The elegant and charismatic T.J. Graham is a Memphis-based jazz vocalist whose infectious style and stage presence might come as a surprise to those who only know her as Dr. Graham.
Currently a college professor of Teacher Education, and high school principal, T.J. has been a leader in the Memphis education system for several years.Born in Buffalo, New York, T.J. knew early on that jazz was her true passion.
In an era when the pop sounds of musicians such as Michael Jackson, the Commodores, Jeffrey Osborne, etc. were the rage among her contemporaries, T.J. was drawn to such jazz greats as Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, AI Jarreau, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman and Nat "King" Cole. While T.J. cites these and other jazz greats as her major influences, she credits Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton as being her initial inspirations.With five CD projects to her credit, T.J. has performed and or sat in with many of Memphis' talented jazz artists such as, Gene Rush, Donald Brown, Rene Koopman, Herman Green, Calvin Newborn, Joyce Cobb, Mark "Dr. Scat" Weiss, and Irving Evans, to mention a few.
Up until the release of "Dreamer And Lovers" in the spring of 2009, T.J. considered the 2007 masterpiece "Small Day Tomorrow," produced by John Lightman, her best work to date.
She feels very fortunate and honored to work closely with John Lightman, a musician she considers to be one of the finest song writers ever, and with other world class musicians. T.J. swears that the spirits of such writers as Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and his collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, etc. are living today in John Lightman. In her words, “He’s that kind of a smart writer and I’m thrilled to be working with him! His writing will ensure that good music, especially good jazz music, will be heard for a long time to come."
T.J. Graham is a jazz singer without fanfare or gimmick, who uses understatement and considerable subtlety. She chooses her material and addresses it, not with competition, but with support and clear delineation, producing a natural partnership in her interpretation and reflections. It all appears so effortless, but talent and sincerity should."
Robert D. Rusch, Cadence Jazz Magazine