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“Jazzy Classics”-Miami vocalist Rochelle Lightfoot can serenade, scat and praise with ease

Rochelle Lightfoot says she’s been singing since she could barely walk — shocking her mother by belting out an Aretha Franklin classic, “Respect,” at the tender age of 18 months, in perfect pitch. Like many gifted singers before her, she began to sing in church, also picking up a few instruments including the viola and flute. As she entered her 20s, Lightfoot, 41, began to pursue her passion for music as a professional vocalist. But, as she says, she also had to worry about “paying the bills.” Ironically, her career got a big boost when she returned from lunch three years ago and was told that her position had been terminated. That’s when she knew it was time to go after her dream. She has proven that she can tackle several musical genres: jazz, gospel, praise and worship and R&B — even a bit of country when the mood is right. “When I first began singing professionally, I was still trying to find myself,” she said. “I also had to contend with recovering from the ‘death’ of a divorce, so my message was different. By the time I found myself unemployed, I had experienced and witnessed some things. I had been writing music too and the words came from a place of pure emotion — I wanted to help others move forward in their lives like I had.”