Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Lawson, Janet (Janet Ann Polun)

Lawson, Janet (Janet Ann Polun), singer educator; b. Baltimore, MD, 13 November 1940. Her father Oscar Jack Polun (1911-1989, Philadelphia), was a drummer and composer. Her mother Helene Elizabeth Kocur Polun (1918-1969, Pittsburgh), was a singer and lyricist.

Her teachers in Baltimore were Edward C. Berbus, piano (periodically from 1945-53), Bella Gaffin, voice (1955-57) and Virginia Irene Owen, musical theater (1954-57). In New York, her teachers were Hall Overton, piano and theory (1961-63), John Colman, Hindemith's Elementary Training for Musicians (1974-76), Danny Wertz, piano and theory (1976-78), Warne Marsh, theory and improvisation (1978-81), Hal Galper, theory and improvisation (1983-85), John McNeil, theory and improvisation (1990-91), Jeanie Lovetri, vocal technique (1998-2000), and Marcy Lindheimer, vocal technique based on Feldenkrais principles (2001-present). In California, she studied with Hari Hari (tabla player with Don Ellis), vocal Indian music (1968).

Recordings:
Yes, My Darling There's A Santa Claus/Dear Santa (I've Been A Teensy Weensy Bad) (1968); Dindi (1977); The Janet Lawson Quintet (1980); Dreams Can Be (1983); The Janet Lawson Quintet (1993); Various Artists: Jazz Juice # 3 (1995); What Do You Know Kid (1997); Various Artists: Sleep Warm, The Jazz Slumber Project CD (1998); Dreams Can Be (2001)

As sideperson:
Eddie Jefferson: The Main Man (1977); David Lahm: Real Jazz For The Folks Who Feel Jazz (1982); Sorrel Hays: Unnecessary Music (1988), Touch Of Touch (1989); Bob Dorough: This Is A Recording (1991); Perpetual Stroll: In Back To Front (lyricist, 1998)

Radio and television broadcasts, films:
Live radio broadcasts Saturday mornings from The Hippodrome Theatre, Baltimore, Age 3 (1943)
WJZ-TV, Saturdays at "Buddy Dean's Bandstand", Baltimore (1956-58)
Voice of America interview with Willis Conover, Washington D.C. (1967)
WMAL Radio, interview on "The Felix Grant Show", Washington D.C. (1967)
ABC-TV syndication, "The Steve Allen Show", Los Angeles (1968-69)
WNEW-TV, "The Joe Franklin Show", New York (1971)
WBGO Public Radio, several interviews following the release of The Janet Lawson Quintet album (1981)
WNEW Radio, interview on "New York Tonight with Jonathan Schwartz", New York (1984)
WBGO Public Radio interview with Michael Bourne on "Singers Unlimited" (1986, 1991)
WVIA Public Radio, live concert on "Homegrown Music" (Oct. 17, 1991)
Latvia radio and TV broadcasts of Ogre Cultural Centre concerts (1996, 1998)
BBC Radio, interview for "So High" tour through northern England (1998)
WVIA Public Radio, interviews with George Graham and Erika Funke (1992, 2002)
WVIA Public TV, "Live at the Kirby Center" (April 23, 1999)
Latvia TV interview, Saulkristi Jazz Festival, Riga, Latvia (2000)
Radio interviews throughout the U.S. and Canada during tours (1960's - 1990's)

soundtrack: Something (To Do) Doing" by Sorrel Hays, part of soundtrack for West German TV documentary on Experimental Audio (filmed in Cologne in 1996, shown throughout Europe in 1998

Unissued recordings/filmsAlvin Ailey American Dance Theater at City Center, New York, soprano soloist for Blood Memories (May 15, 1977)
Newport Jazz Festival - UJC, New York (1979)
Women's Jazz Festival, Kansas City (1979 and 1980)
Charles Mingus Tribute at the VillageGate, NY, performing with Tommy Flanagan (April 30, 1980)
Pisa Jazz Festival, Pisa, Italy (1981)
Kool Jazz Festival, New York (1982)
Jass Is A Lady, musical composed by Janet Lawson, lyrics by Diane Snow Austin, NY (1984)
Delaware Water Gap Jazz Festival (Sept. 1985-89, 1991-94, 1996-97, 2000)
ImproVocals:  Janet Lawson, Bob Dorough, and Stephanie Nakasian (1993, 1997)
Janet Lawson Quintet: Phil Markowitz, Mike Richmond, Billy Hart, Dave Liebman (1994)
Janet Lawson with Roberta Piket Trio (2000)
Two's a Crowd, concert with Rufus Reid, Rockland, NY (1989)
Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camps, Lisle, IL (1989-96)
Jazz in July, SUNY Binghamton (1990)
In Concert with Bob Dorough and Janet Lawson, SUNY New Paltz (1992)
Vocalfest 92 at University of Virginia  -  ImproVocals
Janet Lawson, Bob Dorough, and Stephanie Nakasian (Sept. 19, 1992)
Delaware Water Gap Jazz Festival  -  ImproVocals
Janet Lawson, Bob Dorough, and Stephanie Nakasian (Sept. 1993 and 1997)
Jazz Journey Interactive Program (developed with Lenore Raphael), presented at colleges, schools, workshops throughout the U.S. and Europe (1994-2003)
Jazz Cafe, London, England (1995-98)
The Very Big Band, Live at the Copenhagen Jazz House, CD, Denmark (February 2000)
The Janet Lawson Quintet, Ogre Cultural Center, Jazz Video, Latvia (July 2000)

Videos:
Hall Overton documentary profile by Sam Stephenson (interview in forthcoming video and print)
Janet Lawson documentary profile by Sam Stephenson (forthcoming video and print)

Bibliography:
Works by Lawson: "Blowing on the Changes" in Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art & Politics, Issue #10 (1980)
"Blowing on the changes" (in English and German) in Jazzfest Berlin '81 Magazin
"On Creative Work in Institute for Noetic Sciences Bulletin (Spring1992)
The Integrated Artist (forthcoming book)
Books: American Women in Jazz by Sally Placksin, Wideview Books, 1982
Louis' Children: American Jazz Singers  by Leslie Gourse, Quill, 1984
Stormy Weather by Linda Dahl, Pantheon Books, 1984
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, bio by Scott Yanow, Macmillan Press Limited, 1988
All Music Guide to Jazz, 2nd Edition, bio by Scott Yanow, Miller Freeman Books, 1996
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, bio by Scott Yanow, St. Martin's Press, 1996
Magazines: The Sun, "She's Singing - But Not the Blues" by William Hyder (Sept. 29, 1968)
New Wilderness Foundation's Ear Magazine, "An Improvised Journey with Janet Lawson" (April/May 1981)
The Sun Magazine, "Singing Like A Horn" by Susan Baer (Oct. 11, 1981)
The News American, "Baltimore Singer to Grace the Grammys" by Bruce Olds (Feb. 24, 1982)
Pocono Today, "Rappin'" by Joe Middleton (Nov. 11, 1982)
Village Voice, "Janet Lawson's Interior Changes" by Leslie Gourse (p. 98, Dec. 25, 1984)
JAZZIZ, "Female Jazz Voice" by William Long (January-February 1985)
Hot House, "Psyche of a Singer: Janet Lawson" by Gene Kalbacher (April 1985)
The Sun, "Janet Lawson: Experimentation is the Key to Her Success as Singer" by Patrick Ercolano (Jan. 30, 1988)
Knoxville News-Sentinel, "Jazz Singer Uses Her Talent to Entertain, Heal, Explore Life" by Louise Durman (May 13, 1988)
Lightworks, "Janet Lawson, Transcendental Singer" by Rose Wolf Mellon (July/August 1988)
Rockland Review, "Rufus Reid, Janet Lawson Join Vinson Hill in Jazz Series Finale" (Jan. 12, 1989)
The Music Monthly, "Janet Lawson: A Different Kind of Horn Player" by Dawn Culbertson (August 1990)
Sun Paper, "171 Brings Arts To Corning" by Mark Reilly (1993)
News Journal, "'Dream Jazz Voice' in Mansfield on Weekend" by Lori Farmer (Feb. 25, 1993)
Pocono Post, "Flights of Fancy Bridge Generation Gap" by Elsa Kerschner
(June 4-10, 1993)
The Herald-Times, "Lawson's 'Dream Voice' is a Dream Come True" by David Miller (Oct. 8, 1993)
Calgary Herald, "Lawson Preaches Scatsinging Gospel" by Jeff Jones (Nov. 24, 1994)
The Herald-Times, "Jazz Singer Finds 'Improv in Us All'" by Kathleen Mills (Sept. 15, 1995)
Diena, Riga Bals, Izklaide, and Kultura, interviews in Latvian newspapers (1998, 1999, 2000)
Pocono Record, "Jazz Journey" by Emily Lewinski (July 2, 2002)

Awards, Grants, and Recognition:
Downbeat Magazine, Dan Morgenstern, Caught in the Act, NY debut at Village Vanguard with Steve Kuhn, Ron Carter, and Pete LaRoca (1965)
National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1979-80) to develop original musical (Jass Is A Lady)
Meet the Composer (1980)
New York State Council on the Arts Grant (1980)
Grammy Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (1981)
City Council of Baltimore Resolution (sponsored by Kweisi Mfume), honoring Grammy Nomination (1982)
ASCAP Popular Awards (1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001)
National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1982-83)
Rockefeller Grant (1984-85)
Downbeat Annual International Critics Poll: Female Vocalists TDWR (1986 and subsequent years)
NYS-IAJE, Certificate of Appreciation (1992)
Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts in Education Grants (1993 - 2002)
IAJE, Certificate of Appreciation (1994)
II, III, V International Music Camp for Young Latvian Musicians, Honoraria (1996, 2000, 2002)
ArtsLink Collaborative Projects Award (1998)
American Information Agency Grant, American Embassy, Latvia (1999)
The Thanks Be To Grandmother Winifred Foundation Grant (1999)

Websites:
www.allaboutjazz.com/news/ft/20020702/1508/Two_Americans_Jazz_Journey_Brings_Interactive.html
www.artistdirect.com/music/artist/ card/0,,457177,00.htmlv
home.mindspring.com/~hays2ries/premieres.html
www.jazzfrombloomington.org/Newsletters/ Spring%202001/page1.html
www.view.com/lahm-bio.html
www.jandr.com/ JRMusicArtistPage.process?P_Id=P%20%20%20%20%206959
www.denigraphicdesign.com/cotajazz/ archive_images/2000.htm
www.rpiva.lv/Fortius/English/lapa2.htm
www.newschool.edu/jazz/
www.nyu.edu/education/music/faculty/lawson_janet.html

Contact information:
website: http://janetlawson.hypermart.net
e-mail: scatproductions@hotmail.com
mailing address:
RR 5, Box 5361
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301
tel. & fax: 570-421-3525

Adjunct Faculty at:
New School University, Jazz & Contemporary Music Program,
55 W. 13 St., NY, NY 10011, tel: 212-229-5896, ext. 305
New York University, Department of Music & Performing Arts,
35 W. 4 St., Suite 777, NY, NY 10003, tel: 212-998-5424

photo credit:  Jason Farmer, Pocono Record (July 2002)

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