Featured Local Artist - May 2010

Listen to some of Ava's music while you read on! In the beginning... Raised in a home filled with many types of music, jazz, exotica, gospel, and early rock 'n' roll, Ava expressed an interest in creating…

Listen to some of Ava’s music while you read on!

In the beginning…

Raised in a home filled with many types of music, jazz, exotica, gospel, and early rock ‘n’ roll, Ava expressed an interest in creating music as a toddler. Armed with a tape recorder and a toy instrument of some sort (she’d even make her own drums, horns out of pipes, paper tubes, butter tubs and coffee cans!), her mom would play the grand piano in the house, and with her sisters Bridget and Robin singing along, they would make up songs together. Music-making has been a part of Ava’s life ever since.

First taste of music recording

Ava’s first experience with music notation began in 5th grade when she wrote and recorded a composition on guitar for a district-wide talent contest. Her music blossomed through middle school as 1st chair clarinet. In High School, she became the first female Drum Major of her High School marching band and even began playing saxophone in her High School jazz band.

During a jazz band competition in San Diego, Ava experienced something that would change her forever. “It was late and we were the last band to play. I had been trying to figure out how to hit altissimo notes with not much success. When my solo came up (in the classic Weather Report song “Birdland”), I hit that elusive high A! When I sat down, the audience members were standing and whistling- it was like one of those movies where the hero saves the day and it’s all filmed in slow motion.”

“Don’t Let Anything But Fear Stop You”

When I was young, my Dad told me some things that his dad had told him after his first defeat on the race course (Ava’s Dad was a champion motorcycle racer by the age of 13): ‘There will always be someone better than you,’ (and the one that really sunk in) ‘It takes a bigger man to lose well than to win.’

While attending USC, Ava sang for her sister’s wedding a cappella and the feeling never left her. “I just sang for my sister with my heart and it moved me and that moved others, it is the feeling I strive for to this day -to touch others with my music.”

A pivotal point in Ava’s musical career came when she decided to enroll in a new program at the University of Southern California, the first class of “Music Recording Bachelor of Science”. While her aural and record engineering classes went well, she was discouraged by her Music Theory professor. “I just couldn’t pass theory. I’ll never forget being in his office in tears ranting how John Lennon couldn’t write Bach Chorales when he started out! It was an emotional time and I had a terrible creative block after that, my confidence was so shaken. I eventually stopped making songs. I went for years thinking I’d never write again, that music was in my past.”

Dusting off the Saxophone in the Closet

Ava went on with life and developed her own successful graphic design business. Then, in the Spring of 2005, she noticed an ad in the local paper. It was for a community band, and open to all ages and instruments. Only a love of music was required. She dusted off her alto sax and realized that she had forgotten EVERYTHING. She had to bring a key chart to band practice for 3 weeks just to figure out where the notes were again! But the thrill was back, and it was an insatiable thing. The saxophone bug had bitten again.

On a whim in March of 2007, she auditioned for a female vocalist in a big cover band. She even brought her horn with the thought “if they didn’t want me to sing, I could keep up my chops in their horn section.” Not only was she hired as the female vocalist for the long-time Sacramento show band, On Air, she also played her alto when not lending a sizzling lead or supporting vocal harmony.

“It was a great experience! It started me on this road I’m on, being a performing artist, comfortable with being the only person on the stage and interacting with the audience.” Ava resigned from the group in September 2009 to concentrate on her burgeoning solo musical career.  

“The Rocket’s Red Glare” A Life-Long Dream Comes True

“I have always wanted to sing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ at a big sporting event.” In September 2009 she heard that the Kings and Monarchs were having an open audition for Anthem singers. “I wasn’t even sure if playing the Anthem on my saxophone would be acceptable as everyone else was a vocalist or vocal group.” Ava won a spot and you can see the televised performance from November 29th at ARCO Arena on her YouTube Channel.

“From My Soul” the Debut CD

The biggest project Ava has been involved in has undoubtedly been the efforts to make her CD, “From My Soul” which was officially released on December 15, 2009.

Stemming from 4 track cassette recordings she discovered in storage that she had created in High School, Ava wanted to ‘resurrect’ some of her songs from the era when she was an avid music maker. “While other kids were out drinking and partying, I was too broke! So, I sequestered myself in my room surrounded by my Casio keyboard, a PortaStudio 4-track, a BOSS analog drum machine, and a Montgomery Ward electric guitar. I would sing, write lyrics and overdub trying to perfect my songs. The cassettes I used were packed full of 2-minute songs. When I listened to them again almost 20 years later, it dawned on me that they would need to be lengthened.”

The CD is getting attention around the globe and is gathering wonderfully positive reviews and accolades from both industry professionals, fellow musicians and most importantly, from her growing base of loyal fans.

Radio and Buzz- so far

Recently Ava’s music has been on various North American internet radio stations as well as across Europe, Japan and in South America. She has been featured on local Sacramento television (KXTV, KCRA) and is planning future musical guest appearances on other television broadcasts for Summer 2010. In addition to a show promo on Smooth Jazz FM KSSJ 94.7 in Sacramento, Ava has been interviewed on Talking Smooth Jazz, Vallejo’s OzCat Radio FM, WDKK in Ohio, The Bill and Meghan Show, The MusicWoman show, Jazzy100.com, Jazz and Bossa Radio, and has several more interviews coming in Spring/Summer 2010.

From the heart

She likes to sing in a classic jazz style, reminiscent of greats such as Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington as well as play her saxophones in tribute to giants such as Stan Getz, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster and Paul Desmond.

Retirement homes in the Sacramento area are some of Ava’s favorite venues. “During a recent holiday show, I was blessed to witness a couple, both in wheelchairs, get as close as they could and hold hands while they were less than five feet away from me. It was the most beautiful sight…”

“I know that I can bring joy and it was something my Mom wanted to do, help other Seniors, but I carry on for her, in her memory.” Ava has also written a moving, heartfelt song dedicated to her Mother (who was lost to lymphoma in 2008) called “Annette’s Song.” The song itself has quite a story, which you can read about on her blog. Below is a photo montage dedicated to her mother along with Ava’s music.

Ava has also been involved with the cause to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Since 2009, she has volunteered her performances to the National MS Walk Foundation, playing and singing at the California State Capitol building, as well as for the Terry Rossman Memorial MS Golf Experience in Rocklin in 2009 (and returning again May 21st, 2010). She has also performed ar the Roseville/Rocklin MS Walk.

What’s next

Ava has been busy marketing her CD as well as getting the word out about her unique stage presence and offering as a performing artist. She is also very interested in developing some of her musical compositions to market to the television and film media. “Some of my music is very cinematic and would be very suitable for licensing, and I am fairly prolific at songwriting, I’m always coming up with something.” She hopes to be able to build a base of publishing, online sales and live shows to help fund and fuel her recordings in the future.

For more about Ava: