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By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer
Stephanie Rebecca has come a long way from her childhood in Ketchikan, and returned this past week to share songs from her newly released album, "Deep Inside of Me," as well as to participate in the Jazz and Cabaret Festival this weekend.
Rebecca, who grew up as Stephanie Patton with her siblings and her parents, Steve and Elaine Patton, in Ketchikan, is heating up Washington, D.C., with her jazz singing.
"I’ve just got this small-town vibe," Rebecca said.
She recorded her albums, "Stories of Love" in 2010 and "Forever and a Day" in 2011, independently. She was picked up by Rhythm Universal Records in 2012 when the CEO?of the label, EC3, heard her performing at a D.C. club.
EC3 said he has played drums for years at that club and a "a zillion vocalists ... I mean a zillion" come in, eager to perform and be discovered.
When Rebecca first sang at the club, EC3 said she told him she wanted to sing a piece called "Speak Low." He suggested they perform the song with an Afro-Cuban feel, and he was surprised that she immediately agreed and sang it effortlessly.
"She did it," he said with a grin. "She killed it."
He said he gave her his card, and they started their business relationship.
"It was exciting," Rebecca said.
EC3 said he has been approached by so many young singers eager to get his attention that he has come to "ignore them, usually."
But, "there’s just something about her voice" that captured him, he said.
"I’ve worked with a lot of vocalists and I don’t like most of them," he added.
He said he was impressed not only with Rebecca’s talent, but also with the fact that she called him after the club closed that night, wondering when they could start working.
"I just wanted him to know how serious I was," she said.
They jumped into recording together, EC3 said, and "had a wonderful studio experience."
He began to assemble musicians to work with her — the "best cats" in the business — he said, and the album began to come together.
"The record is swingin,’" EC3 said, "Swingin’ really hard."
He said the album has been well received so far, and Rebecca has been requested to perform at more venues than ever.
"She’s been put straight in the frying pan," EC3 said.
"I’m just riding it," Rebecca said. "It’s exactly what I want to be doing — it’s really heating up musically."
Playing jazz is serious business, EC3 said. It has a sophisticated artistry based on improvisation and is "more than just sitting down and playing ... you don’t just read it, you interpret it."
He said that building a career as a jazz musician demands that the artist study and listen to the old masters such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
Rebecca said jazz has been embedded in her life since she was 6-years old, and she helped her father with his Sunday evening jazz show at Ketchikan’s KRBD public radio. According to her biography at www.stephanie-rebecca.com, she introduced songs, read the weather and talked about her favorite tunes on the radio. She also absorbed jazz music at home, where her father "always" played his many jazz albums.
She said she felt "a little nerdy, in a way" in high school because she was the only one of her friends who was a fan of jazz music.
"It’s just the music my heart clings to," she said.
Rebecca said she learned to play trumpet as a child, under the tutelage of trumpeter Dale Curtis, and played in school bands as well as in McPherson Music’s bands.
Rebecca began to sing at the First City Players’ Jazz Cabaret Festivals while in middle school, and learned many of her skills from New York musicians who traveled to teach in workshops. She also performed at those events, practicing what she said continues to be her weakest skill.
"In the studio I’m great, because no one’s really watching," Rebecca said, but onstage, she said she gets nervous, stiff and shaky.
She said that starting out in Washington, D.C., is perfect, because it is a huge city with many great venues, but it still is smaller than New York City, and she can find her own circles.
Rebecca went to college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks after graduating from Ketchikan High School in 2003, and earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She said that it was definitely a plan to have a solid education and degree under her belt. Although she enjoys writing and literature, jazz music is what she lives for.
"I don’t think I’d be happy doing anything else," she said. "I never have been one to have an 8-to-5 job."
Jazz Cabaret Festival creator and producer Elizabeth Nelson attended Rebecca’s CD release party Sunday, and said it was clear that Rebecca had come a "long way as a vocalist," and did a nice job on the jazz standards.
"She has a fun, smoky edge to her voice," Nelson added.
She also said that it had been "a blast to watch her growing up ... it’s great to watch someone chasing her dream, and catching it."
EC3 said he believes Rebecca has the potential to be on the same level as Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, but said she still is "a baby" in jazz, and has much work ahead.
Rebecca said that’s no problem because she is willing to stay patient and focused.
She was slated to perform at the Jazz Cabaret Festival Friday evening event. She also will be one of the performers at the 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19 show at the Ted Ferry Civic Center.