Severna Park vocalist making her name on top jazz charts Mom practices in her kitchen

October 07, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Sue Matthews is a nice Severna Park mom with three young sons and a house by the water.

She's also becoming a household name to jazz enthusiasts around the country.

When the vocalist called radio stations from Wisconsin to Seattle recently to thank them for playing her music, strangers reacted enthusiastically.

"Sue Matthews! We love your album," they told her.

That was a big thrill, says Mrs. Matthews, whose latest album, "When You're Around," combines traditional "straight-ahead" jazz and pop jazz.

"It makes you feel really good," she says of the acclaim.

Mrs. Matthews, a brunette with blue eyes and a smoky look that fits her music, has been singing since she was a toddler in church.

Until recently, however, locals knew her only through performances at the Maryland Inn's King of France Tavern in Annapolis. Mrs. Matthews began singing at the Monday night jam sessions there seven years ago.

A year ago, she released her first compact disc. Co-produced by Mrs. Matthews and pianist Stef Scaggiari, "Love Dances" featured the singer performing classic and contemporary jazz standards backed by the likes of bass player Keeter Betts, who has worked with Ella Fitzgerald.

Her latest album, sent to radio stations the last week of August -- nudged onto the top jazz charts last week. The singer says she's thrilled just to be on the list.

"Working with these professionals was such a treat," says Mrs. Matthews. "Just the fact that we got on the charts is thrilling. We've gotten tremendous airplay. It's very exciting. It's a dream come true. You always wish you could have an album."

She credits Annapolitan Marty Horowitz with initiating her first album. He arranged financing and created an independent company to produce the love ballads.

That album received considerable attention from radio stations, although she didn't make any money on it, she says.

Her latest release, put out by Positive Music Records of Columbia, starts out with an exuberant version of "I Want To Be Happy."

"I throw a little torch in, and there's always room for blues," she says.

Mrs. Matthews says she's a "lover of the lyric, as well as the melody. I seek out music with a story, so I can sing it with conviction. I am comfortable getting myself into the story of the song, and what that story means to me, conveying a message to the audience."

Wednesday, she'll be performing at Blues Alley in Washington.

"It's very, very exciting," she says. "I keep saying, 'Oh my gosh!' "

Mrs. Matthews says she's been fortunate to be successfully mixing career and family right out of her Round Bay home.

Mrs. Matthews, the wife of Navy lacrosse coach Bryan Matthews, says most of her music comes "out of the kitchen," because that's where she practices.

Her sons, 9-year-old Wauker, 7-year-old Russell and 4-year-old Garrett, are used to hearing her practice. "They tell me if they like something, and they can be pretty caustic if they don't like it," she says. Sometimes, if she continues to croon in the car, they'll protest: "Not in the car, too!"

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