Monday, December 28, 2009

Margie Baker

I am constantly reminded about how lucky I am to live in the San Francisco area.  Margie Baker is one of those reasons.  She is one of the incredible entertainers I've met through my friendship with Shota Osabe, one of the best jazz pianists around.  

Since his arrival in San Francisco in 1968, Shota has played with greats such as Liza Minnelli, Bob Hope and Dizzy Gillespi and many of our Bay area stars.  I first met him when he played for my favorite jazz diva, Sony Holland.  He accompanied her to Tokyo for her three month gig at the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt ( a real plus since he is Japanese and a native speaker! ).  Shota has two CDs of his own:  Happy Coat and Happy Count.

At any rate, Shota plays and does arrangements for a number of artists.  Margie Baker is one of them.  I first went to see her when Shota played keyboards for her at a San Francisco restaurant and jazz club called Shanghai 1930.  I fell in love with Margie, a delightful African American woman, over seventy, retired from the San Francisco school district with a doctorate in education!  Margie, originally from a small town in Texas, was born in poverty.  She moved here when her mother came to be a riveter during World War II building Navy ships.  Margie finished high school at fifteen, then went to UC Berkeley on a scholarship.  She finished up at San Francisco State and went to school nights for her masters and PhD.  

Margie always sang but she didn't begin singing professionally until 1973.  When a guitarist friend coaxed her out of the audience to sing at  Henri's Room at the San Francisco Hilton, she was immediately hired by Baron and Conrad Hilton who were in the audience.  She sang at Hiltons for the next twenty years.

Currently she sings at several San Francisco area locales, including Burlingame's Hyatt Regency where she performs at Sunday brunch.  That's where I saw her today.  I join the "family" table off to the side where the musicians gather during their breaks and delight in being able to chat with Margie and Shota.  Also, it is wonderful to be so close when this amazing lady belts out a sultry blues number, or sings a sexy samba, or gets the joint jumping with, "When the Saints 
Go Marching In."  

I usually forego the $38.00 brunch and just get a latte and have a couple of hours of wonderful
music to begin my Sunday.  One song I especially like that Margie sings is "I Want a Pig Foot
and a Bottle of Beer."  That one appears on her CD, "Margie Baker and Friends Live at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society." 

All I know is that I leave the Hyatt on Sunday with a smile on my face, my toes tapping, ready to tackle just about anything, my aches and pains forgotten for a little while.  Thank you so much, Margie!  You are one hot tamale.

The delightful Margie Baker

Making music

Enjoying their work


  1. Great post Carmen!
    I hope I can find her in You tube and listen to that great voice

    Thank YOU!

  2. Hey "Mrs. Cool!"--You sure do enjoy tha talents of others and express your thoughts like no one else-This was a great tribute to Margie Baker, and made me feel the joy!

  3. I must try and find Margie Baker, she sounds as if she's worth listening to. She has a happy face too.
    Hope you enjoyed Christmas, Carmen.

  4. What a COOL Story Carmen!! The photos are Wonderful! Great people to know! Enjoy your day!hughugs

  5. Anonymous8:05 AM

    like dulce, i am off to look her up on youtube.

  6. Oh you are into the arts Carmen, poetry, music, far away places......sounds like a wonderful life to me...Happy New Year....:-) Hugs

  7. She sounds like a delightful lady!

  8. nice post,thanks for sharing pics

  9. Happy new year

  10. What a great tribute to Margie Baker, and you took some wonderful photos!

  11. What a great shot of Shota. He is an amazing player.

  12. Sounds like a fantastic time was had by all, it will keep you on top the world for a little while.

  13. Dulce - I looked on YouTube and found nothing.
    You can hear some song clips online, though.
    I'm going to have to take my camera one of
    these days and make a video, since, at the
    Hyatt, I'm sitting right in front of her,
    about three feet away. She hates photos of
    her, though. I think she's so jolly and
    happy, she looks great!

    Valerie - I, too, think Margie has a happy
    face. I think she must have been a good
    school teacher. I know, in that role, she
    fought for underprivileged children and I'll
    bet she was good at it. She lost her
    husband of fifty years about three years
    ago and I think it's great that she still
    gets out and sings!

    Donna - what's nice about so many of these
    folks, is that they are accessible to their
    fans, not snooty stars. It's easy to like

    Kamana - I laugh, Margie told me she has a
    computer but she doesn't ever use it. She
    send me a handwritten note to tell me about
    her gigs!!

    Bernie - if only I still had my job, it would
    be perfect! I no longer have money for
    the travel but I manage to see my local
    entertainers, at least. That's one of the
    reasons I don't want to leave the Bay area.

    willow - Margie is the sweetest person. I love
    this Hyatt brunch venue because there are
    always lots of children and they are so
    intrigued. They come right up and dance
    and cavort to the music, even the toddlers.
    Margie loves them.

    sm - glad you stopped by to meet Margie. Happy
    New Year to you as well.

    Icy BC - I'm glad I could let her know how
    special I think she is.

    Poetic Shutterbug - I think he should be inter-
    viewed for Jazz West! Is he a member? He
    certainly supports a lot of their divas!

    Travelingjoan - thank you for the sweetest
    words. I do enjoy good music and it helps
    keep me out of the doldrums at a time that
    would be so difficult for me.

  14. Thanks for sharing this carmen, must be really nice to just spend the day listening to great music.

  15. Lucky you! I misss these experiences that big cities can provide. Music and good food really round up our lives, don't they?

    How are you celebrating the new year?

  16. She looks like an amazing woman with a wonderful passion for her music. I love the fact that she is still out there singing and pelting out tunes with her band. I hope she doesn't stop anytime soon.

  17. Carmen, he probably should be interviewed for them though I am no longer interviewing for JazzWest. I only do interviews for my own music blog now.

  18. Ayie - it's funny but, no matter how stressed I
    am, as soon as I'm at a musical venue,
    listening to good jazz or Latin rhythms or
    my other favorite music, all my cares seem to

    lakeviewer - I know what you mean...even moving
    to Sacramento, at this point, would be hard
    for me. I know it's not exactly a small town
    but I know all my favorite San Francisco
    spots and hang outs and, living on the
    Peninsula, is like being in a small town but
    the big city is fifteen miles away

    Liss - Margie is amazing and so warm and
    friendly. You can see how much she enjoys
    singing. I think she'll go till she sings
    in heaven.

    Poetic Shutterbug - you just have the best
    knack for doing a good interview. I don't
    even know if Shota is a member of Jazz West.

  19. Thanks for sharing. Margie is a gorgeous woman.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2010!