Kuumbwa Jazz Center
320 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 United States
Raised in Southern California, Lavay Smith started out singing a variety of musical styles, but it was the bluesy, swinging music of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s that captured her imagination. But Smith does more than resurrect the era of jump blues and swing; she makes it relevant to a whole new generation of music-lovers. Influenced by the vocal stylings of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington, Smith has rescued many tunes from obscurity. Sometimes humorous, sometimes sentimental, Smith’s innate sense of musicality is always entertaining. Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers band started in 1989 as a four-piece group before expanding into a larger ensemble, and they have built a rapturous Bay Area following over the years.