LeiLani Vidal began classical piano lessons at age seven, the same year she underwent successful open-heat surgery for a rare congenital condition. Soon after the delicate surgery, LeiLani’s parents, Cam and Dolly Vidal, both professional musicians, decided that the flute would provide excellent therapy during her long recovery. Playing the flute proved to be very helpful not only in strengthening her heart muscles and lungs, but helped instill a passion for music and determination to succeed that has lasted a lifetime. LeiLani’s heart and heart for music are as strong as ever.
By age eleven LeiLani was playing her flute on stage with Cam Vidal and the Blue Notes, her father’s popular pop, jazz and swing band, and quickly became a genuine crowd pleaser. Recognizing a good thing when he saw it, her father added alto sax, tenor sax and electric guitar to his list of demands on the young artist. From age eleven to twenty LeiLani performed with mom (vocals), father (trumpet & keyboards) and sisters Camella (drums) and Kim (bass guitar) at hundreds of gigs all over Southern California, sometimes doing four weddings, parties, special occasions and military events each weekend. They were a working band!
While the band played jazz, swing, R&B and pop music of the day, LeiLani’s true inspiration came mostly from the jazz era and, like her father Cam, she gravitated towards the great standards whenever the opportunity arose. Today, while LeiLani can hold her own at a blues jam, solo in a quartet, and is highly valued for her exceptional sight-reading skills with the big bands, her heart remains in the world of jazz.
At twenty-one, LeiLani left her father’s band and home (and steady income) to begin her education at Southern California College of Chiropractic in Los Angeles, CA. Completely on her own for the first time, and needing to make tuition and rent payments, LeiLani turned to what she knew and loved best – playing on stage. Along with the demands of classes and study, she survived by playing lead sax in an all-female house band in nearby Long Beach.
LeiLani’s diligence and determination to complete what she started earned her a Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and finally, her Doctorate in Chiropractic. After the long struggle of putting herself through school, she returned to San Diego and opened up her own private practice. That was 20 years ago. Now LeiLani (Doc) is raising three beautiful young musicians of her own. Gino (12) plays trumpet and bass, Dominic (14) plays sax, bass and drums, and daughter Alexa (17) is first chair piano in her high school senior jazz band. Without a doubt, LeiLani has not only encouraged her children and given them the opportunity to explore their musical talents, but also provided a great example of what it takes to accomplish things in life. Most of all, she shared her love and passed on a heart for music.
After purchasing a Dakota tenor saxophone from brother-in-law and fellow Dakota artist Richard Elliot, LeiLani was instantly inspired and became determined to take her saxophone playing to another level. She joined a quartet, formed a quartet of her own, played with a number of San Diego’s premier big bands and popular house bands, and lately joined The Fabulous Mar Dels, one of San Diego best-known and long standing commercial bands.
LeiLani recently performed on Smooth Jazz guitarist Will Sumner’s CD and you can look forward to her acting debut in the upcoming documentary film “The Boys of Immigrants” in which she portrays a saxophone-wailing street performer. Currently, LeiLani is working on her first album due to be released in January 2013. We know that whatever we find LeiLani doing, she’ll be putting her heart into it.
Leilani exclusively plays and endorses Dakota Saxophone models: SDSS-XG 707 SOPRANO and SDT-XG 606 TENOR at all venues and live performances.