Local fans know Veronica Swift as a nuanced jazz vocalist. New music from her “TransGenre” collection, which will be released in a likely eponymous album in September, shows her perfectly at home as a smoldering rock and soul singer, too.
Swift, who will take the stage at 6 p.m. Saturday as part of the sold-out Lake Anna Jazz Fest at Cooling Pond Farm Brewery & Winery in Mineral, said she looks forward to sharing this side of her career with the local listeners who’ve been supportive of her from the beginning but rarely got to hear her perform.
“When you grow up in a place, people are so used to seeing you around, but I never really had any gigs in Virginia,” Swift said. “I was on the road going from gig to gig with Mom and Dad, who were mostly East Coast weekend warriors.”
Mom is versatile jazz vocalist Stephanie Nakasian; Dad was legendary bebop pianist Hod O’Brien. Swift, who already has spent two decades in front of audiences, started singing with them at age 9. Watching masters at work who were committed to serving art instead of ego gave her insights that have shaped her not only as a performer, but as a person.
“I learned a lot about how to program sets and speak to the audience and arrange music,” Swift said. “The most important thing I learned from them was more of a mentality of humility. It was about love.”
The album Swift plans to release in September “has been years in the making,” she said. “I’ve been known as a jazz singer my whole life. It’s the first time in 20 years I’ve been able to be myself.
“You don’t need to label yourself; you embrace all of who you are. A lot of people haven’t seen this side of me.”
Her new effort is tracing the connections among jazz, classical and other musical expressions that ring true in her heart — rock, funk and soul. Swift said that once people hear it, they get it.
“It’s more than just slapping a groove on a jazz song,” Swift said. “It’s finding through-lines that connect genres hundreds of years apart.”
Swift said that during previous performances of her TransGenre repertoire, “people wanted to get off their seats.” She’s totally fine with that.
“I welcome it,” she said of audience members who can’t help getting up and dancing. “I want people to scream and throw things.”
Other performances will be by PumpHouse at 1 p.m.; pianist Tim Holmes at 1:45 and 2:45 p.m.; East West Quintet at 2 p.m.; Antique Melody Show at 3 p.m.; Fredericksburg Big Band at 3:45, 4:45 and 5:45 p.m.; Wyatt Michael at 4 p.m.; and Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet at 5 p.m. Learn more at lakeannajazz.org.
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