Kennedy Center Jazz: Ernestine Anderson and Diva
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.
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).