Those with an ear for Jazz have compared Segers with Eva Cassidy and Dinah Washington. That being said, Segers is actually in a league of her own. Her original compositions and interpretations of familiar Pop songs or dynamic Jazz tunes has enraptured Jazz lovers across generations.
"I was a Blues singer, so when I listened to Jazz singers I thought,
"The musicians were very tough on me and I thought I'd never make it.
INTERVIEW WITH MARGIE SEGERS
It was the late Jack Lesmana - a renowned Jazz musician - who introduced her to Jazz music and taught her to sing jazz songs. Spending her early youth in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Margie came back to Indonesia in 1969. She sang a few times on television and once her neighbor, Nien Lesmana, Jack Lesmana's wife, recognized her.
Not only did he introduce her to the beautiful tunes, Jack also taught her how to sing like a diva and even played his guitar for her. One thing led to another, it was also Jack who introduced her to the exclusive Jazz circle and before she knew it, she shared the stage with noted Jazz gurus like Jack himself and Bubbi Chen.
She's naming Aretha Franklin as her idol. She has kept her voice intact and once onstage her singing seemed effortless. So, Margie Segers is indeed back. On the verge of turning 50, she has a dream: to create a Blues record. Her fixation on blues is for its soulfulness.
How did you start your career in Jazz?
I never say that I am a Jazz singer. But they tell me that I am a legendary diva Jazz singer. But I started with Blues. Blues and Soul are actually my favorites — they're not so far away from Jazz.
I had been in many bands before and we have been doing Motown and that kind of stuff. I started getting to know great Jazz players, much older than we were, who had been touring Europe. And they saw something in me. The late Jack Lesmana was the number one [mentor] for me. He was the one who exposed me to Jazz music. He inspired me as if he were my own father.
What is your audience like in Indonesia?
In the '70s it was very hard. At that time I was also very young. But people couldn't accept changes in the song. Because every time I sing a song, they say 'that's not the song, you shouldn't sing like that.' Well, how should I sing it, then? They said I didn't sound like the [original] singer. If you want me to sing like the [original] singer, why don't you listen to a tape, then? I want to do my own style, not copy singers.
They don't understand improvisation? Has that changed.
Yes, it started to change in the '80s. I see now that the younger generations do recordings in their own style that is in the genre of Jazz. But they will try to develop their own style. That's a very good thing. Not trying to copy!
What makes a good Jazz or Blues performance?
You have to fully concentrate and respect musicians. When they play, don't interrupt. If the bass player is doing his solo, just let him play. Don't interrupt!
Lastly, do you have any advice for young aspiring musicians?
If you really like that music. You have to be serious. If they like Jazz, they'll have to go on and listen to Jazz musicians. Not copying, but be yourself.
(with Salamander Big Band)