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Erin Bode

Erin Bode Erin Bode
In the world of jazz, there are often two kinds of vocalists - the ones who sing and the ones who speak to the heart. It’s the singers who irresistibly whisper to your soul that you remember. Listen to Erin Bode and you’ll soon realize she’s someone you won’t forget.

The youngest of four children, Bode grew up the average daughter of a Lutheran minister. From celebrations to funerals, music was part of everyday life. Children in the home were actively encouraged to take up lessons at an early age. As a youngster, Bode borrowed her brother’s spare trumpet and began studying on her own. "My mom really loved classical music and she liked folk music a lot . . . I was always the one kid who enjoyed the field trip to orchestra hall," Bode admitted. However, a pre-teen love affair with the television show Moonlighting would alter her career aspirations.

"I desperately wanted to be on Moonlighting," Bode confessed. Laughing, "I was nine and I loved Bruce Willis. I thought for some reason I’d make a good member of the cast."

While most of us our guilty of our own pre-teen crushes, this innocent obsession would eventually become a career path for the adventurous youngster. As Bode grew up as the youngest of three, she found solace in the local musical theatre. It was a place where she was free to experiment with a cast of characters and a host of different sounds. "I did as much as I possibly could and I loved it," shared Bode. By the time she graduated high school in St. Louis, Bode had performed in over 16 productions and had decided to pursue collegiate classical music.

Bode would study at the University of Minnesota and Webster University in St. Louis. However, after transferring back to St. Louis from the University of Minnesota, Bode began to fill the inner stirrings of rebellion against the formal structures of the opera scene during college.

"In studying classical music, you end up being with opera students . . . I don’t tend to be a rigidly structured person by nature. I really wanted to be able to do it my way. In order to play certain roles in opera, you have to be physically the right type of person. If you aren't a Verdi Soprano, you can never play Aida. Or if you’re not a Dramatic Soprano, you can never play Isolde . . . to me, it just doesn’t make sense. If you’re feeling the role or if you can bring something that’s tremendous, you should do it," said Bode. Continuing, "That’s how I feel about jazz. You can sing any song you want. You just make it yours," said Bode.

Interestingly enough, Bode was an accidental tourist in her discovery of jazz. While she had always enjoyed the big band sounds of Les Brown and Glen Miller, she’d never really studied jazz outside the lab setting in college. It was the encouragement of her vocal teacher, Christine Hitt (who would later record with MAXJAZZ) that would help develop this blossoming talent. After spending some time with Bode under her wing, Hitt encouraged Bode to venture out for a private jazz gig. Bode packed up her courage, fumbled through the set and immediately fell in love.

"It was the first time I’d ever sung jazz by myself. I’d done it in class with the choir and in my lessons. But, I didn’t even understand the form and how it worked," said Bode. Adding, "I just figured it out while I was doing it. It was the best experience and I suddenly realized I could do this." This one night would prove to be a pivotal point in her career. A singer’s soul had been liberated.

However, if you ask Bode, she will tell you that she isn’t a jazz singer. She likens herself more to an Eva Cassidy than anything else. Declaring, "Sometimes I’m inspired by the fact that she was able to do whatever she wanted and it didn’t matter. She just picked the songs she loved, arranged them the way she liked and that is how she did it. I like the idea of being able to do that and not having to say I’m ‘this’ kind of singer."

In her latest album, Don’t Take Your Time, Bode celebrates her artistic freedom in an eclectic selection of standards from several genres. The track list on this MAXJAZZ release includes: "Here, There and Everywhere" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; "In the Pines" by Bill Monroe; "Tonight I’ll be staying Here with You" by Bob Dylan; "If It’s Magic" by Stevie Wonder; "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman and a host of other incredible arrangements.

Bode’s own "Don’t Take Your Time" kicked off the CD with an incredible fan base and airplay to follow. A favorite in the St. Louis circuit, Bode has continued to spread her wings to new audiences. Although Bode feels she appears to a wide range of ages, her fans are largely the adult contemporary crowd. This is mostly due to her ability to draw from her own life experiences and share them in a way that is both poetic and musically alluring.

In composing her own music, Bode believes that "there has to be something that brings you in" in making a song viable. "It’s not all about getting people to buy your stuff, but the songs that I love have something in them that I remember immediately."

Writing music is a passion that Bode shares with her accompanist Adam Maness. Because "Don’t Take Your Time" was conceived during the initial stages of their partnership, they were only able to include one original. Since that time they’ve written at least a dozen songs together. Bode plans to include several of these selections in her upcoming album, along with an international tour to Italy.

Cheryl Hughey is a member of the Jazz Journalists Association. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to newsprint, trades and Internet jazz publications. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Erin Bode
  • Interview Date: 9/1/2004
  • Subtitle: Don't Take Your Time
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