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Dee Daniels: Citizen of the World

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Dee Daniels makes an impact as a singer, whether accompanying herself at the piano, or fronting a big band, trio, or symphony. Her hypnotic tone, paired with her four-octave range, amazing improvisation capabilities, and emotional intensity, have been capturing attention all over the world for more than three decades.

The roots of her sound come from performing in her stepfather’s church choir in Oakland, California as both a pianist and vocalist. That sound was further developed during a five-year stay in the Netherlands and Belgium in the early 1980s, during the R&B era.

Those roots have made her an extremely versatile musician, and her many recordings reflect a broad range of styles, from gospel and R&B to symphonic pops concerts to blues-tinged jazz.  Her discography includes The Music Made Me Sing It (1990) and the bluesy Let’s Talk Business (1994) with Larry Fuller, Jeff Hamilton, and John and Jeff Clayton; The Sacred Music of Duke Ellington, with the Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra and the Oregon Repertory Singers (2006); and Jazzinit (2007), a handful of pop tunes given spectacular jazz updates.

Dee Daniels Live at Biblo, a concert DVD, showcases her in performance in a small-stage setting in Belgium, but also includes an interview segment that details some of her extraordinary musical encounters over the course of her career. Though she is not a household name, she has performed and recorded with many of the jazz greats, including Toots Thielemans, Clark Terry, Bill Mays, John Clayton, Monty Alexander, Lionel Hampton, Christian McBride, Mulgrew Miller, and Benny Golson. She has even shared the stage with the amazing Sarah Vaughan, one of her biggest influences. Houston Person calls her “the jazz world’s hidden treasure.”

Dee Daniels’ path has taken her from California to various parts of the United States, to extended stays in Europe, and a recent stint in Vancouver. She now calls New York City her home, but she continues to be connected to Canada’s west coast—she funds the Dee Daniels Jazz Vocal Scholarship at Capilano University in North Vancouver, and she has been honored with a plaque on Vancouver’s Granville Walk of Fame.

Dee’s international career includes performances and masterclasses in Australia, Hong Kong, several countries throughout Europe, North America, and eleven countries in Africa. Dee will be gracing us with her presence here in Winnipeg this April. She is offering a Masters of Jazz vocal masterclass at the University of Manitoba on April 20, and performing on Saturday and Sunday in the final concerts of the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances season.

The concert, “Great Ladies of Swing,” pays tribute to four of the greatest singers in jazz history: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Sarah Vaughan. There’s nobody better than Dee Daniels to share this amazing music—it’s a can’t-miss show for all Winnipeg jazz fans!

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