Melba Joyce the Composer, Singer, Band Leader, Associate Professor, Student and Steward of Jazz Music Art Form is one of my favorite people. She is great fun to be with and to talk to. She has performed with giants like: Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Miles Davis, Lionel Hampton, Dr. Billy Taylor, Frank Foster, Barry Harris, and others. Melba comes from a legendary music family and is also an accomplished bandleader.
For 50 years she has preserved traditions as a local, national and international jazz singer offering the best in the art form from all venues from USO entertainment tours in Vietnam to sharing Jazz Mobile “bright moments” in the streets of NYC to acclaimed shows at Lincoln Center.
Melba is an active force performing; teaching at SUNY College at Old Westbury; using new computer-based resources and maintaining a steadfast determination to document the African roots of the Blues and Jazz art forms in music history.
….excerpts from an interview “just hanging out” at the Red Rooster restaurant for brunch last year with Melba.
Though we have known one another for a while I asked all kinds of questions and she told me… she said in essence:
Music has always been a vital part of my family DNA. My formal education includes high school and an undergraduate degree earned at Antioch University West, Los Angeles. My formative music studies, outside of my home were directed by Dizzy Gillespie who was like family and my mentor. My father recorded with Diz, Lucky Millender, Don Redmond and others. I met Diz through my Dad, Melvin Moore. My father you see was a talented singer and widely recognized. His singing acclaim got him inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Because my father was a performer as well as an organizer he was offered the positions of regional director of R&B at Decca/MCA. Later he was to rise to the position of national director of R&B pro-motions for Brunswick in 1970. I have inherited these gifts singing and critically thinking about the survival of our craft. This Jazz History and Research study is imperative to me at this point in my life because I feel that it is part of my destiny to curate for future generations an accurate understanding of Blues/Jazz as an art form in the way that I know it — as a scholar and practitioner.