Esther was awarded her 10th WAMMIE for Jazz Vocalist 2010 by the Washington Area Music Association on February 20th, 2010! Visit http://wamadc.com/wama/wammies/wnoms25.htm to view all nominees and winners.
Esther received a Wammie Nomination for Jazz Vocals, 2010. She has received 9 Wammie Awards for Big Band/Swing and Jazz Vocals since 2003.
A native of Virginia, Esther grew up hearing the sounds of bluegrass music. She learned finger-style folk guitar from her sixth grade teacher and started studying bluegrass banjo at age 15, which she continued playing seriously until age 21. During her college years at Virginia Tech, she attended jam sessions and fiddler's conventions in southwestern Virginia, where there is a strong traditional music culture. She played in a folk guitar/voice duo with at coffeehouses, crafts fairs and outdoor events, and had her first paying gig with a bluegrass band in Beaufort, S.C. She also took a group voice class where her professor invited her to take private lessons, and informed her that "music was her element."
On one drive to college with her brother, she heard a tape of Billie Holiday singing "Violets for Her Furs", which made a distinct impression on her. At age 26 she decided to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied professional music and voice. She met some great musicians there, including Flying Fish artists Hiro Arita, Howie Tarnower, Matt Glaser, Eric Levinson, and Ruthie Dornfeld, who played in Boston City Limits, a bluegrass and swing band. When their singer Chris Jones left for Nashville, Esther was invited to join them as vocalist and rhythm guitarist. While in Boston she also worked with ragtime blues guitarist Larry Unger, playing swing dances and benefits in the area, and was invited to perform on a cable television program, "The Routes of American Music."
Other experiences include two years performing in Tel Aviv, recording in New York and Vermont with John Dirac (of the Either Orchestra), and working in the D.C. area with Swing Season, The Resonators, and Justin Lees. She sang the title track on Eddie McGee's CD entitled "Who Will Sing for Me?" which placed 9th on Durham's radio rating in April of 1999, and was selected to perform as local talent in the Chesapeake Bay Blues festival in May of 2000 and 2001. Currently she performs in a jazz duo with guitarist Phil Mathieu (of Ruthie and the Wranglers) and with Hokum Jazz, a hot jazz and swing group that includes members of the Resonators, J.C. Veve and Nevada Newman. She was twice nominated for a WAMMIE (Washington Area Music Award) in the area of Traditional Jazz Vocals.
In 2001, Esther produced her first CD featuring songs of vocalists from the 20's and 30's such as Alberta Hunter, Sippie Wallace, Memphis Minnie, Lil Green, Bessie Smith and others. The CD was nominated for a WAMMIE in 2001.
Esther has been awarded 6 WAMMIES, (Washington Area Music Awards), 4 for Big Band/Swing vocals, and 2 for Jazz vocals, since 2003.
She is currently working with guitarist Keith Grimes, who recorded on Eva Cassidy's albums! Currently a 3rd CD with Keith Grimes is in progress, but donations are needed for its completion. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help in this effort.