The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Carmen Lundy

Jazz singer, arranger and composer Carmen Lundy was born on November 1, 1954 in Miami, Florida. Her mother, Oveida, was the lead singer in a gospel group; her younger brother, Curtis Lundy, is a jazz bassist. Inspired by those around her, Lundy began playing the piano at age six, and started singing in her church choir at age twelve. She went on to attend the University of Miami, where she received her B.M. degree in studio music and jazz.

At the age of sixteen, Lundy began her professional career in Miami, then moved to New York City in 1978 where she worked with numerous Jazz veterans. The following year, she made her first appearance on an album with a group called Jasmine; and, in 1980, formed her own group, performing with pianists John Hicks and Onaje Gumbs. In 1985, Lundy released her first solo album, entitled Good Morning Kiss, which remained at the #3 spot on Billboard’s Jazz Chart for twenty-three weeks. Subsequent records included Night and Day, Self Portrait, Old Devil Moon, This Is Carmen Lundy, Jazz and the New Songbook: Live at the Madrid, Come Home, Solamente, Changes, and Soul To Soul, among others. In all, Lundy has released fourteen albums and has published over 100 songs. Her compositions have been recorded by such artists as Kenny Barron, Ernie Watts, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Regina Carter. In addition, Lundy and producer Elisabeth Oei launched the Afrasia Productions music label in 2005.

Lundy has taught master classes throughout the world, including Australia, Denmark, Russia, Japan, Switzerland, New York and Los Angeles, California, and at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and for the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to being a multi-instrumentalist, she has acted and played the lead role in Duke Ellington's Broadway musical, Sophisticated Ladies, and portrayed Billie Holiday in Lawrence Holder's They Were All Gardenias. Lundy is also a mixed media artist and painter, and her works have been exhibited in New York at The Jazz Gallery, and at The Jazz Bakery and Madrid Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

Throughout her career, Lundy’s music has been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Washington Post, Jazz Times, Jazziz, Downbeat and Vanity Fair among many others. Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners proclaimed January 25th “Carmen Lundy Day” and she received the keys to the City of Miami.

Lundy resides in Los Angeles, California.

Carmen Lundy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 12, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.256

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/12/2014

Last Name

Lundy

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Latretta

Occupation
Schools

Frank C. Martin Elementary School

Richmond Heights Middle School

Miami Killian Senior High School

University of Miami

First Name

Carmen

Birth City, State, Country

Miami

HM ID

LUN01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fiji

Favorite Quote

The Good Die Young But The Great Live Forever.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/1/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Jazz singer Carmen Lundy (1954 - ) has recorded fourteen albums and published over 100 songs. She has also acted on stage and is an exhibited painter and co-founder of Afrasia Productions.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3198,19:4804,44:5169,49:6483,80:6848,86:21078,441:23814,503:31023,571:31428,577:32157,588:32805,597:33210,603:33534,608:33858,620:34506,629:34830,634:35559,644:37017,670:37422,675:38232,694:38556,699:42464,724:45306,744:45894,752:49324,806:49716,811:51382,829:59029,942:59431,950:61709,994:63049,1020:63652,1031:64054,1039:64322,1044:67940,1136:75518,1158:76890,1177:77380,1184:77968,1191:87575,1329:96042,1438:99842,1575:108882,1686:110622,1723:115254,1826:115584,1838:118940,1924:127846,2071:130182,2130:145104,2288:147004,2338:147384,2344:147992,2353:148676,2363:150424,2423:156646,2492:157598,2505:158414,2519:158686,2524:158958,2529:169534,2712:171154,2731:171478,2736:194558,3050:196306,3082:197218,3095:199726,3143:202006,3189:203602,3230:204970,3253:205350,3259:208718,3278:209066,3283:213416,3420:215740,3443$0,0:10638,163:13450,212:13982,220:16642,274:17554,288:33320,551:36400,620:38776,651:43050,667:47210,702:47620,708:47948,713:48276,718:49260,738:53746,784:70136,957:76900,1074:78250,1105:81432,1129:83926,1177:97502,1372:97972,1378:104274,1438:105022,1453:106042,1477:107130,1499:111404,1528:111716,1533:112262,1542:120812,1654:136365,1902:148136,2077:152588,2163:157033,2186:158195,2208:158776,2217:159191,2223:162530,2260:166190,2298:166575,2304:166883,2309:167422,2318:168115,2330:173110,2361
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carmen Lundy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks about her maternal family ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy talks about Perrine, Florida and her grandparents' family market, barbershop and recreation center

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy talks about her mother singing with the Apostolic Singers church choir

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks about her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy describes her parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about her family's reputation and relative wealth in the community of Perrine, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy describes which parent she takes after most as well as her mother's character

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy describesthe family her mother worked for and how that led to piano lessons and attending the University of Miami

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy remembers visiting her father's second job at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy describes getting lost when walking home alone

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy describes her home life and her father's authoritarian parenting style

