VAUGHNETTE Bigford will forever remember 2004 as the year her dream of finally becoming a professional jazz singer began to take shape and morph into reality. It all began with a simple demo of her music which led to her debut at the Steelpan and Jazz Festival, that was followed up by a performance at the San Fernando Jazz Festival.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Since then, Bigford has become a household name on the jazz scene in T&T and has lit up stages across the country with some of our best and brightest jazz musicians.
T&T’s lady of jazz will take to the stage yet again on November 9 as she presents “Vaughnette Bigford Live in Concert” at the Central Bank auditorium. Also performing will be guest artistes Elan Parlé and Ja Moi.
“Vaughnette Bigford Live in Concert is my way of treating my Port of Spain based fans, in particular, to an experience to which they can look forward each year,” the songstress said in a press release. “For this concert we’ve included a twist of world music on the playlist in addition to the usual calypso-jazz and straight ahead standards that I sing. I simply want to sing songs to music that has resonated deeply with me and present it in a manner that not only sounds good but is also visually appealing. My fans mean the world to me and I enjoy doing it for them.”
Keyboardist and composer Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung will take on double duty on keys as a member of Bigford’s backing band which also features ace guitarist Theron Shaw, Shaquille Noel (drums), Tony Paul (flute and sax), Rodney Alexander (bass) and Ajibola on percussion.
Unlike several other artistes who have been featured in Kitcharee, Bigford wasn’t born into a musically gifted family, however as a young child growing up in La Brea, her talent for singing was undeniable. She was born with a love for the stage where her creative side seemed to blossom.
Her love for music in general was in many ways shaped by music icons the likes of Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald whose songs mesmerised Bigford while growing up. Their influence was one of the factors that helped steer Bigford in the direction of jazz. For several years however jazz had to be put on the back burner while she pursued her education and then a career in Occupational Safety and Health. Then came the opportunity to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA where she was able to gain a greater knowledge and appreciation for the beautiful form of self expression that is jazz. It filled her with a longing to become a professional jazz singer, entertaining audiences. And so it was in 2004 that she was encouraged to take a leap of faith and put her music out into the universe.
In the 15 years since then, Bigford released her album Born to Shine produced by Low Chew Tung and has performed at every major jazz festival in T&T. She also produces her own show “The VSpot Jazz Experience” and shared the stage with Grammy-nominated artiste Jeffrey Osborne and other regional and international artistes at the Barbados Jazz Excursion last month.
Her success hasn’t come easily. While studying jazz at the Berklee College of Music, Bigford was surrounded by likeminded people who shared her musical interests. But here in Trinidad, apart from those who have a natural leaning toward the genre, audiences took a bit longer to warm up to jazz music. Since then there has been a shift in the music culture with more and more people showing an interest in jazz.
That’s encouraging news for Bigford who shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Vaughnette Bigford Live in Concert will take place on November 9 at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain. Showtime is 7.30 p.m. General admission is $300. For reservations call 678-7809, 746-3956 or 724-3041. For more info visit www.vaughnettebigford.com and Facebook.