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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Vickie Van Dyke

vickie van dykeSmitty:
  Well, they say that radio personalities are all voice.  If that’s true, my next guest has completely shattered the mold.  Sure, she has a great voice; however, she has some seriously cool skills.  She is a musician, a writer, a great lover of jazz, she has a heart of platinum, and she is drop dead gorgeous.  Please welcome the amazing Ms. Vickie Van Dyke.  Vickie, how are ya?

Vickie Van Dyke (VVD):  Smitty, am I sending you a check for that or did you want cash?  (Both laughing.)  That was so nice!  How do I live up to that billing?  I am fine.  I’m just thrilled to be talking to you.

Smitty:  Oh, that’s great.  Well, it’s well deserved, my friend, because you’ve done so many things that are so amazing. Because when we think about radio personalities, they’re on the air, we listen to the music, we listen to their persona, and every radio personality has their own personality. That’s why we use the term.  But when we really dig deep and think about the things that you’ve done, man, you’ve had just an amazing life.

VVD:  Well, the whole radio thing for me was completely unplanned, totally back door.  It wasn’t like I woke up when I was 17 years old and said “Oh, my goodness, I have to be on radio.”  I really wanted to be a Broadway star. That was it for me. I did a lot of musical theater, I wanted to be a Broadway star, but then I wrote songs and then I wanted to be, not a radio broadcasting star, but I wanted to be the next Carole King. That was my life’s work right there:  write songs, record songs, and do Broadway at the same time.  And then you get a little bit older and life changes and you start thinking about maybe having a family and settling down, and perhaps all that stardom doesn’t quite land in your lap (laughs)….to where you hoped it might, and all of a sudden somebody said to me one day, “Have you ever thought about radio?  You’ve got that low voice going on and you’re sure not afraid to talk, girl.”  (Both laughing.)  And I thought “Oh, radio.  Hmm, that could be fun.”  But then I thought “Well, I’ve already got a university degree, I really don’t wanna go back to school,” so I just started hounding every radio person I knew until somebody gave me a job. I literally had one day’s training and that was it. I’ve been on the air ever since.

Smitty:  Wow. It appears that you were meant to be on the air. How long have you been in radio?

VVD:  I have been in radio since 1989.

Smitty:  Wow.  And you didn’t start out on jazz radio, did you?

VVD:  Well, there was no jazz radio.  And not even being aware of Smooth Jazz as a format, I didn’t even realize that I am a Smooth Jazz girl.  I have a song that I wrote back in the mid-1980s that I actually had recorded with a fabulous sax solo, a total groove song. One day I’m gonna re-record it as it is, because it’s a Smooth Jazz song and I realized that’s what I was digging even back in the eighties. But great music is great music and I love all kinds of different stuff, and I worked country radio for ten years.

Smitty:  (Laughing)

VVD:  Believe it or not. And, I mean, I’ve sung everything myself from pop to rock to country. Obviously now I have a jazz band and that’s what I like doing the best, but yeah, I mean, you know, radio’s radio.  If you like to talk and if you like to present good music, it’s all good.

Smitty:  Yeah, absolutely. How did the band start? How did you go from being this great radio personality to putting a band together?    

VVD:  Well, it was really the other way around. I had a band first. When I graduated from university until I got into radio, I was on the road, I had a band, and then I got into radio and sort of gave up the live performing. I mean, people used to say to me “Do you still sing?”  And I said “Absolutely.  In the shower.  Come on over.”  (Both laughing.) That was it.  I mean, I didn’t even jam around the piano. I really sort of gave it up. And then when I got into Smooth Jazz and got hired at WAVE 94.7, I started realizing how much I miss singing and I was singing along with the songs and especially the instrumentals, I’d make up words, and then I realized that I really would like to do this again now that I have an opportunity to sing the kind of music I really wanna sing.

I started off with my son’s piano teacher, who is a great piano player, and she and I started doing some gigs together, and she decided to move on to some other things and I was approached by some up and coming Canadian talent, and people quite regularly call me up, musicians, and they wanna pick my brain. What kind of music can they do?  Will I listen to their demo?  Is it suitable for our format?  And I ended up with these two amazing musicians, guitar player Steve Manning and Stan Fomin, who was recently nominated for keyboardist of the year at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, and now I’ve got these two incredible musicians, both of whom have solo projects that we play on The WAVE, and they’re both playing with me. Yeah, I’ll just take it for as long as they wanna give it to me.

Smitty:  Absolutely!

VVD:  It’s a good thing.

Smitty:  Well, you know, I’m a shower singer, so…

VVD:  Are you?

Smitty:  Yeah, I’m strictly shower.  I’m waiting for someone to cut a record in the shower.  I don’t know why they haven’t.  (Laughs.)

VVD:  And call it “The Shower Sessions.”

Smitty:  Yeah, you know?

VVD:  Or “Don’t Drop That Soap.”

Smitty:  Yeah!  ([Laughing.)  Or the Ceramic Tile Quartet, you know?

VVD:  Yup, that sounds good, yeah.

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