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In the '80s, vocalist Teri Wilson's feisty demos -- blends of new wave and funk -- were deemed "not mainstream enough" by Warner Bros., Arista, and Virgin Records. Some artists might have given up at that point. But not Wilson.

"They didn't feel that kind of anger coming from a female singer was attractive," she says, referring to her earlier material. "Meanwhile, Alanis Morissette is doing the same type of songs now as I was doing in the '80s!"

A bit disillusioned but far from quitting the game, the Fort Lauderdale chanteuse found a niche years later and realized where her fluid chops could be best utilized -- on jazz standards.

"I thought if I had to do cover material, why not jazz? They're the best songs, they're everlasting, and the mature crowd would appreciate it."

As an impressionable youth, Wilson listened to cabaret-style standouts like Phoebe Snow, Liza Minnelli, and Shirley Bassey. She also claims the classical, opera, R&B, and pop genres as influences on her throaty sound.

Wilson has since applied her flamboyant vocal treatment to jazz favorites like "Hello Bluebird" and "I Go to Rio" everywhere from West Palm Beach's annual SunFest to Fort Lauderdale's Riverwalk Blues Festival. She has also played smaller, more intimate venues. For instance, this Friday, she will perform at Borders in Plantation with keyboardist Brad Keller.

And if you think she either looks or sounds familiar, there's a reason. Wilson's resume identifies her as a former local radio talk-show host; she was featured on a Spanish Dogs CD; and she's done voice-overs for Le Kair commercials. As an actress she created and hosted a short-lived local TV show titled An Evening With Teri Wilson and made cameo appearances in the locally shot films Band of the Hand, Extra Large, and Too Much.

So what's next for this dream-chasing diva-by-night and insurance-specialist-by-day? A new CD, of course.

Wilson is currently compiling "pop and slightly funky" original material for a CD that will be released by her own record label, Ropes & Chains. Wilson says she started the label out of a desire to "feel and do whatever I want to do musically. It's very much representative of how I feel as an independent-thinking person and artist."

Oh, and one last thing. If this seasoned performer who doesn't know the word "quit" whips out a guitar or tickles the ivories at a show, don't be surprised. Wilson taught herself to play both instruments.

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Brian Hyman

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