Music

Sasha Dobson's Journey Out Of Jazz And Into Songwriting

NPR | June 29, 2013 12:44 p.m.

Contributed By:

NPR Staff

Formerly a scat singer, Sasha Dobson has just released her first solo album of original songs, Aquarius.

Formerly a scat singer, Sasha Dobson has just released her first solo album of original songs, Aquarius.

L. Arthi Krishnaswami, Courtesy of the artist

Smith Dobson was one of the most sought-after pianists of the Bay Area when he died in a car crash in 2001. He was part of a musical family — his wife, Gail, a jazz singer; his son a drummer. His daughter, Sasha Dobson, was a scat singer who followed the family’s jazz muse until her dad’s tragic death.

Then, Sasha picked up the guitar, started playing in her friend Norah Jones‘ band, and now she has her own solo career; Aquarius, her first album of original songs, has just been released. Click the audio link to hear her conversation with NPR’s Lynn Neary, and read on for highlights, including some that didn’t make the radio version.


Interview Highlights

On leaving jazz behind

“It’s actually still pretty hard for me, because I get so much energy from that music, and I don’t know how to be a part of both worlds. Especially these days, you really have to title yourself to move forward in your career. But I wish to do both forever. I still love that music; I still harbor a torch for that knowledge. I just don’t quite know how to filter it into what I’m doing now. It’s just not my way anymore, especially socially. Picking up the guitar really opened up my life socially in a totally different way.”

On Puss n Boots, her country trio with Norah Jones

“We were just comrades, you know? Pals on the scene. We both lost touch for various reasons. And one day years later we ran into each other, and that was it. I mentioned that I was thinking about playing guitar, and she was like, ‘Oh, my God, me too.’ … Most of the covers that I would offer up were old jazz numbers, and most of the covers that Norah would offer up were more like Hank Williams and so on. [Country music] was maybe something that we embraced first because it’s simple in its chord structure; you can dive in. That’s part of the reason I love guitar, is that I only needed to know a few chords.”

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