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People On The Move - Cheryl Parker
06/27/2010 - By Tobi D. Tesoriero
SINGING AND SWINGING WITH THE COLTS NECK SWING BAND
Although made famous generations ago, the swing style of music still enthralls and delights us. When we hear the old classics like “In the mood” or “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” our toes start a-tapping and whether or not we know how to really Jitterbug or Lindsey we feel our feet itching to dance. Colts Neck residents are fortunate to have in their midst their very own swing band – the Colts Neck Swing Band.
According to Cheryl Parker, one of the band members and vocalists, it is a 19-piece dynamic swing band that plays all the classic big band era tunes first made famous by Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra, as well as the music of today’s contemporary bands.
Cheryl joined the group in October of 2006. She says that the band had been a going concern for two years prior, under the leadership of Jim Day. He was the trombone player. He ran the band, got the music together, arranged concerts and schedules. When he retired and moved out of the area Cheryl along with Dan Petrosini took over. The group’s musical director is Al Repoli. Many of the band members are professionals and music teachers. The Colts Neck Swing Band performs at a wide variety of events (dances, concerts, festivals) playing everything from Swing to Blues to Latin music.
Cheryl became involved in her musical pursuits at a very early age. She started singing when she was four years old. She came from a musical family. Her dad played the clarinet, her mom the violin. While growing up Cheryl learned to play guitar. As Cheryl got older she joined school choirs and then turned classical in college. In fact, Cheryl earned two separate degrees. Her first in nursing, when she graduated in 1978, then her second in 1983 after returning to college to study musical performing arts. Cheryl then decided she wanted to sing opera. She ended up performing with the Phoenix Symphony Chorale.
Then one summer Cheryl attended a wellknown, month-long seminar at Amherst College. She says that she wanted to go so badly that she borrowed the money to attend. There she was coached by the finest teachers from Julliard (among them the famous vocal coach Oren Brown). They told her she could have a career but needed to move to New York City.
A year later Cheryl did move to New York to follow her dream. She also continued to follow both her career and passion. She landed a job nursing at St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and studied music at Julliard. A bold move for a single mom!
Cheryl grew in both her disciplines. From nursing she segued into a career in pharmaceutical research. As Cheryl explained, “In 1985 there was a lot of AIDS research going on. There was a lot of studies and I helped in the trials at the hospital.” She was then recruited to work directly for a pharmaceutical company. For the past 18 years she has been a study manager. Her focus now is on cancer research.
Concurrently Cheryl was also pursuing her music. One summer as she was getting ready to audition for the New York City Opera - but her voice changed. She had been a mezzosoprano, training for nine years. She explains that her voice got an “extension.” It could go an octave higher than before.
She had an artistic identity crisis. She had geared herself for roles such as Carmen, and now she was an Aida or Violetta. So Cheryl widened her range (figuratively and literally) and became involved in Broadway dinner theater. She also put out a CD, “The World is Turning Fast” in tribute to Arthur Schwartz (who in 2000 would have been 100 years old). Cheryl became immersed in that genre of music, meeting met many great jazz musicians.
Since moving to New Jersey in 1997 she has been singing with the best musicians in our state. Through her involvement in the musical community she happened upon the Colts Neck Swing band.
The band rehearses every two weeks at the Colts Neck Middle School on Cedar Drive. The band at this time is established but if someone is interested in participating Cheryl said they are always looking for good substitutes. They are also discussing the possibility of hosting open sessions. They have several appearances already scheduled for the summer season. To check their schedule you can either go to their Facebook page or their website at www.swingband.weebly.com.
I am actually vegetarian.
Kaya’s Kitchen and Salt Creek Grill
Toss up between big band and jazz
“Sleepless in Seattle, The Godfather, Scarface”
People that are not kind to their animals. (Cheryl volunteers at the Monmouth County SPCA)
THREE PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH
Suzie Orman, Jazz musician Kenny Barron, and some handsome wonderful eligible man who would be crazy about me!
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