New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Toni Jannotta's life as a performer came very early as often happens with little girls. She started dancing at the age of 4, and never stopped. At the age of 9, she found the violin and at 14, fell in love with acting. Her first "gig" was as a chorus dancer in a production of South Pacific at the Burbank Starlite Bowl in Los Angeles at 15. Jannotta began singing when in college because she needed a second instrument for her music major. She studied ballet with Swiss
Ballet Master Dora Krannig and modern jazz with choreographer Joe Bennet. Jannotta explains, "I've had a million teachers but these two were special. Dora taught me to breathe and Joe loved Jazz." She has studied with a lot of acting teachers as well, but her favorites were radio star Lurene Tuttle, Gordon
Hunt, and the amazingly introspective Susan Batson.
Jannotta's singing teachers were few because she committed to one couple: Lee and Sally Sweetland, both studio singers. Thanks to them Jannotta has a technique that will never die. Jannotta attended Banff Center School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada, on a partial scholarship for musical theater. Jannotta recalls, "I won't mention how many odd jobs I had in order to get by, however being a door-to-door sandwich peddler and a cocktail waitress in a jazz dive were particular stand-outs."
After 22 years of the acting struggle, a funny thing happened. Jannotta sat in with a piano player at a Los Angeles restaurant and suddenly she had her first $50 jazz gig. She remembers, "No muss, no fuss. Just music. So, I switched from acting to singing, took another day job, sang only jazz, and studied Charlie Parker solos. I also started writing."
Jannotta's debut album, Just Jazz, was released in 1996 with distribution via TCB Music, The Montreux Jazz Label. Her second album, Jazz at the Ranch (2001), also distributed by TCB, was a live concert performance at a National
Park in the Santa Monica
Mountains. A 3rd album, Is It Magic? put Jannotta on the arts grants super highway. The City of Ventura, awarded her a Cultural Arts Fellowship in 2008, which partially funded this project.
In 2010, Jannotta received her 2nd arts grant from the Ventura County Arts Council: an Artist in the Community Partnership Grant, which allowed her to partner with a local homeless shelter and create a live performance piece entitled Voices of the Homeless, starring members of the homeless community and backed up musically by jazz improvisers listening to their stories. During the production, Jannotta made a documentary about the performance, which was awarded the Earth Charter and the Arts Award in 2012 for activism through the arts. This led to her current project, My Little
Heart, Ruthie, which had been sitting on the shelf since 1994. It is a story rhyme with music and illustrations, a little healing story for adults and kids. It is being offered as a picture book in both hard cover and E-Book format. It also has an accompanying CD, which contains Jannotta narrating and a jazz inspired musical suite, and will be available as both a physical CD and a digital download.
"[Toni] is the complete performer who brings a commitment to her craft that is daunting." - Jazz Views, UK
Heart, Ruthie . . . inspired with jazz harmony and instrumentation . . . [is] delightfully whimsical . . . [it] exemplifies an enlightened approach towards the challenges of healing the past . . . Something different for the child inside us all." - The Jazz Word
Heart, Ruthie is the story of a heart in isolation that must learn to free itself. Told through rhyme and complimented with a jazz inspired musical suite underscoring the narration, we follow Ruthie's journey, aided by her friend Clyde, as she shares her story and finds her freedom.
Heart, Ruthie attempts to reach all survivors of emotional abuse, young and old, with the message of hope and the healing that comes through knowing the abuse was never their fault. Gorgeous illustrations by artist Jennifer Mones, and the music composed by Jannotta the music creates an in-depth experience that features soul stirring performances by Carol Robbins on harp, Jon Crosse on trumpet, Granville "Danny" Young on acoustic bass, Paul Tavenner, drums and Toni Jannotta herself as the narrator and piano. Paired together, the book and CD is reminiscent of musical stories told to children at bedtime, only this time with a feeling of real life triumph and healing.
Toni Jannotta, author, composer, narration and piano Carol Robbins, harp
Jon Crosse, trumpet
Granville "Danny" Young, acoustic bass
Paul Tavenner, drums
Artwork and graphics: Jennifer Mones
Mvt. I - Ruthie 1:29
Mvt. II - Hope 2:13
Mvt. III - The Beginning 1:05
Mvt. IV - The Tender Breeze 1:48
Mvt. V - Dance With Me 2:18
Mvt. VI - Clyde 0:26
Mvt. VII - Lonesome 0:54
Mvt. VIII - Music
Mvt. IX - Ruthie's Story 2:25
Mvt. X - Clyde's Waltz 3:35
Mvt. XI- Freedom 2:57