"Jus Cynthia" MEET Jus’ Cynthia, AKA Cynthia Strachan Saunders

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the middle child of three, born to Theodore ‘Lucky’ Strachan and Elouise Moss Strachan, in South Florida. I grew up in a small town called Carver Ranches. There was always music around, mainly from my family. Both grandmothers, Eula Moss and Ethelyn Bowles sang gospel songs beautifully, in and out of church. Uncle Elisha Moss is a self taught pianist and organist; he sang and played for our church, The House of God Miracle Revival Fellowship and the choir, where my sister, Veronica Strachan, was the lead singer and I was in the background, way in the background. Uncle Urban Moss played guitar; he introduced and bombarded me with the blues. I’ll never forget him singing while he played, “Stoop down baby and let your Daddy see,… You’ve got something down there worrying the hell out of me.”

I attended the all black schools, Carver Ranches Elem. and Lanier Junior High (Hallandale, FL). The new laws of integration sent me to MacArthur High (Hollywood, FL) temporarily, on a second shift schedule, while they finished building the school that I would graduate from. I was a member of the first graduating class of Miramar High School. This drastic change in my life presented an opportunity to come out of my quiet self at school and joined clubs, cheerleading, school chorus, singing groups and talent shows. After, high school, I received an AS Degree in Physical Therapy at Miami Dade Community College, Certificate & License in Massage Therapy, studied music education at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida, studied T.V. and Radio Broadcasting at Brown/ Bauder Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, FL., jewelry making classes in Manila, Philippines. St. Thomas, USVI was my home for seven wonderful years, where I started ‘Unforgettable Singing Telegram’, the first of its kind. I also performed extensively with some great local jazz musicians. When I moved back to my hometown, a book came to me and said, “Write me.” The result is the historical documentary titled, Promises from the Palmetto Bush, the Genesis of Carver Ranches, Florida.

When did you first know you wanted to be a Jazz singer/musician?

I knew I wanted to be a jazz singer after jazz came to me and said, “Sing me.” I lasted less than one year as a professional R&B singer with a traveling band call OCTOBER ROAD. I lost my voice (to nodules), then I lost my job as lead female singer. After receiving formal music training from Bethune-Cookman College, I returned home, to South Florida. One night I went to dinner at Hemmingway’s Restaurant, located in Hollywood, Florida. Seated at a shiny black grand piano was a Sammy Davis-looking-man, playing the best jazz, blues, and standards that spoke to my soul. It said, “Sing me.” During Ernie Goldsmith’s break, I asked if I could come up and sing a song with him. I sang You Are the Sunshine of My Life and have been singing this type of music every since.

What was the first tune/song you learned?


What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you on your musical journey?

I find amazement in just about everything that has happened to me. The first thing that comes to mind is hearing my original song, Love Glow, played on the radio for the first time, while standing in a long line at the post office in St. Thomas, USVI. I’m not ashamed to say I transformed into a loud, excited, animated fool.

Where have you performed?

Florida; SS Norway Cruise Ship; The Appollo in Harlem, New York; Shannon Castle, PA; US and British Virgin Islands; the Bahamas; North Hampton, England; Paris, France; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Moscow, Russia;

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Any venue that I get to share my music is my favorite. Presently, I’m in Cambodia. My next contract is in Bangkok, Thailand, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? And do you think these topics will change over time?

I am a songwriter. Some songs I create are for me and some are for shopping to other artists looking for songs to record. The creative flow goes in varied direction, thereby having varied theme. Some form of love is always in it. As long as I’m alive I will strive to grow, which will reflect in my music. I don’t force it but let it flow.

What is a typical day in the life of a musician/ singer?

As a singer my main concern is getting enough sleep.

Eating right and drinking enough water is very important to a healthy voice, which I have to constantly remind myself. I try to avoid Cigar/cigarette smoke, talking over or singing with loud music, alcoholic drinks (except red wine). If I’m gigging steady, I’m more disciplined at taking care of me, rehearsing, and learning new songs. If not gigging I’m busy with my other life as a servant to family, community and others.

Tell us about any new projects you have coming up.

While in Bangkok, Thailand the band and I recorded a live CD, which included two of my originals, Thailand Blues and Get Me a Beer and a Towel. There are seven other songs; Song for My Father, Summertime, My Romance, I Love You Porgy, If You Go Away, Wade In the water and Bye Bye Blackbird. This CD will accompany a booklet with some of the wonderful and unforgettable photographs, stories and experiences I had in Bangkok.

What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?

The jazz band, in St. Thomas, where I was scheduled to perform the last day of a festival in Monserrat, West Indies. I arrived by helicopter a week earlier to help promote our concert and visit the children at the local schools. Two days before my band was booked to arrive on island, they informed me they were not coming, due to fear. A volcano had erupted and destroyed part of the island and displaced most of the people. It was still active but quiet at the time. The government planned the Paradise Regain events to help bring tourism back and show the beautiful and safe side of the island. We knew this upfront and we all agreed. At the final hour they chickened out and left me to fin for myself. I had already been on the radio twice and there was a big article with photo of the band on the front page of their local newspaper, promoting the concert. A few days later, another article with photos appeared stating musicians scared and no-show. After pleading with the pianist, I dried my tears, went to the islands only karaoke bar, borrowed some music and performed by concert with the dependable band on the tracks. It went well; they gave me an open invitation to return.

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?

I was the opening act for Jon Lucien at the Book & Jazz Fest in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

What do you do to keep yourself sharp?

Keep singing whether I’m gigging or not.

What one thing would you like to learn this year?

I would like to learn the best way to shop my original music to other artist/producer/record company for recording purposes.

What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?

I like traveling, going to the beach, therapeutic pampering (massages, steam …), watching movies with buttered popcorn at the theater, relaxing in the hammock in my back yard, eating good food from good cooks.

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?