Smitty: My distinguished guest joining me here at JazzMonthly.com has significant roots in my career. She was my very first interview many years ago. She’s just an explosive yet sultry singer and has such a repertoire of great tunes. You may know her from her Places project, Piece of My Soul, or Lifetime, which is her latest project. She’s toured around the world and just wowed audiences beyond compare. I’m so happy that she’s here to talk about her exciting life and career. Please welcome the magnificent Ms. Khani Cole. Khani, how are you?
Khani Cole (KC): I’m fantastic. Thank you for having me today.
Smitty: Yes, it’s a pleasure to have you here. I’m afraid to ask you what’s new because we’d be here all winter. (Both laugh.)
KC: This is true. There’s so much going on. It’s just so true.
Smitty: Yeah, but it’s beautiful.
Smitty: Yes, now, you and I have little something in common in that of all the interviews I’ve done over the past few years, you were the very first interview I’ve ever done.
KC: That’s right. You know what? I’m remembering that now. That is so true. I’m honored. I am. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Yeah, you were my springboard. How ‘bout that, huh?
KC: All right. Well, there you go and here I am back again.
Smitty: Yeah, so we’re sort of full circle in a way, huh?
KC: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Smitty: Yeah. So, now, you’ve got some wonderful things happening in your life and that’s always beautiful, and you’ve been in the Arizona area for a number of years now.
Smitty: Talk about what it’s been like for you after moving from the Midwest to Arizona?
KC: It was really wonderful moving here and, of course, I came here not really anticipating anything. I sort of came out here wandering in the wilderness. I didn’t know anybody here, I didn’t have a job, I was living with my sister and her husband with my two babies, and I just wanted to work, but Arizona really embraced me. I met so many great people here. I ended up finding the love of my life here and we’ve been married 12 years, we’ve formed a production company, we work nonstop, and I’ve been able to record three CD’s, travel all around the country, all around the world, and still have a nice life here in Arizona.
Smitty: Yeah, and it’s just been wonderful, and what a move that was.
Smitty: And you’ve gotten some great work there. When my friends are visiting Phoenix or Scottsdale I tell them to stop by and catch your show. You have been to Phoenix / Scottsdale what Celine Dion has been to Las Vegas. I often tell people “Khani owns Arizona.” (Both laugh.)
KC: Wow! Thank you, what a nice thing to say. Oh, you know, really, we just finished up this great gig that we had at a resort and I was literally there ten and a half years, and the great thing about that job was that I was able to come in and out, and whenever I needed to go out on the road, and I guess not so much for me but for the other band members, we didn’t have to move any equipment. So we finished that up and then on to new things.
Smitty: Yeah. Now, you’re a fantastic performer. I speak of your voice all the time and I love all your projects and I have a favorite song and that’s “Somebody.” It’s just one of my favorite songs and that one’s close to me because it’s sort of like my theme song, you know? (Both laugh.)
KC: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it does have great lyrics. It’s a great tune.
Smitty: Yeah, but tell me, of all the great performances, what do you like most about performing live? Because you are the consummate performer.
KC: Aw. You know what? I do love performing live. I just think it’s…it’s what I’m most comfortable doing, I love to make people happy that are out in the audience, I’ve got a great band and just being able to work with them as often as I do…we’ve really become a unit so that when we ebb and flow with the music, it kinda all moves as one and I get chills listening to my band and just the whole feeling of it, it’s just wonderful.
Smitty: Yeah. Isn’t it great that music, when you have great tunes, a great band, that even performing for a number of years, it’s continually fantastic in that it’s always fresh, it’s different, and it moves you in a different way each time.
KC: Sure. I mean, even if you’ve sung the song or if you’ve played the song hundreds of times or even more, you try to just make it fresh and new every time, and then so many times, for me I just feel a lot of times that I’m the vehicle for it. You know, kinda moves through me and it surprises even me sometimes how great it could feel.
Smitty: Yeah, and that’s just the beauty of music in that the creativity never stops.
KC: Yeah. Right.
Smitty: Especially when it comes from within the soul and from the heart, it’s just a beautiful thing.
KC: Yes. And you don’t have to be the performer, you don’t have to be in the band, you could all participate, and that’s the great thing about it. What’s so cool is that you feel that energy from the whole experience, the whole room or the whole venue, wherever you are.
Smitty: Yeah. Talk about some of the comments from your fans that really let you know that you are reaching them.
KC: I think one of my very first performances was Piece of My Soul in Minneapolis at The Dakota and there was a table of people that came up to me and they were a couple of guys, there were three guys, and one of them had been listening to Piece of My Soul on the radio and had the CD and now I was performing live and he kinda pulled me aside after the first set and he had tears in his eyes, and it’s kind of a sad story but, I mean, it took my breath away. He just said he had been through a bad relationship, he was out with some buddies, and for him to hear that live that night just touched him and just made him feel better about what he was going through, you know, that he was gonna see the light at the end of the tunnel type of thing.