Brenda Earle Stokes

Brenda Earle Stokes, a rare jazz musician with an uncanny command of the piano and voice, is Brenda Earle Stokes. Stokes wanted to share her full talents in a more intimate setting, as a follow-up of her 2014 studio album Right About Now. Solo Sessions Volume 1 is her most recent album. She explores the rare format of solo voice/piano, and showcases her amazing fluidity as both a singer and pianist. Brenda recorded the entire album in a four-hour session in Sarnia (Ontario), Canada. She covers a broad range of material including jazz standards and original compositions as well as rarely-heard compositions by Dave Brubeck or Steve Swallow. The recording is completed with rich jazz arrangements of songs by k.d. Lang, Michael McDonald, and Huey Lewis show her full musical range. Brenda Earle Stokes, a multi-talented musician, is well-known for her work as a singer, pianist, and composer. She has been a side-person with John Riley and Dick Oatts, Joel Frahm and Roxy Coss. She was a resident at the Kennedy Center, Banff Center of Fine Arts, and a finalist in the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Pino Competition. She was also a winner in the IAJE Sister’s in Jazz contest, which recognized her as one the most prominent emerging jazz artists her generation. She has released six albums and has performed as a bandleader at festivals and clubs across the US, Canada and New Zealand. Brenda Earle Stokes has a musical curiosity that led to her professional work as a choral conductor and a classical vocalist, church organist. She also serves as an off Broadway music director, early child music teacher, cruise ship pianist bar entertainer, and choral conductor. These seemingly unrelated musical experiences have helped her develop versatility and fluency both as a pianist and singer. Jazz is my first love. However, I am passionate about music from all genres. Every musical experience has an impact on what I do in my performance life.” Brenda began her musical journey at age 4. Her parents started her classical piano lessons. At age 15, she heard Oscar Peterson’s music for the first time. This prompted her to immediately switch to jazz. Brenda moved to the Banff Center for the Arts for an extended month-long jazz residency. After studying jazz piano at York University, Toronto, Brenda switched to jazz. This was where she performed her first performance as a singer, which was a significant step for her as an artist. “I wanted to be taken seriously by jazz pianists and I didn’t want anything to stop me from doing that. It was liberating for me to stand up and sing at Banff my first time. After years of gigging in Toronto, Brenda decided she wanted adventure. She worked in a singalong piano club on cruise ships in the Caribbean. It was an intense learning experience for me to take requests six nights a week for many years. “I had to learn hundreds of songs and also learn how to engage an audience.” She then took the profits from the gig and moved to New York City to continue her studies and to immerse herself into the jazz scene. She eventually enrolled at Manhattan School of Music to complete her Master’s in jazz voice and piano. Joel Frahm was one of my first contacts in New York City. He was a great friend and inspiration. Brenda recorded Happening with Joel and his band. It documents her early life in New York as well as her new perspective on music composition. Songs For A New Day, her 2009 album, was a collection of original material that received international critical acclaim. Right About Now was Brenda’s studio album that featured original music. Brenda also collaborated with Matt Pierson in 2014. Right About Now was a huge project that really helped me get on the international stage. It’s a project that I am proud of.” Brenda is also a performer and composer. She is on the Fordham University faculty and runs a busy studio in New York City. Brenda is also a speaker, clinician, adjudicator, and guest clinician. She is a vocal coach and teacher, and works with professional and amateur singers in jazz, music theatre, and piano teaching. She has been a teacher for the Midori and Friends Foundation, created curricular for New York Pops Orchestra, and arranged music and taught the Brooklyn Youth Chorus to Grammy-winning. Many students have taken her online course Piano Skills for Singers. Brenda Earle Stokes has been active in outreach. She developed educational programming for the Midori and Friends Foundation and The New York Pops Kids in the Balcony programs. She also held a ten year residency at the Ronald McDonald House in NYC. Brenda is passionate about activism. She is a member the Women in Jazz Organization, which helps to empower and represent women in jazz. from

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