Out and sexy Jazz musician, restaurateur, philanthropist and all around business guy Dave Koz is performing in concert tonight at the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, WA. He is in town to support the effort of In Concert for Cancer. It is a little late for online tickets but you can still get them at the door. Show your support for this great organization.
What first attract you to In Concert for Cancer?
This is for a very dear friend of mine, Michele Abrams, whom I have known for many years. It doesn’t matter who you talk to now a days, most of our lives have been touched by cancer in some way. For Michele, her mother succumbed to the disease a few years ago. She decided to do something that combined her love for her mom and her love for Jazz music. So she started putting on these philanthropic concerts about four years ago. I was there for the inaugural concert and was invited back again this year. My family has been touched by cancer as well.
You have had a very interesting career. You have played with Ray Charles, U2 and Barry Manilow. Is there anyone else you dream of collaborating with?
I just had a 25th anniversary album come out that is collection of a lot of my collaborations. It is very hard for me to fathom that has been twenty five years already. It doesn’t really make sense to me. I am very grateful though. When I looked at the list of names on the album I just stared in disbelief. There was Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks, Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow. It is just such a collection of wonderful and iconic artists. As for people I dream of collaborating with, I would have to say Elton John is really at the top of the list. Sting would be up there as well. Growing up I was heavily influenced by Billy Joel as well as Elton John. There is also a whole crop of younger artist that I would love to work with as well. There is Frank Ocean, Janelle Monáe and Alicia Keys.
What was it like to ride on Barry Manilow’s private jet?
(Laughter) It ruined me for travel for the rest of my life. Once you get a taste of that, it is hard to get on Southwest if you know what I mean. (Laughter). I opened up for Barry Manilow for about five months this year. He is a genius. He is one of the greatest showmen I have ever encountered in my life. He has been a good friend for a lot of years.
You have a lot of balls in the air professionally. How do you juggle a professional music career, a successful restaurant and a winery?
We don’t actually have a winery per se. We have wine bottled by another company so I don’t have to worry about that too much. We have been making the wine for about five years. All of the proceeds go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Through the various things we do, we have probably raised close to three hundred thousand dollars for the organization. Starlight helps kids that are in the hospital for long periods of time. I am very proud to raise money and awareness for them. By the way, the wine is good (laughter). It is available now at all California Pizza Kitchens across the country. I really have great people that support me in each of these business avenues.
You have nine Grammy Nominations under your belt. What would be the most important recognition for you at this point in your life?
I think the ultimate prize is to continue to do what I do and remain relevant. I just want a career that lasts a long time.
With Marriage Equality now the law of the land, what do you think that our community should focus on the most?
Wow, that is a good question. We have had some significant fights for a long time. They aren’t necessarily over but we have made it over some amazing hurdles with HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment. There isn’t a cure yet but HIV isn’t really a death sentence any longer. We have come such a tremendous way on that fight. We have also made tremendous strides forward in the fight for overall equality. I think the next fight might be against complacency. We can’t take our foot off the gas pedal. We have to continue to move forward as a community.
Do you have a message for LGBTQ youth?
On paper it may look like I had a pretty charmed life. Well, I did but there were many years growing up that I felt like a complete stranger in my own family and my entire world. It was like I had a duel personality. I felt like I was not a whole person. When I finally came out in 2004 I finally felt like I was stitched together as one human being. I never thought that would be possible. It was such a great feeling. We all go through struggles. They are often there to make us better human beings. My advice is to embrace it all and accept it all. Know in your heart that it is all part of the plan. Know that it is going to be okay.