"My mom would share her love of jazz and big band sounds with all of us. The radio was always on. She made certain that music wove through the house all day long."
Today, Susan weaves this same love of music into the lives of her own two children, Julius, age 13, and Carmen, age 8. As a divorced single mother with a full-time job, Susan faced the same moral dilemma many women in today’s modern world encounter should she choose to follow her dream of a music career over fulfilling her role as a 9 to 5 working parent? After years of putting music aside, she decided to step up to the challenge and embrace all three. She has not only returned to her music; she has embarked on a personal journey that not only met her need as a musician and performer, but has also taught her invaluable lessons to pass on to her children and to others.
"I’ve wanted to be a vocalist for as long as I can remember and there has always been a great desire for me to step out there and perform without compromising my role as a mother." says Susan. "If I turned my back and walked away from music altogether, I would not be truly living my potential to it’s fullest, and ultimately that would not be good for my children. Women with children should not have to give up their dreams in order to properly raise their kids. I want my son and particularly my daughter to know that it is possible for any dedicated woman or man to reach any goal - regardless of the challenge or sacrifice it poses to them. Having said that," she says, "it is one amazing juggling act - - but that is half the fun and makes the reward for the effort even sweeter!"
As a musician, Susan is taking her wisdom and sharing it with children other than her own. She has developed an educational school program called This Is Your Ears On Jazz in which she travels to elementary, junior high and high schools educating students on the history of jazz music while speaking to them about self-esteem and the importance of setting life goals. The goal of her program is to widen young people’s perceptions of music and its many genres and introduce them to the many jobs in the music industry that are available to them. She also teaches them about production and re-mixing. In a portion of her lesson, she demonstrates to students how the popular songs they sing along with every day on the radio can be enjoyed in a variety of styles. A pop song can be transformed into a classical jazz piece. A rap song can become a country tune.
It’s important for young people to understand that there is so much more for them out there vast new worlds for them to research and explore and all kinds of music. All I try to do is help them look a little bit beyond the every day, listen a little bit more and reach a little bit higher towards the stars within their grasp."