Kennedy Center Jazz: Ernestine Anderson and Diva

Ernestine Anderson, from a publicity photo  

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The word "diva" comes from "divine," and the women of the Diva Jazz Orchestra live up to their name. Opening for Diva is vocalist Ernestine Anderson. Her voice is honey with a wise smile.

Anderson remembers rehearsing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" for an amateur show in her hometown of Houston. It was the moment when she realized she was a jazz singer. In 2005, she adds "Bill Gates" alongside "Rockefeller" in a key line of the lyric. In the 1950s, Ernestine toured with West Coast R&B pioneer Johnny Otis and also the Lionel Hampton band. Then she lived in Seattle, taking some time away from jazz, until bassist Ray Brown brought her out of retirement approximately 25 years ago. It's not only her voice that's so personal; she has collected a life's worth of songs and we have three.

Song List
Sunny Side of the Street (Fields & McHugh)
A Song For You (Russell)
Goin' To Chicago Blues (Basie & Rushing)

Lafayette Harris on piano
Chip Jackson on bass
Tony Jefferson on drums

Sherrie Maricle, from a publicity photo  

Sherrie Maricle of Diva

Although Diva has played regularly at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festivals, the band's 2006 performance was something else! They seemed to be saying "This is our festival, and we love it here!"

These women are road warriors -- serious about their careers and their band. Since 1992, Diva has performed at festivals from Bogota to Berlin, at sea on the USS Norway and the QE2, at Carnegie Hall and many times here at the Kennedy Center. Leader Sherrie Maricle (drums) teaches, composes, and plays drums with the New York Pops. Maricle is the Pops' education director. Diva members have other impressive gigs, such as the National Symphony, the Navy Commodores and Army Blues, on Broadway, and on tour with pop acts.

The 15 wonder women of Diva are Sherrie Maricle (leader, drums); Tomoko Ohno, Noriko Ueda (rhythm); Erica Von Kleist, Leigh Pilzer, Anat Cohen, Lisa Parrott, Kristy Norter (saxophone); Tanya Darby, Jami Dauber, Christine Fawson, Liesl Whitaker (trumpet); Deborah Weisz, Jennifer Krupa, Leslie Havens (trombone).

Song List
Ella Fitzgerald medley: How High the Moon, Stompin at the Savoy, A Tisket, a Tasket, Oh Lady Be Good (arr. Tommy Newsom)
What a Little Moonlight Can Do (Woods) featuring Anat Cohen
Female Special aka Airmail Special (Christian, Goodman, Mundy) featuring Sherrie Maricle

Thanks to Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor Dr. Billy Taylor, Jazz Manager Kevin Struthers with the staff and crew, and special thanks to recording and remix engineer Greg Hartman of Big Mo Recording.
Duke Markos is Technical Director.
Our writer is Brian Sanders, host of Morning Edition at KCRW in Los Angeles.
Becca Pulliam produces JazzSet with Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III of Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark, New Jersey.