1. Who are you?
Tara O’Grady is a singer/songwriter who leads her own jazz/blues band in New York City. She seems to have been born in the wrong decade with a voice like Billie Holiday and retro threads reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood. Growing up on Irish trad music and big band swing, she combined both and released her first album, Black Irish, in 2010. Swinging songs like “Danny Boy” led to wanting to compose her own songs, so in 2011 she recorded her sophomore CD, Good Things Come to Those Who Wait, in Nashville.
2. What are you working on at the moment?
Tara is preparing for her upcoming recording of her third album, A Celt in the Cotton Club, a collection of new songs and a few Irish favorites in her unique style blending jazz, blues and folk. The songs will take listeners on a journey from Belfast to Butte, Montana.
3. Do you have upcoming events you would like people to attend?
On February 14, Tara will be performing live at the Cell Theatre for the premiere of a new jazz series called “Jazz at the Cell “with members of her Black Velvet Band, as well as special guests including Jordan Sandke on trumpet and Michael Howell on guitar, a former member of Dizzy Gillespie’s band. The ‘My Funny Valentine’ show will take the audience through the stages of love. The rapturous heartache begins at 8:00pm at 338 W. 23 Street. FREE.
4. What are five things you can’t live without?
- Red lipstick
5. Your favorite quote at the moment and why?
“Be more awesome.” A nine-year old called Kid President has his own You Tube channel and is trying to teach boring adults to have more fun, create cool stuff for the universe to make the world a better place, and dance more. I think that’s awesome.
6. Who have you always wanted to work with and why?
Steven Spielberg. I’m a film fanatic, and have always wanted to work in cinema.
7. If you had the opportunity to ask someone when you were starting out for advice, who would you have asked and what would you have asked?
My question would have been, how do I pursue a life in the arts, and I would have asked anyone in any art form that looked happy about their chosen path. I was always taught to pursue “a real job” with stability, health insurance and a retirement package. I wish someone advised me when I was a teenager that pursuing something you are passionate about is as real as it gets. And that bliss is better than bucks.
8. If you could dream about trying out something you haven’t yet tried out in the arts, what would that be?
I would really love to be able to play guitar, piano, ukulele, just about any instrument. I wish I learned when I was younger. But it’s never too late to start. My voice is my instrument, but I would like to learn the physical tools to express myself even more.
9. What was the best gift that someone gave you that inspired or facilitated an interest in your art?
Encouragement. I used to be told not to sing. I was even rejected when I auditioned for my high school chorus. I didn’t believe I was a musician because I didn’t study music. I needed people to tell me, hey, you have a voice, and you have the ability to write, so just do it.