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy describes her community in Perrine, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy describes her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy talks about her experience at Miami Killian High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Carmen Lundy talks about her experience in the Miami Killian High School choral program and watching Barbara McNair perform on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy describes meeting Barbara McNair in Pasadena, California as an adult

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy describes her introduction to secular music as well as what black people were on television in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks about playing piano in the chorus and performing as the duo, Steph and Trett

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy describes the musical influence of Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack and others

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy describes her introduction to jazz music and performing Roberta Flack's, 'Trying Times' in the Miami Killian Senior High School talent show

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy explains how she she was accepted into the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy talks about her experience at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida as an opera major

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks about starting a singing group with classmate David Roitstein and singing with Michael and Randy Brecker of The Brecker Brothers

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about working at the Eden Rock Hotel on Miami Beach

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy talks about switching from majoring in opera to majoring in jazz

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Carmen Lundy remembers sitting in with Thad Jones and Mel Lewis at the Village Vanguard in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Carmen Lundy describes the Miami jazz scene in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy remembers her introduction to Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about Stevie Wonder's influence

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy describes taking class with jazz educator Vince Lawrence Maggio at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy talks about Billie Holiday's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy talks about her introduction to Latin Jazz, Mayra Casales and singing background vocals for Ray Barretto in 1979

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy remembers her first apartment in New York City and being held at gunpoint by the person who subletted her the apartment

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy remembers singing Friday nights at Jazzmania her first year in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks about her relationship with conga player Carlos "Patato" Valdes and percussionist Mayra Casales

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about playing in a band with jazz pianist Walter Bishop, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy talks about recording her first record, 'Angelica,' with a group called Jasmine

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about putting a group together and working in New York's Greenwich Village

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks about her relationships with pianists Onaje Allan Gumbs, Harry Whitaker and performing her own compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy talks about not being able to find work after the release of her first record, 'Good Morning Kiss,' in 1985, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy talks about recording a demo tape for Columbia Records in 1984

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy talks about her meeting with Columbia Records and losing her record deal, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy talks about her meeting with Columbia Records and losing her record deal, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks about the release of her record, 'Good Morning Kiss,' under the independent record label Black Hawk

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about not being able to find work after the release of her first record, 'Good Morning Kiss,' in 1985, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy talks about being cast by HistoryMaker Donald McKayle in a European Broadway tour of 'Sophisticated Ladies,'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Carmen Lundy talks about her return from Europe to New York City in 1989 and recording the record, 'Night and Day,' with Sony Japan in 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy talks about an article written about her in The Village Voice

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy remembers performing at Mikell's Jazz Club in New York City and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks about being cast in a pilot special for CBS

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy remembers performing in Los Angeles at The Red Sea and having to fight for compensation, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy remembers performing in Los Angeles at The Red Sea and having to fight for compensation, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy talks about becoming a visual artist

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy talks about the physicality of her performances and how she stays in shape

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy describes her songwriting process

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy describes her songwriting process and the inspiration behind her song, 'Quiet Times'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy describes writing 'Seventh Heaven,' after pianist Kenny Kirkland's death

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy talks about the release of her albums, 'Self -Portrait' and 'Old Devil Moon'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program, pt.1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy remembers seeing jazz singer Betty Carter at the North Sea Jazz Festival

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy talks about Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program, pt.2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy talks about young jazz musicians

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy talks briefly about being signed to Justin Time Records

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy talks about establishing her own label, Afrasia Productions, in 2004 and the release of 'Jazz & The New Songbook Live at the Madrid Theater'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks briefly about her collaborations with percussionist Mayra Casales and pianist Geri Allen

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about a lack of appreciation for jazz artist's work, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy talks about a lack of appreciation for jazz artist's work, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Carmen Lundy describes her single, 'Grace,' about the transatlantic slave trade with Simphiwe Dana, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Carmen Lundy describes recording her single, 'Grace,' about the transatlantic slave trade with Simphiwe Dana, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy describes recording her single, 'Grace,' about the transatlantic slave trade with Simphiwe Dana, pt. 3

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about the production of her album, 'Soul to Soul' and learning to play the guitar from bassist Chip Jackson

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks about the production of her album, 'Soul to Soul' and artists Patrice Rushen and others

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy talks about playing the guitar onstage

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy talks about her upcoming projects

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Carmen Lundy reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Carmen Lundy describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Carmen Lundy talks about her marriage and attitudes toward same-sex marriages

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Carmen Lundy talks about African Americans' current relationship to jazz

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Carmen Lundy addresses racial prejudice in contemporary America

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Carmen Lundy talks about her mother's approval and her father's disapproval of her career, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Carmen Lundy talks about her mother's approval and her father's disapproval of her career, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Carmen Lundy talks briefly about her work as a visual artist

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Carmen Lundy describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Carmen Lundy narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

