Hope had the pleasure of performing at the Long Beach Jazz festival with the festival founder and drummer of the Al Williams quartet for a tribute to the great late Barbara Morrison in the summer 2022.
She also had recently returned from performing at the Panama Jazz Fest with Shea Welsh at the Panama Canal opening with Latin Superstar Yomi. Hope is currently promoting her new jazz and soul Big Band album Awaken with appearances in Atlanta, and on the West coast at Vibrato’s, Campus Jax and Palm Springs to name a few. It is available for download on Spotify and all media outlets. please check out her Christmas video produced in London 2022. Available on YouTube. Thank you to all the wonderful supporters and friends who’ve continued to listen in on the radio platforms and travel to her shows. More to come in 2023.
How Hope Diamond Cultivates Jazz in the Coachella Valley
The songbird harnesses her musical prowess at local clubs and international music festivals.
Something transformative happens when Hope Diamond gets a hold of a song.
“I’m not just singing it, I’m relaying a message,” she says. “I’m tapping into something beyond the lyrics, and I’m bringing everyone else along for the experience.”
Then again, that’s what Diamond does with just about everything. When she opens the door of her Palm Desert home, it’s like being let in on a secret. Instantly, you’re thrust into Hope’s world, a sumptuous place that thrums with music and beauty. You’d almost swear there was a twinkle of lights or a poof of glitter upon entering it.
Diamond herself is a presence, wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress splashed with fuchsia flowers. She smiles easily with a laugh that fills the room. Sure, her real name is Hope Deans, but it’s clear the stage name “Diamond” suits her. There are many facets to this singer, and they all sparkle.
Growing up, Diamond’s family split time between Ontario, California, and Shreveport, Louisiana, where she sang in church choirs from an early age. Her contralto voice was a perfect fit for the gospel songs she loved, like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Wade in the Water,” and she embraced the music to a point where she embodied it.
“I was fully engulfed by music, learning jazz at a level I had never heard before. It was just so explosive.”
“Singing gospel is an experience that always stays in me,” she says. “Even today, the physical part of the gospel can be overwhelming. I had to learn how to control that, because it’s something I feel in my body and bring forward for the audience.”
Diamond cultivated a love for Motown during her high school years, when she had a Supremes-esque girl group of her own. Everything changed when she went off to college at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, discovering a genre that recalibrated her understanding of music.
“There was a huge African American program that taught me about this thing called jazz,” she says with a smile. “That’s when I became a true student of the arts — the art of jazz. I was fully engulfed by music, learning jazz at a level I had never heard before. It was just so explosive.”
It seems like that’s the point when her own musical career should’ve exploded. But Diamond had another calling — “I put on a pencil skirt and went to work,” she says, matter-of-factly — prioritizing a career in criminal justice that focused on criminal behavioral change.
“This was something where I could change lives,” she says. “So there was no more music for almost 20 years.”
After retiring in the mid-1990s, music wriggled its way back into Diamond’s life. She remembers attending shows for other musicians and getting pulled onstage to sing. Eventually, the spotlight never stopped pointing at her.
It’s a second act that has opened doors all over the world, from performing at the Long Beach Jazz Festival to crooning by the canal at the Panama Jazz Festival. Diamond also taught English through jazz to students in Beijing and spent a four-month stint on an Italian cruise ship, leading a Ukrainian band through the Great American Songbook.
But the Coachella Valley is where Diamond feels most at home. After spending numerous vacations in Greater Palm Springs, the singer and her husband, James Deans, decided to make it a permanent stop six years ago.
“Sometimes people would say they couldn’t find the music here, but we’ve always found it. The music scene is thriving,” she says.
Now Diamond regularly performs at nightclubs and restaurants all over town, including Melvyn’s in Palm Springs and Vicky’s of Santa Fe in Indian Wells. And then there was the bakery.
Until it closed in 2022, Frankie Mamone had been the proud owner of Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery in Cathedral City, where he spent a decade creating authentic Italian food for the valley. But beyond the breads, pastries, and cannoli, there was something else — a tucked-away room that could seat 80.
Hope Diamond travels from LA to London to record a very sweet Christmas Song.
Have yourself A Merry little Christmas sang in a London studio including scenes around London with Abby road and the beautiful Tower Bridge produced by Mike Parlett Talented Productions
HOPE DIAMOND RELEASES AWAKEN, AN IMPRESSIVE SET OF R&B AND JAZZ CLASSICS
Displaying a powerful voice and a full understanding of the two idioms, the singer is heard in top form throughout a set ranging from “What’s Going On” to “Old Devil Moon.”
Hope Diamond is an important musical force in Southern California where her very expressive, yet subtle vocals are regularly featured in clubs. Now, with the release of Awaken which reached #23 on the Jazzweek charts, in Feb. and remained in the top 50 for 5 weeks, she is quickly becoming well-known across the U.S.
Very much at home whether singing jazz standards or vintage soul, Hope is heard at her best throughout the nine songs that comprise Awaken. She is joined by trumpeter and trombonist Lee Thornburg, saxophonist, and guitarist Michael Parlett (the CD’s producer), pianist-keyboardist-arranger Paul McDonald, top rhythm section players, and occasional background singers. McDonald’s arrangements perfectly showcase Hope’s voice, and her interpretations make each song her own.
Awaken begins with Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man,” the singer’s favorite personal performance of the release. She gives the vintage soul piece a contemporary edge, handles the rapid lyrics with ease, and features some wailing sax from Pallett. Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” showcases the other side of the vocalist for Hope’s relaxed delivery and effective use of space show that she is also a confident and joyful jazz singer.
Her fresh rendition of the Randy Crawford hit “Rio de Janeiro Blue” is quite soulful and has nice spots for guitarist Blake Aaron and the supportive bass of Roberto Vally. On “Never Can Say Goodbye,” Hope rises above the orchestral backing and gives the familiar song her own infectious spin.
“Old Devil Moon” has her swinging away while joined by guest trumpeter Tom Browne in an arrangement that has a big band feel along with Hope’s sassy singing. She shifts gears for the r&b ballad “Just My Imagination” and gives a jazz sensibility to “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” which has some fine trombone playing by Ido Meshulem. Hope’s warm ballad singing on the 1980s Seawind hit “Follow Your Road” uplifts the philosophical song before she concludes Awaken with her own funky version of “What’s Going On.”
Hope Diamond grew up in Los Angeles and Shreveport, La where she sang gospel music in her church choir, developed a love for Motown, sang soul music in high school, and learned about jazz while in college. After working for years helping people in the criminal justice system, she had the desire to sing again. She formed her own group, started playing local clubs, and gained experience performing in a wide variety of settings. Along the way she worked on an Italian cruise line with European musicians, performed at the Panama Jazz Festival, taught children English through jazz at a private school in Beijing, China, and worked in Orange County with pianists Llew Mathews and dynamic studio and big band d cats. After settling in Palm Desert, she became a fixture with the Paul McDonald big band, produced concerts, and prepared for her new CD Awaken to add to the popular Christmas CD Presence.
Awaken is awakening jazz and r&b vocal fans across the country to Hope Diamond’s superior vocalizing. It will be enjoyed by a wide audience and by anyone who relishes first-class singing.
Scott is a Jazz Historian/Journalist who has been writing about jazz for over 30 years, having contributed to all of the main jazz magazines, reviewed thousands of recordings, and a countless number of live performances. He has written eleven books on jazz, most recently The Great Jazz Guitarists. Many of my reviews are found throughout the All-Music Guide and Pandora websites.
Hope Diamond Deans Sings Trouble Man
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