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The jazz singer
Barbara Hadenfeldt

| 13 September 2006

When Barbara Hadenfeldt sings in front of an audience, she closes her eyes and is transported: "I'm no longer Barbara Hadenfeldt, office manager. I'm Babshad, the jazz singer."


Barbara Hadenfeldt (Jonathan King photo)
 
Hadenfeldt, who works in the Institute for Urban and Regional Development, has always loved jazz, but it wasn't until she took a vocal workshop at The JazzSchool in Berkeley last year that she got serious. She formed a band, Babshad, with husband Charles on drums, and started getting gigs at local restaurants.

At 61, Hadenfeldt might seem to be off to a late start, but she's been singing all her life, starting with grade-school chorus. Over the years, she has tackled rock 'n' roll as well as rhythm and blues. "My years of singing other forms of music have given me a good sense of timing and phrasing," says Hadenfeldt, who loves to improvise and doesn't like to sing a song the same way twice. She's worked up a repertoire of about 120 songs, mostly jazz standards as well as some swing and Latin rhythms.
For inspiration, Hadenfeldt draws on four great vocalists: Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day, and Peggy Lee. "Not to say I sing as well as they do," she demurs, "but they are the singers I listen to regularly." Hadenfeldt describes her own voice as "very youngish, given my years on this earth."

One evening this past July, when she and her band played Anna's Jazz Island in Berkeley, stands out as a highlight for Hadenfeldt. "The atmosphere was so wonderful, it was rarefied," she recalls. "The lights were dimmed and everyone was listening. I thought I was especially witty and with it, and I sang great. The whole band was high from it."

Babshad will perform at Downtown restaurant in Berkeley on Saturday,
Oct. 14, at 8 p.m.

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