(KUTV) Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin is a singer and actress.
She often channels jazz divas like Etta James and Billie Holiday in her concerts.
Jazz wasn't always Darby-Duffin's genre of choice.
"I wanted to be a belter, I wanted to be a Whitney, and that just wasn't in the cards. And then I found jazz," she said. "It was everything."
When she gets on stage, she puts everything out there.
"It's the most vulnerable you can be, but that's what I wanted," she said. "I wanted people to see how I felt, and hopefully it would do that same for them."
She also does what she can to connect to her audience, and she often goes into the crowd to talk to audience members.
In one of her recent concerts, a young girl attended who started sobbing as she met Darby-Duffin.
"She said, 'It was just so moving,' and my heart just exploded because that is exactly what it's supposed to be about,'" recalled Darby-Duffin.
Darby-Duffin received a lot of encouragement for her singing when she was young. She was asked to sing at family events and was encouraged to share her gifts.
"I just remember someone saying to me, it just doesn't do any good for you to try to be small. If you've got it, let everybody else share it with you,'" she said.
Darby-Duffin describes singing as her "first love," but she also loves acting.
She got into acting when she thought she was going to audition for a musical, but found out it was a play with no music.
"I thought, 'oh, I don't want to do this, so I'm going to leave,'" she recalled.
But a stage manager stopped her and told her the director wanted to see her.
"In that script is a part for a black maid. And I said, 'I bet he does,'" she laughed. "I said yes, and I'm glad I did."
Darby-Duffin loves mantras in her life and says her mantra for this year was "action cures fear."
"Dr. Maya Angelou said, 'If you believe the good, then you have to believe the bad. So I choose not to believe any of it,'" Darby-Duffin said. "I love that people support me and want to come hear me sing. But, really I do it first for me, because it makes me feel good. And if that makes you feel good, too, then I'm glad that you're along for the ride."
A song that Darby-Duffin often performs that is significant to her is "Strange Fruit," which was famously performed by Billie Holiday.
Darby-Duffin describes the song as a "protest song."
"Because she said, 'I'm going to sing this song no matter what,'" Darby-Duffin said.
When Holiday would perform it, she sometimes wouldn't get paid, or people would throw things at her. But she sang it anyway.
"I want to pay homage to her, because it's still very relevant." said Darby-Duffin.
For more about Darby-Duffin visit her website.