If all goes according to plan, five days after playing her goodbye concert at the Jazz Depot on Saturday, April 19, top Tulsa vocalist Annie Ellicott will be on the road – heading 1700 miles westward to continue her music career in the San Francisco Bay area.
But first, she wants to leave the hometown fans with a show that offers, she says, “a little bit of something for everyone.” And, indeed, that’s exactly what Au Revoir, Annie: The Annie Ellicott Farewell Concert is going to present.
“I’ll have a jazz combo with [guitarist] Frank Brown, and Ed Garcia on the bass,” she says. “I’ll do a little bit with [guitarist] Mark Bruner and [fiddler] Shelby Eicher. Denny Morouse is going to sit in on the saxophone. I’ll also be playing a recording from an album of originals I’m doing, and it’ll be played to a series of images on video.
“I’ll do a couple of songs solo – one with me and a ukulele and, I think, one with me and a piano. I’m going to do a couple of songs with [pianist] Amy Cottingham, and then, we’ll do Little Ruby Moon – which is Amy Cottingham, [drummer] Andrew Burns, Matt Hayes on the bass, and me. It’s my original music. And I’m going to do a French song, with Amy on accordion.”
The variety of both material and guest artists indicates the breadth of Ellicott’s career in Tulsa, beginning when she was still a high schooler.
“The first gig I ever actually had was with [bassist] Jack Hannah,” sheremembers. “It was just bass, drums, and vocals, and we did it at Borders. I think I was 16. We got paid with Borders gift cards, but it was a sizable amount of money – like 30 bucks. That was a lot of money for me.
“Soon after that, I did some gigs with [pianist] Pat Murray and Jack Hannah. I was still in high school at that point. Then, when I was about 19, I started working with [pianist] Gayle Williamson.”
It was with the late Williamson’s band that Ellicott really began attracting attention; soon, she had begun her ascent to the upper echelon of Tulsa singers.
Although she’s held that position for a decade or so, Ellicott admits that she really didn’t give a lot of thought to music as a career until a couple of years ago.
“It was just happening,” she explains. “I really wasn’t doing much but saying ‘yes’ to people, and I had a belief for a long time that in order to do music full-time I would have to compromise. I would have to start thinking about what would make money. I guess I’ve just lived long enough now to see that things kind of work out, and they work out in a way that you never planned for, so you might as well just do what you want.”
She laughs. “I was letting these grand sweeping projections of what a future as a professional artist would be like, and I think I’ve just let go of a lot of attachment to outcome. That’s all that’s really changed.”
Ellicott says she plans to spend her first days in the Bay Area “seeking out local talent, going and hearing as much as I can, and meeting the people I resonate with.”
“I know many musicians there from Tulsa who are familiar with me, and I’m familiar with them,” she adds. “I’ve worked with maybe three of them in the past, and I’d love to get together with them, but I haven’t made any solid plans.
“I’ve saved a little bit of money. It’s not going to take me too far, but my wonderful boyfriend is willing to support me for a bit of time while I get my feet on the ground. He has a realistic understanding of what that’s going to be like, and how long that might take.”
She does plan to return to Tulsa from time to time and reunite musically with some of the Tulsa players who have worked with her over the past dozen years. There have been plenty of them, and she appears to appreciate them all just about equally, declining to single out any groups or individuals for special praise.
“As I delve more and more into each memory of each band, they all become more significant,” she notes. “They’ve all contributed to the product I am now. So it’s kind of impossible to single anybody, or anything, out.”
“Annie’s unique style allows her to truly make any song her own,” adds Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO. “And her talent will shine in San Francisco, representing Oklahoma’s musical heritage so well.”
Au Revoir, Annie: The Annie Ellicott Farewell Concert is set to begin at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. General Admission tickets are only $10, or $20 for Reserved Table Seating.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.