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Typhanie Monique Talks Holidays and Her New Recording


Typhanie Monique Talks Holidays and Her New Recording


Vocalist Typhanie Monique has achieved international status as a rising star vocalist by immersing herself in her true passion. Versed in a wide range of genres and influences including jazz, funk, hip-hop, pop and improvised freestyle, the soulful-voiced chanteuse, bandleader and songwriter has earned a reputation as a fearless boundary-crosser and a natural born front woman. Since her Chicago debut more than a decade ago, Typhanie has held court at famous jazz clubs and major music festivals throughout the world, leading groups such as the critically acclaimed Typhanie Monique & Neal Alger Duo, the T. Monique Quartet, SUMO, Peking Turtle and Mr. Egg Germ. She has a special holiday concert coming up at the Old Town School of Folk Music on December 6th which will feature a duel bill of her trio along with pianist John Erickson and his trio. We thought we would catch up with Typhanie ahead of the show to learn more about how she got started in music, her new recording due out in 2016 and her love of holiday music. (1) Let’s start at the very beginning. Did you grow up in a musical house and how did you get interested in becoming a vocalist? Monique: I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin with a “blue collar” family. Artistic activities were something you learned or participated in at school. My mom loved music, loved to sing, and had a great record collection. She favored African American artists from The Commodores, Tina Turner, and Chuck Berry to James Brown, The Jacksons, and Stevie Wonder, and she loved disco. My dad was a fan of Neil Diamond, Janis Joplin, and Simon and Garfunkel. The only “jazz” in our household was Herb Alpert and Chuck Mangione. My voice training started around age 4, singing along to Donna Summer, The Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, and Diana Ross. In elementary school, around age 10, my music teacher noticed my talent and cast me in my first musical revue. I am grateful to all of my choral teachers along the way who guided and helped foster my talents. I discovered my love for jazz in high school, singing in the vocal jazz group and sitting in my choir director’s office during my lunch hour listening to his jazz record collection. Sarah Vaughan was my first big influence. (2) Why did you decide to move to Chicago and pursue a career in music? Monique: Music chose me. There were no other options. I didn’t think twice about it, it wasn’t easy but it’s what I loved. I loved the stage under my feet, and the freedom of expressing myself, the lyric, my spirit, emoting. Magic. I ended up moving to Chicago because I knew I couldn’t have a successful music career in Stevens Point, WI, and my friend’s mother recommended I check out Elmhurst College. I attended Elmhurst College where I completed a B.M. in Music Business, which then led me to Chicago. (3) As a vocalist you perform with many different musical groups and often times can move between R&B, Jazz, Soul, Latin and everything in between effortlessly all on one gig. How did you develop the ability to perform in so many different genres at such a high level? Monique: Experience, exposure, and the desire to constantly expand my artistic palette, sensibility and technical prowess. Influenced at an early age by R&B, Soul and Pop, I had a natural instinct for groove and rhythm. That certainly translated later when I discovered jazz, hip-hop and world music. Throughout my life, I have gone through stages of musical interest based on singing and my love for dancing. For a period of time, I was constantly out listening/dancing to Reggae at the Wild Hare, or House music at Red Dog. I’ve had numerous performance opportunities singing in my own groups based in the genres of jazz, funk, improv, house and hip-hop. I’ve also had numerous performance opportunities as a back up singer from afro-beat projects to folk, to gospel. My soul is drawn to musical genres based in improvisation. As a singer, I pride myself in being a versatile vocalist that understands and respects the esthetic demands of a given genre. I’ve trained in classical and jazz and as an educator, I have a deep understanding and fascination with the human singing voice. (4) You recently successfully completed a Kickstarter Campaign which raised money for an upcoming recording. Tell us about the process of developing a Kickstarter Campaign and also about what you have in store with the new release. Monique: Kickstarter, will kick you in the… This is no easy task. The process of just creating the campaign consists of a great deal of planning, organizing and gathering. You have to have a complete vision of