“I don’t think I am the one who wants to stay young, look the way I did, although it was nice to be cute (…) it’s more difficult in the business (…) I admire women who age gracefully and embrace it and learn to kinda come into their own. It’s a struggle but it is one that I am up for”
Peggy Coyle, 51, Jazz singer Akron Ohio
Peggy Coyle invited us to her beautiful home in Akron, we listened to her singing and piano playing, she show cased her old chevy as well as her dog Luigi. Later that week she performed at Marilyn’s Open Mic at the Northside in Akron.
“There is a lot of classical music in my family background particularly on my mother’s side”. After singing in choirs as a kid Peggy started to train her voice at the age of 17. At the same time she joined various rock’n roll bands. At the age of 20 she met Phil Palumbo, an Akron based saxophone player and spend 20 years working with him (he passed in 2000). “That is really where I honed my skills as a jazz and blues singer … we did jazz we did skits it was very much a type of Las Vegas entertainment.” Growing up she listened to Barbara Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Diana Washington, she is a “huge Billy Holiday fan”. The woman singing with Phil before Peggy did “was quite helpful to me (…) it is not an easy business for a woman to be in (…) there were many helpful men, of course it is such a male dominated business”.
Peggy says, that making music is physically demanding for the musician and that she feels that her voice is still strong but sometimes not as reliable as when she was 20 and 30. She can not easily do 3 gigs a day, “being outside even in the warm weather gets a little tougher for me. After 30 years of singing a lot of things you are doing is more second nature than it used to be but there is always a new experience of stage fright; it never is ‘done that, been there’. Sometimes there are jobs where you get ready to go and you think: whow what’s that and: who knows it might be just another menopausal heart palpitation” (laughs).
She tries to see the humor in life and not to take anything too seriously. When she will be 80 she will be a feisty old lady that hopefully still has her husband around, “I hope that my face hasn’t sunk too much I hope I kind of enjoy what I see when I look in the mirror, I hope I have great stories, I hope I am still singing, I hope I am helping younger women with their singing or performing” She wants to be healthy and be able to enjoy ever day with some dogs around. When she is not working she likes to be at home, knitting, cooking, walking the dog. The knitting she finds very satisfying.
She tries to embrace her own aging, “I don’t think I am the one who wants to stay young, look the way I did, although it was nice to be cute (…) it’s more difficult in the business”. “Now that I am over fifty I am finding I need to look at what I am wearing… I can’t just go out and buy the cute little things because I think they look ridiculous I am trying to age gracefully” Peggy admires women who age gracefully “and embrace it and learn to kinda come into their own. It’s a struggle but it is one that I am up for” “America is so youth orientated but it can be done, I give it my best, some of the physical things are hard, hot flashes are difficult, but I think that attitude is everything so I try to keep that positive attitude going”
Interview: 28. 9.2011
still photography: Isa Hollauf 2011