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Jazz singer Barbara Morrison bares her soul

Morgan Auditorium was filled with the sound of cool jazz and soulful blues as Barbara Morrison performed on Tuesday. She has performed with such jazz and blues greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Etta James, Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra. Her musical performance was punctuated by humorous stories and audience participation. / photo by David Bess

Genesis Miranda
Staff Writer

During her Tuesday concert in Morgan Auditorium, jazz and blues singer Barbara Morrison had many in the audience dancing in their seats.

Morrison sang a variety of jazz and blues songs from artists such as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by the Reed Gratz Band that had the audience clapping and dancing along the entire time.

“It was an honor to have a person of her caliber at La Verne,” said Kathleen Lamkin, professor of music history.

When the band first came out, they immediately started playing a song in which each musician had a solo, as a way of introducing their styles to the audience.

Gratz then introduced each band member before introducing Morrison.

The band featured Gratz on piano, Steve Alaniz on saxophone, Michael O’Neill on guitar, Andrew Ford on bass and Mike Bennett on drums.

Morrison’s positive and fun personality began to show as she came on stage with a big smile and swayed over to the microphone for the first song, “I Love Being Here With You.”

After each song, Morrison would take time to speak with the audience and joke around with them.

“I went to the ATM to take out money, I put in my card, put in my code and how much money I wanted to take out and the ATM laughed at me,” Morrison said.

She then began the second song titled “Candy” which was a slower speed and was more of a ballad.

“I felt comfortable when we did sound check and I knew I was going to be comfortable tonight,” Morrison said.

“I thought it was going to be fun, and it was.”

Morrison was dancing along to the music and was having fun on stage along with the audience.

The musicians also joined in the fun atmosphere as they bobbed their heads to the rhythm.

“It is important for a singer to feel comfortable,” Morrison said.

“You have to be consistent with how you feel.”

“I enjoyed the concert a lot,” said Gayle Claiborne, who works with Child Development Services for the Pomona Unified School District.

“I remember listening to her music growing up.”

“I think she was tremendous,” Joan Branin, professor of health services management said. “She had so much energy, I felt like a groupie.”

“The concert was wonderful and I think they should have charged admission,” said Violeta Saunders, Diamond Bar resident. “She is just such a marvelous entertainer that words cannot explain.”

It was clear to see that the audience enjoyed the concert as they stood up during a couple of songs, clapped their hands and sang along to the music.

The last song also featured a solo from each musician before ending the concert. Morrison danced along to the music as the musicians played their last song.

The concert was followed by a CD signing of her various albums and a reception in the Hanawalt house.

Genesis Miranda can be reached at

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