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Biography

BIOGRAPHY

 

            SHIRLEY STEWART FARMER was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where her studies included dance, music, voice, acting and law.   She performed in and around Chicago singing classical music in operas, concerts and churches both as a soloist and in a professional choir; and sang popular music at small clubs, parties and dances.  She received a B.S. in English from ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY and a J.D. from CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW, now a division of IIT.  In her last two years of law school, she served as a law clerk in the firm run by WILLIAM R. MING and GEORGE LEIGHTON, who later became a Federal Judge.

 

After graduation from law school she married ART FARMER, the noted Jazz Trumpeter, and moved to New York.  When that marriage failed, she stayed in New York and concentrated on the practice of law for about 12 years.  Her only involvement with music during that period was singing in the Riverside Church professional choir and vocal studies with various teachers, the last being BELLE JULIE SOUDANT.

 

During that period, she worked; as clerk-associate in the offices of CORA WALKER and ANDREW TYLER; as an associate in the law firm of DELSON & GORDON; AS Associate Counsel in the office of the General Counsel of HRA under BRUCE WRIGHT; and then in a private civil practice as sole practitioner, which practice she continues to maintain to the present time.

 

It was during her time with DELSON & GORDON that, as its first Secretary, she organized the MID-MANHATTAN BRANCH of the NAACP under her then boss, MAX DELSON, the branches first President.  Some time later, in 1984, she did the legal work to consolidate HARLEM LAWYERS ASSOCIATION with BEDFORD-STUYVESANT LAWYERS ASSOCIATION into a new black bar association, METROPOLITAN BLACK BAR ASSOCIATION and as its first President, drafted the By-laws and put in place the procedures necessary to have an effective organization.

 

After a few years in private practice, she came to the realization that her life was incomplete without a more serious involvement with music and theater so she resumed her vocal and theater studies.

 

Since then she has done the following in music and theater.  In the European Classical mode, she has given many concerts including her TOWN HALL debut.  She was Pamina in Mozart’s opera, THE MAGIC FLUTE, and has appeared as soloist in many churches.  She has sung both classical and jazz/pop for many dances, luncheons and dinners.  Also she sang the National Anthem at a Yankee baseball game. She gave a Recital at RIVERSIDE CHURCH on November 6, 2005 where she will sing the music of Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, Gabriel Faure, Samuel Barber, John duke, Clara Edwards, Edwin McArthur and Hilbert E. Stewart, her uncle and a noted pianist and composer.  She participated in the June 10, 2006 Liedklasse MOZARTIAD of RAOUL ABDUL & KELLEY WYATT at GOODMAN HOUSE.

 

 

In the jazz/pop mode she has given many solo concerts including several at SAINT PETER’S LUTHERAN CHURCH, the so-called Jazz Church.  She has appeared as guest artist: with RANDY WESTON at the BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC and in Lausanne, Switzerland; at the 1100th Birthday Tribute to EUBIE BLAKE; and with LIONEL HAMPTON at LINCOLN CENTER OUT-OF-DOORS.  She has appeared in a number of cabarets and sung with numerous other well-known musicians.  She has produced the following concerts:  A Sunday evening concert at Saint Peter’s church in 1989 co-featuring “BIG NICK NICHOLAS” on Saxophone;  “WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE,” an INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN JAZZ sponsored concert at Saint Peter’s Church in 1998 co-featuring singers WARREN K. BRADLEY, DAKOTA MAC LEOD and FRANK ROBINSON with RAY NACCARI as Musical Director & on Keys, CAROL SUDHALTER on Saxophone and Flute, JOHN DOOLEY on Bass, REGGIE BARNES on Drums and JOAO VINCIENT LEWIS on Percussion; TWO SOPRANOS SING OPERA TO BLUES, at Weill recital Hall at Carnegie Hall November, 2003, featuring DAKOTA MAC LEOD, Soprano, KELLEY WYATT, Pianist, RAY NACCARI, Piano & Keys, JOHN DOOLEY, Bass, REGGIE BARNES, Drums and DUKE LEE, Percussion; A CHAMPAGNE DINNER and SHOW featuring the music of COLE PORTER at JOSEPHINA RESTAURANT November 2004 with RAY NACCARI, Keys, CARLINE RAY, Bass and REGGIE BARNES, Drums; and on April 3, 2005 repeated the Cole Porter Show to benefit MID-MANHATTAN Branch of the NAACP at it’s headquarters with RAY NACCARI, Keys and DUKE LEE, percussion. 

 

On April 2, 2006 she presented at its headquarters to again benefit the MID-MANHATTAN Branch of the NAACP, “BALLAD OF JENNY,” a story show using the music of HAROLD ARLEN, DUKE ELLINGTON and BILLY STRAYHORN with RAY NACCARI, Keys and DUKE LEE, Percussion.  She refined the show and on March 18, 2007 presented it at DIZZY’S CLUB COCA COLA, JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER, FREDERICK P. ROSE HALL in a Cabaret-luncheon with part of the net proceeds going to the METROPOLITAN BLACK BAR ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIP FUND that featured BENNY GOLSON as Guest artist, with the BILL CUNLIFFE TRIO [MICHEL WIND on bass & TIM HORNER on drums]; Special guest artists were RAY NACCARI and DAKOTA MAC LEOD. CHAPMAN ROBERTS served as MC.

 

In musical theater she has performed in the annual Twelfth Night musical shows for the ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK since 1973 and she was featured in RACCA’s presentation of GOD’S TROMBONES and other miscellaneous presentations.

 

In film she has appeared as an extra in several major films and television series and as various characters in independent films.

 

On February 24, 2008 she presented a new story show, LADIES WHO SING at the IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB where part of the net proceeds were to be shared with the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch.  The show story was about the life reminiscences of two high school friends who became singers meeting in the park after many years; one concentrating on Opera the other on the Blues.  It co-starred DAKOTA MAC LEOD, with RAY NACCARI, Piano, CAROL SUDHALTER, Flute & Saxes, MIKE GREY, Trombone, PAUL WEST, Bass and EDDIE LOCKE, Drums.  CHAPMAN ROBERTS was Narrator and MC and HAROLD “STUMPY” CROMER made a cameo appearance.  The story was built around the music of VICTOR HERBERT, EUBIE BLAKE, “FATS” WALLER, GEORGE GERSHWIN, RICHARD RODGERS, MICHEL LEGRAND and STEVIE WONDER.

 

On September 21, 2008 she produced SALON FUN: A MUSICAL GET-TOGETHER where she invited 15 musicians and singers to join her in the CEREMONIAL HALL at THE ETHICAL CULTURE SOCIETY to perform two selections of their own choosing.  CHAPMAN ROBERTS served as Master Of Ceremonies and also sang.  The Basic Trio consisted of FRANK OWENS, PIANO; LISLE ATKINSON, BASS; PAULA HAMPTON, DRUMS & VOCALS.  The other artists were HAROLD “STUMPY” CROMER, VOCALS & TAP; PATRICIA DE ARCY, VOCALS;  SHIRLEY STEWART FARMER, VOCALS; MIKE GREY, TROMBONE & VOCALS; LORRAINE LOFASO, VOCALS with LES KURTZ on Piano; DAKOTA MAC LEOD, VOCALS; RAY NACCARI, PIANO; CARLINE RAY, VOCALS; CAROL SUDHALTER, FLUTE & SAXES, with Scat singer ELENA CAMERÍN; DOTTI ANITA TAYLOR, VOCALS, FLUTE & PIANO; and GLENN TURNER, VOCALS.  The audience consisted of friends, many of whom were also performers and some of them joined in a Jam on Blues at the end of the day.  Most of those persons who were there considered it to have been an historical event.

 

 On February 24, 2008 she presented a new story show, LADIES WHO SING at the IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB where part of the net proceeds were to be shared with the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch.  The show story was about the life reminiscences of two high school friends who became singers meeting in the park after many years; one concentrating on Opera the other on the Blues.  It co-starred DAKOTA MAC LEOD, with RAY NACCARI, Piano, CAROL SUDHALTER, Flute & Saxes, MIKE GREY, Trombone, PAUL WEST, Bass and EDDIE LOCKE, Drums.  CHAPMAN ROBERTS was Narrator and MC and HAROLD “STUMPY” CROMER made a cameo appearance.  The story was built around the music of VICTOR HERBERT, EUBIE BLAKE, “FATS” WALLER, GEORGE GERSHWIN, RICHARD RODGERS, MICHEL LEGRAND and STEVIE WONDER.

 

On September 21, 2008 she produced SALON FUN: A MUSICAL GET-TOGETHER where she invited 15 musicians and singers to join her in the CEREMONIAL HALL at THE ETHICAL CULTURE SOCIETY to perform two selections of their own choosing.  CHAPMAN ROBERTS served as Master Of Ceremonies and also sang.  The Basic Trio consisted of FRANK OWENS, PIANO; LISLE ATKINSON, BASS; PAULA HAMPTON, DRUMS & VOCALS.  The other artists were HAROLD “STUMPY” CROMER, VOCALS & TAP; PATRICIA DE ARCY, VOCALS;  SHIRLEY STEWART FARMER, VOCALS; MIKE GREY, TROMBONE & VOCALS; LORRAINE LOFASO, VOCALS with LES KURTZ on Piano; DAKOTA MAC LEOD, VOCALS; RAY NACCARI, PIANO; CARLINE RAY, VOCALS; CAROL SUDHALTER, FLUTE & SAXES, with Scat singer ELENA CAMERÍN; DOTTI ANITA TAYLOR, VOCALS, FLUTE & PIANO; and GLENN TURNER, VOCALS.  The audience consisted of friends, many of whom were also performers and some of them joined in a Jam on Blues at the end of the day.  Most of those persons who were there considered it to have been an historical event.

 

In musical theater she has performed in the annual Twelfth Night musical shows for the ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK since 1973 and she was featured in RACCA’s presentation of GOD’S TROMBONES and other miscellaneous presentations.

 

In film she has appeared as an extra in several major films and television series and as various characters in independent films.

 

She has studied acting under DUANE JONES, LOUISE STUBBS, HARRY POE and TINA SATTIN.