Five-time Grammy-winning singer Dianne Reeves regularly crosses musical boundaries, performing tunes from the Great American Songbook, contemporary pop and Brazilian music.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Reeves took his longest break from the stage. She comes out with a renewed desire to collaborate with musicians from different musical backgrounds.
Reeves and his band perform Thursday at the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries.
Jeremy D. Goodwin of St. Louis Public Radio asked Reeves how the pandemic has affected his approach to performance.
Jeremy D. Goodwin: Do you have a different view of your work now, after staying away for so much of the pandemic?
Diane Reeves: It gave me another kind of clarity about what I want to do and how I want to present it.
At first, I thought: it’s crazy, I don’t work. But it was fine for me not to work for a minute.
Goodwin: To catch your breath?
Reeves: Well, I’ve been here for 45 years non-stop, basically.
Goodwin: Are you coming back to music with a renewed look?
Reeves: I think so. There is a peace now that I have overcome the pandemic – a peace and understanding of grace just for myself and the people around me. And the music came out in a totally different way. I really, really appreciate what I’ve become and how I’ve come out of the pandemic.
Now I’ve done all kinds of projects with other people. I did a tour, and it will continue, with the great Chucho Valdes. So I collaborated with different people. I have my own band, I have a Brazilian band now. Two bands. I love.
Goodwin: What does it represent for you as an artist, to change like that?
Reeves: This is not a change for me. It’s all music.
People who listen to my music know that my music is very, very broad. So I think they should expect that from me. It’s just what I do, and now I’m more focused on it. I can go out [and play] with my guitarist who comes from Brazil, I can go out with Chucho Valdés and do duets with him and Joe Lovano. It was truly magical.
Goodwin: What songs do you have in mind lately? What speaks to you? What do you think you can bring on the road?
Reeves: The directories are different with the different configurations. When I go out with Chucho, it’s a totally different way of singing.
People will hear things, especially when I come to the Sheldon, which they know. In this particular show there will be some of the beautiful reinvented standards and Brazilian music.
Goodwin: You launched an ensemble dedicated to Brazilian music in 2019, with a guitarist Romero Lubambo. Has anything in particular sparked renewed interest in exploring this music?
Reeves: I don’t think I’ve made a record that doesn’t have a nod to Brazil. It’s in almost every record I’ve recorded. It’s just a lifetime interest and connection.
Goodwin: I feel like the learning never stops for you.
Reeves: We live in this huge world, where there are so many things to learn. I just want to learn more, do more, see more, live more, sing more. It allows me to move forward.
Goodwin: As you look to the immediate future right now, you seem quite optimistic.
Reeves: Oh, I’m obvious. I am here. I’m delighted to be back in it, to do it, to listen to it, to share it with my musicians. I was just in Miami, and I had the chance after the concert to see other music. It was just nice. So I take advantage of it all. And I’m inspired.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin