How’d you get your start as a musician, and what kind of education led to where you are today?
I started playing piano when I was four, and it’s been pretty much non-stop since then.
What drew you to your instrument above all the rest?
It was my dad’s idea. He thought it would be comical to see a small girl playing a large instrument. But also I needed to switch — I didn’t want to play piano anymore — and I had to switch in order to get into this high school, Handsworth, where Laila Biali went, and Mark Rodgers. They had a strings program at that school, so my dad said, “what about upright bass?” I also needed to go to that school because I had to play in an orchestra. I had seen upright bass and thought, wow, what a cool idea. I took to the instrument right away.
It’s that sonorous sound. Almost like a charming man’s voice. I love it.
How do you challenge yourself to keep learning and improving as a musician?
I make a mandate to always go out to see great music. Live music.
Can you distill a single piece of advice for young musicians just starting out on their careers on how to be successful?
To learn — and memorize — two songs a day. Read music, or compare notes from an album you really like.
If you could jam with any musician, past or present, who would you choose? What tune would you call?
I would probably just say Charlie Parker. I love Charlie Parker. I always say I’m going to marry him when I go to heaven. I’m going to be his girl and I’m going to play in his band. I love all those old live recordings.
I’d probably just want to play a blues with him. He swings so hard.