¦ What: Annie Sellick and the Hot Club of Nashville.
¦ When: 7:30 p.m. today, Feb. 27.
¦ Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
¦ Admission: $20.
¦ Phone: 423-624-
¦ Website: www.barkinglegs.org.
When Annie Sellick talks about why she sings swing jazz music, pretty much the only thing that can trip her up is searching for the right word to express her enthusiasm for the genre.
"It really compelled me. It made me feel like I was going for a ride," she says. "I love to swing; it's like having wings.
"When I've got a band behind me that has a great groove, I have a great time. I want everyone to feel how good it feels. It's really comfortable for me. It's in my skin."
Sellick grew up in a house where her mother listened to Motown and her father was a bluegrass aficionado, but as a student at Middle Tennessee State University in 1996, she heard jazz guitarist Roland Gresham at a dive bar. Despite knowing only a pair of standards, "Fever" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," she sat in with him and was hired on the spot.
Desperate to bolster her repertoire early on, she asked friends for suggestions of other vocalists to listen to, took her notes home and dove into the jazz deep end. She worked her way through the usual suspects -- Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan -- but Anita O'Day stopped her in her tracks.
"Anita O'Day was like The Beatles were for my mother," she says. "I freaked out over her because of her rhythmic sense and because she didn't take herself too seriously. She had a good time up there."
Enjoying her time behind the mike has defined Sellick's 18-year vocal career, whether she's singing straight jazz on her own, supporting luminaries such as Tommy Emmanuel and Mark O'Connor or fronting the swing jazz ensemble the Hot Club of Nashville.
The latter group, which Sellick joined in 2003, will perform at Barking Legs Theater tonight, Feb. 27. The Hot Club is led by British guitar virtuoso Richard Smith, who is a frequent performer at Barking Legs and a National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion.
The set will combine a handful of swing standards with a wealth of original material written by Nashville songsmith Tom Sturdevant, whose work Sellick describes as sounding "like it came from 1933 ... charming ... with characters you adore."
Tonight, she says, the fun should be experienced in equal measure on and off the stage.
"It's a great band. Everyone has strengths, and we try to communicate as well as a cohesive unit," she says. "When the music is high-energy ... it's infectious.
"We want to make people feel happy, to feel a part of it and to feel the happiness and joy that we feel as we're making it."
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.