By likemindblog


GABRIELLE GOODMAN was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland in a household filled with music. Her father was a jazz trombonist, her mother, a classically trained singer and her brothers are all musicians. Around the house she heard the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Ray Charles, as well as the classical greats in her formative years. She began singing at the age of 7, performed her first professional gig at age 15 and never looked back.

Please welcome this very beautiful and talented lady, Gabrielle Goodman  and thank you so much for participating in this project and answering the following questions:

No. 1)  What is music to and for you?  (generally and personally)
Music is my passion. It’s my life. It’s like breathing. In general I feel that music is an incredible form of communication. It breaks down the barriers of every kind. It’s universal like a smile or laughter or tears. It’s something that every human being responds to.

I have had the incredible pleasure of performing all over the world- Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland Brazil, Spain and so many other places where there were potential language barriers. In my travels I have learned that music is the greatest universal form of communication there is. When I’veGABRIELLE GOODMAN 2 been in places where I couldn’t speak the language, I could sing or play the piano and be instantly connected to those around me.

When I embarked on my first international tour with Roberta Flack in the 1980’s we opened for Miles Davis in Japan. Since I had not performed outside of the US I didn’t know what to expect. I was awestruck at the love the audiences showered on us. They waived, clapped, dances and sang along to our music, That was the beginning of my experience with music as a universal tool of communication. Since then I’ve seen the same scenario play out several times in various places. I’ve even performed on gigs in   various places with musicians where I didn’t know the language and worked out arrangements of songs with the instrumentalists in spite of the language barrier because we spoke the same musical language. If I could not ask the instrumentalists to play a chord or specific passage in their language I would sing it or play it on the piano and they got it.

In addition that, I feel that music inspires and heals. It heals the souls of the brokenhearted. It inspires us to make love and procreate and it motivates us to pray and reach for a higher level of spiritual awareness.

No. 2)  When did you first become interested in singing?
I first became interested in singing when I was around seven years old. I used to sing the music from the “Sound of Music”. You know, “the hills are alive with the sound of music”. I also sang the music of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 around the house and in school. I knew every lyric and every nuance of all of the Jackons’ songs. I wanted to sing like Michael and of course like every young girl, I wanted to grow up marry Michael Jackson. Hahaha. Then in my teens I fell in love with jazz, specifically the voice of Sarah Vaughan. At the same time I also developed a deep and serious love for gospel and began singing in the gospel choir at my church and in school. I loved so many different kinds of music and wanted to sing them well that all I did was practice. I was bit nerdy where that was concerned, a sort of cool nerd, very focused on music.

No. 3)  What inspires you?

I’m inspired by great music that is play and or/sung well. I love music of every kind, classical, jazz, soul, gospel and I love it when it is performed with conviction and passion. I love the music of Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, James Brown, Thelonenious Monk, Miles Davis, the gospel of Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, classical arias sung by Maria Callas, Leontyne Pryce and Kathleen Battle, the jazz vocal stylings of Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby McFerrin, Sarah Vauhgan and Mel Torme, and the pure sweet sound of Minnie Riperton’s voice. As you can see, I could go on and on.

GABRIELLE GOODMAN 4I’m inspired by my audiences and I’m by my students who approach music for the sheer love of the art. In a world where one can easily get caught up in the business end of the music industry and forget about the art, it’s nice to interact with people who approach music because they really love it.  I’m also thrilled to be able to witness their musical growth. As a professor of voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston, I see and work with lots of talented young artists at the beginning of their careers. Esperanza Spalding and Robin Mckelle are two artists that I’ve worked with at Berklee who inspire me.

I‘m also inspired by visual art as well. I love Renoir, Matisse and Romare Bearden among others.

