Born: July 12, 1946 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Boston-based vocalist Toni Ballard, who is profiled in Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide (Backbeat Press) by jazz writer Scott Yanow, has been singing with big bands and in jazz settings in New England since 1979. The Chicago native has performed with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the White Heat Swing Orchestra, the Boston Big Band, the Silver Bullet Swing Orchestra, the Worcester Jazz Orchestra, and the Ryles Jazz Orchestra, including an appearance in 2002 at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. She has appeared in Boston at Scullers Jazz Club, Ryles, the Starlight Roof and the Regattabar and has been featured on WGBH radio on Homegrown and Jazz with Eric in the Evening with Eric Jackson and Music America with Ron Della Chiesa. In 1984, Toni was one of ten singers invited to perform in New York City at the American Song Stylists concert, headlined by Shirley Horn. Her 1997 CD I'm Your Pal features guitar icon Larry Coryell, and she has plans in the works for a CD of big band arrangements by Jerry Seeco. She was the creator, producer and host of the award-winning jazz TV show Studio 3, which aired on Channel 3 throughout Central Massachusetts from 1994 to 2004. Excerpts of shows can be viewed at www.jazzhistorydatabase.com. She also hosted jazz TV shows for BET and jazz radio programs on WICN and WGBH. From 1998 to 2004, she was a publicist at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since spring 2009, Toni has performed five times in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Awards:"Studio 3" (which she produced and hosted) was named Best Program Series in New England Produced by a Woman by New England Women in Cable and Video (1997); Best Jazz Act (Worcester Phoenix, 1998)
Vocalist Toni Ballard has an actor's ability to change her mood as the song-role indicates. Hers is a crystal clear sound with a straightforward style that allows the lyrics to shine through. She delivers familiar love songs beautifully, such as My One and Only Love . . . or The Song Is You. - Patricia Myers, JazzTimes
Toni Ballard's lovely singing voice -- pure and sweet, if not entirely innocent -- is finally available on this musically sound and well-produced date. She sounds right at home whether with a straight-ahead trio (Make Someone Happy and That Old Black Magic) or with complex originals that travel from sheer magic (Midnight Tree) to a whimsical and nostalgic fraternal love story (Danny). . . And Ballard's personal warmth and witty humanity come through on every track . . . a welcome, overdue album from a classy performer. - Fred Bouchard, Boston Phoenix
“Tying everything together is Toni Ballard’s very appealing voice. She sings the lyrics clearly and melodically yet gives every word jazz phrasing.” - Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
The title track to Toni Ballard's I'm Your Pal speaks volumes about her growth as a singer. In a duet with guitarist Larry Coryell, she sings with an emotional directness that immediately connects with and befriends the listener. - Chet Williamson, Worcester Magazine
Toni Ballard has always been one of my favorite singers. Her spirited renditions of the Great American Songbook are a joy to listen to. I hope you'll take the time to discover her sublime vocal talent. - Ron Della Chiesa, WGBH
I'm Your Pal
Tracks: Make Someone Happy; My One and Only Love; The Song is You; I'm Your Pal; Three-Bass Hit; From This Moment On; Midnight Tree; Taking a Chance on Love; That Old Black Magic; Danny.
Personnel: Larry Coryell: guitar; Harvie Swartz: bass; Bevan Manson: piano/arr; Jack Diefendorf: drums; Ken Cervenka: trumpet; Greg Hopkins: trumpet; Jeff Galindo: trombone; Miles Donahue: tenor sax; Chester Brezniak: clarinet; Christina Kirby: flute; Justin Ballard: guitar and Bob Simonelli: additional bass (Three-Bass Hit); Joanna Kurkewiscz: violin; Margaret Strange: viola; Feng Hew: cello; Cathy Lawlor: synthesizer.
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