Hilary Gardner

Singer | Writer | New Yorker

NYC-based singer (mostly jazz) and writer. Lover of words, food, and all things Italian.


"No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky." -E.B. White

I'm a singer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. I share my August 22 birthday with Dorothy Parker, John Lee Hooker, Claude Debussy, and Kristen Wiig. My first gigs were in Wasilla, Alaska, where I sang Patsy Cline tunes in dive bars. Classical voice study helped build my musical foundation, but equally formative was the time I spent singing along with records by Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Joni Mitchell, and Tom Waits, to name just a few.  
I was indeed willing to be lucky when I moved to New York in 2003, and New York has been very generous to me ever since. Among my more eclectic gigs are singing at Ralph Lauren’s 2019 fall launch at New York Fashion Week, guesting with Jeff Goldblum on the opening night of his run at Café Carlyle, making a cameo on a Moby record, and performing the national anthem at CitiField for the New York Mets (full disclosure: I'm a Yankees fan). In 2010, I appeared on Broadway as the female vocalist (and Frank Sinatra's duet partner) in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away. In 2017, I sang a tune (and wore a fabulous vintage dress) in Errol Morris's critically acclaimed Netflix documentary-drama, Wormwood.
In late 2013, Amy Cervini, Melissa Stylianou, and I joined forces and voices to become Duchess, a close-harmony trio inspired by the Boswell Sisters. Since then, we've released two critically acclaimed full-length albums and a holiday EP, and our much-anticipated live album is due out in 2020. We maintain a very busy (and very fun!) touring schedule, including performances at jazz festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Israel.

Duchess enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, performing the music of the Andrews Sisters for Taylor’s seminal piece, Company B. We also host a podcast, Harmony & Hijinks, in which we laugh, chat, and interview interesting people in and out of the music world.
My first two solo recordings were both inspired by life in New York City: The Great Citymy 2014 solo debut, celebrates the electricity, dynamism, and sense of possibility that permeate life in the Big Apple. The Late Set, my 2017 sophomore release, was born of performances at my favorite Greenwich Village haunt, Mezzrow, with pianist Ehud Asherie

My most recent album is a collaboration with drummer Charles Ruggiero. Joined by Jeremy Manasia and Neal Miner, both stalwarts of the NYC jazz scene, we perform jazz renditions of songs by the great synth-pop duo the bird and the bee.

When I'm not performing or rehearsing music, I can usually be found pottering in the kitchen or out and about in this city I love so much.



I believe...

...New York is the greatest city in the world. I agree with Cole Porter: "I like the city air, I like to drink of it. The more I know New York the more I think of it. I like the sight and the sound and even the stink of it. I happen to like New York."  

...I was Italian in a past life. I spent nearly a year in Italy when I was 17 and part of my heart still lives there. The only time I completely relax is when I’m living la dolce vita in la bella Italia.
…everyone should spend a year waiting tables. We’d all have better manners and more empathy.
…when doubt seeps in, the only answer is: do something creative. Immediately.
…winning is never final and losing is never fatal.
…in singing and in life, redemption is always just an inhale away.
…Oscar Wilde was right when he said, “Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing."

Photographer: Shervin Lainez

Stylist: Laura Mitchell