From TikTok to a Twist on Jazz: Dara Starr Tucker Talks New Self-Titled Album

The singer-songwriter is putting a name to a face with her latest work.

You may know her from her educational commentary about racism, history and social issues on TikTok, or her satirical “Growing Up Pentecostal” videos, but let one thing be known: her versatile vibrato and loaded lyrics is really what puts her on the map.

Songwriter and singer Dara Starr Tucker is a rising star in the jazz scene, putting a twist on what we know of the genre with her unique airy, Broadway-like sound in her new self-titled album Dara Starr Tucker. The artist, with almost 1 million followers on TikTok alone, is using this eponymous album as leverage to ‘merge her identities’ as an outspoken content creator and jazz powerhouse, putting a name to her true passion that is songwriting and singing.

(Photo: Kira Goodkind)

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, her singer mother, with her preacher and music minister father, had 7 children who they also raised to be musically inclined, “kind of like the Von Trapp children,” she explained.

Despite her religious roots, Tucker says she’s always had very eclectic tastes. “Growing up, I would sneak and listen to [secular music]....And that's where I started to discover people like Karen Carpenter and The Four Freshmen and Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor.” With this she quickly found her niche, admiring the sincerity in gospel lyrics while taking after her mother’s admiration for the musical theater style.

However, Tucker talked about pushback she’s gotten in the past for her ‘unconventional’ jazz sound. “I've been derided a little bit within the jazz community. That [Broadway style] is not necessarily the influence that a lot of people want to hear,” she shares. “But I think there is a generation of singers that is popping up where we're just expressing all of who we are.”

The young singer later attended college and in 2003 moved to Switzerland, an experience that really jump started her career as a songwriter. She then moved to Nashville in 2004 for over a decade to pursue music, reaching great success by completing 2 studio albums.

Releasing other projects along the way, in 2020, she collaborated up with blues & Americana artist Keb Mo’ to co-write the title track to his Grammy-winning “Best Americana Album”, Oklahoma. “All songwriting should begin with the seed of the divine”, Tucker advises. “I feel like the songs that I've written that have connected the best with audiences have begun from that place.”

During that time, she also began making TikToks about the current political state, police brutality, and the pandemic.

Although Tucker thoroughly enjoys being an educator and having an audience behind her, this self-titled album is meant to put a name to the face many know her for. “That’s the downside, is that I didn't really blow up online for music,” she says, expressing the difficulty of gaining Internet traction. “[My music] is very much something that I'm having to introduce people to; I’m like, ‘Hey, [singing/songwriting] is kind of my main thing!’ ”

The majority self-written album, released on June 3rd, sends a message of healing, restoration, and recovery, emphasizing the progression of time in our post-pandemic world.

Songs such as “Scars” work to verbalize how far we’ve all come, that “scars can be deceiving” as she lyricized, because they are there to show us proof that we’ve surpassed hardship. “I thought it would be really cool to write a song about the existence of scars, because we all have them and we grapple with them in different ways,” she details.

(Photo: Kira Goodkind)

Along with some of “the greats” in music, surprisingly, Tucker pulled a lot of inspiration for this album from Gen Z. “There came a point in my life where I had to learn how to shout,” she said metaphorically about finding her voice in life. “But when millennials and Gen Z came along, you all taught us how to speak out.”

She has already made stops in Tulsa and Nashville since her album release, but will be doing a Philadelphia show on June 25th, and a New York show on September 11th.

This album holds immense value to Tucker, showing her extraordinary talent as a songwriter and singer, combined with the other content she’s accredited for. “Well, it's a circuitous path,” said the star when describing her journey to a music career. “But I think all roads lead you to where you're supposed to be.”

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