Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blues/jazz diva Lisa Otey marks 40th birthday with tuneful bash

Thursday, May 24, 2007 :
Blues/jazz diva Lisa Otey marks 40th birthday with tuneful bash

Published: 05.24.2007
Blues/jazz diva Lisa Otey marks 40th birthday with tuneful bash
By Cathalena E.. Burch

How does Tucson's piano-tickling, blues/jazz diva extraordinaire celebrate her landmark 40th birthday?
Why, with music, silly.

On June 2 the Tucson Jazz Society is helping Lisa Otey throw herself a birthday bash to mark her recent foray into the land of 40-something.

On the eve of turning 40 last Friday, we caught up with Otey about her "big" event.

So, a colleague of mine wants to know how many times you've celebrated turning 40.
"This is my first."

Are you freaking out?
"I always think of every year as a great accomplishment. So I'm thrilled with it. Just to make it through another year. My life is wonderful; there's nothing that I dread. Some people have a big buildup to this, and they start noticing how their bodies are changing. I'm just excited to be here."

When you were a kid, what was your impression of people who were 40?
"I never really thought about people by their ages. I always hung out with people who were all ages. My friends cover the whole gamut. I still think of myself as a baby."

Chronologically or mentally?

So on this monumental landmark, are you where you imagined you'd be in your career and personal life?
"Well, I remember when I came here in 1984 to go to college and my roommate asked me what I was going to do. I said, 'I want to play piano.' She said, 'What if it doesn't work out?' 'Well, it has to. That's all I know.' It's worked out. Everything I've ever wanted has come true. . . . You never can plan it. That's the beautiful and courageous thing about making a living with music. So far, everything has worked out fine."
What's your 40th birthday wish?
"That everybody buys a ticket to my concert. And then they can all have cake."

How do you plan to spend the day after the big party?
"I want to say unwrapping all my gifts, but my gift will be everyone coming to my concert. How about
basking in the glow?"

What are your plans for the next 40 years?
"To know that I'm on the road to happiness. I want to continue to travel and make music. I also want to spend a little more time at home.
"I'm a very romantic person, and being on the road alone is not the most romantic thing. Tucson has been a wonderful place for a musician to live, because it's been so supportive.
"So many people say they can't get recognition at home, that they have to travel to make a living. That's not true here. I feel embraced by the whole community, and also there's tremendous support for me to take my wings and fly all over the place."

Lisa Otey in 'A Night Alone With You'
• When: 7 p.m. June 2
• Where: Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.
• Cost: $20 advance, $15 for Tucson Jazz Society members, by calling 370-5912; $25 at the door.