"Jannotta crafts an original, new jazz work that keeps things moving forward and interesting."
- Chris Spector
"Her writing offers an interesting perspective."
- Sarah Ellen Hughes
Thank you for dropping by my website. I hope you will take a look around and check out the music and the projects that have become the fabric of my life.
To introduce myself . . .
My life as a performer came very early as often happens with little girls. I started dancing at the age of 4. And I never stopped. I found the violin at the age of 9, and at 14, I fell in love with acting. My first “gig” at 15 was as a chorus dancer in a production of “South Pacific” at the Burbank Starlite Bowl in Los Angeles, where I’m from. I studied dancing throughout my life, studied acting from the age of 15, and began singing when I was in college because I needed a second instrument for my music major. I studied ballet with Swiss Ballet Master Dora Krannig and modern jazz with choreographer Joe Bennet. I’ve had a million teachers but these two were special. Dora taught me to breathe and Joe loved Jazz. I’ve studied with a lot of acting teachers as well but my favorites were radio star Lurene Tuttle, Gordon Hunt, and the amazingly introspective Susan Batson. But my singing teachers were few because I only really committed to one couple: Lee and Sally Sweetland, themselves studio singers. Thanks to them I have a technique that will never die. During my time of study and day jobs, I also attended Banff Center School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada, on a partial scholarship for musical theater. I won’t mention how many odd jobs I had in order to get by, however being a door-to-door sandwich peddler and a cocktail waitress in a jazz dive were particular stand-outs. My paid acting gigs were few and my non-paid theater gigs were many. However, I was lucky enough to have a year’s contract with the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival where we did Children’s Theater during the school year and Shakespeare in the Park during the summer. One of the best performances I ever had as an actress was with the Festival. Because we were partially funded by the City of Los Angeles, we had to take our Children’s Improv Show to Terminal Island Maximum Security Prison because the Mayor’s Office asked us to. We think the Mayor’s Office thought we were taking Shakespeare to the inmates but our Shakespeare play wasn’t ready yet. We were stuck with the improv show. Of course we had to change it up a little bit from children to felons. It was scary, it was risky, it was the greatest night I’ve ever had in the theater, and we got a standing ovation.
After 22 years of the acting struggle, a funny thing happened. I sat in with a piano player at a Los Angeles restaurant and suddenly I had my first $50 jazz gig. No muss, no fuss. Just music. So I switched from acting to singing, took another day job, sang only jazz, and studied Charlie Parker solos. I also started writing.
My 1st album, “Just Jazz” was released in 1996 when I began traveling to Europe to sing. It was in Switzerland that I landed distribution for this CD with TCB Music, The Montreux Jazz Label. My 2nd album, “Jazz at the Ranch,” also distributed by TCB, was a live concert performance at a National Park in the Santa Monica Mountains, a concert I gave once a year for 10 years. That album was released in 2001. I also produced the Back to Blues & Jazz Concert during this time as a benefit for environmental causes.My 3rd album, “Is It Magic?” put me on the arts grants super highway. The City of Ventura, where I now live, awarded me a Cultural Arts Fellowship in 2008, which partially funded this project. It also gave me the chance to write most of the music.In 2010, I received my 2nd arts grant from the Ventura County Arts Council: an Artist in the Community Partnership Grant. I partnered with a local homeless shelter and created a live performance piece entitled “Voices of the Homeless,” starring members of the homeless community and backed up musically by jazz improvisers listening to their stories. I then made a documentary about that performance, which was awarded the Earth Charter and the Arts Award in 2012 for activism through the arts.This leads me to my current project, “My Little Heart, Ruthie,” which had been sitting on the shelf since 1994. It is a story rhyme with music and illustrations, a little healing story for adults and kids. It will become a picture book in both hard cover and E-Book format. It also has an accompanying CD, which contains my narration (thank you Children’s Theater) and jazz inspired musical suite (thank you Jazz and music theory), and will be available as both a physical CD and a digital download. Please check out the link on this website: https://www.tonijannotta.com/Ruthie
Thank you again for dropping by and reading Long Winded Me. I hope you will look around the site. And please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers and warm regards,