Mindi Abair, saxophonist, vocalist, percussionist, and composer, has found success in a man’s world. She is able to hold her own in a profession swarming with men and has become a role model to not only young girls, but all women. She gets radio play on Smooth Jazz stations and her vocal songs get played on adult contemporary stations, as well. This past year she has gotten married, released a new CD to much acclaim, and embarked on a solo tour after a year with Guitars and Saxes.
SJN: Mindi, it has been an exciting year for you. Your new CD is doing very well and you are a newlywed. Tell us a bit about the exciting things that have been happening in your life this past year?
Mindi: This has been a crazy year and by crazy I mean good. I released my third record on Verve Records, in April and it was just a whirlwind, very cool. You always hope that your record does well, but this one debuted at #1, so it was crazy. Once the Billboard #1 came out, then all of a sudden everything broke loose and we had so many bookings, so many road shows, it was a blast. I mean, it was manic, but it was so much fun. I’ve been out on the road with the guys in my band all year and
we’ve hit just everywhere in America and we’ve had a blast doing it. We’ve played festivals, and theatres, and clubs, we just did everything. It’s been fun because we have gotten this record out there in kind of a variety of ways. I went around to a lot of the radio stations and different places and did acoustic shows where I would bring in just me and my guitar player. I think that that is a neat way to get across music. It kind of sounds like a song sounds when you write it. I think that is kind of a special thing. Most people hear a song as it is on a record all produced and you have all the cool little keyboard, and the drum loops, and all the stuff that you spent all this time doing, but sometimes it really is cool to hear the unplugged version and kind of break it down. This year has been a really cool year the play a lot of music that is really close to my heart and get it out there to people.
SJN: We understand that you come from a musical family, that your father is a
musician and you went on tour with him when you were very young?
Mindi: Yes, basically I was born and a couple of weeks after I was born, they took me out on the road. My father’s band toured all year around, we didn’t even have a house. So, we lived out on the road and we did that until the band broke up when I was about five, we moved back to St. Petersburg Florida. Up until then, I had just seen my Dad play sax and B3 organ up on stage every night. It was kind of a blue eyed soul band. They were really just great performers, and just great at what they did. You know, I would watch my dad run around with a saxophone and have a good time. So we moved back to Florida and my Grandmother was there. She was an opera singer, a cubature soprano, which is above a soprano. She sounded like a bird. She’d play piano and sing these arias. So, I did grow up with a pretty varied musical background. When I was a kid, I was exposed to some very different things. When we moved back to Florida, my Father got a job working with a bunch of rock bands that he would put on the road. He would put together the musicians, he would rehearse them, and then put them out on the road. So, I went from soul, back and forth to opera, then to all this rock and roll, I’m sure it had an effect. (laughs) Good way to start!
SJN: I understand that your father plays with you occasionally?
Mindi: He does, it is so funny. You know, you can really tell a person’s background by seeing the people who inspired them. So many people ask in interviews, ‘Who inspired you, who are your favorite players.’ Some people don’t mention that maybe it wasn’t the people that you listened to their record 500 times, or you learned their solos. Maybe sometimes it’s the people that you just happen to be around and through osmosis it became you. My father, being a sax player and being a B3 player, he never taught me. As well as my Grandmother being a singer and a piano, never taught me. They both felt like they didn’t want to be the one who turned me off to music in any way. They felt at some point, everyone hates their music teacher and they didn’t want to be that person. They wanted me to find it on my own. So, eventually I did find it on my own and I loved it so much that I went for it and became what I wanted to be. So now it is fun, my dad will come up and sit in with my band and I really think that it is cool for the audience. It is obviously cool for me! But I think that it is cool for the audience to see where I came from. You can watch him and listen to him and see so much of what I sound like, to see who I copied from. Who I really by osmosis kind of sound like. I always kick back and watch and I am a little shocked myself because I was never trying to be him. I was just listening to him all of the time. He’d be playing in the bedroom next to mine when I was growing up, or I’d be sitting watching him in a club. I think it’s awesome to have him by my side on stage, to have your father up there playing music, who gets to do that? I just think that it is great to pay tribute to his talent and how much I took from him
SJN: Besides your father, who would you consider to be your biggest musical influences when you were growing up?
