Sheila Anderson

Host, Weekend Jazz After Hours and Salon Sessions

In the world of art, much of the focus is placed upon the artists and rightfully so. However, there are certain individuals behind the scenes who are moving and shaking, feeding and affecting the scene in myriad ways. SHEILA ANDERSON is one of these individuals. She has always taken on the challenges of creating opportunities for herself, developing formats that exist outside of the box.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Miss Anderson's unique individual career path began in 1973 at the age of 16 when she was elected New York State Youth President of the NAACP, a position she held for four years under the regime of Roy Wilkins. She then continued on, in 1977, to become a member of the NAACP's National Board of Directors, staying on until 1981. These fecund years in her young life set the precedent for the leadership and cultural and artistic awareness that she would later unveil in her present career status as a ground breaker in her field.

By 1983, Sheila decided to try her hand in the publishing field, starting with Random House, moving on to Grove Press, John Wiley and Sons, and W.H. Freeman & Co., Inc. Leadership has always been her blood, which explains why she held yet another presidential position at the Bookbinders' Guild of New York from 1995-97. Eventually, she became a New York column staff writer for the Caribbean-based Oceana magazine.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Sheila Anderson felt led to move into an entirely different arena. In 1995, she was hired as an on-air host where she now hosts "Late Night Jazz" on Saturday evening from 9PM to 1AM. For nine years she hosted "Sunday Morning Harmony". Ms. Anderson has learned from the musicians whom she plays, "I feel as though radio programming should function much like a live performance. For example one would not want to hear a performance where the group played all ballads. My best shows happen when I am feeling completely free to move with a certain flow and program according to my emotions," Ms. Anderson explains. These are not the words of some novice who just likes Jazz music.

Looking to immerse herself further into Jazz culture, Ms. Anderson created "The Art of Jazz," a weekly 30-minute TV program for Time Warner Cable in New York City. The show earned her a Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) Award for Community Media (www.mnn.org). A virtual one-woman production team, Sheila schedules guests, writes the scripts and even edits the various shows. "The Art of Jazz" which reaches some half million viewers, has featured Jazz luminaries like Ron Carter, Eric Reed, Russell Malone, Regina Carter, Mark Murphy, the late Leon Thomas, Javon Jackson, T. S. Monk Monty Alexander and Benny Golson.

Sheila Anderson understands the importance of developing communication skills. To that end, she taught "Public Speaking" at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey to children between the ages of 11-14 for their program called "Kids in College." She states, "when I was a teenager I had a crash course in speaking when I was in the NAACP, through that experience I was able to build self confidence. In teaching the children I believe that I am giving them valuable information that will help them when they enter the adult world." Ms. Anderson feels a sense of responsibility in sharing her knowledge and experience to as many young people as she can.

Ms. Anderson is a graduate of Bernard M. Baruch College. Her first book titled "The Quotable Musician: From Bach to Tupac" was published in March 2003 for Allworth Press. Musicians through the ages speak out in this illuminating collection of quotations. Both the famous and the obscure from every genre of music - including classical, rock, Latin, country, blues, and hip hop - are celebrated in more than one thousand quotations sure to intrigue and delight. Quotes offer individual takes on the music world itself: other musicians; singing and the song; performing and rehearsing; success, fame, and fortune; failure and rejection; music critics; and the music business. Readers will also see both the more playful and the more serious sides of the music masters in sections on love, passion, relationships and sex; aging and death; nature and healing; humor and witticisms; religion and spirituality; and much more. Special sections pay particular attention to the words of Ron Carter, T.S. Monk, the Beatles, and Benny Golson. Any musician or music lover will savor this collection of provocative, mischievous, and profound words from musical personalities of the past and present.

Her second book, "How to Grow As A Musician: What all Musicians Must Know To Succeed" (Allworth Press), has already been published. This is a book of interviews on five topics, "On Personal Growth, On Growth as an Artist, On Composing, On Performing and On the Business." Some of the musicians interviewed, the late Oscar Brown, Jr., the late Ruth Brown, Al Jarreau, Dr. Billy Taylor, Michael Wolff and Eric Reed.

Vocalist Claudia Acuña discovered the full swing of imagination in music at a young age, growing up in Chile. Early inspiration came from a diverse range of artists: Violeta Parra, Michael Jackson, Mozart. Acuña then found herself drawn to jazz and its limitless freedom of expression. During a recent conversation with Sheila Anderson, the Chilean singer, songwriter and arranger shared her story.

Willerm Delisfort, a pianist and composer born in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, has established himself over the last six years as a well-respected musician on the New York jazz scene. He sat down with Sheila Anderson on Salon Sessions to share some of his favorite records, talk about his latest project, and break down the meaning behind his phrase "honest music."

Pianist and composer Helen Sung was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and received rigorous classical training before pivoting to jazz. She has made up for lost time since, working with mentors like bassist Ron Carter, and releasing several well-received albums of her own. 

Sung appears with vocalist Nicole Zuraitis at Mezzrow on Sunday, with the Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard on Monday, and at the Caramoor Jazz Festival on July 15. She recently joined host Sheila Anderson in a conversation on Salon Sessions.

Courtesy of the artist

Pianist and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs began playing at age seven, inspired in part by Henry Mancini. A former sideman to aritsts including trumpeters Nat Adderley and Woody Shaw, Gumbs released his own debut album, Onaje, 40 years ago. 

During a recent conversation with Sheila Anderson on Salon Sessions, he reflected on his broad career, his so-called "return" — and the first Bob Cranshaw Community Achievement Award, which he recently received from the Jazz Foundation of America.

WBGO Evening Jazz Host Awilda Rivera has been filling our airwaves with great music for the last 18 years. Today Rivera celebrates her birthday, and tomorrow we'll celebrate her final show as Evening Jazz Host with a star-studded live broadcast. Rivera is retiring from her post as host of weekday evening on WBGO, but will continue as host of the Latin Jazz Cruise.

Sheila Anderson and Rivera have shared a long-time camaraderie - apparent if you've heard the pair asking for your support during a WBGO pledge drive. On this edition of Salon Sessions, the two go back all the way to Rivera's first introduction to WBGO (as a volunteer in 1983!), and her history in broadcasting since.

Drummer Alvester Garnett has worked with Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Cyrus Chestnut, among others: Hear him on Ella: Accentuate the Positive, a new Ella Fitzgerald tribute album by his wife, violinist Regina Carter. 

He recently sat down with Sheila Anderson to discuss his years in the Malden Diplomats Drum and Bugle Corp in Boston, and how he learned to tap dance and play piano before the drums.


New Orleans has a long lineage of great piano players. Jelly Roll Morton, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, and many more. Such a rich history of culture and music in the Crescent City is bound to leave a prominent imprint on the impressionable youth who hope to follow in their foot steps. Composer, pianist, and vocalist Davell Crawford was one of those kids. 

Tessa Souter at the microphone
Joseph Boggess

The singer joins Sheila Anderson for a Salon Session, taking us from the Wayne Shorter album that first introduced her to jazz to the story of how an attempt to rekindle a romance pushed her to pursue singing.