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Exclusive interview with the woman bringing Bossa Nova into the mainstream: Zoe Scott

Zoe Scott is breaking through in an unusual way, to say the least. With a few years of rock singing and musicianship under her belt, Scott decided to return to our ears in the guise of Bossa Nova – traditional Brazilian jazz. But what prompted the change? And what other surprises does her new album, ‘Shades of Love’, have in store? We got the scoop to find out more…

What inspired the change from rock and roll to jazz and Bossa Nova? It’s an interesting move!

After 10 years in rock –  a big life change crashed in with the unexpected closing down of my record label, and loss of my home. During the same time, my new album won LA Music Awards; and also was honored for best original song. The sudden loss was a huge wake up call. Should I begin again down the same road, launching my latest album? Start over? My heart just wasn’t in it. Something was missing.

Years of rock – performing, promotions, and recording, hard driving schedules and endless stress left little time for following the very spiritual and healing practices that led me to the USA and rock originally. My love of the ocean, deserts, mountains – Earth Mother – and my passion to study the healing arts – had been on hold for too long.

I craved the quiet of nature and time in silence. I moved to Malibu to rest and restore my creative spirit. I studied with spiritual and herbal healers, and explored the many paths of healing and restoring balance after a big set back. I learned of the powers of healing sadness, loss and trauma. Through yoga, meditation, Native Inca traditions, Buddhism, kirtain, dance, song and chants, I found my self – my true self.  

As my internal landscape changed, my moods and desires changed too. As I became more ‘me’, I found my current partner. We explored jazz and I sang the classics we both loved. Then, when I heard the Bossa Nova songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim, everything changed. I fell in love!  I loved singing them. I love the poetry, the melody’s, the samba rhythms. There’s a special ‘love affair’ vibe that I share when I sing them for others, and I see that they feel it too.. The more I sang, the more deeply I fell under their spell. It fits like a glove, and I feel happy. I’m hooked: I get (and share) immense pleasure singing Jazz in the Bossa Nova style.

 

You’ve said that this album represents the stages of your life’s journey. Could you expand on that idea?

All of us go through many passages or changes in our lives. There are stages that are marked by special moments, by loved ones passing, by new loves forming. Even regrets and sorrow. Times of quiet and times of passion. I told my producer I wanted this album to go on a very romantic journey, in which I  explore again all the “Shades of Love” I’ve experienced.

We fall in love in so many different ways, at different moments of our lives. Each song is a “shade of love” and a moment of love in my life. The journey winds from romantic and passionate love to spiritual and soulful love. I’m a lover, I love life, I love me in life – life is love. This album is a love letter to those I’ve loved, some I’ve lost; and to those loving friends and family that share my life now. And to those seeking more love and happiness in their lives.

Each song reminds me of a moment in my life. It becomes autobiographic in my soul before I sing it. Each is a memory of someone I’ve shared a loving experience with. I sing it to them when I’m recording in the vocal booth. In my mind I’m in the scene with them.

“In My Life” (by The Beatles) I sang for my friend David who was passing over, during the time I was recording the album. I also sang it to him in his final days. “Stand By You”, I sang to my goddaughter when her beloved dog died, and then we gave flowers to the ocean for the good memories and his spirit’s journey home. “My Cheri Amore” I sing to a summer fling, even though we never really spent much time together. “7 Lives” I sing to my current long-term partner and best friend. We have 7 years together this year and a deep love story that’s unfolding. “I’m No Good” of course is in honor of Amy. But I’m also singing it to my rock ‘n’ roll years, when maybe, like Amy, I had one more lover than I should have. Perhaps afterwards, I regretted all the consequences of that affair.  

What was the inspiration behind performing cover versions instead of originals for this album?

I am a songwriter and I wrote all the material on my rock records. Writing, singing, producing, recording and performing? Total overload and little time for love or fun. No regrets. I did enjoy it at that time. The love of composing never dies – even now, I often jot down notes for future songs. Perhaps in the future I will write and sing originals again.

For now, I’ve moved on through another passage, and WOW — with such amazing songs out there to sing, why not sing them? I’m first and foremost a performer and I love to perform. I love sharing what I love with others and sharing the happiness. More laid back? Definitely! More my style? Exactly. Doing covers means I have the time and the space to enjoy the song – who wrote it, who sang it, who loves it?  I fell in love with each song as if it were my own. And I always follow my heart and what makes me happiest.

 

Did you feel any nervousness at covering such well-loved songs on this album?

There are times I felt a bit cheeky: Like who am I to be singing the Beatles? They were like the gods of my childhood, growing up in UK! The Amy Winehouse song was actually the easiest for me. My producer said: “…you have real chemistry with that song!” Not sure if that means I really am a little bit “no good” (HA!) but it only took me 3 takes. My heart was in it.  The Beatles song took longer: A couple of different days of recording to find it!

When singing Jobim’s songs I’m like a passionate kid, so happy to do it, even though I required some special vocal coaching. It took practice and “ear training” to sing all the notes as written. Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t have that many notes.

I felt very vulnerable singing this album from my heart. But that’s exactly what Moogie, my producer, wanted: A fragility and nakedness in the vocals. I think we captured that.

 

What’s the plan for the rest of this album cycle, since live shows are currently out of the question?

Like everyone, there’s no public performing now, so I’ll continue live streaming from my garden, with my Rio Trio. It is fun to do a performance or an interview (split screen) and get feedback on social media. When it’s time, hopefully soon, I may be hosting (live streaming) an interview or even a music show from my garden. For now launching my CD and keeping up with new friends and music lovers – is mostly what’s happening.

 

If you could turn one of your cover versions into a duet with the original artist (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

Antonio Carlos Jobim has passed over – love to sing with him. Perhaps his Bossa Nova Spirit is here at times. Stevie Wonder would be a JOY to sing a live performance with.  Amy Winehouse, I would love to give her a hug and share with her what I learned from my healing journey. I miss her voice… and spirit.

Exclusive interview with the woman bringing Bossa Nova into the mainstream: Zoe Scott
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