If it's good it doesn't need a label.” - Toni Gates
This sums up the attitude and music of Kansas City native, Toni Gates. Toni began her singing career in the comforts of her own home. Her mom says she started singing along with popular TV jingles as a toddler. The neighbors might remember what would have been otherwise quiet summer evenings if it weren’t for Toni swinging in the backyard unabashedly wailing “Like a Rhinestone Cowboy.”
No one expected that small voice to become what it is today. Toni recalls being fortunate to have a lot of different styles of music to listen to when she was little, “What my folks didn’t have in their classic Jazz, Country, Soul & Blues collection, my teenage sister made up for in her armory of Pop.”
The list of influential artists includes Nancy Wilson, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Billy Joel, Elton John, Ricki Lee Jones and Stevie Wonder. “I was a sponge. I listened constantly and it wasn’t uncommon for me to rehearse three or four hours a day.” Early on her goal was to be a versatile singer.
Having far surpassed that initial goal, Toni has developed an all-encompassing voice that contains great power, range, agility and gracefulness. Toni's professional experiences include being a church soloist, recording radio commercials, touring as lead vocalist with a big band, singing in cabaret shows, fronting jazz combos and directing and uniting with others in traditional choral and vocal jazz ensembles. Ms. Gates added songwriting to her repertoire and produced her first CD of nine originals, Outside the Lines, in 2003. “Each song reminds me of some place I’ve been or of someone I’ve known.” The listener will find nice surprises in “Over and Over,” which focuses on the battles a loved one with drug addiction tackles; “Look,” written for her husband, light-heartedly covers new love and how it keeps us slightly off kilter and “Good Things,” speaks to everyone who struggles with depression and reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.