I had a huge voice when I was just eight years old, says Mary Stallings about her beginnings as a singer. It was a voice too big to ignore - spanning almost four octaves. Few could. By the time she was 11, she had made her first solo recording and while still in high school she joined Louis Jordan's Tympani Five. She came of age in the big band era, and was invited to tour as vocalist with most of the major names of the time. It was the best musical education I could have had, explains Mary, I was fired from lessons for playing everything from memory. Instead, her education came a bit more unconventionally, including stints with the Grover Mitchell - Earl Father Hines band, three years touring the U.S. and Europe with Count Basie, and sharing the bill with Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. I met all the heroes of the music and then got a chance to work with them, she says.
Although Mary took time off from touring and recording during the '70's, she never stopped singing. So when she re-emerged back onto the jazz scene reinvigorated, with a sound that gave homage to her past but held a freshness and vigor, she immediately caught the attention of the music press, who called her stunning and a jazz vocal sensation. During this period, she released several critically acclaimed CDs, one which made many of the year-end best-of lists, another that went to the top 10 on the Gavin Jazz Chart
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“Perhaps the best jazz singer alive today is a woman almost everybody seems to have missed. Her name is Mary Stallings. New York Times
“Stallings’ voice is supple and timeless... encompassing the whole history of music. San Francisco Chronicle
“Stallings sounds like Carmen McRae with some Dinah Washington sass thrown in. Stallings doesn't flit around or complicate her singing with oblique swirls and curlicues like many younger jazz singers. She stays closer to the blues, laying down the ballad ‘Sunday Kind of Love’ with fine, feminine ardor.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“The vocalist, who got her start with the bands of Cal Tjader, Billy Eckstine and Dizzy Gillespie, wraps her slightly gospel-inflected pipes around a set of jazz standards and obscurities with true elegance