Julie Lyon is a singer and president of Westbury Arts
1. What do you love most about living in Westbury?
My husband, Tom Cabrera, and I moved to Westbury in December of 2009. Tom grew up here but I spent most of my life in Central Florida so this was very new and different for me. What I liked most about Westbury when I first moved here is its friendliness and charm. People here are very welcoming. As I’ve grown to know Westbury more, I appreciate the diversity of the population, the strong leadership of the village and the generally warm and neighborly vibe.
2. You’re a president and founding member of Westbury Arts. What made you want to get involved with, and start this organization?
When we moved here, one of the first things I did was sign up for the village email newsletter so I could keep up with happenings in the village and start to meet people. When Tom and I heard about Westbury Arts (then known as The Greater Westbury Council for the Arts), I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to network with other artists (my husband and I are both musicians) and start to be part of the artistic “scene” in Westbury. As Westbury Arts grew and the organization started to become more than a concept, I was itching to do something. I wanted to be involved and to be “hands on,” so I asked to be on the board of directors. Tom and I are both founding members and have been with Westbury Arts from the first meeting. It has been a pleasure to watch the organization mature and grow.
3. What do you love about jazz music?
I love the improvisation and creativity. I love the way playing jazz is like an intimate conversation between musicians, back and forth, serious, playful, fun, interesting, inventive. I love discovering how a composition might evolve differently each time we play it.
4. Who are your favorite jazz musicians?
I was a blues and rock singer for most of my adult life until about 2004 when I decided I wanted to try to sing jazz. I turned to my mother, an avid jazz fan, for advice on who to listen to. She turned me on to Ella Fitzgerald, Terry and Don Lamond (who were close friends), Carmen McCrae and Sarah Vaughn, these were my early influences and the singers I learned the most from. My favorite musicians are the ones I play with; my husband, Tom, my dear friends Jack DeSalvo and Matt Lavelle; Larry Hutter and Scott Montgomery from my band in Florida and the musicians in other groups that I play with.
5. What’s your favorite place to have performed and why?
The Riverwalk Jazz Festival in Stuart, Florida. I can’t remember the year. It was a fantastic venue, the band was on a floating platform on the water facing the shore and that is probably the biggest audience I’ve ever played for. It was so exciting to play for so many people in such a cool venue.
6. Other than music, what are your other hobbies?
I really enjoy cooking for my friends and family. I enjoy learning about and tasting wine from around the world. Tom and I used to make wine when we had more time.
7. What are your favorite places to spend time in Westbury?
I love the Piazza Ernesto Strada. It is truly the heart of Westbury. I also spend a lot of time at the Westbury Community Center and the Recreation Center and feel fortunate to have these resources in our community. The Space at Westbury is magnificent and I like that I can walk to the corner of my street to see a show. I’m also a bit of a foodie so many of my favorite places in Westbury are restaurants.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff). I think there was a book by that name but I learned that first from my mother.
9. Who had the biggest influence on your life?
My mother. She has taught me so many things but most of all how to triumph in the face of adversity, how to get knocked down and get back up again, how to go with the flow and how to know when to change courses. More than anything though, my mom has taught me to never lose my sense of humor about anything. There is a curiosity in humor that makes it a necessary ingredient in every circumstance.
10. What is one cause you feel passionate about?
Westbury Arts and the arts in general and the power of artistic endeavors of all kinds to bring people together.
Know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Neighborhood Q&A? Let us know by emailing editor Betsy Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org.