Home » Jazz Musicians » Janinah Burnett

Janinah Burnett

Raised in jazz music, Janinah Burnett is the daughter of legendary jazz drummer Carl Burnett and writer/educator/artist Imani Constance. As a child, Janinah was surrounded by Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris, Nancy Wilson, George Cables, Billy Higgins, and many others who inspired her early musical beginnings. This innovative and exceptionally artistic beginning led to a myriad of musical activities throughout Janinah’s formative years. While in school at the Hamilton Music Academy in Los Angeles, Janinah won the solo vocal jazz competition at Cal State Fullerton, propelling her desire to serve her artistic muse and study vocal jazz music at Spelman College. Never wishing to be limited to any one genre, Janinah was clear she wanted to be able to use her voice to sing all styles. During her time at Spelman, Janinah continued her jazz studies and was a member of the Spelman College Jazz Ensemble. Janinah participated in a host of private events and engagements including singing for Margaret Thatcher, several performances with the Atlanta Symphony, singing with the great Ray Charles, and at a private birthday party celebration for Oprah Winfrey at the home of Maya Angelou. However, she was intrigued and inspired by her classmates who excelled in classical music styles, most specifically Art Song, Sprituals, and Opera. Her classmates’ excellence, inspiration from role models of color who excelled in the field of classical music, and many singing and performance opportunities allowed Janinah to get well acquainted with varying classical music styles. This encouraged Janinah to take the path toward Art Song and Opera. Janinah continued her music studies at the Eastman School of Music where she received a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance and Literature. Janinah’s experiences and opportunities while at Eastman were riveting. While there, she studied with accomplished musicians who guided and instructed her immensely. Each summer while at Eastman, Janinah studied Italian at the Centro Studi Di Italiani in Urbania as a participant in the Oberlin in Italy program. In the program she not only learned Italian but had many study and performance opportunities in opera. Her second year in Urbania, Janinah learned and performed the role of Violetta in La Traviata with orchestra in two large opera houses. Another major role Janinah learned and performed at Eastman was the role of Mim  in La Boh me. Directly following those performances and upon graduation from Eastman, Janinah joined the cast of Baz Lurhmann’s La Boh me on Broadway as Mim  and thrilled audiences.

Read more


Dianne Reeves
voice / vocals
Betty Carter
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Phoebe Snow
voice / vocals

Album Discography

What Is This Thing Called Love / Habanera

From: Love The Color of Your Butterfly
By Janinah Burnett

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.