Gage makes Cocoa Beach the place to be for jazz



Sybil Gage

Adam Palumbo

Cocoa Beach is the jazz capital of Brevard County thanks to Heidi’s Jazz Club and Sybil Gage.

If you love the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Pearl Bailey and Janis Joplin, then you’re going to love the music and singing of Gage.

Born in New Orleans, Gage is known locally as the Artist-in-Residence at Heidi’s Jazz Club. She has regularly performed at the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival and the Thin Man Watts Jazz Festival in DeLand. Some of her favorite shows include The Hub on Canal in New Smyrna Beach, the Cinematique Theatre in Daytona Beach, the Modernism Museum in Mount Dora and the Blue Bamboo Performing Arts Center in Orlando.

It was Gage’s performance at the recent Space Coast Arts Festival that caught the attention of Jill Blue, the CEO of the Bluewater Creative Group, the company that publishes Senior Life, Viera Voice and the Boomer Guide.

“Sybil’s always in the news and always performs locally,” she said. “She sings Broadway tunes like ‘Hello Dolly.’ Sybil’s fantastic.”

Gage graduated in 1976 from John F. Kennedy High School in New Orleans (now closed because of flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005). She then received her bachelor’s degree in film making from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1983.

Following graduation, Gage began her career in radio as an announcer and news director. She worked for several New York City radio stations, including WMJC, WBLI and WBAI.

Gage came to Florida in 2002 to care for her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. She later moved to Sebastian and lives there now with her husband, Bill. The couple have been married for 26 years and have a 34-year-old son who lives in New York.

Gage said she’s been singing since getting out of college and her upbringing in New Orleans had a tremendous influence on her.

“I love the vocalists,” she said. “I like to hear the words. The words make the song.”

Gage loves performing songs from the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s

“Rag Time, Dixieland, the music of Louie Armstrong, Jelly Roll, Fats Domino, Ella Fitzgerald, Betsy Smith, Billie Holiday. I love them all,” she said.

According to her website — sybilgage.com — Gage is spreading New Orleans music to the rest of the world. Nicknamed the “Little Dynamo,” Gage is slinky in sequins, funky in fishnets and has become the darling of the East Coast from New Orleans (Old U.S. Mint Theater) to New York City (Triad Theater at West 72nd Street and Broadway).

Gage and her Merry Band of Royal Catahoulas perform on a stage decorated with boas and hat boxes. She said they remind her of her days working in the Chris Owens Club on Bourbon Street as a costume valet.

Gage has produced four CDs. Her debut CD “Red” (2007) rose to critical acclaim.

“NOLA Calling” (2009) was nominated for “Best Self-Produced CD” by the International Blues Competition in Memphis.

“Request From the Bar” (2012), and “Sybil Gage from Studio A: WUCF” (2018) also proved to be popular.