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About Jill Hughes

To hear my mother tell it my singing career began at the tender age of three. My big influence… Popeye. After a wonderful day with Olive Oyl he would skip down the street..scatting in nonsense syllables. That was me. No words, just scat singing. My true singing career began in my grandfather’s church at age five. By the time I was 13 I had the bug for performing. Under the guise of walking the family dog, I would sneak away to perform a set or two singing with a guitarist at a local pub. Both I and the owner of the pub knew we were in dangerous territory, but the crowd loved the music and the drinks kept flowing It was a win-win situation….until my mother found out. It did put a temporary end to my young, but prosperous, nightclub gig. However, the path was set. I knew that I would spend my life pursuing a music career.

Saratoga Springs is the place where my musical career took shape. While attending Skidmore College I met an up and coming piano player, Carl Landa. Our meeting began a thirteen year musical collaboration. Carl & I performed in two of the top clubs in Saratoga Springs, The Tin Shoppe and The Metro Cafe. It was at the Tin Shoppe that I was fortunate enough to gig in the shadow of such artists and groups as Steps, featuring Michael Brecker, Tommy Flanagan, Betty Carter, James Blood Ulmer and McCoy Tyner.

A change of venue to New York City presented opportunities to perform at The Blue Note, The Green Street Cafe and Burgundy Cafe. I moved back to upstate NY to return to the Metro Cafe to become the lead singer with the upstairs house band featuring Bill Jones, Chris Rouse and George DeHart. After Bill Jones retired the Metro Cafe became my home base for several years. With Carl & I serving as anchors each performance brought new fresh talent from in and around the area. The unique house band atmosphere led to guest appearances with several national touring groups – Lucky Peterson; The Holmes Brothers; Papa Chubby; Big Jack Johnson; Johnny Johnson; Sandra Wright and many others.

Career Highlights:

  • 1993/1994/1995 Best Jazz & RB Vocal Female – Metroland
  • 1993 Opening Act for David Sanborn at the Starlite Music Theatre
  • Release of “Upstairs” – collaborative CD with the Metro All-Stars
  • 1994/95 NYC – Appearances at Birdland; The Five Spot; Manny’s Car Wash and Le Bar Bat
  • 1994 Lead vocalist – Broadway recording session “Having Our Say” under the direction of Baikida Carroll and David Sancious
  • 1997 Original composition, “Take This Heart”, featured in the independent film, “Sue”
  • 1997-1999 Established the band, “The Institute for Soul Research” w/ Grammy nominee Al Quagliari. An eight piece R&B/soul band featured at the Metro Cafe.
  • 2002 Featured guest artist with “The Funk Brothers”- the original Motown recording band (Bob Babbitt; at the Albany Tulip Festival
  • 2005/6 Guest artist performing the National Anthem at Camden Yards/Baltimore, MD for the Baltimore Orioles
  • 2005 Lead Vocalist/Band Leader – Body & Soul/New York Players Entertainment Group