Patti Austin was four years old when she first performed on stage. If there’s anyone who was born to be on the stage, it’s her—and not just because of the early stage appearance. Her vibrant, show biz personality lights up a room, especially when that room is a theatre for hundreds of people.
She gave that performance alongside her godmother, Dinah Washington, at New York City’s Apollo Theatre. Her father, Gordon, was a jazz musician himself.
“I’ve been doing a private survey,” said Austin. “At least 80% of musicians I know came from a household where music was prominent.” Music, she says, draws you in in a “soulful, spiritual way.”
“It’s a different level of passion,” she said. “There’s nothing more exhilarating.”
“An Evening with Patti Austin,” will be what Austin calls a “hybrid” show. “A little jazz, a little pop, and a little bit of stuff I just like to do (tribute to Ella Fitzgerald)” she described. “With the usual amount of goofiness and storytelling.”
After touring with Harry Belafonte in her teens, she then worked as a club singer with the InterContinental hotel chain for three years. Though she recorded copious jingles for companies like J. C. Penney and Kleenex and did background vocal sessions for the likes of James Brown, Billy Joel, and Paul Simon, it was her 1983 chart-topping hit “Baby Come to Me” with James Ingram that brought her to the national spotlight.
Austin won a Grammy in 2007 for her ringing, gorgeous vocals on her jazz album Avant Gershwin and has been nominated another six times. Her most recent album, For Ella, which pays tribute to the iconic jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, was nominated for a Grammy in 2004.