Billboard’s 2016 smooth jazz artist of the year Lindsey Webster is performing at the Dakota.
Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. she’ll perform with Minnesotans Stokely and Shaun LaBelle. All three have songs on the Top 50 jazz chart: “Next to Me,” “Level” and “Wave,” respectively. Webster, who has been compared to Sade and Anita Baker, tells me “Next to Me,” just moved from #20 to #17 on a Billboard chart.
“More people probably know me for ‘Fool Me Once,’ which was Number 1 for four weeks in 2016 on the smooth jazz charts,” Webster told me via phone Monday. “When this happened, I didn’t know what it meant. Sade, the queen, was there for three weeks with ‘Soldier of Love’ in 2010. All the interview people are like, Wow, you’re breaking records.” Webster now understands. “It’s a rare and exciting thing.”
The Dakota gig came together after my friend LaBelle kept seeing Webster’s name while monitoring his own song’s climb up the chart. “I called my radio promoter Bud Harner and asked, ‘Who is this Lindsey Webster? Her name keeps popping up everywhere.’ Bud said, That’s my client!” said LaBelle. Harner suggested a collaboration and voilà! This Q&A comes via e-mail.
Q: How old were you when you set your eye on being a singer?
A: Ever since I can remember. I always envisioned myself on big stages.
Q: Have your parents told you about anything you did as a child which foreshadowed you becoming a jazz singer?
A: I don’t know if I am a “jazz” singer, per se! I mean, I can sing jazz, but the REAL jazz singers — like Ella and Billie and Sarah — no one can compare. I would also need to work on my scatting chops before I would consider myself a jazz singer. HA! BUT, if we take the word “jazz” out of that question, the answer is a resounding YES. I sang anything I heard — TV theme songs, the radio, commercial jingles — I always gravitated toward using my voice as my instrument. My mom was a singer when she was younger, but her parents tried to push her into classical, and she wasn’t having it. My mom wanted to go to Woodstock ’69 and sing backups with rock ’n’ roll bands. My dad plays anything he picks up, and actually has a really great voice himself, but once again, nothing ever came to fruition professionally.
Q: You work and write with your husband, Keith Slattery. Has a disagreement ever produced lyrics or a full song?
A: Actually, yes! But even more interesting is the fact that neither song ever made the album.
Q: Who are some singers whose work you dig?
A: Mariah Carey is my vocal idol, but I also love Aretha, Chaka, Christina, Jeff Buckley, Luther, Ariana. I love big voices.
Q: With whom do you dream of performing?
A: Alive, Stevie Wonder; passed on, Luther Vandross.
Q: How did you support yourself before musical success?
A: My husband has always kept us afloat by his day job, which is an internet business he has with his dad. I have had a few jobs myself, but nothing seemed to stick.
Q: Fill in the blank : I will have achieved the level of success I’ve imagined in my head when I’m __________?
A: Headlining on tour, singing three or more times a week for crowds of thousands!
Q: Will you ever move more into the direction of R&B?
A: I love R&B. That’s the stuff I grew up listening to, but I wonder — what is R&B today? I would say that our next album is a little more in the R&B/Adult Contemporary world, while still exhibiting the strong jazzy roots that have made us who we are.
Q: Is there another jazz song that uses the word “explode” as you do in “Where Do You Want to Go?”
A: I actually say explore. ;) Quite a few people have thought I said “explode.” Guess I’ll need to work on my enunciation for the next album.
Q: When you are on stage singing are you looking at faces or groups of people?
A: I tend to look at the people who are moving and dancing the most. Even if it’s just in their seats. It also depends on how many people are in an audience. If only five people show up to the gig, I don’t have much of a choice on who I look at. ;)
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.