Pamela Hart was born February 7, 1960 in Los Angeles, California, and is passionate about singing and about the artistry of vocal jazz. She has devoted over 25 years of her life towards singing jazz and keeping the jazz genre alive. Pamela’s influence for jazz began at an early age when jazz was played in her home in Los Angeles, CA. Pamela used to leave for school after the DJ Brad Pride, Jr.’s signing off the air with Nancy Wilson’s “I Had A Ball.” Pamela’s mother, Christine Whitehead, always encouraged her to sing in front of family and friends. After graduating from UCLA in Economics, Pamela moved to Austin in 1982. She began using the Austin Public Library to check out jazz vocalist records and learn more about Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and others. The library became her source for learning more about jazz and vocal stylings. Pamela began to participate with Boyd Vance and other groups to make public appearances for exposure and learning to perform. Her first regular accompanist was Sandy Allen, whom she worked with from 1991 until his untimely death in 2008.
Pamela is highly regarded as Austin, Texas’ finest jazz vocalist. She is noted by Austin Women’s Magazine as “Austin’s First Lady of Jazz.” In addition to regular appearances at Austin clubs, restaurants, live music broadcasts, weddings, banquets/parties and festivals, Pamela and her husband Kevin Hart have produced (and she has performed in) the semi-annual Women in Jazz Concert Series—the greatest events for female jazz musicians in Texas—1994 through 2017. The series also includes a Vocal Performance Workshop where Pamela and other professional vocalists and musicians share performance techniques, communicating with musicians and many other aspects of jazz singing.
Pamela is keen on keeping jazz vocal music alive. “The jazz vocalist has the freedom to take you on a musical journey riding on instrumental cords while interpreting meaningful lyrics. It’s a space where you can be free to be yourself and make a song your own.” Pamela joined the Black Arts Alliance in 1991 and introduced to them the Black Women in Jazz Project. In 1994, Pamela and Kevin Hart founded the Women in Jazz Association, Inc. with a mission to keep jazz alive. The organization has been growing ever since providing concerts, vocal workshops, and youth programs geared towards jazz education and performance. Pamela also spends some time coaching young singers to understand that singing is not just with the voice; but it is done with music elements along with your whole person—your body and soul. She has provided jazz vocal workshops at the Carver Museum, Children’s Museum, Doss Elementary, Davis Elementary, Sims Elementary, Crockett High School, and in private residences.
Even though Pamela has taken music courses in college and piano lessons, most of her training as a singer came from listening to great singers and working with musicians who were willing to coach her during rehearsals and gigs. Gil Askey told her “anyone can sing pretty, but what are you saying?” The most prominent of those “teachers” is Dr. James Polk, whom Pamela has worked with since 1992. Dr. “Polk taught me so much about hearing the music and responding to it with patience, understanding, and leadership. He would push me into new territory all the time during performance, and I would listen to the way he told his story as he played his piano. I would learn something new if we played at this moment.” Pamela has passed on these teaching during her coaching sessions, especially during rehearsals with the “Jazz in Motion” and “Keepin’ It Real Jazz” youth concerts between 2013 and 2017.
It was Dr. James Polk who gave Pamela the opportunity to perform in European jazz festival tours including the Montreux, Vienna, and Juan des Pins Jazz festivals, with the Texas State University Jazz Band he directed. Pamela also worked with Dr. Polk at the International Association for Jazz Educators’ conferences In Toronto and California, the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival and most of the Women in Jazz concerts.
Pamela has keen business sense. For her personal music business, she and her husband Kevin Hart, formed HartBeat Productions in 1993. This production company manages Pamela Hart’s booking, recording and marketing as well as, concert production engagements.
Pamela Hart has received many awards for her community work as a jazz supporter. These include the Connie Yerwood Conner National Woman of Achievement Award, and Jazz at St. James' A.D. Mannion Award, Texas State University Outstanding Alumni Award, Links Austin Chapter Arts Award, and the BOSS Award of Distinction.
With her performances, the Women in Jazz Association, Inc., vocal performance workshops, and vocal coaching, Pamela is making a difference in the Austin jazz scene.
Click below to view Pam's youtube performances: