Slice of Harlem in Perth

Vivian Sessoms.

AMERICAN jazz singer Vivian Sessoms will bring the sounds of her native Harlem to Perth this month when she headlines the International Jazz Festival.

Sessoms’ life has always been steeped in music; her mother was a session singer, her father a flautist and percussionist who performed with the legendary James Brown.

Despite being a huge fan, Sessoms was unaware that her dad played with the man they call the Godfather of Soul.

“As a little girl I loved James Brown to the point of being obsessed with him,” she says.

“We lived a few blocks from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and whenever I saw that James Brown was performing, I would want my mother to take me to see him.

“I would be very upset when she didn’t have tickets.

“I knew that my father played an instrument, but when my mother pointed out to me who he was on stage with, I didn’t quite understand it!

Following in her parents’ footsteps, Sessoms has forged a successful music career, performing with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer and Cher.

Sessoms says her all-time favourites to work with were Patti Austin and Joe Cocker.

“They were two of the funniest, kindest, most genuine and generous people I ever worked with,” she says.

“Patti especially taught me a tremendous amount about music and performance, she was a very gracious woman to work for.

“And Joe was the same, both very lovely people.”

This will be the second time Sessoms has performed at the PIJZ and she’s looking forward to reuniting with some of Perth’s finest talent, including jazz pianist Graham Wood, who runs the Ellington Jazz Club.

“I can honestly say that some of the best shows I’ve had in the last five years have been in Australia,” Sessoms says. The last time I played in Perth I had an amazing band of local musicians, and now that I’m headlining I’ve got a super special show planned.”

The Perth International Jazz Festival is on May 26 to 28.


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