Jazz artist Elaine Dame has been thrilling audience’s nationwide, with her talent and charm. Most notably at New York city’s Rainbow Room and Chicago’s Joe & Wayne Segal's Jazz Showcase. Called "a gem in the city's vocal jazz scene", Elaine brings perfect atmosphere and charisma with every performance.
She has residencies all over Chicago and is slated to perform at the 2015 Chicago Jazz Festival. Her latest CD, “You're My Thrill”, released in 2014, has earned her high praise in the music industry. Elaine and her many friends in the music world are joining forces May 3 to host “Music for Matthew:” A Benefit for The Matthew Shepard Foundation. Elaine sat down with ChicagoPride.com and told us more about the event and her success in the last year.
CP: How did you come up with the idea to honor of Matthew Shepard?
ED: A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to perform at a reception for Judy Shepard, Matt's mother. I performed that evening and had the chance to listen to her speak as well as chat with her one on one. I found her to be incredibly courageous and was impressed by her quiet fortitude. I decided then that I wanted to do something for the organization and am finally following through on my promise. I have put together a few of these musical benefits over the years and it is my goal to organize one every few years. I don't have lots of money to give, but I do have my time and this is how I choose to "give back."
I've always been a gay rights advocate and the Matthew Shepard Foundation's story and mission is very simple - something anyone of any race, creed or culture can support: "the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance” Who can't get behind those ideas?!
CP: Who all will be performing?
ED: There will be about 40 jazz musicians and a small handful of cabaret artists, performing throughout the evening: saxophone, trombone, trumpet, keyboard, guitar, stand-up bass and vocals. It'll be like a big party, a "jazz jam" as well call it.
CP: How can folks participate?
ED: You can simply attend the event on Sunday, May 3rd. There is a suggested donation of $5 (Of course, you can give more if you'd like), and there will be an excellent array of raffle items all evening. You can also enjoy Southport and Irving's (SIP) phenomenal food and drink. The restaurant is donating 10% of the proceeds to the foundation! If you cannot attend, you can make a donation through the website in the name of "Music for Matthew."
CP: You started a new residence at SIP called Dame Thursday's. What can folks expect?
ED: Yes, I'm performing there with the incredible guitarist Neal Alger. We perform a nice mix of jazz, blues and even some pop tunes. It's a wonderful place to hear live music in an intimate atmosphere. I like to interact with the crowd a bit and we have a great time making music and hopefully entertaining folks while they wine and dine and enjoy all the fantastic cocktails that Ardit Dizdari has created. There is a very yummy cocktail called "The Dame" that I enjoy. It goes down very easily!
CP: You're new album "You're My Thrill" has been widely talked about. Tell us how you feel about it. Will you be recording another one soon?
ED: Thank you! I had an interesting time preparing, recording and promoting it. It's a huge creative endeavor and the process was very challenging, rewarding and exhilarating. I feel pretty good about the finished product. I hadn't made a record in a long time and this one represents a little slice of my musical life right now. I recorded it in a great studio with great musicians, so the quality of the music is pretty good, I think. I'm anxious to record another one already and am thinking of doing a duo album with all my favorite guitarists. There are so many great players in the city.
CP: Where else can folks see you perform?
ED: In addition to my weekly appearance at SIP, I have a bi-monthly residency at the 720 Lounge in the Hilton Hotel on South Michigan Avenue. My current schedule is always on my website at www.elainedame.com.
Be sure to catch Elaine Dame at “Music for Matthew:” A Benefit for The Matthew Shepard Foundation May 3, 2015 at Southport and Irving, 4000 N Southport Ave. Her album, "You're My Thrill!” is available on iTunes.