Mindi: As a kid, I was a girl who listened to the radio. I didn’t buy a lot of records, and I wasn’t into jazz. As a young girl, I’d go over to my friend’s house and dance to the Go-Go’s, or the Police, or whatever the new singles were at the time. You know, try to cop the Janet Jackson moves, which I wasn’t very good at, by the way. My future was not to be that! (laughs) But, as time goes on, if you’re a sax player and you stick with it, you really do have to delve into jazz and I didn’t have a lot of that around me. I was doing school bands, so I was playing those kinds of songs. I was the drum major of the band, so I was getting into classical and conducting. Probably the first person who influenced me as a sax player was David Sanborn because he was kind of a rocker. All of a sudden it wasn’t the school band sounding saxophone, it wasn’t what I had been hearing my Dad play, kind of more R&B, it was jazzy but he rocked. He had drummers behind him and climaxes of chorus’, and burning screaming solos. I had never heard that before, so I became a huge fan of his and then Marc Russo from the Yellowjackets, I was a fan of his and started buying their records. I remember I was in high school driving back from my waitressing job and listening to the Yellowjackets at midnight, driving, I wanted to know every note that he played. From there, in college I got into more traditional jazz. I lot of the students would ask if I was into contemporary or traditional jazz. I didn’t have an answer, it had no idea what that meant (laughs) I told them what I was listening to and they said that I needed to listen to some of the traditional guys, the guys where it came from. They started playing me Miles Davis, and Cannonball Adderley, and Wayne Shorter, and those people really through my college years shaped who I was as a musician. I went through phases!
SJN: Who are your current influences?
Mindi: As a singer I would say Ricki Lee Jones is a huge influence and I still listen to her music. I love Suzanne Vega and I kind of listen to everything that is out there now. I have a very eclectic iPod mix going, (laughs) you know I’ve got Willie Nelson and a band called Nouvelle Vague, that I really like. I like bands, singers, instrumentalists that make me feel something, and they can be as varied as Sheryl Crow, or Willie Nelson, or David Sanborn, or Miles Davis. All those people are very different genres, but if you turn on anyone of their records, they will take you someplace and that is what I love. Those are the artists that have influenced me over the years that have been the biggest influence. I would love to be able to say at the end of my life that I had a career like Miles Davis. He started a tradition of jazz, but then he kept changing it every other album would be a whole new scenario. He would just keep pushing the boundaries and he was vilified for it, but it the end, he’s a hero! In the end he’s an icon! A lot of the artists that I really, really respect didn’t really fit into a niche. Ricki Lee Jones wasn’t trying the sound like anyone. She was just writing songs and she just had such a cool thing that was all hers and I very much respect that in people. At this point it is the kind of artist like that that have their own path and sound like them that hopefully you turn on the radio and go, ‘Oh, I know who that is!’ I’d love that for my career, ‘Oh, that’s Mindi Abair, I know her sound, or I know her style.’
SJN: We all know you as a sax player, but you actually play several other instruments. When did you begin playing music and what instruments have you mastered?
Mindi: I started playing when I was five. I started playing piano. That was my first instrument. I took lessons on that for quite a few years, probably eight years or more and I started saxophone when I was eight, in the school band, I was in 4th grade and the teacher set a bunch of instruments out the first day of class. He just said, ‘Pick an instrument and we’ll start.” So, I looked through the instruments and you know; my dad has always been really cool playing the sax. Some people’s dad’s are firemen and they copy them, and my dad just happened to be a sax player, so I copied him! (laughs) That was my second instrument. I always said that I would sing with my Grandmother, or all the chorus classes throughout grade school and high school, I was big into any musical the school would do, I would sing. I very much did it all. Now on my records, every once in a while you’ll hear me play flute, I’m not great at it, but it will be kind of buried back in there. I play keyboards on all of my records and sing on them too. It is interesting people come up to me, after seeing me in concert and go, ‘Oh you know we never knew that was you. We have your records even, but never read the liner notes we just thought that all the singers sound alike. (laughs) The radio stations usually play my saxophone songs, they don’t usually play my vocals, so people are kind of surprised, which I think is kind of fun.
