Suzy Williams is a singer-songwriter born September 7, 1953 in Oakland, California. She has been declared "LA's Diva Deluxe" by the Los Angeles Weekly, and "the Songbird of Venice" by the Venice Beachhead newspaper. Suzy is known for her "enormously amusing, endearing presence ... with tough, belting authority" (John Rockwell, New York Times) as well as her voice that is “vibrant and lusty ... great gusto and bold emotion" (Nat Hentoff, Cosmopolitan) and her "energy must be seen to be believed ... a natural performer" (Robert Palmer, New York Times).

Early Life
Suzy was raised in Gridley, California by her mother Barbara Liggett, an artist, pianist, and torch singer. Her father Dr. David P. Williams, Ph.D., was a social worker and organizer who worked with Caesar Chavez  and Ralph Nader, and also performed professionally as a comedian in San Francisco in the early 50's. Suzy started singing professionally right out of high school, mainly influenced by Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and especially Bessie Smith. Her later influences include singers June Christy and Anita O'Day.

Career

East U.S. Coast

At eighteen years old, Suzy moved to Boston and met “Stormin’ Norman” Zamcheck, a composer and boogie-woogie piano player with a degree in literature from Yale. As partners, they created a unique “rag'n'roll” style in an amazing body of songs combining boogie-woogie, blues, rock, and jazz. Together they toured the U.S. east coast for 12 years, eventually playing Carnegie Hall and network television, winning rave reviews from the New York Times to Rolling Stone. In 1976, the great jazz pianist and composer Eubie Blake paid Suzy an inspiring compliment in the form of a handwritten letter: "I heard a lot of white women try to imitate negroid singing, but you are the only one who has it down pat." 

Stormin' Norman & Suzy have shared stages with Manhattan Transfer, Tom Waits, Koko Taylor, Eubie Blake, Odetta, Loudon Wainwright, Roosevelt Sykes, John P. Hammond, Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth, and The Roches among many others, and continue to tour together. Guitarists who have played with Stormin' Norman and Suzy have included Marc Ribot, Mark Shulman, and Jeff Golub. Stormin’ Norman & Suzy have also performed with the Pilobolus Dance Company, who choreographed their dance based on Suzy’s movements. They were the house band for three years at  New York City’s prestigious Tramps night club, and have appeared on television shows: Gabe Kaplan, and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Suzy also worked independently singing with pop singer, songwriter, and actor David Johansen, aka Buster Poindexter of the New York Dolls. 

In the 1980's Suzy starred on the off-Broadway stage with Sam Rockwell and Natasha Schulman in Bruno's Donuts: Dementos, written by Marc Shaiman and Robert I. Rubinsky; and in Dames in Hoagland, with Cathy Chamberlain and produced by Jerry Wexler.

In 1986 Suzy formed a duo with her then-husband Bill Burnett as The Boners and performed regularly at Heather Woodbury's Cafe Bustelo in New York City. They also played with They Might Be Giants in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. Suzy and Bill's witty melodic neo-cabaret folk-rock style culminated in “Our Show” held at the West Beth Theater. Their radio show for kids “The Flying Kitchen” aired in New York City. They toured with the James Sewall Dance Company, performing at Rockefeller Center. They have played the Sweet Chariot Music and Arts Festival in Swans Island, Maine every year since 1986. 

West U.S. Coast

Suzy moved to Los Angeles in 1994 and started her solo jazz torch singing career with pianist Tommy Mars from Frank Zappa’s band. She later performed with Van Dyke Parks, Brian Woodbury, and Bruce Langhorne (from Bob Dylan’s band). In 1996, she began a nightclub act with acclaimed accordionist Nick Ariondo. Their monthly residency ran for ten years at the Genghis Cohen club in Hollywood. Joined by vibes player Kahlil Sabbagh, their diverse repertoire included cool jazz, hot torch, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and classical music.

In 2002, Suzy teamed up with pianist/singer/composer Brad Kay portraying Sophie Tucker and Ted Shapiro in "An Evening with Sophie Tucker." Suzy  began writing original songs (words and music), and has since written over 100 of them. Suzy and Brad together direct and star in ”The Lit Show” that has been a popular annual event since 2006. The show, produced by Suzy’s husband Gerry Fialka, features a survey of songs written by authors of classic literature including Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, and many more.

