Diane Schuur at the 2020 Eau Claire Jazz Festival!
Two-time GRAMMY award jazz vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur is making her Eau Claire Jazz Festival debut this April!
Tacoma-born Schuur grew up steeped in traditional American jazz, courtesy of both parents: David Schuur was a local police captain and amateur pianist, and Joanie Schuur kept a formidable collection of Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington albums in their suburban-Seattle home. The artist has been blind since her premature birth in 1953, having lost her sight to the disorder Retinopathy of Prematurity. It affected babies receiving high-oxygen therapy during neonatal intensive care---which was standard practice until, tragically, 1954. She first learned to play piano by ear, picking out tunes on the keys with two fingers at the age of 3. "I sang to myself at night," recalls Schuur. "Mom and Dad would open the door a crack and yell ‘Diane, shut up,' so I progressed from there to the closet." By age 6, Schuur was giving regular command performances amid her corduroy jumpers
Her formal study of piano began while at the Washington State School for the Blind which Schuur attended until she was 11 years old. A significant inspiration came at the age of 12 when her mother brought home an LP by the great George Shearing, Concerto for My Love. Young Diane learned all the pieces, soaking up the distinctive style of Shearing---who was blind himself. Her family arranged a meeting with Shearing during a local stint in Seattle, and she learned from that encounter that a life in music was indeed within her grasp, despite her handicap. Deedles finished her studies in public schools, eventually studying voice at the University of Puget Sound.