SJN: Being able to sing is a plus.
Mindi: It is a cool opportunity. Right now I am on the road with Peter White and Rick Braun and Peter White has a song that he covered of Joni Mitchell’s, called The River and it is beautiful, but he had a guy sing it on his record. He wanted to do it live to he asked, ‘Will you sing River, please sing River.’ I’ll been doing it for a while and it is just beautiful. It’s neat to be able to sing a little more in the Christmas show and sing a few Christmas Carols. I actually wrote a Christmas song that is vocal that the radio stations play a lot and we do it in the show. It’s a really fun thing, the guy beat box to it. It’s called, ‘I Can’t Wait For Christmas.’ iTunes is the only place you can get it. The only way I’ve gotten my record label to press copies is I recorded two songs for Christmas. A cover of John Lennon’s Happy Christmas and my song that I wrote. They did copies for the Christmas tours, so if you come to the tour and buy a couple of CD’s, you get one free. It’s become kind of this collectors thing, I’ve seen them on Ebay for a bunch of money and I think that wasn’t supposed to be the thing. But I guess it is so rare.
SJN: Have you thought of doing a Christmas CD?
Mindi: I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas CD, so hopefully in the next year or so I will do one. I definitely have a lot of ideas and I’ve written a few songs, so I think that it will be pretty fun.
SJN: You graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Berklee School of Music in Boston? Please tell us about your experiences there?
Mindi: Berklee is an amazing music school It’s funny, so many people come up to me and go, ‘Everyone is so politically correct.’ And I say, ‘No, that is not the Berklee, it is not Berkeley California, Berklee College of Music in Boston Massachusetts is only a music school and it is anything but politically correct.
I have to say Berklee is such an amazing place. It is the premier contemporary music school in the world. There are so many amazing musicians and artists that go there. It attracts them because of the great teachers there and the heritage the school has. It is interesting I learned just as much from the jam sessions we’d have all night and playing in all of the clubs and being in the studio all night recording and writing music. I learned as much from that as I learned from the actual school because the community of it is just immense. All we did is live and eat and breathe music. I’d come home and my college roommate, who I am still great friends with would have big band charts all out on the living room floor asking if I want to help her. I’d make a pot of coffee and start copying big band charts for her. It was such a great inspiring place to be because 24/7 you are practicing or playing different peoples music, or recording your own. It was really a place to grow and at that point, I needed it. Really all I had done was being in school bands and listen to people play. I knew that music inspired me. I knew that I wanted to play more than anything, but I had never had the chance to reach out and be with people my own age to start a band or have them play my music. That was my chance to really explore that and that’s where I started my band.
SJN: We understand when you came to LA, you actually played on the streets where the veteran pianist, Bobby Lyle saw you and hired you?
It was funny, when I first came to LA I knew no one. I drove across country from Boston with everything I owned in my little tiny car, I can’t believe it made it. I got here and just started beating the pavement trying to get a job. I got a waitressing job and after a few months I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve been trying to sit in at clubs and meet people and it is such a hard town to get any type of notice. Everyone has their people that they hire and work with and you can’t just hop into the music business. It just doesn’t happen and so I just thought that I should do what I do. I should go down and play, no matter if someone will hire me or not, I’ve got to make my own. So, I started to go down to the 3rd Street Promenade and play on the streets. I figured at least I am playing. It doesn’t matter that they are not paying me. But I did make money down there, enough to pay my rent, which was fine. People would come by and say are you homeless and I’d say, ‘No, I’m not homeless, I actually have a degree.’ But hey, I’m playing and it is funny what comes out of that. Not only did I learn a whole different way to perform because you have crazy people right in front of you, dancing or screaming, or something. But then you have all these nice people who are standing watching you. It is very different to stand on a stage where people are 50 feet from you rather than when people are two feet from you. I think that it made me a better performer. But it also got me in front of some people who maybe I wouldn’t have gotten in front of. I used to go to Bobby Lyle’s concerts and watch because he always had the best6 sax players and he was such a phenomenal musician. He bands were incredible. Bobby Lyle walked by one day, stopped and waited until I finished the song and said; ‘I recognize you, you come to my concerts, you’re really good! I said, ‘thank you, wow, I’m honored that you even stopped’ and the said, ‘I should hire you’. I thought, ya, that would be amazing, but he’ll never hire me. I gave him my number and thought that I would never heard from him, but sure enough he called me to play on one of his records and I ended up touring Japan, Korea, and America with him. I toured on and off with him for five or six years. So, he was one of the people who really helped me get my start. He and the guys in his band really showed me the ropes. They taught me how things are in the business. I love him to this day. I still play with him sometimes and we keep in touch. He comes out to my concerts, he’s awesome.
