Published : Tuesday, March 10, 2015 | 2:29 PM
The first time she went into the studio to sing background with Tina Turner, Stephanie Spruill was eager to show how well she could mimic the legendary artist’s style. But after the first couple of takes, Tina stopped the session and gave Spruill a priceless piece of advice. “She said, ‘Stephanie, listen to me! I hired you because of your sound. I don’t want you to give me me, give me you!’” remembers Spruill.
Those words from Tina Turner had a profound impact on Spruill and they helped propel her over decades of performing, recording, songwriting, producing and vocal arranging with superstars like Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Mariah Carey, Najee, Julio Iglesias, Tom Petty, Billy Idol and more.
Over the years, Spruill has been credited on hundreds of gold and platinum records, she has contributed to numerous movies and has performed all over the world including appearances before royalty in England and Spain and three different U.S. Presidents.
Today, the concept of staying true to one’s artistic vision is one of the key lessons that Spruill dispenses to the performers she mentors through her Altadena studio. As a vocal coach and artist development professional she enlightens singers (ranging from The Voice sensation Judith Hill to Romanian classical star Dan Balan) with her vast knowledge and insight, and she urges them to uncover their uniqueness. “Whether they are up-and-coming singers or established stars, I help my students to find their truth within their voice,” Spruill states. “I work deeper than just the voice, I go deep down into their spirits.”
Spruill details her philosophy and strategy for success in her book 17 Points to Longevity In Show Business: Staying Focused On Your Vision. Although the book is aimed at entertainers, Spruill says the advice in 17 Points is applicable to anyone who is striving to achieve a goal. “Every business that people are in is show business because you have to show people what you have going on in order to generate business,” Spruill says. “My book outlines, step by step, how to develop your skills, promote your career and still take the time to develop your physical and spiritual well-being.”
As she guides others toward professional and personal development, Stephanie Spruill continues to forge ahead on her own artistic journey. Her new, self-produced album, It’s A Jazz Day, features original songs, standards and cover tunes rendered with Spruill’s unique blend of cool elegance and fiery sass. Highlights of the ten song CD include “Nothing Lasts Forever” and “Sweet Control” (which Spruill wrote with Jeff Lorber and Diane Quander for Jon Lucien), the Thelonius Monk classic “‘Round About Midnight,” the Hollywood evergreen “As Time Goes By” (which Spruill sang as a duet with Julio Iglesias during five years of international touring) and a bilingual English/Spanish rendition of “Fever.”
The album’s title track is a tribute to the legends of jazz originally written and recorded by Spruill’s longtime friend, Grammy nominee Brenda Russell. “‘It’s A Jazz Dayâ€™ is such an amazing song. It talks about the great musicians who’ve blessed us over the years. Celebrating that history and legacy is a joy as well as a responsibility,” Spruill explains.
Honoring the history of music and the history of our nation is important to Stephanie Spruill. Thatâ€™s why she was overcome emotionally while performing the Oscar-winning anthem â€œGloryâ€ from the movie Selma during the recent Academy Awards. â€œSinging that song with John Legend and Common was very, very powerful,â€ recalls Spruill. â€œAs I crossed that set of the Edmund Pettus Bridge I was just floating and felt as though I was standing on the shoulders of our forefathers. I felt blessed and highly favored to be a part of such an important moment in television history!â€
The history, present and future of music comes together on Stephanie Spruillâ€™s exciting new album, Itâ€™s A Jazz Day and in her motivational book and DVD, 17 Points to Longevity In Show Business: Staying Focused On Your Vision. Both projects are available through her website, SpruillHouseMusic.com. But for the complete experience, do yourself a favor and check out her live show. Stephanie Spruill will showcase songs from Itâ€™s A Jazz Day this Friday, March 13 at the E Spot Lounge in Studio City (the club owned by percussionist/singer Sheila E). Call (818) 769-0905 for reservations or order online at www.vendini.com.