When the Jazz Diva finally calls me back to set up our interview, I realize I don't even know her real name. When I tell her this, sheepishly, Tammy Greene laughs. Turns out, it's not the first time people have had a little trouble figuring out who the Jazz Diva really is.
For almost 10 years, Greene has been producing jazz events in Charlotte — she started in a little jazz cafe in Ayrsley — and beyond. She's particularly proud of the Lowcountry Jazz Festival in Charleston, South Carolina (six years running), which has grown to a four-day event. Locally, she's been involved in the Uptown Jazz Festival, and continues to produce the Carolina Jazz Concert Series at Central Piedmont, as well as a weekly smooth jazz mixer at Sydney's in Uptown.
On how she became interested in music and the arts.
In the 7th grade, I had a teacher. She was our geography teacher, but she loved the arts. She would expose us to the arts. She took us from Philadelphia to New York to see a Broadway show, A Chorus Line. It was so phenomenal for me, I then began to love musicals and anything music-related. Me coming from the inner city, my mother was a single mother, it wasn't like we could just go to the theater or she could expose us to that kind of stuff.
On what she's got in store for the future.
In 2015, it'll be 10 years that I've been doing this, which is amazing to me because I did not set out to become a producer. I love the music. It's a passion of mine. You know you have your ups and downs financially, but for some reason, I'm finding a way to do it. This year, I'd like to be known for more than smooth jazz. There are things I'd like to do with children. Not so much with children musicians, but I've found when I expose kids to music or to jazz now, they're on the lookout for it. And that's the only way we're going to keep our arts going, is to get the kids exposed. Even if it's just one child at a time, I'd love to do activities that connect kids to music and arts.
On who to check out locally.
You know who I do love? He plays with Jazz Arts Initiative a lot. He's a piano player, Chad Lawson. I think Chad is a phenomenal piano player. And the cool thing about Chad? He plays classic jazz, but he's done some of my smooth jazz sets with some national artists. I like artists who can switch it up. Chad has some great music. I think he's a hidden gem in Charlotte.