Soul music runs in Wendy Waller's family. The ability to reach down deep to a sacred place inside herself goes all the way back to Waller's great grandfather, who was a famous cantor in the Ukraine. Her father was a fine trumpet player and singer. Her mother played viola. Her pianist grandmother helped start the Idyllwild School of Music. The list goes on. The point is this classically trained coloratura soprano was born.
That natural ability has served Waller well. The popular Northern California singer won both the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival Vocal Competition and the U.C. Santa Barbara Talent Competition. She has played leading roles in numerous musical comedy productions. She has two solo albums to her credit, and sang back up on Chris Isaac's popular album, Speak of the Devil. She leads three popular bands performing a variety of musical styles. The list goes on. The point is Waller has pursued the muse with gusto.
Waller's first instrument was piano, but in third grade the French horn stole her heart. "I played French horn and trumpet from grade school through college, and added flugelhorn and trombone in high school," says Waller. Critics often site Waller's ability to use her voice like an instrument. Waller thinks that ability comes from her extensive training on brass instruments. "Jazz was constantly in my ear," says Waller. "My dad played lots of jazz around the house, especially Herb Alpert, Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong. Making up melodies and scatting just came naturally. I improvised long before I studied improvisation," says Waller.
Waller studied vocal performance at U.C. Santa Barbara then moved to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies from San Jose State University. Wendy has attended numerous clinics and master classes, including the Tanglewood Institute of Music and Hochschuller Conservatory in Munich. Her extensive list of musical mentors includes Bobby McFerrin and Patti Cathcart. At the front of the classroom, Waller has taught and assisted at U.C. Berkeley, San Jose State University and Foothill Junior College (Los Altos, CA), and is a respected private vocal instructor and clinician.
Equally renowned as a songwriter as well as a visual artist, Waller continues to reach for the deep places. "My spontaneity lies in colors, pictures, and emotions," says Waller. "I tend to retreat into myself and close my eyes when I sing. I'm safer there. Some people say I'm a selfish singer, but reaching the deep place inside myself is what I live for."