7$12

DATitle
Carmen Lundy remembers singing Friday nights at Jazzmania her first year in New York City
Carmen Lundy describes recording her single, 'Grace,' about the transatlantic slave trade with Simphiwe Dana, pt. 2
Transcript
So now, this piano that I moved into in New York City [New York], follows me to every place I lived, until I left and moved to Los Angeles [California], that same piano, okay. So, that's the upside of the story, that's the upside. (Laughter)$$It's a roller coaster story, yeah.$$But anyway, we used to live--so now this is before all of this happens. We're like--Mayra [Casales] and I knew that the deal was that you've got to go out and hang out. So, two beautiful things happened to me while in my first year in New York, beautiful things. One, I got a gig singing every Friday and Saturday night with some of the greatest jazz musicians alive at that time in New York City. There was a club called Jazzmania on, the address was 14 23rd Street, Park Avenue South. And it was a loft, and you had to take five unforgivably long, steep, flights to get up to this loft. Mayra would schlep her conga drums up there, and I'd schlep myself with my charts, you know. So, the reason why I was able to be this lucky was because my friend, Bill Morgenstern, who I didn't mention to you, who mentored me all those years in Miami--the art dealer, jazz fanatic, historian, who was also a ballet dancer and loved the theater, and was originally from Brooklyn, New York--Bill Morgenstern had a brother, Mike [ph.], who had a jazz club called Jazzmania. And my best friend, Bill, called his brother and said, "My girl, Carmen, is coming to New York, and you've got to make sure she gets something. Do something, do something with her." He would say, "Do something for her," like that. So I got this little gig singing every Friday, fifty dollars, it was a fifty dollar gig. There's still fifty dollar gigs to this day in New York. I just can't believe it, but there are. Fifty dollars, I go in there. And there would be, one night there would be somebody like Jaki Byard. The next week it would be Walter Bishop, Jr. The next week, it would be Michael Carvin. The next week it would be Ronnie Mathews. The next week it would be Don Pullen. The next week it would be Kenny Barron, you know. And it was just on and on and on, these great musicians--Charlie Persip on drums. What, what! Stafford James on bass. Rashid--I mean it was so much--it would be-- John Hicks on piano. So, every weekend he would book different artists. I still have the newspaper articles. I still have the newspaper articles of all these people that I sang with. I did it for an entire year, for fifty-two weeks I sang every weekend with some great jazz pianist. Joe, what his name, Joe Carroll. Joe Carroll was a wonderful singer. A lot of people don't know about Joe Carroll, but he was a great--Eddie Jefferson, another great singer would come through. I sang with Al Harewood, who recorded with Betty Carter. Al Harewood was a left-handed drummer, so his right--you know, but his right cymbal would--most times as a singer, you're kind of hearing this, you know. But his right cymbal was over here. Interesting stuff. But that was my gig for an entire year, which is how I met Walter Bishop, Jr., which is how I ended up recording on one of his recordings. I sang this tune called, 'Valley Land,' and that's funny to me, even now, because Valley Land is about L.A., and I didn't know what L.A. was. L.A., you might as well have been telling me, you might as well be saying to me East Cabibia [ph.], I did not know. So, that was my first year.$So, something came up. "Well, you must do something together. You guys need to do something together." So I said, "Well, come into my studio. I'll show you my studio and show you what I'm working on." So, I started pulling all these tunes. And stupid me, I picked the most rhythmic things, because I'm thinking that would be the thing that she's [Simphiwe Dana]--I mean that was just so ignorant of me to do. So, I'm thinking--and then I thought, "And there's this tune that has been driving me nuts, I've got to play it for you. But before I play it for you, I just want to tell you what my inspiration is. My inspiration is that I did some research on the history of the hymn, and learned a great deal more about how this hymn came to be. And in doing so, I realized that John Newton was a slave trader," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? I'm telling them the whole thing. And she, after I tell her this story--because who doesn't know that hymn, right? So, she went, "I didn't know that." And then she says, "Do you have a pen and paper I can borrow from you?" So then she starts writing. "Where do you press record? Where do you press record?" She starts singing, and the levels--I mean, she's a little lady, lovely, tiny, little lady. And she started singing, and my levels went through the roof. "Wait, hold on, hold on. Wait, let me set these levels." So, she begins to sing, and then suddenly there's something, "We have walked for so long with our heads to the ground. We have died for so long with our heads under the boot (speaking Xhosa)." I don't know what she was saying, but I know it was Zulu or something, right.$$The Xhosa language.$$Xhosa language.$$Xhosa?$$Yes. So, she sings her little ditty, and I sing right into that, right? So, whatever she did, I just followed it up--something that had never even occurred to me melodically and lyrically; it just came out. And we got it on tape, we got the whole thing on tape. So, now we're so excited, you know, Elisabeth [Oie] comes in and Lupie [ph.] comes in, "Listen to what we've got." Elisabeth says, "Oh, my." So, I'm so excited, and she's so excited that this is--because now I realize she's singing from the South African perspective, and I'm singing from the African American perspective about this point in time in our history as a people. Wow, wow.