“‘And this bitter earth may not be so bitter after all.’ That’s the flower growing in the pavement. Hope. And that’s what I’d love people to feel when they hear the album.” – Veronica Swift
A good story needs a storyteller. In the jazz world, Veronica Swift may be one the best storytellers to come along in decades. Fortified with a pitch-perfect voice and acute sense of phrasing, nuance and expression, she renovates classics and rare gems of big band, bebop and the Great American Songbook with captivating style – making each song her own.
Raised in Virginia by musical parents – pianist Hod O’Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian – Veronica spoke music as a first language and recorded an album, “Veronica’s House of Jazz,” at just nine years old. Dedicated training and touring filled her teen years until, in 2015, she won finalist honors in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition and landed herself a residency at Birdland in NYC. The showcase led to more recordings as well as high-profile gigs with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
On her new album, “This Bitter Earth,” the music strikes a darker note and her interpretive artistry shines. Working with frequent collaborator Emmet Cohen on piano, she carefully selected music from Broadway, ’60s R&B, alt-rock, jazz, and even Disney, to tackle issues of racism, sexism, domestic violence and fake news. “The album is a commentary on the way things are,” Veronica says, “but it isn’t preachy.” It’s the subtle and bracing turns of her voice that give these songs their resonant power. Tunes like “This Bitter Earth,” “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” or “Trust in Me” never sounded more timely. Stories that need to be shared from a singer at the top of her art.