Sasha Dobson's Journey Out Of Jazz And Into Songwriting

Play associated audio

Smith Dobson was one of the most sought-after pianists of the Bay Area when he died in a car crash in 2001. He was part of a musical family — his wife, Gail, a jazz singer; his son a drummer. His daughter, Sasha Dobson, was a scat singer who followed the family's jazz muse until her dad's tragic death.

Then, Sasha picked up the guitar, started playing in her friend Norah Jones' band, and now she has her own solo career; Aquarius, her first album of original songs, has just been released. Click the audio link to hear her conversation with NPR's Lynn Neary, and read on for highlights, including some that didn't make the radio version.

Interview Highlights

On leaving jazz behind

"It's actually still pretty hard for me, because I get so much energy from that music, and I don't know how to be a part of both worlds. Especially these days, you really have to title yourself to move forward in your career. But I wish to do both forever. I still love that music; I still harbor a torch for that knowledge. I just don't quite know how to filter it into what I'm doing now. It's just not my way anymore, especially socially. Picking up the guitar really opened up my life socially in a totally different way."

On Puss n Boots, her country trio with Norah Jones

"We were just comrades, you know? Pals on the scene. We both lost touch for various reasons. And one day years later we ran into each other, and that was it. I mentioned that I was thinking about playing guitar, and she was like, 'Oh, my God, me too.' ... Most of the covers that I would offer up were old jazz numbers, and most of the covers that Norah would offer up were more like Hank Williams and so on. [Country music] was maybe something that we embraced first because it's simple in its chord structure; you can dive in. That's part of the reason I love guitar, is that I only needed to know a few chords."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.