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.
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.
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.
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"