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Maureen Budway won fans with her pitch-perfect jazz singing, but guitarist Joe Negri said her “enormous range of talent” was the heart of her work.
“She could do classical, jazz, American Songbook stuff, and she loved Brazilian, too,” Negri said.
Budway, 51, who also was an adjunct professor of voice at Duquesne University, died Monday night after a 20-year fight with breast cancer.
Mike Tomaro, head of jazz studies at Duquesne, said she will be difficult to replace because of her jazz and classical skills – and for her overall enthusiasm. She performed in November at a benefit concert for pancreatic cancer research even though her own cancer had begun to weaken her.
“Her spirit was right there,” said Tomaro, who had arranged the concert to fight the disease that took his wife, Nancy.
Patty Donohue, a colleague adjunct voice instructor at Duquesne, said Budway's teaching skills were strong in the way she “always taught her students how to breathe life in a song.”
Claudia Benack, associate professor at the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University, knew Budway and her work for about 25 years. She said “her voice was amazing and she could have had an operatic career. Everything she did was just so perfect, so right.”
Marty Ashby, executive producer at MCG Jazz at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side, said he saw a need to assemble an album of Maureen Budway's music when he saw the cancer taking her down.
“As I get older, I realize that tomorrow is too late, so we did (the album),” he said.
The album, “Sweet Candor,” will be released at the end of this month.
Donahue said it is important to preserve that voice because “just as you always can tell it is Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald singing, you can always tell it is Mo.”
“I think it shows all the greatness she represented,” he said. “She was not just a singer, she was a musician. The world needs to know about her.”
Her brother, pianist David Budway, who is forging a performance career in New York City, recalled how she had tried to take her message to the world between 2002 and 2005 when she moved there. She performed at various clubs in the busy and competitive New York scene and then decided to return to Pittsburgh.
“I look back and wish I could have done more,” Budway said. But musicians she met in those days there – such as vibist Joe Locke and flutist Hubert Laws – sent their sympathy to him Sunday, he said.
Budway said his sister first was inspired by the music of Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt, but became a jazz fan when she heard the voice of Ella Fitzgerald.
Her skill as a performer established her here in many directions. Besides performing jazz in many settings, she also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Westmoreland Symphony orchestras and the River City Brass.
Singer Tania Grubbs says she was respected for her “ability to interpret lyrics at the highest emotional levels” and for the “control and tone of her voice.”
“I will forever be grateful of every note she has ever shared with us,” she added.
Budway was the daughter of the late Leo and Rosemary (Rosebud) Budway of Point Breeze. She was the sister of David, Kathy and the late Marianne.
She attended St. Bede's School and Taylor Allderdice High School, at which time she also studied at Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts School. She received her bachelor's degree in music performance from Duquesne University and her master's in the same discipline at Carnegie Mellon University.
Visitation and burial details have not been announced.
It was with great sadness that we learned late yesterday of the passing of Maureen Budway. A true Pittsburgh Jazz Legend in her own right.
Those of us at MCG Jazz wanted you to have the details of Maureen Budway's funeral arrangements. The visitation is from 1:00-9:00pm on Thursday, Jan. 15, at McCabe Brothers Funeral Home. The funeral is Friday, Jan. 16, at 10:30am at St. Bede Catholic Church.
McCabe Brothers Funeral Home
6214 Walnut Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
St. Bede Church
509 South Dallas Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Hearts are breaking throughout Pittsburgh's music loving world...Maureen brought such light to our world.
Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall
My sincere condolences to the Budway family-my heart just dropped reading this. I truly enjoyed the gigs I had with Maureen in the late 80's and early 90's. She is a great total musician and beautiful person To this day I tell all vocalists about her extraordinary level of musicianship-what a range of styles and emotions. She is truly blessed and we were all blessed to have known her.
God rest her beautiful soul. She is a major loss to the music community.
Too young.... too beautiful.... sweet, funny, smart and just a wondrous musician. Her voice....her control, the Lord broke that mold when he made her.
BUDWAY MAUREEN L.
Renowned jazz vocalist, revered voice instructor and loving daughter and sister. On Monday, January 12, 2015, age 51, of Point Breeze. Beloved daughter of the late Leo J. and Rosemary G. Budway; sister of David and Kathleen Budway, Dawn Bartell, and the late Marianne Budway. Friends received at McCABE BROS., INC. FUNERAL HOME, 6214 Walnut Street, Shadyside, on Thursday, January 15, 2015, 1-9 p.m. A Memorial Service will be held at St. Bede Church on Friday, January 16, 2015, at 11 a.m. EVERYONE PLEASE MEET AT THE CHURCH. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to a future charitable fund to be established in Maureen's honor, c/o David Budway, 514 Hastings Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.
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Words can't really express the depth of sadness and loss that the Pittsburgh jazz community is feeling with the passing of a true, pure talent, Maureen Budway. Taken from us way too soon after she dealt so bravely with the cancer she had for so long. My sincere condolences to her brother, David Budway and her sisters. May you find comfort from her many friends, colleagues and fans who all adored her. She has left us with her beautiful legacy of wonderful tasty, swinging, right on the money, music. RIP Maureen.