“Sandra Locklear sings and plays with a shimmering sensuality and the voice of experience.” ~ Maggie Larrick, Capitol Hill Times

Sandra Locklear at the Piano

A FRESH SOUND EMERGES!

Seattle-based performing artist SANDRA LOCKLEAR is both pianist and singer with a natural gift for connecting with her audiences.  Sandra sets a fresh standard full of vitality and soul, pairing her rich alto voice with jazz piano stylings refined over many years of playing venues in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Canada and Europe. Sandra effortlessly crosses over from jazz to blues, to bossa nova to pop and her own compositions, with a technical proficiency honed since she took her first piano lesson at age 7.

EARLY TRAINING

At age 7 Sandra began jazz and classical keyboard training  with professional jazz musician Margo Beecher. Margo played Hammond B-3 organ in Ricky Ricardo’s band and was in demand in LA’s Local 47 along with her friends Nat King Cole, Louie Prima and Keely Smith.

Sandra absorbed the music of Ellington, Jobim and J.S. Bach as standard fare for her lessons.  Under her mentor’s careful tutelage, by middle school Sandra was performing at weddings, fashion shows and church.  She went on to win Yamaha’s Young Artists NW Regional Organ Competition in high school and competed in Carmel, CA.

A year studying jazz organ in San Francisco with Jim Rowsey inspired Sandra to enroll in a college music program back in Washington State. Unable to resist the lure of the road she began touring Canada on the organ with a quartet. "And that's when I really started singing. The band leader stuck a microphone in front of my mouth and ordered me to sing!"

Sandra Locklear with Bassist Ken Anoe

FORMAL MUSIC STUDIES

Sandra continued performing regionally and touring overseas as a solo artist.  In-between, she studied jazz piano and theory at Cornish College of the Arts and composition and music education at the University of Washington. Juggling family responsibilities with the demands of a musical career, she eventually earned two music degrees Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. 

At Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, NPR jazz producer/radio host Jim Wilke, bassist Gary Peacock, horn players Julian Priester and Jim Knapp, pianists Art Lande, Peggy Stern and pianist-singer Joni Metcalf, all influenced Sandra's distinctive sound and understanding of the art of jazz. At the University of Washington, clarinetist William O. Smith (Dave Brubeck band) guided her composition efforts, while Seattle jazz pianist Marc Seales honed her playing skills . Along the way, Sandra studied with piano virtuoso Jerome Gray and trained with vocal coaches George Peckham (Ann and Nancy Wilson of “Heart” and Judy Collins) and opera master Augusta Palialunga.

RECORDINGS

Goddess Rising CD CoverEventually Sandra was compelled to break out and do her own thing.  With her own sure vision she formed her record label, ThunderEye Music.  In 2000 Sandra recorded her first album of original music with her band and special guests. Energetic and sensual, Sandra's finely wrought debut CD GODDESS RISING melds smooth jazz and easy-listening rock, Latin grooves and poignant solo ballads.

Girl Gone Jazz CD Cover

Executive producer Douglas Hughes met Sandra during a show in a dinner club and paved the way for her next project.  On GIRL GONE JAZZ Sandra and her quartet return to her jazz roots and three more of Sandra's original songs.  From playful to relaxing, listeners are treated to clean arrangements and a fresh perspective on beloved standards.

Sandra’s original music on her albums is a stylistic mix. Writing intuitively from a woman's perspective she says of her compositions, "... my style can change from song to song because I try to be true to what's being conveyed. Songwriting is a spiritual process for me."  As a songwriter she wraps jazz-like harmony around tender and forthright melodic observations on her life experience.

MOTHER and TEACHERSandra Locklear with an African Percussion Group

Between shows Sandra raised both of her children on the piano and taught music in the public school system. The unconventional path she took as a single parent early on meant taking her baby on the road and nursing him between sets.  Later, while touring in Scandinavia with her young son by her side, they took a break to travel to West Africa on a cultural tour.  Here Sandra studied the roots of jazz with the Sierre Leone National Dance Troupe. Their group narrowly missed the civil war by a couple of weeks (see "Blood Diamonds" film starring Leonardo DiCaprio). For years afterward, Sandra provided funding to the Dance Troupe so their children could attend school. This trip provided the basis for introducing a World Drumming program to the Highline School District a few years later.   

Sandra Locklear receives Arts Proclamation Month Declaration from the Highline School District“Ms. Locklear” contributed over two decades of public service as a certified music specialist / arts advocate in south Seattle’s Highline School District.  Sandra taught general music, choir, world drumming and guitar to diverse student populations.  Before retiring from music education, she spearheaded a successful campaign to reinstate her district's Fine Arts Director position, and worked to ensure that middle school arts gaps were closed. Sandra’s passionate belief is that the arts deserve a place in the public school curriculum at every level.   

Sandra's 2002 research article Research-Based Justification for the Highline School District Elementary and Secondary School Music Programs (updated in 2008) stresses the critical importance of, and reasons for, the need for music in public education. It is published by the Johns Hopkins School of Education in affiliation with Seattle arts activist Dee Dickinson's cutting-edge site "New Horizons for Learning." 

INSPIRATIONS

Sandra spent her formative years listening to the British rock invasion and protest music of the 60’s while learning jazz and Latin standards from her mentor.  Natural and indigenous sounds of the planet soothed her soul and shaped her ears.  Sandra's Scottish grandmother was a poetess and piano graduate of the Royal Conservatory of England while her Baba sang Ukrainian lullabies at bedtime.  “Our world is a rich tapestry of sound vibrations and frequencies,” says Sandra. "I'm blessed to be able to play or sing what I feel in the moment! Everything listens.”

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