It’s amazing what you discover when you start cleaning out old computer files. Especially if you’ve always liked to write and you keep everything ever written that is even vaguely interesting.
Today, as I began Round 1 of the great hard drive purge, I came across this – something I wrote for a funky (and I think I mean that in the worst sense of the word) Toronto magazine that wanted to feature me back in the early days of The Wave Smooth Jazz. The problem with the funky (see above) editor was that she wanted me to write my own interview.
Yes, I’m pretty sure she was the magazine’s only employee so she reckoned if I wrote it, she could just “pretend” that it had actually happened.
Well … for those of you who know me, or are getting to know me, you have to know that there is no way I could ever interview myself with a straight face. Ever. So the following is what I wrote.
Alas, she didn’t print it as written. She wrote herself into the script and lost all the humour. But it still cracks me up (I am easily amused by myself). I hope you’ll smile too.
Here goes ………
Vickie van Dyke …. as interviewed by Vickie van Dyke
When I was first asked to interview myself for City Living Magazine I though Hmm … kind of a boring subject.
But then I thought Gee … think of all the therapy bills I could save if I just got to know myself a little better.
So damn the torpedoes, as they say! Here it is.
“Vickie was talking before she was singing. She was also banging her head incessantly against the side of her crib. We’re not really sure which had a greater impact.”
VvD: Were you really singing that young?
Vickie: Apparently so. My mother tells me I could hum “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in perfect pitch, long before I actually started speaking. She even had a musicologist from the University listen to me, because she couldn’t believe her ears.
VvD: Where was that?
Vickie: In Oberlin, Ohio, where I was born. My father was teaching at the college there.
VvD: So you’re American?
Vickie: I go both ways. Oh wait, that doesn’t sound right. I was born in the States but I have lived in Canada all my life. Dual citizenship does have its advantages but I’m really a Canadian at heart.
VvD: Where did you grow up?
Vickie: Waterloo, Ontario.
VvD: So apart from the crib thing, how old were you at your first real performance?
Vickie: I sang with choirs and played piano in the music festivals, but first starring role was in my Grade 8 musical – “The Belle Of The West”. I was honoured to be the “Belle”.
“We cast Vickie as the Belle because she is such a dingaling.”
(Vickie’s Grade 8 teacher)
VvD: And from there?
Vickie: It was on to high school musicals and local little theatre. I wanted to be Barbra Streisand or Ethel Merman – the next big Broadway star.
VvD: What was your favorite role?
Vickie: In high school I played Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes”. I loved that part cause I got to be bold and brash and belt out wonderful Cole Porter songs like “I Get A Kick Out Of You” and “You’re The Top”.
“Vickie was a great Reno because she is bold and brash and has a big mouth. I mean voice. And we didn’t have stage microphones back in those days.”
(Vickie’s high school drama coach)
VvD: Did you go on to higher education?
Vickie: Absolutely! I got an Honours BA in Drama from the University of Waterloo. Really, in my family there is no choice. I come from a long line of educators. Both my parents taught at U of W and my sister was a high school principal.
VvD: Oh my! What happened to you?
Vickie: Very funny. I wanted to perform. To sing, to act … anything but study!
“Vickie blasted through a four year degree in three because she was desperate to get out of school and get on with her life. We were thrilled to see her go. I mean, see her go off into the world to make her mark.”
(Drama Department Chairman)
VvD: So what was your first professional gig?
Vickie: I did summer stock theatre and was lucky enough to score a lead in my first show – Bunny Byron In “Babes In Arms”.
“Vickie was perfect to sing “The Lady Is A Tramp”.
(Summer Stock director)
VvD: And then?
Vickie: Well, I joined a band. I had always written songs, and wanted a chance to perform and maybe even record them one day. You know, be the next Carole King or Carly Simon. So I auditioned for a touring pop band. The leader had already seen lots of girls but he really liked my original songs so he chose me.
“Vickie was the only one willing to work for a hundred bucks a week so we hired her.”
VvD: Did you get to record your songs?
Vickie: I did some demos, but I didn’t actually cut a record until a few years later, when I started my own band. It was a country rock thing. We toured across Canada and fortunately I did get airplay as well.
VvD: How did you go from Cole Porter to country?
Vickie: I’m not really sure. I was raised on classical, got hooked on pop as a teen and have always loved standards. But the country thing happened on a trip to Myrtle Beach, where I actually jammed with the country super-group Alabama, about a year before they hit big.
VvD: What was that like?”
Vickie: It was a hoot! They loved me and asked me to come back the next night to sing again.
(Member of Alabama)
VvD: So you did country, recorded your songs and toured. But now you’re a radio DJ with a jazz band. How did that happen?
Vickie: I used to do a lot of radio interviews to support my records and combined with my naturally low voice and the gift of gab, it seemed like a good fit. One time, I think it was in Moncton, the guy interviewing me said “You give good mic. If you ever decide to give up singing, you should consider a career in radio.”
VvD: Did you go back to school to land a radio gig?
Vickie: No. I completely back-doored it with persistence and perseverance. Hit up every radio person I knew until one of them finally gave me a shot.
“Oh yeah …Vickie. She hounded me until I finally gave her a job. It was the only way I could get some peace. Have I created a monster?”
(Vickie’s first radio boss)
VvD: You learned on the job?
Vickie: Yes. With only one day of training under my belt I was on the air. Alone! And this was back in the days when there was a lot of physical labour involved with being a DJ. We played album cuts which needed to be cued. All the commercials were on individual carts, like an old 8-track. You were always doing something or getting something ready when you weren’t actually on the air. You were busy!
VvD: And now?
Vickie: Everything is on the hard drive of the computer. You just press a button or two.
VvD: How did you end up as the midday host on WAVE 94.7, Canada’s first smooth jazz radio station?
Vickie: I guess they knew of my work at other stations because they called me even before they launched and offered me a position. I was intrigued by this new genre and by being part of a start-up. I needed a job too.
VvD: How did you get back into singing after all those radio years?
Vickie: I just decided to get back to my roots.
“That’ll be the day.”
VvD: You mean the standards, like the ones you sang in all those musicals?
Vickie: Exactly! So many classic jazz songs come from the old musicals. Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Arlen. I love them all.
VvD: You’ve got some pretty hot musicians in your band. Stan Fomin even got nominated for keyboardist of the year at the 2006 Smooth Jazz awards.
Vickie: Yes, I’m pretty lucky. Stan is amazing – we play his stuff on The WAVE – and my guitar player Steve Manning has a song being played on The WAVE now too. I feel blessed that they still want to play with me!
“She pays good.”
(Stan and Steve)
VvD: What about your harmonica player Garry Reiss? Isn’t harmonica an odd instrument for a jazz band?
Vickie: Not at all. Garry really adds a lot. He’s a very tasty player.
“Stand and Steve are expensive. She can’t afford a sax player.”
VvD: What was it like to win the first ever Broadcaster Of The Year award at the 2005 Smooth Jazz Awards?
Vickie: It was amazing. It was all based on fan votes and the competition was incredible. When they announced my name I just couldn’t believe the fans voted for me!
“She was the only Broad in the Broadcaster category. If they wanted a guy to win they would have called it Guycaster Of The Year. Besides, I think she was offering a buck a vote”
VvD: Well this has been fun. Thanks for talking to me.
Vickie: No Problem. I do it all the time.
“That’s why she sees me.”