SJN: You had the wonderful opportunity to play with several large touring bands, like the Backstreet Boys, Adam Sandler, Mandy Moore, Lee Ritenour, Keb Mo, John Tesh, and Jonathan Butler. What did you learn from those experiences?
Mindi: I think each band that you play with teaches you different things. You are definitely thrown into different worlds, not only different styles of music, but different crowds of people, and different things to experience. I never thought I’d be a person who had backed up as many people as I now have. I look at my resume now and I think ‘wow that is just weird, that’s a lot of different people and a lot of different styles. Each person really taught me different things. Bobby Lyle started me out and taught me how you play standards or how you have your own voice or how you approach things. How to write a chart so that your band knows what they are doing. School teaches you that but this is the real world now and there is a few different things you should know. Jonathan Butler really let me be myself and really let me run around and be me. That is something that not every artist lets a side man do, so I really got to find myself as a performer in his band. I was on the road with the Backstreet Boys for a year. I did their Millennium Tour and every time they changed clothes, which was about eight times a night, and trust me they took their time because they had to primp, I got to play a sax solo. So I would be running around the stage having a blast. It is interesting, you play for 60,000 people a night, it is an incredible drug and an incredible way to learn to perform and learn to be in front of an audience.
SJN: You started out in pop, releasing two vocal pop CD’s, Love in 1999 and Always and Never the Same in 2000. How did you discover Smooth Jazz and why did you switch to it?
Mindi: My band went through a lot of different phases and just like the music I listen to, there were many different facets to it and it is interesting to put together records because so many times records are a snapshot of where you are in your life. For me, I came out of college playing fusion, kind of a mix of notey intricate jazz or rock or pop and then it morphed into contemporary jazz, more instrumental pop. Then I started playing with different people who affected me. I played with Adam Sandler who taught me to just go out and have a good time, you don’t have to take yourself so seriously. You know I had this big hair, running around with a saxophone. Everyone thought it was a joke that the blond girl was playing a saxophone. Everything I had learned in school said that you have to think about the harmonic minor change over the two five and maybe the substitution you can use for this next solo and this and that. With Adam Sandler, I just went out and rocked. It was fun! From there through the Backstreet Boys and Mandy Moore, very pop influenced stuff, again my band morphed. At that point, my band became pop and rock and the stuff that I was writing had lyrics. We played almost every dirty rock club in LA. A lot of the guys who are in my band doing jazz were in my rock band as well doing the Whisky and the Roxi, and the Troubadour. It was a really fun period of time because it was where I was at and it said things that I wanted to say, it was a catharsis of types. It was funny after I came off the road with Mandy Moore, the world was changing, and it was very interesting for all of us. I started writing instrumental music again and it was funny the timing of it was very interesting because at that time I was playing a few gigs with Jonathan Butler and Dave Koz happened to be on the same bill at the Berk’s County Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania. We were in the bar after the show and Dave Koz said to me, ‘Your pop albums are great but you should make a saxophone record. I’m starting a label and I would love to have you on my label. You should really take that seriously because it would be such a cool thing.’ I really took that to heart and I kept writing. I gave him a demo of a couple of songs after I finished a few and he loved it, but his record label wasn’t ready yet. It was before Rendezvous had really started and they were just starting to get it together. Verve had shown interest and he said, ‘go with Verve the will be a great label for you.’ He was right, Verve let me be me and they let me mix pop and jazz and vocals and acoustic guitar and saxophone. They let me come up with a sound. They encouraged me to have my sound, which not every record label does, so in the end I kind of turned it all into one sound, which is awesome.