No. 4)  Do you feel music, singing in your case, visual art and health are related, and if so, how?
I absolutely feel that music and visual art are connected in that they uplift and inspire us. Furthermore, music and art, in many cases are a reflection of society. They reflect the good and evil in the world. When one sees the beauty in a Monet or Renoir painting one cannot help but be inspired. One of my early classical voice teachers Madame Duschak, used to take me to art museums and discuss the paintings of the masters with me. Her idea was that it could only motivate me as a singer to create works of beauty. Today, I still go to art museums wherever I am for inspiration. I’ve been to the Louvre, the Prado and many of the great museums of the world, large and small to take in absorb the work of the greats. Each one offers something new and exciting in terms of an artistic connection to music and life. I’ve even had the pleasure of sitting with Miles Davis and discussing his artwork, which he proudly showed me on a flight from Japan to the US. It was Miles who introduced me to the work of Salvador Dali. The painting that Miles showed me on that flight had been informed by Dali. I remember that it was a figure with lots of eyes, a bit strange but interesting. He pointed out the similarities in his work and Dali’s paintings. It made me want to investigate the work of Dali, which I did while in Spain. It was a great art lesson for me.


I also have very strong feelings about the healing properties of music. FourGab and bros years ago my father had a difficult battle with throat cancer, which subsequently let to his death.  At that time we were asked to find music for him to listen to while undergoing treatment. The idea was that it would soothe him. Since he was a musician, a jazz trombonist to be exact, we purchased jazz CDs and dug into our stash of music for him. It turned out that he was absolutely enamored with a Joe Pass CD that I had been playing in my car; I gave it to him to listen to while undergoing chemotherapy. He was so grateful for the opportunity to be able to listen to music he loved while receiving the treatment. He said that it made him feel better. It took his mind off of everything that was happening. It did not sustain his life but it enhanced the quality of his life at that time.  When my father died I had several gigs and projects happening at that time. I was faced with canceling the engagements or performing. I chose to perform and I was healed by the music. It was an incredibly emotional time for me but every time I sang or played the piano I instantaneously felt better. I believe that the healing properties in music allowed me to get through that difficult time. Those are my personal experiences. In general we know that music is used in nursing homes and hospitals all over the world as a form of therapy. There are certain frequencies and vibrations that emanate from melodies and rhythms that actually stimulate the senses. Music has the power to motivate and encourage one’s soul.

 No. 5)  When you are singing, how do you feel?  And is there a difference between singing for yourself versus an audience in how you feel?

When I sing I experience different emotions. When singing for myself my singing sometimes influences my mood and at other times my mood influences the singing.  I sing out of creativity, also when I’m in love, happy or sad. I have even been told that I sing in my sleep. It’s really like breathing. I also experiment when I’m singing for myself. That’s where I work out the kinks and bugs before presenting the music to others.  You could consider that to be a form of practice. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s pure experimentation for the sake of creativity, which is very important. I call those organic moments. They are not subject to any conditions or restrictions.  

When I’m singing for others I have a responsibility to entertain and inspire. It is important that I sing well and that the instrumentalists and I work well together. It is also imperative that I deliver the message of the song in a specific way musically and visually. I absolutely feel strongly about everything I sing, but there is certain amount of responsibility attached to the preparation of the songs and the performance environment when performing for others. I love to interact with my audiences and I get a lot if energy from them. I also give a lot of energy in return. It’s a wonderful exchange.

No. 6)  Do you identify with your songs?  I mean do the songs you do reflect part of your life, or your feelings, or what you believe?

I absolutely identify with the songs I sing. It’s difficult for me to sing about messages I can’t relate to. My songs reflect my life and my life experiences allow me to connect with the songs I sing. There is also a spiritual connection. That’s why I love to sing love songs and gospel.  Both contain intense subject matter to which I connect. As for romantic love songs, I love very deeply and the intensity of that comes out in my music.

GABRIELLE GOODMAN 5No. 7)  Does singing help you connect with your higher self, whatever that may be for you?
Yes, singing helps me to connect to my higher self and to God. That is why I’m comfortable singing gospel music. Furthermore, music helps me to connect with humanity. In that respect, I have written songs like “Until We Love”, the title song from my second jazz CD on the Verve label. It speaks to social ills, to violence, drug use, alcoholism and man’s inhumanity to man. I wrote it when I heard about a child who was shot and killed while playing. This was a senseless drug related shooting in Baltimore that shook the community. It resonated with me so deeply that I wrote “Until We love” as an answer to the violence. 

