Stuff About Me
When world-renowned trumpeter Sean Jones described Tania Grubbs, he said knowing her has been a joy, “not only because of her skill as an artist but because of her connection to humanity.” There probably couldn’t be two more perfect words to describe not only Tania but her fascinating, beautiful music: joy and humanity.
Reviews of her latest album, “Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar” by the Tania Grubbs Quintet (released May 2020), have called her singing “effortless,” cited her “expressive style,” and “warm voice and honest emotion,” and noted her “superb, great intonation and expression.”
This latest release truly embodies the heart and soul of Tania’s work. Maureen’s Jazz Cellar, located in Nyack, New York, is a special, magical venue. Owned by David Budway, and not just named for, but conceived in honor of his late sister, Maureen Budway, an gifted, accomplished and much-loved jazz vocalist. Tania had been friends and musical colleagues with Maureen and, over the years shared the stage and supported one another musically. Tania had played several gigs at the venue over the last few years. And each time, she’d have a conversation with David about how great the room felt, how intimate it is, and how the music just seemed perfect there. For a while David and his wife Brianne had been talking about start we ing a series of live recordings and approached Tania to undertake the inaugural recording in this soon-to-be series naturally she was honored.
As she went about carefully selecting the songs for this project, Tania spent time thinking about the repertoire of music she’d been perfecting over the years. She’s overseen Jazz at Andys (at the Fairmont Pittsburgh) for the last 10 years, a two-night per week series located in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. During this time, she’s won over thousands of new fans who appreciate her unique arrangements and the selection of unexpected songs performed in a new way, opening up jazz to many who didn’t think it was “their thing.”
In addition to several original compositions, the album features a lively rendition of “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” by Pittsburgh’s own Billy Strayhorn, a particularly memorable version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” and an unforgettable take on the unofficial Poet Laurette of Canada, Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” among several other pieces. What makes the album so successful and unique is that it’s not just a cliché – in this case, there really is something for everyone here. One extraordinary selection on the album is a nod to Tania’s love of poetry and literature is “Hope is a Thing With Feathers,” borrowing the text from Emily Dickinson.
The Tania Grubbs Quintet features David Budway on piano, Tania’s husband and Pittsburgh Symphony member Jeff Grubbs on bass, Ron Affif on guitar and, James Johnson III on drums.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, Tania debuted of series of innovative concert experiences at the City of Asylum’s Alphabet City, where she wrote and produced a series of six, 80-minute concerts, entitled the I AM Series. She explains them as “mini-documentaries,” which involved collaborations with numerous different artists throughout the Pittsburgh region and beyond.
Tania’s debut release, “Lost in the Stars” was unveiled in 2014 and helped to further introduce her to jazz fans. The release is still available for purchase or download.
Tania has been singing all of her life, in many different settings and genres. She is a graduate of Youngstown State University. While a student there, she engaged herself in learning about jazz, starting with the classic American Songbook under the mentorships of jazz studies professor Tony Leonardi. While workshopping tunes, gigging, and participating in jam sessions, Tania met her husband, bassist-Jeff Grubbs, on the bandstand.
Jeff’s orchestral career landed the couple in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they lived for five years. While there, Tania’s musical journey gave her opportunities to sing in many jazz clubs, performed in numerous concert settings and theatre productions. Tania was a featured vocalist with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and a member of the Voices of the Boca Pops Orchestra. In 1996, Jeff won a position in the bass section of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Since living in Pittsburgh, Tania has been a four-time recipient of the Ready for Life Grants, founded by the Heinz Foundation, working with young children through music and movement. She has also been a featured vocalist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust JazzLive Series, Pittsburgh Jazz Society, Washington Jazz Wine & Jazz Festival, Westmoreland Jazz Society as well as Butler Jazz Society and the West Virginia Jazz Society. Tania remains active by touring nationally and conducts master classes for high schools and colleges. In 2019 she was featured as a guest soloist with the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia. Tania is the Co-Music Director at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Hotel overseeing Jazz at Andys, and she is an advocate helping to cultivate jazz in Pittsburgh and beyond.