“The mark of a great musician is when other great musicians recognize your talent when they hear it.”
That quote is from jazz sax player David Sanborn, who said it about relative jazz newcomer Kandace Springs after legendary pop star Prince invited Springs to perform alongside him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain” in 2014.
“It’s so crazy, I still can’t believe that happened,” Springs said during a recent phone interview from her home in Nashville.
A lot has happened to Springs since that fateful concert. She signed with Blue Note records, recorded two well-received albums, opened for Daryl Hall & John Oates and Train on their North American summer tour in 2018, appeared on the Sanborn Sessions with Sanborn, and performed at the National Jazz Workshop in Nashville with Kirk Whalum, singing “As Time Goes By.”
Now, the sultry chanteuse with the voice that Prince said “could melt snow” brings her jazz show to Segerstrom Center for the Arts at the intimate Samueli Theater for two performances on Feb. 22.
Springs, a singer and pianist, is accompanied by an all-female backing band: Taylor Moore on drums and Taylen Bryant on electric and standup bass.
“It’s just the three of us, but we make a lot of noise,” Springs laughed. “You’ll feel it. We harmonize. It’s pretty cool.”
At the concert, Springs will play music from her two released albums plus one that comes out this March: “The Women Who Raised Me,” featuring renditions of songs made famous by some of history’s most iconic vocalists including Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall, Carmen McRae, Bonnie Raitt, Sade, Nina Simone, Norah Jones, and others.
Guest musicians include Sanborn, Christian McBride, and Norah Jones.
“This is an album I’ve been wanting to make forever,” Springs said. “It really expresses my love for all of these singers and gratitude for what they gave me. Each taught me something different and all of those lessons combined to make me who I am now.”
When Springs was growing up, her parents listened to different types of music, and her grandmother was into soft rock and pop. Her dad gave her a Norah Jones album, and eventually she heard singers like Sara Vaughn and Billie Holiday.
“I met Norah Jones in the Nashville airport by accident,” Springs said. “I said, ‘Is that who I think it is?’ [Now] she’s on my new record.”
Her new gig is a far cry from her old job of parking cars at a Nashville hotel. She went from parking attendant to piano player when she was doodling on the hotel’s lobby piano and the manager happened to hear her.
“He asked if I’d play in the lounge for guests, so I did that a couple of times a week,” Springs recalled. “I’d be parking cars by day and playing in the bar at night. It was good training, because you play for three hours straight. I’d play songs by Adele, Bonnie Raitt, and mix in newer stuff.”
Springs’ style reaches across several genres, and she’s found a way to incorporate the styles she grew up with and make them her own. Whether it’s jazz, soul, pop or a mix of all three, Springs is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the jazz world.
For more information and tickets, visit SCFTA.org.