Fay Claassen was born in 1969 in Nijmegen The Netherlands. Before she devoted herself to singing, she followed courses at the academy of ballet. Subsequently she studied at the academy of acting after which she finally opted for singing. She completed her study at The Royal Conservatory in The Hague in Holland with remarkable distinctions for jazz-timing and vocal improvisation.
Fay Claassen graduated in 1997 from the Royal Consevatory of The Hague with two special endorsements for Jazz timing and Jazz improvisation. Some of her teachers were: Rita Reys, Deborah Brown, Frans Elsen, Racheal Gould, James McGray, Marjory Barnes and Judy Niemack.
After her conservatory period she appeared as vocalist in different groups and toured through different countries in Europe. Her first recording ‘Simply Be’ was released with a band together with the saxophone player Carolyn Breuer. She was guest in different groups ‘The Tony Overwater V-Group’, Loet van der Lee Group, ‘Big Moves’ and ‘The Amsterdam Jazz Quintet’. With this last formation she recorded on the album ‘Playground’.
Just after the release of the first album of her own she was asked to be part of a tour through Japan with ‘The Historical Dance Theatre’ in which she performed as a dancer and singer After her conservatory period she appeared as vocalist in different groups and toured through different countries in Europe. Her first recording ‘Simply Be’ was released with a band together with the saxophone player Carolyn Breuer. She was guest in different groups ‘The Tony Overwater V-Group’ and ‘The Amsterdam Jazz Quintet’. With this last formation she recorded the album ‘Playground’.
In 1999 Fay Claassen was chosen by ‘The Jazz Impuls Foundation’ as their first selected musician. This foundation supports and promotes jazz musicians deserving wider recognition and produced in that year with Fay Claassen her first own album (‘With a Song in my Heart’ CHR 70096). This album almost instantly nominated for an Edison-Award and was received with highly enthusiastic reviews. It was the first step to a real break-through.
In 2000: Fay featured on the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Hague) with the Tony Overwater group. She became a teacher at the Conservatory of Rotterdam (CodArt).
In 2001: her second album was recorded in New York (‘Rhythms and Rhymes’BMCD 380) with: Toots Thielemans (mouth hrp), Kenny Werner (piano) and Mike Stern (Guitar). A few months later she recorded ‘Specialy Arranged for Fay’ (BMCD 381) with the Millenium Jazz Orchestra, conducted by: Joan Reinders. Conductor and composer Joan Reinders is responsible for the beautiful work on this album. Fay taught at several workshops and Master Classes at Conservatories throughout the country. In 2001, as the only European vocalist, she was chosen and invited by the Selection Committee of The International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) to perform in Los Angeles in 2002. She appeared in several concerts in the ‘Music Village’ jazzclub in Brussels with the Ivan Paduart Trio.