New Orleans Jazz singer croons at Baha Mar!
Tiba is a sultry New Orleans jazz singer performing at the Blue Note Lounge in Baha Mar during October. She is a distinctive stylist that some call a “female crooner” and she’s as natural on stage as she is lounging atop a grand piano! We caught up with Tiba to find out more about her inspiration and how she hones her craft as a performer and ended up bringing her talents to The Bahamas. Don’t miss her final weekend at The Blue Note Lounge!
What was it about the music scene in New Orleans that was so alluring that it made you start sneaking into dive bars at the age of 12?
You know, the thing about New Orleans that I think the rest of the world never really gets to see is that there’s a certain melancholy that permeates absolutely everything. You can even feel it in the weight of the air – it just hangs there and never fully dissipates. I mean, it’s where the Blues come from (sorry, Chicago!). So there’s this melancholy kind of flowing underneath all the partying, and the Mardi Gras and the Jazz fests and the alcohol. But you’ll find some of the most joyful and exuberant people in the world there. You see it even in the funeral processions, the Second Lines, there’s a time to acknowledge the pain and the heartbreak… and then you throw that weight off your shoulders and lift your chin high and sing and dance and celebrate… LIFE.
You’re a xennial female crooner, born between 1977 – 1983. That’s a phrase we don’t hear too often! When did you know you wanted to sing Jazz rather than another genre like pop?
When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time listening to music. Like, on actual records. We used to hit the flea markets and junk shops every Sunday in New Orleans and come back with boxes full of old music – 45s mostly, but also 78s. A lot of 50s rock and roll, R&B, Motown, and then the older crooners like Sinatra, Billie and Ella. When got older, lots of people tried to pull me in different directions – “Oh, you should be country.” “Pop music’s where it’s at – see if you can sound like Christina Aguilera.” I guess it was that first semester in college when the pieces began to fall together. I guess [jazz] felt right, and authentic to me.
Are there any modern day artists, inside or outside of your genre, that inspire or influence your craft as a singer?
Dita Von Teese is a Burlesque performer with a vision and a passion for an art that the rest of the world told her didn’t exist anymore. She didn’t care. She’s a very savvy business woman who knows how to market herself and she puts on an amazing show. That is inspiring to me. [I’m also inspired by] Hellen Mirren, she does her own thing and has earned her success. Bruno Mars is also someone who followed his vision and chose not to be boxed in by the music industry. And Elon Musk, because he’s a rocket scientist with the big vision.
You perform for Hyatt hotels across the United States – some people are on vacation, some are local but they are brought together in a pretty intimate setting. Is there anything that you do differently for your performance at the Blue Note Lounge compared to one in a larger setting?
There’s nothing quite like singing on a big stage with a full big band behind you and hundreds or thousands of people out in the audience. That’s just pure adrenaline. But my sweet spot is in a much smaller setting. I just love the intimacy of it.
I can control the mood, control the crowd and make a real connection with the audience just with the songs I sing. Smaller settings also make it easier to improvise with the songs which I do, depending on the vibe of the audience.
You’ve got a busy performance schedule with shows across the US and even outside of the US. Do you have a ritual or routine that helps you stay focused and at the top of your game while you’re on the road?
The easiest way for me to keep focus is to work on new material. I’m a word geek, so I’ll put a song on and transcribe it on my computer, which usually takes a few go ‘rounds. Then I write it all out again, but this time by memory. For me, the lyrics are the backbone of the song, even more than the melody a lot of the time. Once I have the lyrics down, I get my pianist to lay down a track and the rest comes fairly easily. But it all starts with the words.
What’s your drink of choice?
I am a scotch drinker. I like a good single malt from the highlands like The Macallen or a special, limited edition batch.
There’s a rich history of live music in The Bahamas, especially in hotels and night clubs. And many talented, local young singers who would love to sing professionally. What would be your advice to them?
I’ve only been here a short time so far, but I’ve already met quite a few local musicians. And I have to say, I’ve been blown away by their talent. There also seems to be a culture of support and a community that I haven’t really felt before outside of The Bahamas. I don’t know that I’m in a position to give anyone advice. I know what works for me and I know I’ve been really lucky to find venues willing to give me a chance. The luck part is anyone’s guess, but the other bit you’ve heard a million times before – just be yourself. Once you’ve figured out what makes you tick, run with it. And be authentic.