My mother says I was two-and-a-half when I started playing. My father was a minister, and when he went to church in the morning, she would put on Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and Cole Porter records. I'd crawl up on the piano stool, sit on a phone book and play.
I have the ability to sing with emotion and feeling, but if you say I sound like Billie Holiday, that's cool. Let's look at who Billie was: she was this person, this singer, this beautiful diva who could move the audience with the slightest gesture of her hand.
With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.
Im probably the only one in the world you can name thats worked with Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Ella, Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Ray Charles, Aretha, Michael Jackson, rappers. Fly Me to the Moon was played on the moon by Buzz Aldrin. Sinatra. Paul Simon. Tony Bennett. Im the only one.
I thought the Billie Holiday comparison was beautiful. I think, Wow, what a wonderful, creative, helpful spirit. She's someone who wanted to help others by sharing her emotion. That's what I do, too, so I think that's a great comparison.