A Toronto-based fan used to follow vocalist June Garber’s career. When she told the fan she was moving to Sarasota, he told her to find Al Hixon. He’d have the skinny on Sarasota’s jazz scene.
He had her come to the Jazz Club of Sarasota's weekly Jazz at 2. She sang two songs cold, with no rehearsal. But, the Jazz Club quickly learned that the 64-year-old can hold her own just fine against a backing of a 17-piece, male ensemble.
It’s been just one year since she's moved from Toronto, and already The Sarasota Jazz Project will host Garber as a vocalist at its Big Band concert at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25. They gave a small preview of what to expect at last night’s Arts and Cultural Alliance Annual Arts Celebration. Garber did a rendition of "Birth of the Blues."
She says they've welcomed her, and continually support her — she's glad to have found Sarasota and its jazz scene.
"It’s pretty amazing to me," she says. "That in a years time, you can meet so many people who are so nurturing."
Garber is new on this scene, but she’s no amateur. She’s been pursuing music and stage acting professionally since she was 24 years old.
She grew up in South Africa living under the roof of her mother and stepfather, who would not let her pursue performance. It never made sense to her. But she studied education, and became a teacher.
But, stifling her passion just fueled the fire. Upon moving to Canada, she switched careers. She saw a classifieds listing looking for a singer. On a whim, she quit her job and pursued the gig.
In 2004, she found what might have been the reason for her parent’s strict rule. She got an email from a distant, long-lost cousin saying, "Your father was the best jazz drummer in South Africa."
Garber’s father had died in a plane crash when she was 3 years old, and her family didn’t talk about him. Up until that point, Garber never knew she had a musical connection. Performance is her legacy.
Tickets are $20 for Jazz Club Members; $25 for guests and $5 for students — and after last night’s performance, they are going fast. Doors at Holley Hall, 709 N. Tamiami Trail open at 7 p.m. Call 366-1552 or visit here for more information.