Carla Cook

Carla Cook is a Grammy-nominated jazz singer. Cook, a native of Detroit, Michigan, discovered music at an early age. Cass Technical High School was where Cook studied voice and string bass, as well as piano and voice. She also sang in her church’s chorus. Cook was introduced to jazz by her elder brother. She chose to learn voice and became a disciple jazz legend Eddie Jefferson. This singing technique, which involves a singer singing lyrics to an instrumental solo, is called “vocalese”. She and Regina Carter, a close friend, began to dream of becoming jazz musicians. Cook was a singer and Carter was a violinist. She applied to Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts at Carter’s insistence and was accepted. She kept in touch with Carter, who was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music. While there she met Cyrus Chestnut (a jazz pianist at the nearby Berklee School of Music). Cook was a Boston native who aimed to pursue a career in New York jazz singing after she graduated from Northeastern in 1986. She moved to New York in February 1990 and worked as a teacher, book seller and singer during the day. She traveled for five years to Europe, where she was a guest vocalist and instructor of ensembles at Jazzschule Basel, Switzerland and Jazz and Rock Schule Freiburg, Germany. Two years later, she returned to New York and sang with Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra and George Gee’s Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra. She signed with MaxJazz in 1998, a new music label. Her first CD, “It’s all About Love”, was released to much acclaim. It also received a Grammy nomination for best jazz vocal. Her second CD, “Dem Bones”, was released in 2001. It is a tribute to the many trombone players she had worked with in the Lionel Hampton, George Gee, and other groups. Down Beat magazine gave it a glowing review. Her CD, ‘Simply Natural’ was released in 2002. It was inspired by her love of nature. Cook performs internationally with her own bands, including ‘the Carla Cook Quintet,’ as well as with guest soloists with artists like Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut, and Regina Carter, both of whom are young jazz stars. She has also been featured in the Sony Playstation game ‘Parappa the Rapper II,’ and says that it is a dream to perform with her favorite characters from Sesame Street. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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