Tacha Coleman-Parr is on Her Way  

Tacha Coleman-Parr stood out at the Blair
Mansion Jazz and Blues Jam two weeks ago,
singing a rousing, Ruth Brown-type blues number
called “You’re My Centerpiece,” written by
trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison and vocalese
master Jon Hendricks. Possessing an unusual
flair and projecting a controlled confidence, she
articulated beautifully and swung just right. She
injected these same qualities into conversation,
comfortably at ease with herself and others.

Classically-trained in North Carolina, Ms. Parr
began singing as a child, in church choirs and
school choruses, willing to “sing anything that
could be sung,” including choral and chamber
music. It wasn't until she moved to the
Washington, D.C. Area that she began her studies
in jazz singing. Training and singing for several
years, marriage and children—a pleasant life—
interrupted, but did not derail, a budding singing
career. Eventually, she left an enjoyable but
stressful job as a health care administrator to
focus exclusively on family and music, and she is
happier for it.

Trained by the late Ronnie Wells and Ron Elliston,
respected Washington, D.C. jazz instructors, Ms.
Parr is a technically proficient alto. She can, with
her controlled tone, emote syrupy sweet to achy
and wistful, becoming in the space of a couple of
songs petulant and withdrawn, fiery and life-
affirming. These qualities were on full display as
she performed her show that kicked off her and
Barbara Walker’s Jazz Vocal Series at Blair
Mansion in Silver Spring, MD. (Yes, I find myself
there a lot lately).

Her band was a good one. Her feisty teacher, Ron
Elliston, was on electric keyboards, Paul Wingo
played some interesting guitar solos and bassist
Tommy Cecil is always on the money. The
musicians were definitely there, never obtrusive,
always supporting, but capable of flights of fancy
with less than a moment’s notice. The absence of
drums, although regretted at times, contributed to
the intimate feel.

Ah, but what endeared this listener, though, was
Ms. Parr's honesty. The show was enjoyable
enough, but halfway into a ballad she had us. Her
intimacy—not the phony sort, but the sort that
made you believe without question (whether or not
it was true) that she was talking about a failed love
affair—in an intimate room was very endearing.
She was telling us, her old friends, a very personal
story. We all  believed her and wanted to pour her
a drink and tell her it was going to be alright. Aside
from singing, to have an audience eating out of her
hand, to be able to pull off a controlled intimacy—
engaging, tasteful, endearing and respectful—is
more than training; it is the sign of an artist.

The show was not perfect: there was a technical
problem that broke the spell, she didn't inject
enough blues for this writer’s tastes, given her
ability to do so, and some of her material had been
heard too often (Bye, Bye Blackbird). She was
nervous, too, having been away for a while, but that
was not a problem. When she asked how one
enjoyed the show she really listened, without
offense and full of questions.

This world is full of thin-voiced, artificially sultry
singers who think it would be nice to earn a living
as a “jazz singer” without bothering to “go to
school,” formally or informally, as most serious
instrumentalists do and, subsequently, earning
the instrumentalists’ scorn as they are labeled lazy
and unprepared. Tacha Coleman-Parr is neither
thin-voiced nor sultry. She can really sing, she
knows how to use her voice, she feels the music,
she can interpret a lyric well enough to remind one
of Carmen McRae, and she is too honest to
pretend. I would like to hear her in different
settings; with drums, bluesier and with a horn
section, whatever. The future beckons. Look out.

The Jazz Vocalists Series continues on Thursdays
at Blair Mansion throughout the summer.

July 2009
Web Press: Tacha Coleman Parr                    


(Washington, DC, February 5, 2012)  -- Jazz pianist
and DC music legend, Ron Elliston, will be in concert
on Sunday, February 19th at 7:30pm at the 2012
Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, MD, with
vocalist Tacha Coleman Parr, and guest vocalist,
Michelle Hoyte.  

Ron Elliston is a mainstay of the DC jazz scene He
has served as pianist for some of the top names in
jazz (Sarah Vaughn, Dick Shorey, Benny Carter,
Ernie Andrews, etc.), and created the Jazz Studies
program at the University of Maryland, College Park,
along with the late Ronnie Wells, his wife and
musical partner for 25 years.  In addition  to being
the accompanist for Ronnie Wells and her classic “&
Friends” recordings,  he has also given years of
private piano instruction and group jazz vocal studies
at The Elliston Studio for Jazz Studies where he and
Ronnie trained many of the independent jazz vocal
performers you hear today. Ron and Ronnie (who
died in 2006), were the founders of the East Coast
Jazz Festival (the predecessor of the Mid-Atlantic
Jazz Festival).  

Tacha Coleman Parr was trained by Ron Elliston and
Ronnie Wells, and has shared the stage with many
of the area’s top jazz musicians. Having also studied
with Rebecca Parris, Giacomo Gates, Roseanna
Vitro, and JD Walter, “her honesty to a song endears
the listener; she knows how to use her voice, she
feels the music, she can interpret a lyric well enough
to remind one of Carmen McRae. The intimacy that
she creates as a performer is the sort that makes
you believe without question that she is telling us a
very personal story” says jazz critic Barry Nix.  
This performance marks the return of Ron Elliston to
the festival arena, his first since Ronnie’s passing,
and features music written by both himself, Ronnie,
and Tacha. He will be joined by Paul Wingo on
guitar, David Wundrow on bass, and Dominic Smith
on drums.  

The concert will be held at the Rockville Hilton (1750
Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD). Tickets are $20.00
and are available at www.midatlantic jazzfestival.org
or by calling 301-563-9330. The Rockville Hilton is
located directly in front of the Twinbrook Metro

Tacha Coleman Parr and/or Ron Elliston; as well as,
everyone involved in this performance (line up listed
above) are available for interview. Please contact
Tacha (202-684-5733) to set up a time. Please visit
www.tachacolemanparr.com for more information on
and links to the all personnel involved in the event.
Press :