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Playing Be-Bop

Sandi Shoemake's Biography

  Sandi with Conte Candoli at The Hamlet
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Sandi with Conte Candoli at The Hamlet
© Photo Talsan Music

Sandi Shoemake was born Sandra Marie Bumgarner on October 9, 1938. Her birthplace was Rochester, Minnesota but since her parents moved to Los Angles two years later, she has always considered herself a California native. Her father was a semiprofessional drummer-vocalist with Dixieland bands and from her earliest recollections she remembers wanting to sing. Though she went through the usual regime belonging to all the school choirs, her most helpful early training came from singing with her father's bands on their many dance engagements.

Sandi Shoemake
quoteOne of the most underrated vocalists on the contemporary scene...quote - Leonard Feather, Jazz Critic

In 1956 she enrolled in Los Angeles City College's music department, at that time considered one of the finest in the country for professional music training. By her second year there she had become the featured vocalist in the "A" band whose members from time to time included pianist-arranger Bob Florence, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Gary Peacock, and saxophonist Lanny Morgan. After her second year at school she was hired by trombonist Si Zentner's orchestra, a position she retained for two years. The band played various jobs around the west coast but most notably became a regular attraction at the Hollywood Palladium.

Sandi Shoemake
quoteThe first thing that is readily apparent about Sandi Shoemake is her extraordinarily beautiful sound, pristine and controlled, with a warmth at the core. The style that partners the sound is equally pure. Its' very unaffectedness entwineswith the music for a completely integrated whole…quote - Ira Gilter, Jazz Times

After marrying Charlie Shoemake in 1959 she soon began singing with him in clubs around the Los Angeles area. With the downslide of quality popular music in the 1960's however, Sandi found her best opportunities in studio work (singing with vocal groups on television variety shows and commercials). She was a staff vocalist at N.B.C. from 1965-1971 and did much free lance work at C.B.S. and A.B.C. as well. Some of the shows that she sang on weekly included the Andy Williams Show, The Jerry Lewis Show, The Red Skeleton Show, The Lennon Sisters-Jimmy Durante Show and numerous specials for Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Dean Martin, and others.

During this time though studio singing comprised the majority of her work, she remained active as a soloist as well, being hired by the legendary Nelson Riddle and his orchestra as his featured vocalist on innumerable engagements all over the western section of the United States.

Sandi Shoemake
quoteSandi Shoemake has an incredibly pure, bell-like sound with an imaginative and beautiful style of phrasing. She is one of the finest interpreters of ballad material anywhere…quote – Zan Stewart, Los Angeles Times

While Sandi sang on television variety shows and with Nelson Riddle her husband Charlie was touring the country with the George Shearing Quintet. When he eventually left the group in 1973, Sandi and Charlie began to appear again together, which they have continued to do to this very day. She has appeared on almost all of his albums, recorded two solo albums of her own, including one at the Hamlet, the site of their Famous Jazz Artist Series.

Some of the vocalists that Sandi has admired from her early years to the present include Connie Boswell, Helen Forrest, Doris Day, Sarah Vaughn, Jackie Cain Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, David Allyn, and most of all, Billy Eckstein.

Of Sandi's latest recording "Sophisticated Lady", (August 2005), she states "I enjoyed so much doing this album. Charlie's arrangements created a world for me to really do my thing. I've been asked often in my career who my early singing influences were and there have been many but at this time in my life I didn't feel I had ANY other vocalists in my ears as I was recording. I've long wanted to do some things with the sound of my voice that I've heard so many horn players do. I guess you could call it "coloring" the sound, time, and emotion. I feel that this recording, more than any that I've done in the past, achieved that goal"