No. 8)  How do you feel about creativity in the public school system?
Music in the schools.   I feel that creativity in the public school system has been suppressed and stifled over the years.  There has been no real regard for music and art in the educational system of late. It appears that President Obama is making an effort to recognize the arts by having special performances of every kind in the White House. However, I’m not sure that any resources are trickling down to the school systems.

No. 9)  In your opinion, what could be a simple solution to improve creativity in the public school system?
An influx of funding is needed for music programs in public education. I don’t think it’s clear that the arts enhance our lives and in some cases can even save lives. When a child is immersed in the creative process and engaged in artistic endeavors there is little time to become involved in destructive acts. It is incumbent on us is to make sure that our children are involved in positive endeavors that will allow them to discover their various talents and projects that will enhance their lives.

As for solutions, I don’t know if there is a simple solution to the problem in public schools. However, I do feel that partnerships with large corporations, grants and private funding would help tremendously. Colleges with high school mentoring programs are also helpful. Berklee has such a program with its City Saturday music classes. And of course, volunteer mentoring is needed. All of these things help to keep music and art alive in our classrooms.

No. 10)  What is jazz to you?GABRIELLE CLINIC
Jazz is an ever-evolving musical art form that began in the 1920’s. At its inception, it contained elements of ragtime and the blues, as evidenced in the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Eubie Blake. It took on different characteristics in the swing era with the big band music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman in the 1930’sand 40’s. We were also introduced to the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and SarahVauhgan at that time. It changed again in the 1940’s with the bebop era of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mile Davis and others. Then Miles Davis ushered in the cool jazz era in the 1950’s with “Kind of Blue” and other great cool jazz recordings featuring John Coltrane. After that there was avant garde jazz and modern jazz as well. Miles is interesting in that he continued to evolve and create new forms of jazz until his death. Shortly before he died, he even to incorporated hip hop elements in his music. This is still a part of jazz today. There was also fusion jazz in the1970’s and 80’s. And of course there is the current form of smooth jazz, which is an amalgam of jazz, funk, gospel, soul and hip hop.

To me jazz is a combination of all of these things. It is an art form that was created in the black communities the US that also encompasses influences from African and European music. The colors and textures reflect urban life. Personally, I love to sing traditional straight-ahead jazz, as well as smooth jazz. Both occupy different spaces in my spirit from which various textures and sounds emerge.

No. 11  You say you are a professor of voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Are you teaching mostly voice techniques or are you showing your students how to discover their own voice, how to communicate emotion through it, how to touch people with it, how to develop their own “signature”?

Teaching:  As a voice professor, I use a holistic approach. I like to offer my students the complete package in that we work on vocal technique, stylistic concepts in jazz, R&B and gospel, stage presence and music theory. You cannot manufacture emotions but you can try to get the singers in touch with their emotions so that they can deliver the lyrics and the sentiment of the song. Sometimes acting is involved in this process. As for developing one’s style, it really depends on where the singer is in their developmental process. If a singer has listened to the masters enough and really learned from them, then they can move a way from listening to other singers and focus solely on their own style. They can then practice, do gigs and experiment with their own signature sound.

Gabrielle - Chaka shotI believe that one has to go through a period of imitating great artists in order to build improvisational vocabularies and phrasing that is specific to the genre that one is learning.  Then you can begin to make changes and interject new ideas. In developing a signature it’s important to go through an experimental process where you record yourself and listen and try new a approach to songs in your practice sessions and on gigs where you can gauge the audience’s reaction. These are ways of discovering one’s own sound. We discuss all of these points in lessons and we experiment with various textures and improvisational lines to achieve new sounds.

Again, Gabrielle, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so generously with us.  I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to do this.  Until our paths cross again, be blessed!


Thank you for sharing your comments with us, and you are cordially invited to visit Gabrielle’s website to hear more of her wonderful music!

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Filed in: MUSIC • Friday, April 8th, 2011


By Wanda Atkinson on April 9th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

You still got it!!!! Nat Scott’s xwife from baltimore…(facebook Wanda Atkinson.) always- your-Fan!!!

Really enjoyed your article and music. I love all your favorite artists too and now will am adding you to my list. Your website and utube videos are great. Thanks for taking the time to share…


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My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours