Jacqui Sutton Jacqui Sutton

As a singer, getting there wasn’t a straightforward trip. I was born in Orlando, Florida, the second of six children. In the 1960s, my mother (newly single, and pregnant with her sixth child), was determined to make a better life for all of us. She moved us to Rochester, New York. Think: Martin Luther King, Jr., the Beatles, integration, school busing, and the Jackson 5. It was about crossing lines. That sense of boundary trespass filtered into my world as I found myself drawn to experiences that were the opposite of my own. I could never get enough of Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, nor the Beatles’ Yesterday. We had one of those old-fashioned, what I call “kitchen table radios”, with the round wooden body, fabric over the speakers, and a crackly dial. I’d lean against that radio and be consumed by the sadness of Yesterday. Later in life, even certain songs that I heard on Muzak radio stations could make me stop in my tracks. It just had to sound beautiful to my ears. (Musical theater would take longer for me to appreciate, but I got there eventually.) As a musician, I had a brief stint in grade school as a flutist—recitals and everything—which ended abruptly at around age 11 when I lost the instrument and was terrified to report it. Around 1982 (my early 20s), I realized that there were no flute police in the Rochester City School District, and I could well have gone on to have some kind of instrumental career

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