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Episode 9: Singing with Sullivan Fortner

Episode nine of “The Journey” dives into the dynamic between singers and pianists from the perspective of 2015 American Pianists Awards winner Sullivan Fortner. We talk to Sullivan about his musical upbringing in New Orleans, explore his current approach to collaborating and hear him perform with great vocal talents including Cècile Mclorin Salvant, Dianne Reeves, Jean Baylor, José James and Paul Simon. Finally, we welcome two new contributors to the podcast: public radio reporter/host Jill Ditmire joins as co-host, and music publicist Amanda Sweet makes her debut as our field interviewer.

Sullivan Fortner explains how he started working with singers:

“It came out of church. My first musical experience was with singers. I remember hearing harmony and kind of listening to my mom and my mom’s brothers and sisters rehearse, and I’d tell them they’re singing the parts wrong. I’d say, “the alto lines go like this” and they’d say “boy, shut up,” and they’d listen back and say “yeah, that’s right.” So I always gravitated to singers because that’s what I first heard.”