In 2004 Suzy and then-ex-husband Bill Burnett joined up with married couple Ginger Smith and Kahlil Sabbagh to expand The Boners into The Backboners, with four-part harmonies reminiscent of the Mamas & the Papas. Suzy and Steve Weisberg joined forces in 2007 as a dynamic duo performing both original songs and pop hits. That same year, Suzy & Her Solid Senders was born, a hard-swinging jump-blues 8-piece jazz band performing some classic numbers from the big-band era, but mostly Suzy’s original songs in the style of that era. The band has elicited reviews such as "Suzy Williams, whom I once called ’L.A.'s Diva Deluxe’ in the L.A. Weekly because of her unsurpassable position on the top shelf of red hot mamas, continues to belt standards, the blues and her originals - 24 new ones in the last year alone!  I'd also add that she's funny as hell and a heart-melting gorgeous dame." (Michael Simmons, Huffington Post)

Journalism

Suzy’s interviews with jazz pioneers Hadda Brooks, Horace Silver, Jon Hendricks, and Oscar Brown, Jr. have been published in Los Angeles Jazz Scene and Jazz News. She interviewed Heather Woodbury in Flipside Magazine. She regularly reviews local theatrical plays for the Venice Beachhead.

Film Appearances

The song “God Bless The Family” by Stormin Norman & Suzy appears on the soundtrack for We Can't Go Home Again, the experimental 1976 film by Nicholas Ray, and in the 2011 documentary  Don't Expect Too Much by Susan Ray. 

Suzy has appeared in several experimental films by Gerry Fialka, including the Toto Meme trilogy made in collaboration with Mark X. Farina. 

Her voice-over work and singing have been featured in many cartoons by Bill Burnett, including Cow and Chicken and Chalk Zone.

In the 2015 film Roseanne for President! [1] documenting Roseanne Barr’s run for the U.S. Presidency in 2012, Suzy appears singing the campaign song “Roseanne Barr None” that she co-wrote with Brad Kay and Brian Woodbury.

Musical Ensembles

Stormin' Norman & Suzy (since 1972) with Norman Zamcheck

The Boners (since 1987) with Bill Burnett

Ariondo & Williams (since 1996) with Nick Ariondo & Kahlil Sabbagh

Suzy Williams & Brad Kay (since 2001)

The Off-Their-Jingle-Bell Rockers (since 2003) with Catherine Allison, Kathy Leonardo, Marianne Lewis, Jon Eric Preston, Rory Johnston, and Mikal Sandoval

The Smiling Minks (2004-2006) with Moira Smiley and Vessy Mink

The Backboners (since 2005) with Bill Burnett, Ginger Smith, and Kahlil Sabbagh

Suzy & Her Solid Senders (since 2007) with Kahlil Sabbagh, Dan Weinstein, Brad Kay, Danny Moynahan, Dan Heffernan, Corey Gemme, Dave Jones, Nick Scarmack, Douglas Roegiers, and Freddie Johnson

Suzy Williams & Steve Weisberg (since 2007)

The Nicknamers (since 2011) with Sam Clay and Eric Ahlberg
 
Personal Life

Suzy is a professional cook, yoga teacher, and political activist with the Peace and Freedom Party. She married Bill Burnett, then of the band Long Tall Sally, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1977. She married Gerry Fialka in 2001, with whom she lives in Venice, California.
 
Discography

1975, Fantasy Rag [2] – Stormin’ Norman & Suzy, Perfect Crime Records

1978, Ocean of Love [2] - Stormin' Norman & Suzy, Polydor Records

1989, Say Hello with Mr. & Mrz. Burnett - The Boners, There Must Be a Pony Records

2005, Spine - The Backboners, Fun Chasers Records

2008, We Dreamed It All - The Backboners, Fun Chasers Records

2010, Enjoy The Ride [3] - Suzy Williams, Superbatone Records (with album cover shot by famed photographer Guy Webster)

2011, Music In the First Degree - Suzy Williams & Her Solid Senders, Superbatone Records
 
References
1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3791268/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm
2. http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?id=3827&name=Stormin'+Norman+%26+Suzy
3. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=37211

Further Reading

“Laughtears” Suzy Williams official website   http://www.laughtears.com/

Hi Res 300 dpi photos http://www.laughtears.com/hi-res-pics.html

“Suzy Williams”   http://dobbstown.com/suzy/ 

“Local Hero: Suzy Williams” by Rachel Wexelbaum   http://www.laughtears.com/suzy1.html

“Stormin’ Norman & Suzy”   http://www.zamcheck.net/snandsuzy.html

“Suzy Williams Photo Gallery”   http://www.muralista.org/suzy/ 

Suzy’s FaceBook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzy-Williams-SingerSongwriter/334790007371

Brad Kay http://bradkay.net/2014/bk/

June 12, 2015

---------------------------------------------

HOME