SJN: In 2003, you released It Just Happens That Way, debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and remained in the Top 10 for 19 consecutive weeks, yielding three hit songs, Lucy’s, Save The Dance, and the title track. Please tell us about that CD?
Mindi: That was a cool CD because it was the first one I had made for a major label, Verve. I got to produce it with my best friend from college. So that was a very special thing. A lot of people, if you sign with a label, they will give you a producer to work with. A few were suggested to me and I met with a few, but in the end, they signed me to be the new generation of jazz and to be the new generation of jazz, you are going to have to have your own sound and I had that with Matthew Hager. We had grown up listening to music together, any where from progressive rock to Miles Davis to John Coltrane. He knew me so well, it was great to make that record with him because I’d play something and he would go, ‘You know that’s a great solo, I’m impressed, but it doesn’t sound like you and you have to sound like you, that’s what makes you special. That’s why I have always liked your playing. You do things that no one else does.’ I thought, ‘Wow, I am blessed that I have this person in my life that knows me from anyone else and will push me to be me and not push me to sound like maybe who has the #1 hit right now, or what he thinks a contemporary jazz artist should be or a smooth jazz artist should be or whatever. He just wants me to sound like me and write songs that are me. So that record was really, really fun to make. When we finished it and it was about to come out, I got really nervous because it was very different than anything that was out there at that point. It had acoustic guitar and weird drum moves. Not the usual suspects and we didn’t use the normal cast of characters. We had our own copy. It was me and my friends who wrote it, so I was really nervous. Either this is really going to flop or maybe someone will think that it is cool like we do. (laughs) I was very lucky and very surprised that it caught on like it did. People really did latch onto it and they liked it. You have no idea how relieved I was. (laughs)
SJN: A year later, Come As You Are. Spawning two more hit singles, cemented your reputation as being an incredibly talented musician. Can you tell us about that experience?
Mindi: Come As You Are, I sang a bit more on and I wrote a few songs that really were very personal that I sang. I Can Remember is one song. It was used on an Aaron Spelling show and it’s odd on a contemporary jazz record to have a song about death, but what’s what that song was. I had lost a few people that year in my life and it was just a tough change for me and was interesting that here came this song out of me. I had no idea what it was about, I just started writing down words and kind of singing. I met with my friend Matthew and tried to figure what this song was about. We played it back and forth and you finally write down enough words that I put it together. Sometimes the song tells you what it is about and it an optimistic look at losing someone and how to go on and carry them with you. Carry their spirit on for them. This record was an interesting departure for me. I got to write and play with one of my heroes, Russell Ferranti from the Yellowjackets. The song we wrote was very straight ahead traditional jazz. It’s a really fast swinging thing. The record label didn’t necessarily want it on the record because it was really a departure. It would have been on a traditional jazz record, so we talked them into putting it as a hidden track instead. So it’s hidden, but it’s burning. I did some other cool things, there is a song that’s kind of Pink Pantherish. It’s called New Shoes. I kind of kept it all in the family, my college roommate wrote the big band arrangement with Matthew and I. We all went to college together. How cool to know that we’re making records have her involved. She is such a talent. She’s incredible! She did such an amazing job! This song goes from just me playing to this huge big band. I got my Dad to play on it, very fun record for me. It was very emotional, a dichotomy of really happy stuff, and sad. It was a really cool record to make for me.
SJN: Recently, your third CD in collaboration with Matthew Hager, Life Less Ordinary has catapulted your success by entering Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart at #1; please tell us about the highlights of this release?
