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Dorothy Leigh, A Second Chance
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April, 2011: Jazz Inside Magazine Q&A interview with Dorothy Leigh
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By Joe Patitucci
Jazz Inside Magazine

JI: Your new recording and it title – A Second Chance – has some very significant meaning. Could you share with us the journey and inspiration that led to this recording and its title?   

DL: Three years ago, I was the victim of a pharmaceutical error where I almost died. I ended up in ICU with a series of serious complications, but I overcame them one by one in a fairly short period of time, based on the severity of each issue. For some time after, I wondered why I survived and what God intended for me to do. One day, I realized that I had survived so I could share my talent as a singer. I got a second chance to fulfill my dream of being an accomplished singer. Each day we are given the same opportunity to realize and accomplish our dreams. We simply have to recognize it and pursue it. 

JI: Talk about the inspiration and processes that you go through in composing and writing lyrics for your songs?

DL: My CD A Second Chance or ASC consists of 10 original songs. I assisted with the composition of the title song “ASC.” This song is about my life and my choices of a legal career over a music career. It’s about getting a second chance at life, love, happiness. A few months before we began recording A Second Chance, I wrote an e-mail to Oprah.com in response to a search for people who had never pursue their life long dream advising her that I was now in pursuit of mine. Well, this song was based on that e-mail to Oprah. The songs on my CD were written by three writers, Juanita Fleming, Janice Robinson and Alva Nelson, who are all close friends of mine and mentors. Alva Nelson is also the producer and composer of the CD and the main writer and composer of ASC.

JI: Some of the great vocalists like Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Mel Torme, among others were also more than proficient instrumentalists on piano and other instruments. You have studied piano and violin. How have these musical skills contributed to your style and maturity as a vocalist?

DL: My early involvement with these instruments has afforded me a real appreciation for music in general, not to mention, good music. My ear is trained to pick up tunes and notes. My total ease of style can probably be contributed to my early love affair with the violin and late commitment to my main squeeze, Mr. Piano. After fiddling away and tickling around with these instruments as a child, I knew that music was my life. 

JI: Could you identify one or more jazz artists – vocalists or instrumentalists – who have made a significant impact on your own direction? 

DL: Ella Fitzgerald, Dionne Warwick, Barbara Streisand and Frank Sanatra, all, grabbed the attention and interest of the eight year old girl, I once was. Even today, they influence my choices of songs, my phrasing and my delivery.

JI: What kinds of activities do you do to constantly develop your vocal skills?

DL: I realize that I’m like an athlete in training, so I’m constantly at work, practicing with my vocal coach, honing my skills and learning new tunes with my musical director.

JI: You’ve had ample experience in the corporate world prior to your full time immersion back into your first love, music. Could you share a few of the understandings that you’ve discovered that are essential for success in this business – or business in general.

DL: I’ve discovered that if you do what you love, it’s not work, but pleasure; you can’t help but succeed. Always think and plan ahead. Develop a plan to advertise so the world is aware that you and your project exist. My project is self directed, but one person’s expertise can be limiting, so my CD is the result of a group effort of talented individuals because I realized that two heads are better than one.

JI: What have you discovered about human nature – either on the bandstand or apart from music entirely?

DL: Music makes the world go round. It has a language all of its own. People love and appreciate music. It has no barriers and transcends all language, culture and religion.

JI: What words of encouragement or support, or quotation or fragment of wisdom have you received from a mentor or associate is it that provides inspiration or guidance in your life?

DL: Believe in yourself: If you believe within your heart, no one can change the path that you must go. Believe there’s a reason to be. Believe you can make time stand still. You’ll have courage to get there, if you believe.

JI: What do you do to recharge your batteries in the face of the hustle and bustle of our contemporary world?

DL: To recharge, I immerse myself in more music. I go see a show, concert, theatre and it puts everything back in perspective and inspires me.

JI: Is there anything you’d like to discuss that I haven’t prompted you about?

DL: Why I chose the title ASC. I choose the title ASC because of its inspirational message. I wanted to inspire others, the way I had been inspired by my survival, in spite of being so close to death. And then, being blessed to not only realize, but live my dream is truly the icing on the cake and a second chance at life.  

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