Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Isaacs, Naomi Susan

Isaacs, Naomi Susan, singer, educator, songwriter, kinesiologist; b. London, England, 20 January 1943, grew up with a background of classical music. Father (Leonard Isaacs, b. 1909) was English, a concert pianist, later Music Programme Organiser for BBC Home Service and later Third Programme. He remarried and moved to Canada in 1961 and became Director of Winnipeg Conservatory of Music and Art. Mother was German (born Marianne Bardas, 1918), originally ballet dancer. Gave up career to care for the children. Later became lecturer at Mabel Fletcher College in Liverpool. She has one brother, Nicholas.

In 1950, Naomi bought her first guitar and began singing American folk and railroad songs, to the utter disgust of her family. This developed into an amateur career in folk singing where she earned a good reputation on the British Folk scene during the early 60s. After training to become a secondary school teacher and spending three years in this profession, she married and accompanied her English husband, David Retallick, to Munich, Germany. Dixieland jazz was well represented in the Munich of the day and Naomi was invited to sing with many of the bands in town. Parallel to this she appeared regularly at Song Parnass, the leading German venue of its day for Folk Music and politically minded singer-songwriters. Domestic pressures resulted in a career in business and in a total lack of music for close to 20 years. At the end of this period, Naomi rediscovered jazz and singing and in 1987, after a 2-and-a-half-year preparatory period, finally left her job in business to devote her entire energy to music. Her teachers included Diane Bolden, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton and Gabriele Hasler. She attended workshops in Europe and the USA.

In 1986, she appeared in Munich's Circus Krone as Closing Act of a large political Concert. In 1989, she did concerts in all parts of Germany, Austria, Tchekoslovakia, England, Los Angeles and Stanford, CA. In 1990, she helped to establish the Jazzmusiker Initiative Munchen e.V. (J.I.M. = Jazz Musicians' Association Munich) and appeared at Munich's first Jazzfest Munchen with her own band.

In 1990 she founded the New Vocal Center in Munich, a forum for tuition and seminars "for, with and about the voice," with particular emphasis on jazz, rock and pop, which - until its closure in 1998 - drew not only singers of all styles, but actors, instructors, seminar leaders, medical doctors, speech therapists and instrumentalists, all seeking breakthroughs in their musical and/or personal performance. Workshops by guest teachers (Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Angely Brown, Gabriele Hasler) were often included in the programme and New Vocal Center became known as an innovative, non-mainstream institution, thus highlighting two of the main characteristics of Naomi's own work.

In 1992, she toured as the "Siren" in Wolfgangs Schmid's musical "Manaus." In 1994, her free improvisation trio "Scapelands" (voc/dr/b) appeared at the Munich Jazzfest. In 1995 Naomi's Project "Voices and Bodies," encompassing a choir from 5 continents and 9 varying ethnic styles, appeared at Munich Jazzfest.

Since its inauguration in 1990, she has spent a total of 7 years on the committee of the Jazz Musicians' Initiative Munich, as vice president or as treasurer.

In 1996, she was a jury member for the Music Award of the City of Munich and in 2004 for the Simon Schott Prize for young singers

In 1998, she hosted  "Jazzfest Munchen '98" in the Bayerischer Hof Hotel for the first time. In 1999, she made an appearance at Belgrade Jazz Festival with "Turnstyle" Duo (Thorsten Bendzko[g]). It was also the start of  "Naomi's KulturSalon," a live performance forum for new and upcoming artists with Naomi as host and interviewer. She made a special appearance at the "Erding Jazznight." She also made a TV appearance and CD production with "Turnstyle" Duo with Thorsten Bendzko (g). In 2001, the duo "Tangent" (free improvisation voice and mime) played the International Cultural Festival in Salem Castle and the jazz festival "Jazz T(w)oday' in Trostberg.In 2002, she premiered her stand-up show "One Woman."

From January 2001 to December 2002, she established and organized the concert series "Keys Unlimited" at the Steinwayhaus, Munich. From November 2001 to December 2002, she had her own jazz radio show once a month featuring the music of, and interviews with, outstanding musicians from the Munich jazz scene. (Radio Lora has archive tapes, with guests including Harald Rueschenbaum, Geoff Goodman, Jason Seizer, Lygia Campos, Johannes Enders, Martin Zenker, Moon Ra, Antje Uhle).

She's remains active as singing teacher, teacher of free improvisation and vocal performance coach, also training business executives in voice production and stage performance. She gives workshops and master classes throughout Germany and Europe and also in Canada and USA. Her students range from young people in youth centers to experienced professional singers and actors.

Scapelands (1998); Voice Meditation (1998); Turnstyle: Dylan to Lear (1999), Nightmares and Lullabies (2001); One Woman (2002)


In 2001, the "Naomi Isaacs Song Book" was published.

Contact information:
Naomi Susan Isaacs
Ammerlandstrasse 17a
D-81476 Munich
Tel: +49 89 7591645
email: naomi@naomi-isaacs.com

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