Mindi: This CD is again a snapshot of where I am at this point. So many of these songs were written about things that happened in my life; I looked for a title for this CD forever. We were recording the CD and I was like, ‘I don’t have a title yet, stop bugging me!’ The label wanted a title and I told them I don’t know what it is. The other ones were so easy to come up with. Sometimes you just have to go through the music and figure out what the record really means. I’m not one to come up with a title that means nothing. I write all the music, it’s all very meaningful. I’m not one who covers a bunch of songs and comes up with some frivolous title. What I got from the songs was a thread of personal meaning that I had gotten married that past year while making the record, so I wrote a love song that was called Ordinary Love. It’s a local kind of Bosa Nova, very fun, look at love in the every day and how beautiful it can be. We went through Hurricane Katrina and being from Florida, it probably affected me more I knew that it was and I had lived through so many, it was just heartbreaking. I wrote a song and again I wasn’t sure what the song was going to become. As I was playing through it and formulating what this song was, at first it kind of sounded like rain. It sounded very dreary. As the song went on, it became more optimistic and it became stronger. It had this strength to it, it became this anthem. Once the song was done, I figured that this was for Hurricane Katrina; this is for the survivors because this is what has happened to them. They have gone through this awful, awful hurricane that has taken away everything and you are just at the bottom, you can’t go any further down. Then you band together and you find strength in each other and you rebuild. I called the song Rain and dedicated it to them on the CD. There’s a song called The Joint that is kind of an ode to the places I came up playing in. I went to school in Boston and Boston has all of these little holes in the wall that you may have to go down two flights of stairs and you are in the basement. Wallpaper is peeling off the walls and it is dark and sweaty, but we’d play in there four or five hours a night and everyone was dancing. It was just a way of coming up the ranks and playing and finding yourself, so I wrote a song that sounded like that. It was a jam song and it was so fun what we named it The Joint. (laughs) Every song has its place, its meaning on this record, and hence the name, Life Less Ordinary.
SJN: There was a different feel to your last CD, the theme of love was expressed in a way that one can see that you are “young and in love”. Please tell us about your husband, Jason Steele, your wedding and your life together?
Mindi: We met on a session. I went in to do a few jingles for our local radio station, The Wave in Los Angeles, they wanted Wave artists to play on the jingle. Dave Koz’s brother had a company called Humm that does this kind of thing, music for TV and commercials. At that time Jason Steele was a composer for that company, so he happened to be there and we met and he got my number from the computer at work. I was then in the data base. Jeff Koz thought that it was fun to hook up Mindi Abair with one of his boys. He asked me out a couple of times and I was on the road, but we finally did hook up and here we are. Now the Koz family takes full credit for the union of Jason Steele and myself. (laughs) Now, you can refer to me as ‘Mrs. Steele’, but Mindi Abair is still it. Every once and a while I will have my husband up to play guitar. His main instrument is guitar, although we have just about every instrument you can imagine in our house. He plays everything from accordion to slide whistle, to Val trombone, trumpet, keyboards, and slide guitar. Our house is like a toy store of music. It is fun, but I thought that the guitar would fit into my show a little bit better, so he hasn’t come up to play the accordion. He rocks out on the guitar.
SJN: What about kids?
Mindi: We have discussed kids and we’re both looking at each other going, not yet. We have such cool lives. I am on the road so much and it’s really nice for him to come out and visit me and experience things. So, not yet, but who knows in the future. I was born and raised on the road and that was a great thing. It was a real cool coming of age for me having that experience, so who knows, that’s still up in the air.
SJN: We talked a bit about your dad, what about your mother and do you have any siblings?
Mindi: Since I was born on the road and I don’t think they expected to have a kid
While they were touring it was a handful. I can only imagine touring now with a child because it’s tough. They are strip searching you in the airports and you have to take this out and that out. I see people with kids and it’s airplanes and trains and buses. It’s tough. So, they thought OK that’s it for us, so no siblings. But my mom is the only non musical one in the family and she really held us together. She was a great fan, a great support system, and she‘s the type of person who really wants you to be the best you can be, she’s so supportive with that. My dad will fly in a bunch of different directions, he'll be writing this song and playing over here and she centered him. She would do the same for me. She would be like, study, focus, be a good student, care...all of that I give credit to her. She really made me the person I am as far as discipline and integrity and doing what I say that I will do and just being a good person. She is absolutely the most selfless and beautiful person. My father would always say, ‘Do what your mother does, listen to her. Don’t do anything that I do. Don’t listen to anything I say and I took his advice. (laughs)
SJN: We understand that your parents moved out to LA?
Mindi: My parents now live in LA, they moved out last year. My mother just graduated from Vidal Sassoon Hair Academy. She decided to change her whole life so now I am going to have a cool hair stylist in the family. It is very nice for us to be together more and for me to be able to have my dad sit in with me a little more, which is very cool.
SJN: How do you spend your spare time when you aren’t on the road or making music?
Mindi: I sit home and watch South Park on television. I cook and bake a lot. I’m a beach girl, so when I want to get away I’ll grab my best friend and we will go for a walk on the beach and escape.
SJN: What would you like people to take away from your show?
Mindi: I always hope that people come to my show and they escape somewhere. That we can take them on a journey. The guys in my band are great performers, they are great musicians and our thing is not that we are going to play the highest, the loudest, the fastest. Our thing is we are going to create a vibe and we are going to take you different places with that vibe and with the songs that we do. Hopefully, we take you on a journey that you won’t soon forget and that you will want to come back for.
SJN: What is that one thing you have always wanted to say to your fans?
Mindi: Thank you, because this life wasn’t handed to me, or anyone else, I definitely know what a struggle it is to be able to play your own music and be able to be an artist. I worked for a long time and I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for the people out there buying my records and coming to shows and supporting me. You know, just coming up after shows and saying ‘We love you’ and ‘Please don’t stop what you are doing’ or ‘That song means so much to us.’ That kind of thing just means the world to me. So, I always go out after shows and shake everyone’s hand and sign stuff because it is them who have made me be able to do what I do and that is the best thing in the world.
SJN: Being a woman in a man’s world, what is it like to tour with a bunch of men?
Mindi: It’s great! So many people talk about the discrimination of women, this glass ceiling, but I have to say that my experience has been that if you are good at what you do and you proof yourself. That you are serious about what you do, I don’t think that it matters if you are a man, woman, black, white, anything. I think that those lines have gone away. For me, I have learned a lot from the guys I’m on the road with. Girls come to me for advice because I know some stuff. I think it is great! They are all like big brothers to me. Once I knew that the guys in my band like the guy I was dating and that he could hang with them, I knew he could be my husband. All the other guys, they just chewed up and spit out. They are incredibly big brothers to me, very protective. So, I think that it is great to be the girl in a guy’s world.
SJN: Christmas is approaching, what are your plans?
Mindi: My plans are to hit the road and play Christmas music in every city. We have 27 dates this month! I’m a dork, I love Christmas music, obviously I’ve written a couple of Christmas songs. I soak it in, it’s great! We’ll come home Christmas Eve and I will have a quiet little Christmas with my family.
Full Name: Mindi Abair Steele
Birthday: May 23rd
Any Nicknames? Blondie
Color of eyes: brown
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
Currently resides in? Hollywood, CA
What kind of car do you own? BMW 325 convertible
Favorite Color? purple and/or red
Do you watch TV? You bet!
If so, Favorite TV show? South Park, Family Guy, Nip Tuck (guilty pleasure!), anything on the Food Channel or HGTV.
Do you like movies? Of course!
Do you have a Favorite Movie? Comedy: Young Frankenstein, Drama: Life is Beautiful
Do you like computers or only tolerate them? Love them. Everyone in my band has a Mac Powerbook. We're all computer geeks.
Do you have any hobbies? I love to bake. I always bring the guys in my band cookies. I like to cook too. We have homemade Indian food at my house at least once a week!
Favorite escape? I love to go to the beach. That's the best escape I know!
Do you have names for your instruments? I know a lot of people name their instruments. I don't subscribe to that...no names for my saxophones! Too weird!
Current CD’s or MP3 downloads you are listening to now? I love Nouvelle Vague's cd of 80's covers. It's fun French Bosa Nova! I'm still loving the "Woohoo" girl, KT Tunstall. Of course, my usual favorite is always in my iPod, Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson.
Pets? No pets, although we have had a big fluffy raccoon running around our yard for the past month or so!