By Patte Purcell
You meet the nicest people on Facebook. I was contacted by Paula Atherton, sax player, vocalist and recording artist from a recommendation by Adam Hawley about performing out here. I went online to listen to some of her music which is funky, groovy, Latin, and a great innovative mix that jives with the music I love so much. She plays Alto, soprano sax, (sometimes) Bari sax and flute. I decided to find out more about her.
She has shared the stage with such contemporary jazz notables as The Rippingtons, Nick Colionne, Chuck Loeb, Cindy Bradley, Gail Jhonson, Karen Briggs, Althea Renee, Matt Marshak, Four80East, David Sanborn, Bob James, and Chieli Minucci. Paula has also worked in the traditional jazz field; one of the notable performances being a week long engagement at the Blue Note NYC with pianist and jazz legend, Hank Jones. Paula also just performed with Grammy award winning singer Dee Dee Bridgewater at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs September 3, 2016.
She’s on the coveted Kalimba Music Label, owned by Earth, Wind, and Fire, along with label mates Adam Hawley and Greg Manning. She considers herself a contemporary jazz artist with a traditional jazz background.
In 2006, a cut from Paula’s first album, I Long For Your Love, was included on the Warner Europe compilation Ladies of Jazz that also featured Natalie Cole, Candy Dulfer and Eliane Elias. Paula’s 2009 release, Groove with Me, featured many special guests, including Chieli Minucci, Greg Adams, and Onaje Allan Gumbs. AMG (Artists Music Guild) nominated Paula as artist and female vocalist of the year, Groove with Me for album of the year, and “Send Down An Angel” for song of the year.
Paula’s last release, Enjoy the Ride, has special guests Nick Colionne and Cindy Bradley. The first single, “Sassy Strut” (featuring, and written by Nick Colionne) was on the Billboard smooth jazz chart for 15 weeks, and reached #15. The second single, “Herbie” was on the Billboard chart for 7 weeks, reaching #22.
Some 2012 appearances include Berks Jazz festival, at which Square Business magazine described her as being “outrageously glamorous,” performing with the all- female group, Jazz in Pink. Paula performed at the Duck Jazz festival in North Carolina in October 2012, and the Town of Duck news said, “Paula Atherton came to the Duck stage from NYC. It is no surprise that Atherton has been labeled a major player on the contemporary jazz and pop music scene.” Some performances in 2013 included Capital Jazz fest in MD with Jazz in Pink, Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach, Balcones Heights Jazz fest in TX, and Low Country Jazz fest and Las Vegas Jazz fest, both with Jazz in Pink, and Rehoboth Jazz fest with Nick Colionne. Paula played the Berks Jazz fest in 2014 also, with Project 222.
Her television work includes appearances on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Rachel Ray, with Michael Bolton, and, as bandleader for the Lifetime network show, ‘Girl’s Night Out’. Paula also wrote the score for the independent film The Definition of Insanity.
Paula released a new CD titled, Ear Candy in 2015. Special guests include Nick Colionne, Cindy Bradley, and Gail Jhonson. Some 2015 dates include Jazz at Jack’s in Denver, Discover jazz Series Detroit, Spaghettini’s, Jazz in the Park in Birmingham, AL, Idlewild, Music Fest MI, Smooth Jazz Festival in Atlanta, and the New Brunswick Jazz Fest in NJ. 2016 dates include Suite Lounge in Atlanta, Jazz Fest in Prince Frederick, MD and Palm Springs Jazz Fest in CA.
Paula is currently working on a new CD which will be released in 2017. She’s working on the cover. Her photographer Devon Cass has given her some sexy, saxy, photos.
When I asked her what her goals are she replied: “I would like to work with Concerts for causes. I would like to use my gift to give children in school instruments to play. I believe the music is the key to so many things; its language and symbolism ties to so many other things like math. It’s what makes us civilized as a culture. I believe that if we were all involved in music we would not be fighting each other.” What a beautiful thought!
To listen to Paula’s music or contact her visit her website at www.paulaatherton.com.
Patte Purcell – Muze Muzic