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Dynamic and self assured, Valerie Day has a voice that is evocative of another time, when sweet lyrical music was the norm, and singers were real musicians. Remembered for her work with the 1980's R&B/Dance band NU SHOOZ, Valerie has returned to her musical roots. On Beginning To See The Light, she injects new life into a collection of standards from the Great American Songbook with impressive range and effortless delivery.
From the opening track, a lyrical yet hard-swinging take on "The Song is You, " it's clear that a serious musician is at work. Backed by an impressive Big Band she has dubbed "The Knights of Swing", her voice is an integral part of the ensemble, riffing with the horns and sparring with the rhythm section with clear timbre and flawless intonation.
Throughout the collection, there is no grandstanding in Valerie's approach, no superfluous displays of technique. Instead, like a seasoned jazz player, she searches for, and finds, the musical heart of each song. Her background as a percussionist comes through in her singing; in her subtle syncopations, skillful use of space and ability to flat-out swing.
And when the tempo slows down, Valerie shines on classic ballads such as "That's All" and "When I Fall In Love," bringing the lyrics to life like a talented actress. She sums up the "Knights of Swing" project by saying. "Doing this record got me reconnected with the reason I do music in the first place - because it brings me joy."
The Knights of Swing features some of the finest, most experienced jazz musicians in the world today. The rhythm section alone boasts an incredible lineup of talent, and all have backed quite an impressive line up of stars: Gary Hobbs on drums (the Stan Kenton Big Band, Anita O'Day, Tom Grant), Phil Baker on bass (Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Rosemary Clooney), George Mitchell on piano (Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Phyllis Diller), and John Smith on guitar (Nu Shooz, Suzanne Sommers).
The sessions for Beginning to See the Light came about because of Valerie's love of jazz. Many years ago she discovered the voice of a jazz singer named Sarah Vaughn. Hers was the first of many voices that would influence Valerie's vocal style along with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. This background set the stage for Valerie's musical odyssey and her later success in the world of pop music.
In 1983 she recorded an R&B/Dance single for the band Nu Shooz. "I Can't Wait" became a smash hit in Europe and soon found it's way back to New York where it landed at the top of the charts. Nu Shooz went on to record several other hit singles, and after selling more than a million records world wide, was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 1987.
Since then, Valerie has become a sought after session player and has performed or recorded as a percussionist/vocalist with Obo Addy's band Kukrudu, the Oregon Symphony Pops, Woody Hite Big Band, Tom Grant, Michael Allen Harrison, David Frischberg, Craig Carothers and many others as well as recording for regional and national radio commercials.
The proceeds from Beginning To See the Light will benefit arts education in schools so that every child will have a chance to explore their own unique means of self expression.