Sarah DeLeo is a contemporary jazz vocalist noted for ballads and music with a mellow "Peggy Lee vibe."
She has been cited in "The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide" by Scott Yanow, "The New Face of Jazz" by Cicily Janus, and the upcoming ninth edition of the "Penguin Guide to Jazz". In March 2010 Sarah was selected to compete in WNYC's Battle of the Boroughs: Manhattan Throwdown. In July 2010 she performed at the Iridium Jazz Club as part of the club's first annual Jazz Vocalist Festival.
Sarah DeLeo takes the best from the masters and combines it with her own signature style to produce a sound that is both timeless and fresh. One hears her singing and is swept away to another time, and yet her powerful presence as a musical storyteller is thoroughly in the here and now: No matter the song, she delivers each lyric in such a personal way that the listener feels as if they are hearing their own stories. Her tireless exploration of many different styles of music yields fascinating results when it comes to song choices and arrangements, and her inventive melodic improvisation makes every restatement of a tune's melody thoroughly engaging - nothing's ever the same twice.
Sarah DeLeo hails from Waterbury, Connecticut, a city The New York Times referred to as one of "tight-knit ethnic neighborhoods." She grew up listening to a wide range of music, from Motown to Elvis, and from Linda Ronstadt to Donna Summer, and this broad spectrum of influences has clearly found its way into DeLeo's rich musical palette. She began singing at age nine, and was singing standards before she even started high school. She began by studying all the great singers: "Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin - they had the greatest impact on me as a young singer," says Sarah. "I spent hours with their recordings listening and experimenting with my own voice. Eventually, I went beyond mimicking them to actually presenting my own style." She further studied the jazz idiom by listening exhaustively to the classics, taking in the recordings of legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Sarah Vaughan.
DeLeo attended Barnard College as an American Studies major, but always maintained her love for the music and continued performing whenever possible. While many of today's jazz musicians are products of the conservatory system, Sarah ended up getting her jazz schooling the old- fashioned way: in the clubs of New York. After college she began singing in jam sessions and in piano bars throughout Manhattan. Sarah explains: "I became a regular. I took advantage of any opportunity to listen, learn, and sing. Every time in front of the mic was practice, and I also found guidance from many of the musicians I met in the clubs."