Jazz Singer and Cabo Icon Kathy Daniels Passes Away

 Jazz Singer and Cabo Icon Kathy Daniels Passes Away

From left, Daline Jones, Marty and Kathy Daniels and Diego Ramirez. On April 30 Kathy and Marty were honored at Cabo’s International Jazz Day Festival for their jazz club, “Two For The Road.”

BY FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

On July 14, local jazz singer and Cabo San Lucas icon, Kathy Billie Daniels, shared words by an anonymous writer that say, “The older you get the closer eternity seems. You never know when the sand is going to run out of the hourglass. So, I just wanted to say, live good, be kind to others and love and appreciate your family, tomorrow is promised to no one.” 

At the time, Kathy and her husband, Marty, were going through health issues and were still mourning the passing of talented piano musician and very dear friend, Peter Bacon, who lost a heartbreaking battle with a rare type of cancer.

On May 30, Kathy announced, “Just to let everyone know, we are on the mend. Marty and I want to thank you for all your love and support. My issue was an anemia setback and Marty had ‘non-intrusive’ surgery on his head. We both need healing time but will be ‘back in the saddle again’.”

Then during the early morning hours of November 23, 2023, Kathie Billie Daniels passed away in her sleep. “My heart was broken in a thousand pieces,” said Mariana Estrada-Tallman, a longtime friend of Kathy and Marty who worked as their jazz club’s bartender a few years ago. She said on hearing the news that her adopted mother was gone to heaven, “Every moment with Kathy was unique and unforgettable.” 

“It was so hard to push back my tears and sing and celebrate Thanksgiving,” echoed local Cabo Wabo singer/performer, Angie Vertti. 

“The weight of regret of not having spent more time with her is overwhelming. But she always knew of my love for her. She’d check on me and encourage me and has been such a pillar in my life here in Cabo. She was a woman with a heart of gold and a sassy spirit. I learned so much from her and I will always cherish the memories of the fun times we had in their small Two for the Road Cabo Jazz Spot.”

“She was such a beautiful person and neighbor and friend for over 27 years. She will be missed by so many of us,” lamented Brian Solomon, owner of Solomon’s Landing Restaurant. 

It was in 1998 when Kathy and Marty sold their home and hair salon in Tiburon, CA. They packed up their two vehicles, and with their 14-year-old son Marco and their dog, headed down the Baja with hopes of finding a location on the Marina where they would start their lure-making and fishing charter business.

“Looking back, we were quite adventurous and a bit naive, but filled with courage,” said Kathy. After three weeks, the spirited couple met realtor Mike Hill (AKA Miguel Loco) who found them a perfect spot. After a short adjustment period, they purchased their charter boat ‘Montana de Baja’ and started booking fishing tours and selling their custom-made porcelain fishing lures.

From time to time, Kathy and Marty performed their live jazz, and Kathy worked periodically with Pie Lady Judy making wedding cakes. After 10 years in the fishing business, the fearless couple changed their business into a jazz nightclub.

The beginning of their journey starts in the mid-1960s when the Vietnam War interrupted Marty’s musical aspirations. He was sent overseas during his two-year military tour with the Navy. After he returned, Marty studied with the Berkeley School of Music paid for with his Military GI bill. 

In the 1970s, Marty spent a lot of time on the road with the Russell, Martin & Scott Trio, who were very popular from coast to coast. 

After his unforgettable evenings working at the Hollywood Hilton, Beverly Hills Hotel, The Mar Monte Hotel and Club Terrace Room in Santa Barbara, Marty returned home to San Francisco in the mid-70s and became a barber for the next 25 years, while performing from time to time. 

Marty and Kathy met at the hair salon where they both worked. Three years after Kathy left the salon, Marty got in touch with her and explained he had secretly recorded her singing and that it sounded pretty good, and they should do something with it. 

Kathy had spent most of her life as a hairstylist and always kept her singing skills on the back burner. When she hooked up with Marty, things started to change. With his support and encouragement, she began her musical career with their first group TLC –Tender Lovin’ Care. ”Mind you. This was in the late ’70s, years before the world-famous TLC musical group made their debut in 1991,” Kathy said jokingly. ”If only we had registered that name!”

With no formal training other than the coaching of Marty, Kathy began performing with him as a duo, trio and quartet at nightclubs, hotels, weddings, and private parties. They later also formed an 8-piece band called Billie Daniels & the Sound. The band consisted of a brass section that included a trumpet, trombone, and saxophone to go with their bass, drums, congas, piano and guitar. “The sound was phenomenal,” exclaimed Kathy. “We played in Lake Tahoe and Reno along with 5-star bay area hotels.”

Once in Cabo, the two began slowly working their way back into the world of jazz by performing periodically at different venues ranging from benefits like the Liga Mac Jazz Festival to The Rotary Club Casino night aboard the Cabo Rey booze cruise. They have also hit the stage at the Costa Real Hotel and various restaurants and clubs from time to time. 

“Our community will miss her talent, love of music and her always bubbly, ever-optimistic approach to life,” said Deborah, owner of Flip Flops Bar and longtime friend. ”She was always very sweet to me. I loved being in her presence. She was a very special woman,” said Lisa Monet of Guilford, Connecticut. 

There were literally dozens and dozens of comments made on social media within the first day after people learned of Kathy’s untimely passing that we were not able to reproduce them all here. Marty is very touched by the outpouring of love given by so many from places as far away as the US, Canada and Europe.

With Kathy gone, Cabo San Lucas has lost a truly incredible lady. Her beautiful energy and spirit were unique because of her friendly personality, genuine love, care, and affection for everyone she knew and welcomed into her heart, jazz club and home. May she rest in eternal peace.