A dusky vocalist whose warm sound evokes the breezy sophistication of ‚50s West Coast jazz, Dee Bell first came to the public‘s attention with her 1982 debut, Let There Be Love, featuring legendary saxophonist Stan Getz. A regular presence in the Bay Area, Bell spent several years away from performing before returning to consistent work in the 2010s. In 2014, she debuted her ongoing collaboration with Brazilian pianist Marcos Silva on Silva Bell Elation.
Born in 1950 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bell was encouraged to play music from a young age, and started out on clarinet. She also sang, and from age ten onward performed in an a cappella trio. After high school she attended Indiana University, where she earned her bachelor of science in arts education. While there, she further honed her vocal skills studying with noted opera singer Eileen Farrell. Interested in nutrition, she initially pivoted away from the arts, instead founding the Earth Kitchen vegetarian restaurant in 1972. During this period, she lived in a two-room cabin on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest, where she often spent her off hours singing outdoors. In 1978, she moved to Northern California with hopes of pursuing her singing career. It was there, while waitressing at the Sausalito restaurant Trident on the San Francisco Bay, that she befriended jazz guitarist Eddie Duran and began sitting in with his trio. Around the same time, a chance encounter with Stan Getz at the famed Keystone Korner nightclub led to Bell recording her debut album, Let There Be Love. Released on Concord in 1982, the album showcased Bell alongside Getz and Duran. A second album, One by One, followed in 1984 and featured a guest appearance by trumpeter Tom Harrell.