Your mother was a singer, was she your original inspiration?
When I was no more that two or three years old, my mother would gather my sister and I around the piano and teach us songs and harmony parts. She had an excellent voice and studied piano at Juilliard. She played all kinds of music from Basie to Beethoven. I believe that's why my song selection is so eclectic. To me there's only two kinds of music: good music and bad music.
Can you name a place you would love to perform in, but haven't yet had the chance?
One day I would like to say that I sang at Carnegie Hall. I think that would be the ultimate. I saw Nancy Wilson and the Count Basie Orchestra there a few of years ago. I had a backstage pass and, after the concert, I walked all around absorbing as much I could. I was gone so long my hosts thought I'd gotten lost!
As a musician who developed a unique sound after establishing a successful business career, what would you tell new artists who ask you for the best way to succeed in the music world?
Define your success. Say to yourself, "I'll be successful if I accomplish XYZ" and then establish your game plan for getting that done. When I decided to become a recording artist, my goal was to record songs that I loved and that would challenge me and move me forward as an artist and as a human being. When I retire, I'll look back on my body of work and measure my success against that standard.
Your music has recently taken new steps down the Smooth Jazz path - in what direction would you like to see Smooth Jazz head?
I'd like to see Smooth Jazz Radio do more to embrace it's own vocalists. I've always been a smooth jazz singer and, I have to be honest, it's disheartening to see the top spots on the Chart occupied by crossover vocalists. I would like to see that change.
If you could spend a day with any person, past or present, whose company would truly inspire you?
My mother passed away leaving too many of her dreams behind. She planted the seed of music in me as a young child and her passing inspired me to pursue music full-time. I'd love to spend a day with her and play all my CD's, particularly Thelonius Monk's "'Round Midnight" on 52nd Street, which I dedicated to her. I think she'd be proud of her son.
And now, for a change of pace, what's your favorite non-music past time?
Family is number one. We are very close and spend a lot of time together. My wife is a law partner. She no longer practices due to injuries she sustained in an accident. But she is a strong, intelligent and courageous human being. We have a teenage daughter who is really a blessing and makes us very proud. A good student and a good person. She has a beautiful alto like her grandmother and just started taking voice lessons. I'll tell anybody who will listen that she is the star of the family. I'm just keeping her seat warm. I also love sports (soccer, tennis, basketball and football) and like to read. I fire through two or three books a month.