Some children fear the shadow of a parent's success, but Salt Lake City jazz singer Conn Curran embraces and draws inspiration from his father's accomplishments.
Orem High graduate and Utah Valley University alum Curran, 29, is the son of Doug Curran, a member of the legendary vocal group The Lettermen, who were pop stars in the 1960s and 1970s.
"He has helped me to be a better person [and] how to be a gentleman just by watching the way he is with my mom, and how to treat others with respect and kindness," Conn Curran says.
In fact, the young jazz singer is still learning from his father. "Since I was a kid, he has picked up his guitar at most family gatherings, and him and my mom would get us all singing together. He has really helped me with my voice techniques, and with his experience singing for … The Lettermen he has always kept me from getting a big head he is the most humble person I know. He taught me how to play some Brazilian guitar styles, [as well as] a bit of Portuguese. Actually, we sat down just last night and played and sang together, just me and him."
Curran will take advantage of all those lessons as he performs on Saturday, backed by the Rob Bennion Jazz Band, at the three-day grand opening of Lehi's Outlets at Traverse Mountain.
Curran answered questions from The Tribune about jazz, his inspirations and the undead.
What attracts you to jazz?
I love a lot of genres of music, but jazz has so many things that attract me to it. I grew up listening to Brazilian bossa nova with my dad, and I fell in love with it. Then I started singing along to Harry Connick Jr. and also Nat King Cole from an early time in my life. Jazz puts me in a good mood.
What do you plan on performing at the grand opening of the new outlets?
Even though it's only November, we want to perform a lot of Christmas songs. Rob Bennion has arranged a lot of great classic Christmas hits into his jazz style (which will be on our Christmas CD for purchase at the event). We will also sing a few covers such as "Black Hole Sun" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in a jazz format, just to throw everyone off in a fun way.
Why do you sing jazz standards and songs by grunge bands?
I love the old jazz standards. There is a reason those songs are still around [because] they are musical gold. I feel very lucky to be able to sing songs that are timeless. As to singing standards like "Black Hole Sun" from Soundgarden, it is so much fun to see a reaction from an audience member when they realize that I am singing a song like that with [the] voice I have. It's just fun to bring people back to songs that were popular in their era. It brings them right back to that period in their lives.
What inspires you?
Plenty of things inspire me. As for writing, I am inspired by love. As to everyday living and breathing, I am inspired by my late sixth-grade teacher Mr. Victory Ormsby, who showed me that I could do anything, and do it well. As to music, I am inspired by many artists and genres, but especially I get inspired every time I listen to a group called New York Voices.
If a person dies and then springs back to life, do they get their money back for the coffin?
Ummm … yes? I sure would hope there is a return policy.
Describe a perfect day.
I feel like I have a perfect day a few times per month. Being the youngest of eight kids, most are married besides myself, and most have kids, so there's a lot of us. Every month we have at least one birthday to celebrate. We all meet up at my parents' house in Orem and have dinner together. We are all loud, we all love to sing and we all love to laugh, especially when my oldest brother, Quinn, is present. I get to hang out and enjoy the company of my nieces and nephews, most of my siblings and my parents. That is my kind of perfect day.
What do you think of being a musician in Utah?
It is intimidating to see how many talented musicians there are here. I think it is a little different in each genre, but jazz hasn't been the most sought-after or popular music here. I would love to help make it more popular. I have had a lot of support since growing up here, and I love being a musician here.
Conn Curran with Rob Bennion Jazz Band
When • Saturday, Nov. 14, 4:30 p.m.
Where • Outlets at Traverse Mountain, 3700 N. Cabela's Blvd., Lehi
Admission • Free