Hilary Gardner

Singer | Writer | New Yorker

NYC-based singer (mostly jazz) and writer. Lover of words, food, and all things Italian.

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"No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky." -E.B. White

I'm a singer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. I share my August 22 birthday with Dorothy Parker, John Lee Hooker, Claude Debussy, and Kristen Wiig. My first gigs were in Wasilla, Alaska, where I sang Patsy Cline tunes in dive bars. Classical voice study helped build my musical foundation, but equally formative was the time I spent singing along with records by Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Joni Mitchell, and Tom Waits, to name just a few.  
 
I was indeed willing to be lucky when I moved to New York in 2003, and New York has been very generous to me ever since. Among my more eclectic gigs are assorted commercial jingles, guesting with Jeff Goldblum on the opening night of his run at the Café Carlyle, making a cameo on a Moby record, and performing the national anthem at CitiField for the New York Mets (full disclosure: I'm a Yankees fan). In 2010, I appeared on Broadway as the female vocalist (and Frank Sinatra's duet partner) in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away.  More recently, I sang a tune (and wore a fabulous vintage dress) in Errol Morris's upcoming Netflix mini-series, Wormwood, starring Peter Sarsgaard.
 
A few years ago, Amy Cervini, Melissa Stylianou, and I joined forces and voices to become DUCHESS, a close-harmony trio inspired by the Boswell Sisters. We've released two critically acclaimed albums on Anzic Records and we maintain a very busy (and very fun!) touring schedule, including performances at jazz festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, and even Israel. We also host a podcast, Harmony & Hijinks, in which we laugh, chat, and interview interesting people in and outside of the music world.
 
The Late Set, my upcoming new record with pianist Ehud Asherie, was born of our performances at my favorite Greenwich Village haunt, Mezzrow. The Late Set is a collection of intimate piano/vocal duets, hearkening back to classic late-night albums from decades past. My 2014 debut recording, The Great Citycelebrates the electricity, dynamism, and sense of possibility that permeate life in the Big Apple. I'm very proud to be an Anzic Records artist.

When I'm not performing or rehearsing music, I’m am often writing on my blog, Ad Alta Voce, about creativity, food, or this city I love so much.  

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I believe...

...New York is the greatest city in the world. I agree with Cole Porter: "I like the city air, I like to drink of it. The more I know New York the more I think of it. I like the sight and the sound and even the stink of it. I happen to like New York."  
 

...I was Italian in a past life. I spent nearly a year in Italy when I was 17 and part of my heart still lives there. The only time I completely relax is when I’m living la dolce vita in la bella Italia.
 
…everyone should spend a year waiting tables. We’d all have better manners and more empathy.
 
…when doubt seeps in, the only answer is: do something creative. Immediately.
 
…winning is never final and losing is never fatal.
 
…in singing and in life, redemption is always just an inhale away.
 
…Oscar Wilde was right when he said, “Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing."


Photographer: Shervin Lainez

Stylist: Laura Mitchell