position to actually handle this crazy music industry and it really is crazy. I had a very successful and immensely fulfilling career prior to launching myself as a Jazz artist in my own right and I wouldn’t change any of that – and I am very proud of what I achieved. And I have two truly amazing children that were my priority – and I certainly don’t regret that.

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