If Kavita Shah had stuck to her usual morning ritual, she would have missed the fateful subway ride that changed the course of her life. For some reason, instead of hustling down the stairs to catch the train to her job at Human Rights Watch in midtown Manhattan, she decided to wait for the next train. When it arrived, and the doors opened, she immediately recognized Sheila Jordan, the extraordinary jazz singer who has served as den mother to a diverse array of aspiring vocalists for more than four decades.
If Sheila Jordan made a deal with the devil, she seems to be getting the best of the bargain. At 84, jazz’s most intrepid vocalist sounds like a woman half her age. She’s come through just about everything that life can throw at you: grinding rural poverty, thuggish police who harassed her for hanging out with black men, decades of scuffling for gigs in obscurity, and her own alcohol-driven demons. Nothing deterred her, and today she stands virtually alone as a survivor of the bebop era who literally sings praises for her late friend Charlie Parker at every gig.
HAYWARD — Nine teenage boys and one teenage girl sat grouped around a set of desks arranged in a rectangle. Their eyes were focused on another boy standing in front of them, who was reading from his report on the effects of marijuana.
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