Singer/pianist Judy Carmichael showcases her unique stride piano styling in the tradition of jazz artists Count Basie and Fats Waller in the last two of three South Florida concerts this weekend.
On Thursday, April 8, she performed at Aventura Center for the Cultural Arts at 8 p.m. On Saturday, April 10, at 8 p.m. she heads up to Delray Beach Playhouse and on Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m., she'll be at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.
On piano, Carmichael plays stride in the jazz tradition by alternating low bass beats with chords with her left hand while playing figures and improvised lines with her right hand.
“What made me unusual in playing stride was that all the jazz pianists were big strong men and here I was an ex-surfer girl from California who was young and thin and I was noticed from the start,” said Carmichael, who made her debut playing stride piano in 1980.
The 65-year-old pianist/singer has an impressive array of careers in show business, starting as a aspiring actress and model, also becoming the first female instrumentalist to perform at Disneyland, before finding her greatest strength playing stride piano.
Being the only woman touring in jazz circles did not make Carmichael feel vulnerable to sexual abuse that is often a path to secure jobs in show business.
“I not only love playing piano and jazz, but just felt comfortable with musicians. I find the jazz world to be honest. Jazz musicians, knowing that I am the only woman who was touring at great length, are protective of me,” said Carmichael.
After playing strictly as a pianist for twenty years, Carmichael decided to include singing in shows starting in 2000.
“I was told by my peers how good a singer I was and I was conscious not to try singing until I knew I could do it well. I also know that I always liked people who sang the melody, interpreted the lyrics and told the story of the song.”
Since focusing on singing, Carmichael has recorded critically acclaimed albums, such as “Can You Love Once More” and “I Love Being Here With You”.
She said her South Florida shows feature some of her best loved songs, such as “Honeysuckle Rose," “I Got Rhythm” and “Why Can’t You Behave” in concerts that last 90 minutes.
“The nature of jazz is to improvise on the spot and live in the moment, so each of the shows will be unique. This will be my first experience since the pandemic began by facing an audience who will be wearing masks.”
But she welcomes a live audience.
“I know that the audiences will be looking forward to seeing and hearing live music in a live concert, so I am eager to anticipate a wonderful response to the many classical songs that will be performed,” said Carmichael.
The Sunday, April 11 show at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center will be the only South Florida concert to be performed outdoors.
In addition to performing, Carmichael also wrote a witty autobiography “Swinger” in 2017 which included some of her darker moments in life, such as surviving cancer, surviving childhood with an alcoholic father and an overbearing grandfather.
“I wanted to be honest with readers about who I am and how happy I now am performing,” said Carmichael.
The shows with the Judy Carmichael Trio will also feature two Florida musicians, guitarist Nate Najar of St. Petersburg and tenor saxophonist Jeff Rupert of Orlando.
The April 10 8 pm show is at Delray Beach Playhouse, 950 NW 9th Street in Delray Beach. Tickets are $35. For more information, call 561-272-1281 or go to delraybeachplayhouse.com.
The April 11 3 p.m. outdoor show is at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center,10950 SW 211 Street in Cutler Bay.Tickets range from $50 (for a two seat pod) to $100 (for a four seat pod). For more information, call 786-573-5300 or go to smdcac.org.
All shows require patrons to wear masks and to have their temperatures checked upon entering the venues.