Ken Leighton 3 p.m., July 26
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Influences: Sarah Vaughn, June Christy, Peggy Lee, and Brasil 66.
Catnip, a.k.a. Toni Valdez, is the lead vocalist and composer for the Manhattans. She started singing swing music with her band Catnip and the Hepcats performing at B.B. King's in Hollywood in 1999 at the height of the swing revival. Toni Valdez has also performed with the Dry Martini Orchestra, which includes members of the Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, and Brian Setzer Orchestras.
Toni is a seasoned jazz singer known for her torch songs with a voice that is a mixture of whiskey and honey. She has traveled to Japan with Le Jazz Hot and performed with them at the Derby in Hollywood. She also traveled around the U.S. with the Galaxy Band. She began to find therapy and peace in singing original songs about her life with Bordertown Blues in San Diego.
Toni began working as a print model at the age of 7. At the same age she studied guitar and started writing her first songs. Toni began her career as a ballerina in high school and made her transition into being a singer when she auditioned for her first musical theater production and decided to take singing lessons. She began to perform lead roles at Civic Light Opera Theatre productions in Los Angeles such as Velma in Chicago, Anita in West Side Story, and Electra in Gypsy and performed in other musicals including A Chorus Line, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, and Annie Get Your Gun.