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  • Jonathan Widran

DEEANN, It's My Time

In 2015, years after setting aside her larger musical dreams to dedicate herself to raising a family, multi-talented singer/songwriter DeeAnn is back to create her legacy. Her latest album It’s My Time, currently receiving National airplay with Neal Sapper, New World n Jazz and featuring three original songs amidst a mix of folk, pop and jazz classics, is the latest manifestation of the Niagara Falls, NY native’s renewed vision of her life.  

 

The singer laid the foundation for her newly burgeoning career with her cleverly titled 2017 collection Desperately Seeking DeeAnn, which was produced by contemporary jazz bassist, RiShon Odel (Brian Culbertson, Najee). When her father, popular Buffalo area jazz performer Frank DiMeo, learned she was finally embracing what he felt was her destiny as a jazz singer, he was thrilled.  Though she had previously sung pop and country professionally, he was the one who introduced her as a little girl to the music of Ella Fitzgerald and his favorite, Sarah Vaughan.  


To pay tribute to her dad’s influence, DeeAnn invited him to sing two duets with her (“Unforgettable” and “Fly Me to the Moon”).  The collection also featured the blues and jazz influenced original tune, “Everybody’s Got a Story”, whose chorus served as her life’s new mission statement: “Everybody’s Got a Story/Everybody’s got a cross to bear/Everybody’s got something to say/So shine the light and spread your love.” The following year, DeeAnn was honored to be inducted into the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame.  

 

The singer soon had a painful story to tell.  The tragedy of losing her 23-year-old son William Michael Tompkins to a motorcycle accident, after she and Odel had completed most of the tracks of “It’s My Time’ threw DeeAnn’s life into a tailspin and delayed the project indefinitely.  Her original concept was to record analbum of old standards, and the two had 90 percent of them.    

 

When DeeAnn came back to the project she added a few new, very personal songs, starting with a heartrending, gospel-influenced version of “You Are My Sunshine”, a song she sang to William to put him to sleep when he was a child.  Odel’s sensitive yet rousing and inspirational production features members of the Buffalo Philharmonic String Quartet (Roman Mekhulnov).

 

Another original tune she added, the soulful ballad, “A Little Romance,” is a homage to the “angels” who helped her during her lowest points: “You help me pray, when my faith is shaken/You give me hope, help my soul awaken.” The other originals are the passionate love ballad “Here to Stay” and “Writing on the Wall,” a whimsical, hard hitting, brassy blues-rock breakup song, a duet with Mick Hayes that balances the poignancy of the album.  



The other tracks on It’s My Time reveal DeeAnn as a masterful song interpreter and storyteller who turns words and melodies of legendary writers and artists into her own emotional narratives.  Drawing from a wide range of styles and eras, these include “Blue Skies,” “Summertime,” “Killing Me Softly,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Nearness of You” and “Fine and Mellow.”

 

Hailing from a small steel town outside of Buffalo, DeeAnn was raised in a musical family, learning standards that would eventually become part of her repertoire.  In addition to the smooth vocal stylings of her father Frank, she was inspired early on by Buffalo Blue Note legend, DoDo Green and attended multiple jazz jams.  During her early days as a pop/rock singer, she won Best Female Vocalist at the Buffalo Music Awards two years in a row.  Her later success as a country artist earned her placements on numerous radio CD compilations, resulting in airplay throughout the U.S and Europe.  When she returned to music as a jazz-blues singer in the mid-2010’s, she won Best Female Blues Vocalist at the Buffalo Night Life Music Awards and her 2019 EP Stay Here won Best Jazz CD from JazzBuffalo.org

 

Tony Zambito, Executive Director of JazzBuffalo, says, “DeeAnn is not only a soulful powerhouse, but also a superb storyteller who’s emotionally charged performances create a deeply personal and wonderful listening experience for audiences.  Whether interpreting timeless classics or presentingher own originals, DeeAnn captivates listeners with her heartfelt delivery and genuine connection, making each concert and listen truly memorable.”




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