Disco came into fashion in the late ’70s and you made a disco record yourself with the album ‘Take A Bite.’ Were you big fan of disco yourself during that time? Did you get caught up in it?
Oh no, I couldn’t. I didn’t even take time out for social events. You couldn’t take my picture at a party. When I was off the road I was just home.
Just being a mother to your children I suppose.
Yeah, and by this time they’re teenagers and it’s really hard. And then you’re not exactly settled, you’re going through divorces. I was so busy trying to hold it together and to keep the edges from fraying. It was enough that I was working in the environment and having to put a smile on my face because I wasn’t really happy. Try standing on one leg for seventeen and a half minutes. That was what it was like. I was younger so it wasn’t as difficult as far as stamina and energy was concerned. But having to repeat (vocal) lines – that was very difficult for me.
It went against your jazz sensibility I suppose?
Right. I have to tell you that I enjoyed the fact that the people enjoyed disco. I think that was where I was with disco. When I first performed ‘Suite Seventeen’ (a six-song 17-minute disco medley from ‘Take A Bite’), especially when it gets to the ‘Touch Me In The Morning’ part, that was to me the pathos part. All of that was emotional so when I got a response from the audiences, it was just fascinating to me. It was like: “Oh God, I can’t wait: I know what’s going to happen when I get to this part.” It’s just another form of entertainment. When I’m swinging (playing jazz) it’s just me and the musicians and the Lord above. With disco it’s like there’s me and you and we’re in the fantasy of this.
You’ve experienced 50 years in show business. What’s been the key to your survival and continued success?
I don’t know: I guess my faith in God and that I’m basically a happy person. I eat well and now that the ’70s are gone, I’m taking good care of myself. I’m very passionate about what I do and I’m blessed to be able to do it.
Can we expect a new album from you soon?
I have really been trying. As I said, there was a six-month layoff that I had to go through and that has set me back. The next album was going to be with Diva, the all-female jazz orchestra. I’m supposed to work with them at Dizzy’s Club in September at Lincoln Center and that was when we were going to record. But unfortunately right now I’m just so concentrated on Japan. But that’s what we’ll be working on as far as the next project is concerned. I’ve also spoken with Boy George and we were thinking of doing something together but it’s hard when you’re in different countries.
‘WHO IS THIS BITCH, ANYWAY?’ IS OUT ON 27TH AUGUST VIA SOUL MUSIC RECORDS.
Read the SJF review here: http://www.soulandjazzandfunk.com/reviews/1838-marlena-shaw-who-is-this-bitch-anyway-blue-note.html
For more info on this CD and other Marlena Shaw albums go to: