Diane Hubka Biography

Maryland, USA. Hubka has recalled her family as being very musical, in particular her mother who sang with a folk music group. From an early age, Hubka considered being a singer and leaned towards rock but did nothing about this through high school and into college, although she did study piano and guitar privately. While attending Frostburg State University, she learned about jazz partly through her guitar teacher, Bill Bittner. She began singing with the Frostburg Jazz Quartet, a group formed by Bittner and fellow student, Mike Geller. As she began serious consideration of a career as a singer, Hubka paid particular attention to artists who worked locally, notably Shirley Horn and Ethel Ennis. After graduation, Hubka moved to Washington, DC, appearing at venues such as Blues Alley. In 1989, after winning a Jazz Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hubka relocated to New York City to study with Anne Marie Moss. Far from neglecting her original instrumental choices, she continued to study piano with Harold Danko and guitar with Gene Bertoncini and John Hart. Additionally, she attended workshops at Barry Harris’ Jazz Cultural Theater and at the Universal Jazz Coalition. Working with small groups and with big bands, she established a reputation and appeared at many prestigious venues including Birdland, Blue Note and The Jazz Gallery. She has also returned from time to time to her home state, appearing there as guest soloist with the Western Maryland and Potomac Highland Symphonies.

Hubka’s debut, Haven’t We Met?, which featured guest artist Lee Konitz, was nominated in 1999 by the Jazz Journalists Association for an award for Best Recording Debut Of The Year. Actually, a privately recorded and issued cassette had appeared some time earlier. Hubka’s acknowledged vocal mentors include Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae. Hubka has also cited several instrumentalists as significant mentors, notably Connie Crothers. Among other musicians with whom she has worked and recorded are Frank Kimbrough and Harvie Swartz while her many admirers include Bob Dorough, some of whose songs she includes in her eclectic repertoire which also includes vocal versions of songs by jazz artists such as Clare Fischer, Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans. In performance, Hubka displays a very pleasant voice and approaches ballads with relaxed charm. On her jazzier outings, she is somewhat busier but is always elegantly tuneful. Whatever the material, Hubka’s freshness engages the attention on new songs while breathing new life into old standards.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.