Virginia Schenck recalls being seven years old and belting out “Jazz Baby” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, holding a baton in place of a microphone. But though Schenck has sung for as long as she can remember, she didn’t pursue performing seriously until 2010, after her 23-year marriage ended and her daughter went off to college. A few years earlier Schenck, a music therapist and educator, had signed up for a workshop with Bobby McFerrin, who encouraged her to try vocal improvisation and return to her jazz roots. Today Schenck (who goes by her stage name V-A) regularly performs around Atlanta and has released two albums. Although she often sings a classic style (her latest album, Interior Notions, includes a 15-minute cover of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy”), Schenck plans to incorporate more world music and what she deems “sacred jazz,” inspired by spiritual music. “It matters to me, looking for deeper meaning,” she says. “I find my music more in the quiet.”
See Schenck live: On June 10, she kicks off the five-concert Jazz on the Lawn series at Callanwolde.
This article originally appeared in our June 2016 issue.