Lucky Girl A Portrait of Jacqui Naylor Interview

Lucky Girl A Portrait of Jacqui Naylor Interview

Lucky Girl A Portrait of Jacqui Naylor Interview

Cast: Jacqui Naylor, Art Khu, Jon Evans, Josh Jones, Michael Romanowski, Faith Winthrop, Matt Wong, Scott Steed
Director: Marcelina Cravat
Genre: Music, Documentary
Running Time: 75 minutes

The ARTiDOCs crew followed Naylor and her band for two years on the road and in the studio while they prepared new music for her eighth album, also titled Lucky Girl. The relationship was born after the Bay Area film making duo produced the video for Naylor's single, "Celebrate Early & Often". The portrait chronicles Naylor on tour to several jazz clubs including Seattle's Jazz Alley, San Francisco's Rrazz Room, and the Istanbul Jazz Center in Turkey. Replete with performances, songwriting sessions, and behind- the-scene moments, the film transports the viewer through a series of musical montages and local flavors. Interviews with long-time band members and others close to Naylor give an intimate look at the life of this respected jazz artist who is also a practicing Buddhist and long-time San Francisco resident.

"Jacqui's primary goal is to provide unity and community and this message is clearly delivered throughout the duration of Lucky Girl," says producer Jules Kobelin. From the opening scene of chanting with fellow Buddhists in their home to the recording of a pledge drive song for NPR, the film shows how Naylor and pianist and husband, Art Khu, use their music to bring people and ideas together.

The couple's original song "Dreamin' Prayin' Wishin' was recently picked up by Two Degrees for use in their marketing to end world hunger and "Rise Up" featured on the Obama-Biden Website.

It is her ability to mix genres from different generations that Naylor is perhaps best known for with the arranging technique she calls "acoustic smashing." "Jacqui Naylor has brought new twists to the notion of melding jazz and pop tunes - without high-tech assistance," claims NPR's California Report. "Naylor has the chops and sensitivity to pull it off," chimes New York Magazine. The film includes "My Funny Valentine" from Rodgers and Hart sung over the groove of AC/DC's "Back In Black," "Black Coffee" from Webster and Burke atop Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," and "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" from Rodgers and Hammerstein over George Benson's "Breezin'."

Lucky Girl A Portrait
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Interview with Jacqui Naylor

San Francisco based, Jazz singer/songwriter, Jacqui Naylor has a unique style all her own.

Born and raised in Saratoga, CA, Naylor initially entered college to study marketing, but after hearing the album Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin in a music appreciation class, Naylor became seriously interested in vocal jazz. Naylor recorded her self-titled debut in 1998 and released it on her own independent label, Ruby Star Records, the following year. She went on to record several more Ruby Star releases in the 2000s, which have been praised by the likes of Vogue, Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine, for her signature "acoustic smashing" technique, singing jazz standards over rock classics. Naylor tours regularly in the US, Europe and Asia at esteemed venues including Yoshi's San Francisco, Ronnie Scott's London, Birdland New York, Monterey Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Blue Note Clubs in New York, Milan and Japan.

Question: Why did you originally allow the ARTiDOCs crew to follow you and your band for two years on the road and in the studio?

Jacqui Naylor: They did a great job on a music video for "Celebrate Early and Often" so when they came to me with the idea of creating a documentary, I was honoured.

Question: What did you enjoy most about the filming process?

Jacqui Naylor: We felt comfortable having the crew with us got to a point where we forgot they were there. I think it made for some sweet moments.

Question: What message do you hope audiences take away from the DVD and album Lucky Girl?

Jacqui Naylor: Life is really rich even when it's messy. Having gratitude for each day is what makes us feel lucky.

Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?

Jacqui Naylor: I write many of the songs I sing with my husband, pianist and arranger Art Khu. Right now I'm really enjoying writing songs that encourage people to have hope even when they encounter great obstacles. Songs are an opportunity to connect by telling common stories.

Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?

Jacqui Naylor: Jazz, Soul, gospel and R&B are popular choices for me. Ella Fitzgerald, Blossom Dearie, Chet Baker, Barry White, Led Zeppelin, Bill Withers, Adele, June Christy. Anything that sounds honest gets me.

Question: How do you go about "mixing genres from different generations"?

Jacqui Naylor: I enjoy music from many eras and like finding common threads in songs, no matter where they emerge from. Often it's the chord structure of a tune that allows us to mix it with another song, the groove of a 70's rock tune for example played under the melody and lyrics of a jazz standard from the 30's. Working with a great arranger and band that can connect the songs organically is how it all comes together. It's something we all enjoy doing and have fun with.

Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?

Jacqui Naylor: Not really. I meanů..what's the alternative? I really love to sing. I'd rather die knowing I spent my time doing what I love even though sometimes it can be a struggle.

Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?

Jacqui Naylor: I like them for different reasons but both are about relationships. A recording is like a snapshot in time of where we are as a band in our musical relationships and performing live is like having a conversation with each other and the audience at the same time.

Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?

Jacqui Naylor: "Sarah Vaughan Sings Gershwin" was played in a music appreciation class I took in college. Shortly after that I found a jazz vocal teacher who encouraged me to study and later to start my career as a singer.

Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?

Jacqui Naylor: Not fitting into a particular genre or style. In a way, it's also what I'm most proud of. We just sound like us.

Question: What's a typical day like, for you?

Jacqui Naylor: The middle of my days are all different, especially when we are on the road, usually filled with some mixture of the music itself, the business associated with making the music, and just physically getting to wherever it is we are supposed to be next. At home, there is usually a dog walk and some sort of exercise thrown in. I start and end each day with my Buddhist chanting.

Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?

Jacqui Naylor: Touring. I really enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places. Music makes me feel connected to people all over the world.

Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?

Jacqui Naylor: Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder or Lester Young.

Question: Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life?

Jacqui Naylor: Well I can only tell you what's working for me so far.
1. Encourage at least one person every day.
2. Find something to be grateful for every day.
3. Keep working toward making your dreams come true.
4. Never give up.
5. "Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life," Nichiren (Buddhist Teacher)

Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo: Oliver Heinemann
DVD Photo: Marcelina Cravat
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