your project from start to finish. Then you have to create a budget, incentives for folks who contribute, detailed descriptive information, and have an eye for design to keep it looking sharp. Shooting the video was a kick in itself. I’m not the most camera savvy gal so there were lots of bleeps and blunders. Once the campaign is submitted, accepted and launched, you encounter a flurry of emotions for the next 30 days of your life. Your stress level rises to new heights with the ebb and flow of the campaign. Most of your time and energy is focused on reaching out to family, friends, fans, jazz lovers, and anyone you know, who might know someone that would be interested in supporting the campaign. It was an incredible experience witnessing the outpouring of support from friends, family, fans, and folks I’ve never met. Not only did I receive monetary support—it exceeded my funding goal—but also my friends really came through to help me create and promote the campaign. I was incredibly humbled by the entire experience. It’s far from over… As I have begun recording my CD, I keep a “kick” blog informing my supporters about the project’s progress. Once the project is complete, I will then reward my supporters with their requested incentives from CDs to T-shirts to private concerts. About a year ago, I started gathering repertoire, writing and visioning for the CD project. I knew that I wanted to work with a producer and definitely wanted to feature some string arrangements on a few of the pieces. Pianist Ben Lewis has played an important role with this project in assisting with creating some lush, fabulous arrangements. You’ll hear everything from traditional standard swing ditties to hip arrangements and re-harmonizations of standards, originals that lean in both the jazz and soul genres, and a few tunes with some great grooves. Oh, I can’t forget the ballads, my favorite. The recording process started the weekend of Oct. 30th with Josh Richter at Victorian Recording Studio in Barrington, IL. Jeff Levenson is producing the project and thus far it’s been a joy to work with him, we are twin spirits in thought and music. The goal is to have the project completed and released in Spring 2016, March or April. Updates will be posted on my Kickstarter page and website home page, www.tmonique.com. (5) You released a holiday recording several year’s ago called Yuletide Groove with guitarist Neal Alger and coming up on December 6th you have a holiday show at the Old Town School of Folk Music with the John Erickson Trio called Christmastime In The City - An Evening of Jazz Infused Holiday Music. Obviously you have a passion for the music of the holidays. What is it about holiday music that continues to drive your creativity? Monique: I think holiday music reminds us of a dream we share. It takes us to a place of family, love, community and acceptance. That opens us to appreciating beautiful moments in our actual everyday lives. I enjoy singing holiday classics because they are timeless, well-crafted melodies and naturally inspire a positive response from listeners. Plus, they come around once a year, you only get to sing them for three weeks, so it’s special. I’m excited to share this concert with my quartet and John Erickson’s trio. John and I share a love for holiday music and the holidays in general…they don’t call it “the most wonderful time of the year” for nothing. (6) What can people expect to hear on December 6th at the Old Town School of Folk Music? Monique: My trio and John’s trio will each perform a 50-minute set of holiday music. John and I have team taught a few jazz classes at the Old Town over the past five years and we both released holiday CD’s that we take pride in. We had been trying to plan a joint concert for the past two years. I will be joined by Ben Lewis, piano, Joshua Ramos, bass and Greg Artry, drums. I also have a few special guests joining in on some of the tunes. My set will consist of my favorites such as; The Christmas Song, We Three Kings, Christmas Time is Here, and a few other surprises that are not traditional holiday repertoire. For those of you unfamiliar with John Erickson, his trio turns traditional holiday classics into originals and lifts them beyond the holiday season. A comparison to Vince Guaraldi would not be out of place. (7) Do you have any other gigs coming up where our readers can experience you live in the near future? Monique: Yes. Dec. 16th – Untitled Supper Club 111 W. Kinzie Street – 7-10pm Holiday Shows Dec. 17th I’m at the Whiskey Lounge in Evanston, hosted by Steve Rashid. 7-10pm. Dec. 18th – Lakeside Legacy Foundation, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake, IL, 8pm January dates Weds. Jan 13th – The High Hat Club

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