Tia Fuller knew the saxophone was her instrument after earlier flings with the piano and the flute because it was loud, so much louder than the others.
It turned into a lifelong infatuation. Now, the jazz musician's latest album "Diamond Cut" is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The Grammy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 10 on CBS.
Fuller is only the second woman nominated in that category. The first was her producer on "Diamond Cut," drummer Teri Lyne Carrington.
Fuller, who is also a Berklee College of Music professor and a former member of Beyonce's all-women touring band, talked to Colorado Matters about being a female jazz musician, pushing her craft and dancing in heels.
On being nominated alongside her idols:
“You know what’s ironic is these are all people that I grew up listening to. So to be in a category with them is an honor. They are diamonds in the community. All of these names are household names that I experienced growing up just learning this music. So of course I’m going to remember all of this ‘cause they’ve been token names in the jazz world for a long time.”
On being a female jazz musician and male-dominated industry:
“I have mixed feelings. More on the positive side, I’d like to say that they’re coming around and hopefully it’s changing the landscape of what jazz looks like. Unfortunately throughout the history of this music, many of the women have been lost and it’s been about his story. A lot of women who have been on the precipice of this music haven’t gotten the acclaim or the shine or the notoriety. The list goes on and on. I’d like to say this is a positive hit hopefully toward the direction of the jazz world reflecting what it has always been, and that is women being an integral part of this music.”
On how she pushed herself while recording "Diamond Cut":
“To really expand my territory and take it to the next level, compositionally. As well as surrounding myself around the greats. And really stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been playing with the same band for a long time, and sometimes you can get comfortable. Even though there’s a beauty in that because I think we become an extension of each other. But I think by placing yourself amongst others who are masters, it kind of forces you to play up to their level, or at least try to.”
On what she learned while touring with Beyonce:
“How to function seamlessly as an artist, a businesswoman, a woman who has vision and a performer. How to put a setlist together, how to put a show together that’s engaging the audience as well as really featuring band members. The list goes on! How to dance in heels without falling! It’s so much a part of my performance now, that I don’t feel like I’m ready to play a gig until I have on my heels. If I had to play in flats, I could, but it would almost feel like I had an outfit on, but I didn’t have on lipstick or accessories.”
Answers have been edited and shortened for clarity.