The music business “ain’t” necessarily easy for women. But, if you persevere and stay true to the course your heart has for you, you can meet with success. Paula Atherton is a jazz woman who has done just that. We appreciate her taking time from her busy touring, writing and recording life to answer just a few questions for us.
“My philosophy as a woman and as a musician is to always do my best and to enjoy what I do – process and all – every day.”
You wanted a piano when you were a little girl but your parents couldn’t afford it, so you ended up studying flute when you got to school. Did it take the place of the feeling that you wanted to learn piano?
I was just happy to get an instrument!
Did the piano ever come to play in your life?
Yes I often use piano to write.
You also play sax, flute, and sing. Did you ever pursue or feel the need for vocal coaching? Why or why not?
I play alto, soprano and sometimes bari sax (mostly for recordings), flute and I sing. Voice was my first instrument. I did study voice and vocal improvising.
Do you play around with other instruments, such as the guitar or drums, or do you stick to those instruments that you chose (or that chose you!).
I stick to what I play, I have my hands full with that!
You tour and travel quite a bit. Do you have a steady band that travels with you or do you use musicians at the locations that you go to?
I mostly use musicians that are local to the area, but sometimes get to bring my band.
In regards to that, what would be your preference – a regular steady group of musicians or others that you pick up at the gig? Does it matter?
I prefer to use my band because they know my music so well, however, I’ve worked with some great musicians on the road, and that’s been great too.
What is your favorite venue and why?
I’d have to say that Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach, CA is one of my favorite venues!
Does the audience differ based on where you go and do they come specifically to see you or does some of the audience happen to be there?
If it’s a club, I would say they’re coming to see me. If it’s a festival, there will be people there to see the other acts on that festival also. If there is a radio station in the area that plays my music, I usually will have more of an audience in that area.
Often fans don’t understand the process that’s involved with creating music from the writing of the music to the lyrics to the musicians that record all of the instruments to the music mastering to the creation of the actual physical cd — the completion of the project. One of your cds took you four years to complete. Why did it take that long?
The recording studio we have is open to the public, and it was very busy, We were recording in between clients. Then it took a little while to find a home for the recording; we’re talking about “Groove with Me” here.