Tiffany Austin’s Soul-Steeped Jazz Celebrates Black Resilience


Bay Area jazz vocalist Tiffany Austin celebrates the release of her new album, ‘Unbroken,’ on June 29 at the Stanford Jazz Festival.  (Bill Reitzel)

Redolent of church pews and juke joints, protest rallies and swanky night clubs, Tiffany Austin’s voice situates her firmly within the expansive embrace of African-American culture and musical tradition. But as a jazz singer coming up in the Bay Area scene, she sometimes finds herself pushing back against traditionalists who think that she should divest her sound of its soul-steeped DNA—that her melismatic flourishes don’t belong in jazz settings.

Austin was just starting to study jazz vocals as a creative outlet while pursuing a degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 2009 when she first felt shade from some of her teachers about…

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