Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Tomboulian, Betty (Elizabeth Ann Elkins)

Tomboulian, Betty [Elizabeth Ann Elkins], singer, piano; b. Pine Bluff, Arkansas, 6 April 1953.

Began career in Houston in 1971 playing piano bars. Attended University of Arkansas at Fayetteville 1972-1974, piano and voice major. Performed in central Arkansas in restaurants and bars 1974-76, then back to Houston. In Houston during the late seventies she studied piano with Kip Galbraith, voice with Ray Sullenger, jazz improv with Tony Campisi, performing in Houston nightclubs under the name Betty Bop. Bandleader at St. Michel with Jimmy Ford (alto), G. T. Hogan (drums), Allan Gibson (trumpet, fluegel), Bonnie Brown AKA Basura Ruhudin (piano).

In 1979 she moved to New Orleans. Gigged at Lucky Pierre's piano bar on Bourbon St. In 1980 she moved to Boulder, Co., where she worked at the Blue Note, sharing the stage with Charlie Musselwhite, Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, Richie Cole. In 1980, she played piano with the Charles Neville House Band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. From 1981-1987, she lived in Nashville, Tenn. From 1988-93, she lived in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Studied piano at UALR with Tom Cox, played piano for Salsa Picante Latin Ensemble at UALR. Worked Little Rock and Fayetteville clubs solo piano/vocal and sang with Lee Tomboulian's Circo Verde, Brazilian jazz ensemble. In 1993, she moved to Denton, Texas. Sang with University of North Texas Jazz Singers 1994. Staff member in University Communications and Marketing at UNT since 1993, audited many jazz studies courses.

She now performs in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex primarily smoke-free shows solo piano/vocal and is vocalist/composer with Lee's group, Circo, which includes Lee Tomboulian- piano, synth, accordion, Pete Brewer- saxes and flutes, Dennis Durick- drumset/vocal, Ricardo Bozas- percussion/vocal, Brian Warthen-bass, and Betty Tomboulian- vocal.

She married Michael Kane in 1983 and had a daughter Vauda Kane born 1984. Divorced in 1987. She married Lee Tomboulian (pianist/composer/arranger) in 1992. He played with Nat Adderley, Pharoah Sanders and Eddie Harris and attended the Naropa Institute and U of North Texas where he was selected for the One O'Clock Lab Band.

Her daughter Ana Maria Tomboulian was born 1991.

Recordings:
Circo North/South Convergence (2002)
Unissued recordings:
In Nashville, she recorded with The Lost Rene's (unreleased), composed, co-produced, sang and played keys for 10-piece group, Whatever it Takes (2 albums recorded, unreleased).

Contact information:
www.circomusic.com
tomboulian@unt.edu
940.597.5440

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