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GoNOLA Interview: Ingrid Lucia of the New Orleans Nightingales

New Orleans jazz singer Ingrid Lucia talks about her all-female, 19 member project the New Orleans NIghtingales in this GoNOLA interview.

I recently sat down for cappuccinos and cannoli at Mid-City New Orleans landmark Angelo Brocato Gelateria & Pasticceria to talk with New Orleans jazz singer Ingrid Lucia, who began singing professionally at 11 years old on the streets with her family band and then established herself with a distinguished solo career as an adult in New York City, New Orleans and on the road.

She’s such a regular at Brocato’s that she said she’s planning on filming her next music video in the iconic ice cream parlor.

Ingrid founded the New Orleans Nightingales as a side project to work with her favorite female New Orleans vocalists and musicians, and this one-off album has turned into a dream lineup of collaborations and regular performances from the now 20-lady strong lineup of the most talented of New Orleans singers including Meschiya Lake, Banu Gibson, Linnzi Zaorski, Kristin Diable, The Pfister Sisters and  Aurora Nealand.

Interview with New Orleans singer Ingrid Lucia 

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New Orleans jazz singer Ingrid Lucia of the New Orleans Nightingales, at Angelo Brocato’s in Mid-City (Photo by Paul Broussard)

GoNOLA: Who are the New Orleans Nightingales?

Ingrid Lucia: The New Orleans Nightingales are a collection of singers in town who are writing music, playing gigs, making a living at their craft, and are unique and original and do a mix of styles. We’re trying to show that New Orleans isn’t just a trad. jazz cover band scene, that there’s a lot of new creative momentum going on.

GoNOLA: How did the idea for the Nightingales come about?

IL: I came up with the idea when I thought about our journeys and how we are all working without record labels, marketing teams, and how we’re all trying to do the same job, and how we all have different fan bases. And I thought if we put this collection [of singers] together, we can cross-connect our fan bases and help each other out and have a support system that none of us really have as females. We’re always saying “hi” on Frenchmen and doing a gig with the guys and we never get to hang out.

I do a lot of thinking about my career – it’s been my whole life’s endeavor since I was 11 years old. And it came to me in an epiphany that if we did this collection and became a team unit, we could all actually be more productive and get more done and so when I did this project, I had thought of it as a compilation CD and had no more plans for it, but then all of a sudden we did the release party at d.b.a. and [scouts from] Voodoo Fest came to see us and the hole thing just took off on its own. We never asked for a gig, we never begged for anything and it’s been an amazing journey so far.

GoNOLA: How many singers usually perform in a New Orleans Nightingales Revue?

IL: For Voodoo Fest and French Quarter Fest,  we had 19 singers, which was the full roster, but not every venue can accommodate that many singers, so at a smaller venue we’ll have 2-3 singers, and sometimes we’ll have 10 singers at a larger club.

GoNOLA: What’s the signature sound of the Nightingales?

IL: It can be blues, it can be funk – Margie Perez does funk, Kristin Diable does a little more blues/folk, you’ve got the Pfister Sisters doing the Boswell style, basically it’s a mix of New Orleans roots. We didn’t want to put a stigma on a certain size band or a certain age [performer] – music is across the board all ages. Certain combinations of musicians work better chemistry-wise, so we try to keep those combinations together, and find the right musicians for the right singers first. A lot of the Christmas church shows we do will be just piano, but for French Quarter Fest and other big festivals we try to have a full three-piece horn section plus the rhythm section.

GoNOLA: What do you love most about New Orleans and the music scene here?

I grew up in New Orleans, and I’ve always had a passion for traditional jazz. It was my mission as a young adult  — when I moved to New York — to show young people that traditional jazz was rock and roll.

I love the music, I feel that it has a real communal aspect that is quite lacking in the rest of the world as we become stuck on our computers and iPads – to connect with a human being is really important and I really love my family of musicians. And of course, don’t we love all the crazy and silly things we get to do that nobody else in the world gets to do?

I love that we are all one big family.  You can be playing on Frenchmen Street one night and the next night the same guys are in a different combination down the street. I love the freedom of it and I love the community, and no two gigs are ever the same. Once you get to know everybody really well and they get to know you – it’s basically almost like a marriage. You might be playing different music but that player will know what your style, phrasing, and timing is and trust that they’ve got your back covered.

GoNOLA: Who are your favorite local musicians?

IL: My guilty pleasure is I got to hand pick all of my favorite singers for this project – I love the ladies in the New Orleans Nightingales. And there are so many more that weren’t part of the group, for the next CD, Volume 2, we’ll include more singers and sort-of ”grandmother” the newer singers who didn’t get included so none of them get left out.

GoNOLA: What’s your favorite place in New Orleans to perform?

IL: The Little Gem Saloon is one of my new favorite spots. It’s beautifully renovated, it’s little, people pay attention, it’s very intimate: you can be whispering a word and it would be heard.

GoNOLA: What’s your favorite place in New Orleans to enjoy and listen to live music?

IL: d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street is always a wonderful place. They’ve got great sound and visuals put together in one place.

See Ingrid Lucia perform live with the New Orleans nightingales at these upcoming shows in New Orleans!

Paul Broussard is a native New Orleanian, photographer, writer, and culture junkie. He regularly photographs for Visit New Orleans, Zatarain’s, and other great New Orleans brands, and his photography and writings have appeared in several national and international publications including Bon Appetit magazine and The Times-Picayune. He is the co-host of the long-running Stage & Screen radio on WTUL 91.5 FM.

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