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  • Marlena Shaw (2013)

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    Show-stopping singer Marlena Shaw was born in New Rochelle, NY. It was via a trumpet-playing uncle that she was introduced to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Al Hibbler, and to Gospel music. In 1952, that same uncle brought ten-year-old Marlena on to the stage at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, although unlike Ella Fitzgerald—whom Marlena would later come to know—she didn’t win the talent contest.

    Marlena went to college in New York City to study music, but dropped out to get married. Although five children followed over the years, she never gave up singing: on the contrary, as her children grew older, she started singing in jazz clubs whenever she could.

    Her career really took off when she landed a gig with the Playboy Club in Chicago. It was there that she met a representative for Chess Records who signed her in 1966: two albums were released on the companion Cadet label. She moved to Blue Note records in 1972 (which is significant given that so few vocalists have recorded for that label), and also has recordings on Verve and Concord.

    There's a two-page list of contemporary musicians who have sampled Marlena on their recordings. It's impossible to put a label on her: she's been called "peerless", "fearless", "radiant", and "commanding".

    Marlena is a natural storyteller with no pretence, and audiences adore her and her voice, one that warms you, whether she's singing pop, jazz, R&B, or soul.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie The Gifted Ones Ow! Pablo
    # 2 Stanley Turrentine Don't Mess with Mr T Don't Mess with Mr T CTI
    # 3 Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown April in Paris EmArcy
    # 4 Joe Williams Feel the Spirit Feel the Spirit Telarc
    # 5 Sister Rosetta Tharpe Sister Rosetta Up Above My Head Rosetta Records
    # 6 Marlena Shaw The Spice of Life I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free Cadet
    # 7 Milt Jackson and Ray Brown Montreux '77 Beautiful Friendship Pablo
    # 8 Bobby Caldwell Come Rain or Come Shine Day In, Day Out Sin-Drome Records
    Book  "My Bible", and mystery stories
    Luxury Item Hog maw 
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