Magazine article Black Enterprise

All That Jazz

Magazine article Black Enterprise

All That Jazz

Article excerpt

Doctor hits the high note as-a hobby

All eyes are on the dynamic man on stage. We're at the renowned Los Angeles showplace, The World Stage, and the singer is belting out a a rousing rendition of "Little Sunflower," a Freddie Hubbard classic. The vocalist flows effortlessly from one jazz tune to another, before closing with the melancholy ballad "Willow Weep for Me." The lights come up and the audience jumps to its feet.

The man of the hour is Dr. Bill J. Releford Jr., a podiatric surgeon who sings only as a hobby. By day, Releford operates the Diabetic Foot Institute, which he founded in 1990. The institute specializes in limb salvage--helping diabetics avoid amputation, which is a common hazard of the disease. Although most of his time is spent battling diabetes and educating people about illness, he's always had a song in his heart, and says, "I'm a total jazz enthusiast. Even when I'm in surgery. I have jazz playing."

Releford didn't unveil his talent until seven years ago. Up until then, his performances were limited to the shower. However he'd often sit in on a local jazz workshop conducted by Phyllis Battle of the group The 5th Dimension. "One day she heard me sing," recalls Releford. Impressed by his raw talent, Battle started giving him voice lessons--a must for singers on the professional or amateur level, notes Bob Robinson of the production team Tim & Bob, who has worked with Tamia, Jon B., and Sisqo.

Releford continues to take lessons at least twice weekly. He says these sessions can cost anywhere from $25 to $75 per hour. …

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