Ingrid Lucia

 Ingrid Lucia is a performer through and through.

And as the New Orleans-reared daughter of a dad enthralled with movies and music from the 1940s, it’s probably no surprise that she’s managed to blend Louisiana-tinged jazz with the songs of the greatest generation while incorporating provocative old-school elegance in her delivery.

But don’t think for a second that means she’s all style and no substance.

In fact, her history confirms anything but.

“My image has been pretty consistent with a few variables along the way,” the 40-year-old said. “Growing up as street urchins, us kids swore we would never be seen that way again.

“I am a firm believer in simplicity, elegance and the dichotomy of mixing dark moody rock and roll with classic 1940s cuts. I am taken with the beauty of utilitarian art and I try to dress that way. I am presenting an image of a strong and independent female who isn’t afraid to look glamorous and be fun, but can still take care of business and carry a sound system home in heels after the date.”

Born in San Francisco before a move to the Big Easy at age 1, Lucia displayed a knack for performing in front of friends and family as a toddler and took her first steps on a stage with the family band – the Flying Neutrinos – as a pre-teen girl.

The band, started by Lucia’s father three decades ago, includes elements of jazz and swing and released its first CD in 1995.

“When I was 4, I used to sing and dance for anyone and everyone that would watch. I loved making people happy that way and found immense pleasure in doing so,” she said. “Around that time I was taken with Judy Garland, Then Elvis at 9 and Marilyn Monroe at 10. My dad was a huge old movie buff and we would watch them as solace from the real world.

“I thought I would grow up to be performing in a black and white movie.

“My dad started the family band when I was 11 and growing up in New Orleans. Choosing traditional jazz wasn’t even a question coming from a dad whose generation was the American popular standards of the World War II era.”

It’s been a performer’s life since then for the fun-loving Lucia, who writes her own songs and has steadily released solo work – including 2010’s 12-track “Midnight Rendezvous” – in addition to her myriad recording and performing duties with the band, which appeared at Jazz Fest in May.

Earlier this year, the Neutrinos played a pair of dates at Club Reka in Moscow and another show at Feinstein’s in New York City, a ritzy Park Avenue venue known for hosting cabaret-style shows.

She said her next CD, whose release date is to be determined, will be a collection of “original New Orleans roots music.”

“A new fan coming to a show would get a flavor of New Orleans traditional jazz, blues and swing presented through original and standard songs,” she said. “They would get to hear New Orleans’ top musicians, who I am lucky enough to have in my band when they are not playing with Dr. John, Harry Connick Jr., Preservation Hall, The Iguanas or Allen Toussaint. They would be entertained by a singer who sounds a lot like Billie Holiday because they both learned to phrase from the great Louis Armstrong.

“But more than anything they would get a night of entertainment and music that would include them and take them away from their day and into an unforgettable off-night of fun.

“I always knew this is what I was meant to do. At first I thought I would be a dancer and choreographer then a singer, and now I guess I consider myself an all-around entertainer. I love to blab and joke a lot to try and get the walls down to the audience connection.”

The sought-after connection was evident in a glowing concert review by Brendan O’Connor – an Irish pop star turned columnist/music reviewer – in the Dublin-based Sunday Independent newspaper.

“We don’t really have words to describe women like Ingrid Lucia,” O’Connor said. “This is because there aren’t many women like Ingrid around anymore. Her voluptuous figure flows like mercury inside the strappy dress she’s poured into. She rolls her eyes coyly as she pouts and preens around the stage like a white Josephine Baker. She alternates between shamelessly flirting with the other members of the band and making every guy in the audience think that she’s singing just for them.

“She could be a good girl playing bad or a bad girl playing good. Ingrid is a minx, a sassy minx. Smirking like the cat who got the cream while she does that ‘little ol’ me?’ thing with her big innocent eyes. Ingrid is a woman at the height of her powers. She’s got it. And then she sings like Billie Holliday without even trying and you wonder how men stay married when there are women like Ingrid around.”
© New Orleans Nightingales, 2013