Belfast Telegraph

Sublime Dianne Reeves set to show us it's a beautiful life

By Grania McFadden

Listening to Dianne Reeves sing is like sinking into a bath of hot chocolate. Her sultry, sexy voice has won her four Grammy awards, and she sings songs by Bob Marley as easily as those by Marvin Gaye.

She's considered one of the greatest jazz singers in the game today - and yet she refuses to put a label on herself. "I never view myself as just a jazz singer," she said. "I don't look at music in genres, because when I grew up artists shared with each other. You would hear rock musicians playing with jazz musicians - it was without boundaries or borders; music was just music."

Dianne (below) was born in Detroit in Michigan with music in her veins. Her father, who died when she was just two, was also a singer, while her mother played trumpet. The family moved to Denver, where the young Dianne learned the piano and sang along to her favourite Sarah Vaughan records.

"I listened to them over and over and over again," she said. "They changed my life."

She studied classical music alongside jazz and there was a time when she might have become a professional player, but jazz became the stronger draw. And while she's a torch-bearer for Vaughan, she's also been influenced by the music of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Dianne was discovered by trumpeter Clark Terry while performing with her high school jazz band in Colorado and later moved to California to become a full-time singer. She came to the attention of Harry Belafonte and travelled with him on tour, honing her craft.

It was the start of something special. She made her first Blue Note album in 1987 with a roll of several successful albums, and an appearance as a jazz singer in the George Clooney film Good Night, And Good Luck.

She'll be showing off that sublime, soulful voice at the Elmwood Hall this evening, when she showcases her most recent album Beautiful Life - a mix of R&B, Latin and pop merged with jazz which is already destined to become a classic. It's a blend of new and old songs as well as cover versions of songs by Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, and her beloved Marvin Gaye.

It's Dianne's first album for five years, but she has no regrets about taking a break from the studio: "You need to live some life to inform what it is you do," she said. "Jazz is my passport into all sorts of things.

"As I grow older I become more refined. I've come to understand that my voice is not just the instrument that you hear, but it's my soul.

"Anytime I do a record, I'm baring my soul and I give 100% of who I am."

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