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Carmen McRae Diana Krall Shirley Horn

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Type: Vocal Jazz: Mainstream Jazz

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Whitney James

Whitney James

Whitney James has a voice that will move you.

You’ll hear a rich oaky warmth in her lower range, and a sweetness in her high range as she connects with a song. This is a deep connection -- Whitney is a highly emotional vocalist.

Emotional, yet precise. She is a consummate musician, drawing from a lifetime of training and exposure to the best in jazz. Her influences include legends like Shirley Horn, Miles Davis, Carmen McRae, Abbey Lincoln, Keith Jarrett, Rickie Lee Jones, Dianne Reeves, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, among others.

Performing began early. She studied theater, dance and music in the San Francisco Bay Area from the age of 5, formal vocal training began at age 10. As a young woman in Seattle, her more mature voice would be compared to Sarah Vaughn, one of her idols.

“Whitney James ain't your typically thin-voiced, self- obsessed pseudo-diva. She's got a spine-tingling presence…”
– Seattle Weekly

The vocals are striking, her deft touch to tempo is delightful......and then there is her phrasing. For Whitney, it is all in the phrasing, and the bending, turning of the notes. There is honesty in her voice and tone. You will hear her explore a lyric in unexpected ways. You can almost see her painting the words with her voice...

...as her vast vocal range renders endless places to explore.

To hear Whitney James sing is to hear the purest part of her. To witness a live performance is to float along the boundaries of modern jazz.

She makes bold musical choices, which were encouraged and expected in the first-rate training she received while earning her BA at Cornish College of the Arts. There she learned from the renowned jazz vocalist Jay Clayton, arranger and trumpet player Jim Knapp, trombone player Julian Priester and pianist/composer Randy Halberstadt. In other vocal studies on the West Coast, she gleaned the best from seasoned vocalists like Nancy King, Kevyn Lettau, Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Madeline Eastman and Kitty Margolis.

A musician might say that Whitney’s voice will remind you of a trumpet. An audience or a critic would say she gives one hell of a captivating show.

“…a respectful hush will spread as attentions and conversational topics turn toward the front of the room and Whitney James' to-die-for’ voice…”
– James Kirschmer, Seattle PI

It is an unforgettable voice embodied in a uniquely physical singer. She moves and glides like the pro that she is……scatting and swinging and using her body to help move her sound in surprising ways.

And yet the purity and originality of Whitney’s performance remain intact whether she is singing with a group, testing genres or stepping into the recording studio.

Independent projects have included her own trio, Vocal Flight (Downbeat Music award), which toured in France and played with the incomparable Betty Carter. She has also co-starred in a rock opera ensemble (The Diana Moves Sessions) and formed a neo-jazz soul band that toured the Northwest to rave reviews.

Her forthcoming self-titled Debut CD The Nature of Love (January 2010 release on Stir Stick Music) features timeless standards like the cut (Tenderly), How Deep is the Ocean, and The Very Thought Of You. A lesser known gem from the jazz vaults is The Peacocks (music by Jimmy Rowles, lyrics by Norma Winstone), an incredibly rangy song with a gorgeous lyric. The Song In April (music by Bill Evans, lyrics by Roger Shore) is an equally rare pleasure.

Accompanying Whitney on her Debut CD are Joshua Wolf on piano, Matt Chlosey on bass, Jon Wikan on drums, and the brilliant Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and flugelhorn. The phenomenal synergy between Jensen and James, horn and voice, will take your breath away.

Watch for the CD release across the US with early release parties in Seattle, St. Petersburg and the supporting gigs in New York and San Francisco.

“…top it all off with the household-name-caliber vocals of Whitney James.”
- Seattle Weekly

Yes, she has proven to be a visionary and unique vocalist, steeped in the deepest jazz traditions. There is much to behold in the performances and recordings and so much more to look forward to in her career --- the artistry, the rave reviews, and of course, that incredible voice.

Whitney James has a voice that will move you.