Suzy’s birthplace in Oakland to Berkeley Hills, then a trailer park in Barstow, and a horse farm in Gridley. At fifteen years old, Suzy discovered the music of Bessie Smith, and found that she could sing just like her. Suzy loves to use the Janis Joplin quote, “Bessie showed me the air, and taught me how to fill it!”
At eighteen, Suzy met “Stormin’ Norman” Zamcheck, a Yale graduate in literature and “damn good boogie woogie piano player”. They cut two albums (Fantasy Rag, 1975 and Ocean of Love, 1978) and toured the East Coast together for twelve years. Suzy and Stormin’ Norman continue to do a few shows every year.
Suzy married Bill Burnett in 1977. They formed “The Boners”. Bill, who wrote a song for Bette Midler’s Las Vegas show, has a great knack for harmony arrangements. They enlisted Kahlil Sabbagh and his wife Ginger Smith. They sing Mamas and the Papas and original songs. They renamed themselves the Backboners. Michelle Phillips from the real Mamas and the Papas accompanied them at the Palmer Room last fall.
Suzy has reinvented cabaret with accordion maestro Nick Ariondo since 1997. This evocative trio perform original compositions and songs by Henry Mancini, Erik Satie, Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Tom Waits, Edith Piaf, and Kurt Weill.
Suzy and her Solid Senders.” Suzy’s pianist and longtime “vaudeville pard”, Brad Kay, came up with the name—“senders” being the hipsters of the late forties. Dan Weinstein, Brad’s friend who plays trombone, offered to arrange music for the group, Kahlil Sabbagh became the musical director.
Suzy and the Solid Senders are one of several groups in the Los Angeles area who play music from the teens through the nineteen forties. The Solid Senders attract lindy hop dancers to their performances, and instructors are also on hand for anyone in the audience who would like to learn.