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Exclusive Interview: Anna Varga
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Jamsterdam Radio had the opportunity to interview entertainer recording artist Anna Varga. Anna's track 'These Days' can be heard during the Jamsterdam Top 10 airing daily at 10am and midnight EST.

JR: Who are you and where are you from?

AV: My name is Anna Varga and I'm an entertainer, a band leader, producer and recording artist. I grew up in St Louis but I'm currently living in NYC.

JR: How long have you been a recording artist and what was it in St. Louis that got you started in the industry?

AV: St Louis has a rich music culture and I'm lucky to have grown up around that. The old Beale St cats were still working the circuit there when I was a kid. I started singing in church as a child. So I have a blues and gospel background. An agent saw a photo of me on my father's desk and told him I had a good look for commercial print. So my parents gave me acting, singing, dance and music lessons. I was working professionally as a teen. That made me very independent.

JR: Your career spawned from a baby photo. That's pretty crazy. Who were your first musical influences and which artists can you credit for your work?

AV: My musical tastes are all over the place. I think there are great artists to be found in every genre. I listen to Jazz but I'm a closet country music fan too. What I'm doing couldn't be possible without Debbie Harry or David Bowie. Recently, I saw my neighbour David Johansen (Buster Poindexter) perform his lounge act at The Carlyle. I was inspired by that. But I have to admit that my strongest influences are black artists. I started performing Jazz in Harlem. My strongest supporters and teachers have been my black friends hands down.

JR: What are your thoughts on collaborations with other artists?

AV: I'm open to collaboration. I'm very lucky to be working with some of the best talent in NYC and New Orleans. Feeling very blessed.

JR: Which ingredient would you say defines Anna Varga as unique?

AV: Nobody was doing what I was doing when I started. A female led Jazz band was a throwback to the 1940s. Now there have been a lot of spin offs. At first I felt threatened by that. But I realized that no one can mimic your originality or sincerity. My friend Michael Arenella with his Dreamland Orchestra was a huge source of encouragement when I started. He showed me the ropes. A lot of performers in NYC emulate him. Its OK to do that. But its better to make it your own and give due credit.

JR: Your track ’These Days’ recently debuted in the Jamsterdam daily Top 10. What is the track about?

AV: These Days is a song about heartbreak and failure. Jackson Browne allegedly wrote it when he was only sixteen. It reminds me of Billy Strayhorn writing Lush Life at sixteen. Its very difficult material to perform. Blossom Dearie admitted that it took her years to master Lush Life though she performed the song beautifully. Our pianist and arranger Alex Levin chose it. Neither me nor saxophonist Stacy Dillard wanted to do it initially. That recording is what happens in the studio late at night when all the stars just align. Its a folk rock song. So there really is no B section for the players to take a solo. But I begged Stacy to stay on and improvise because I felt I couldn't do it alone. We never rehearsed it. Not once. When I sang the line, "Its just that I've been losing so long..." my eyes welled up with tears and I put my hand over the mic. Stacy saw that and put his hand up like "I got this" then he tore into that wild hard bop solo. Total improvisation. The energy of that song is like a hurricane.

JR: Where are you currently distributing “These Days'" and where can listeners go to get the track.

AV: We are releasing our music in limited edition vinyl and making it available for downloads.




JR: What can listeners expect in the future for Anna Varga?

AV: My friend D'Angelo Dixon and I are headed to New Orleans to record video. He worked with Afrika Bambaataa and toured with The Rolling Stones. My collaborator Alex Levin has great ideas for our third album. Stay tuned!

JR: Any Shout-outs?

AV: I would like to shout out all the meanies who doubted me and told me to give up and quit. Hi!!! Thanks Jay! I love your show and I'm so happy we made the top ten :)

Check out Anna Varga on:



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