Elaine Lucia Biography
Elaine's formative years and career show why she is one of the rare true jazz singers where her classical background is a definite asset. Raised in upstate New York, she first sang in choirs and local musical theater productions, most times walking or riding her bike the many miles from her rural home to rehearsals in the nearby town. She taught herself to play the guitar, piano, and flute, and formed or sang in countless ensembles, performing everything from classical to country, to jazz, rock, and R&B.
Elaine began classical vocal training at age fifteen, studying opera and the classical repertoire with the local opera company. During high school, she won a summer scholarship to attend the Chautaqua Institute for the Arts, and after graduating early from high school, she won a theater scholarship to the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University). Elaine performed in various musicals, but a turning point came when the opening night for a play in which she had a leading role coincided with an opportunity to sing with Marian McPartland (Elaine was the vocalist with the university's big band, and Ms. McPartland was the guest artist). That did it, and the musical road was what she chose. Two years later she auditioned for and won a vocal scholarship to attend Eastman School of Music. While there, Elaine continued to study the classical repertoire, but immersed herself in jazz. She performed with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and spent weekends performing at jazz clubs. When federal grant money was cut at the end of Elaine's first year at Eastman she took a trip to California, supposedly for a year, but never went back.
Within months she was recording background vocals and performing with her own jazz group at clubs in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Elaine's following grew over the years, and she's developed a reputation among sidemen as a "musician's singer," a vocalist with an eclectic song list and her own unique arrangements and interpretations. "I always wanted to be one of the boys, and I felt I had something to prove musically. I treat my voice as a fine instrument, and I train it and use it just like any serious instrumentalist would." Other gigs included her guitar and vocal version of the National Anthem, (which she has performed at the Oakland Coliseum for the Golden State Warriors for the past twenty seasons), and countless nightclub and background vocal recording sessions.
Her many and varied musical endeavors continue to bring Elaine increased recognition. She produced a CD with her long-time collaborator and excellent engineer, Jamie Bridges. That CD, Elaine Lucia....Sings Jazz and Other Things, was released nationally in the Spring of 2001 for Raw Records. It received substantial air play on over 150 jazz stations and garnered excellent reviews. Since its release, "..[.J]azz and other things" has brought Elaine more engagements at nightclubs and festivals in San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno Nevada, and Lake Tahoe. In February 2002, she premiered her "Lucia Sings Lee," show, a tribute to the late, great Peggy Lee, at the renowned Plush Room in San Francisco. Complete with vintage costumes and a chronological sequence of Ms. Lee's greatest hits from the '40's to the '60's, Elaine's performance created a lot of excitement and offers for more shows including as headliner at the 2002 Tahoe Jazz Festival.
Currently, Elaine continues to perform regularly with her jazz quartet in the Bay Area, and recently released her latest CD, “A Sonny Day,” a sunny, sparkling tribute to her late father, Frank “Sonny” Lucia, who greatly influenced and supported her musical career. She is carrying on her writing and guitar playing, is a member of the West Coast Songwriters Association, performs regulary as a singer/songwriter in addition to her jazz shows, and is currently recording a vocal/guitar project of all original tunes.
(Author and jazz historian Mike Lipskin is a world-renowned stride pianst who performs with Elaine occasionally.)