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Wesla Whitfield

Wesla Whitfield is a remarkable singer, with a deep love for that rich storehouse of musical treasures often identified as The Great American Popular Songbook.

Wesla has been developing her skills and learning her demanding craft for a number of years - by her own estimate, it's been ever since she "knew at age two-and-a-half that I would grow up to be a singer."

A picture of Wesla at a Piano Her sound and approach would seem to place her somewhere in the intriguing area that borders on both jazz and that aspect of pop music which draws its material largely from the great standards and neglected gems of such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hart.

Wesla Whitfield was born in Santa Maria, California. The youngest of three girls, she experienced routine childhood music training (piano lessons at age 7, sang in church, studied voice - "classical, of course" - at about age 14). She did discover her mother's extensive sheet music collection at an early age, "and used it to sight-read." Serious radio and record listening provided some important influences including Rosemary Clooney, the Hi-Los, Peggy Lee, Frankie Laine and Dean Martin.

Among her earliest professional experiences was a mid-70s stint with the San Francisco Opera as a salaried chorister.

Wesla, with her husband/pianist/arranger, Mike Greensill performs annually throughout the country in concert halls and fine show rooms. Together Mike and Wesla have opened at Michigan's Meadowbrook, New Jersey's Garden State Art Center and Flint Center in Cupertino for such notables as George Burns, Michael Feinstein and Frankie Laine.

Solo symphonic appearances include two concerts with the San Francisco Symphony as well as San Jose, Sacramento, Omaha, Stockton, Napa, Auburn, Concord Pavilion, Santa Rosa, Peninsula and California Symphonies.

Wesla has appeared twice on Garrison Keillor's national show, "Prairie Home Companion", singing with the legendary trumpeter, the late Joe Wilder, on 'Weekend Edition' with Susan Stamberg, 'On Fresh Air' with Terry Gross, on All Things Considered' with Robert Siegel, and the highly revered Marian McPartland PBS 'Piano Jazz' series.

In TV venues, the pair have been featured numerous times on the Charles Grodin show, performed on the Regis and Kelly show, and were the subject of a feature story on America's favorite TV show, 'CBS Sunday Morning' with Charles Osgood. In summer of '95 Wesla and Michael appeared as part of the JVC Jazz Festival at Avery Fisher Hall in New York and also made their Carnegie Hall debut that same summer. Since, they've been invited to return to both venues on numerous occasions. In June of '96 they were invited by Hillary Clinton to perform at the White House.

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Album Review

Wesla Whitfield: Let's Get Lost: The Songs of Jimmy McHugh

Read "Let's Get Lost: The Songs of Jimmy McHugh" reviewed by Mathew Bahl

Although not in the same class as innovators like Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter or Harold Arlen, the composer Jimmy McHugh (1894-1969) achieved, by any standard, the songwriting trifecta. His songs were of exceeding musical merit, they enjoyed huge commercial success, and they have endured the test of time. In his seminal book, American Popular Song, Alec Wilder observed that Mr. McHugh “wrote a great many songs, among them some of the best pop songs ever written.” ...

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Wesla Whitfield, RIP

Wesla Whitfield, RIP

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Wesla Whitfield, a singer of uncommon talent, taste, musicianship and courage, died yesterday in St. Helena, California. Her husband and accompanist of more than three decades, the pianist Mike Greensill, announced her passing. She had been under treatment for bladder cancer and was recently in hospice care but died at home. She was 70. I once wrote, “Whitfield is often billed as a cabaret singer…but with her time sense, phrasing and inflection, the fuzzy border between cabaret and jazz disappears." ...


Music Industry

Jazz and cabaret singer Wesla Whitfield named SF State Alumna of Year

Jazz and cabaret singer Wesla Whitfield named SF State Alumna of Year

Source: All About Jazz

SAN FRANCISCO, May 3, 2001 -- Renowned jazz and cabaret singer Wesla Whitfield has been named San Francisco State University's Alumna of the Year for 2001 by the San Francisco State University Alumni Association. Whitfield, who earned a bachelor of arts in music from SFSU in 1972, will receive her award at the University's 100th annual Commencement exercises Saturday, May 26, at 12:30 p.m. in Cox Stadium on the SFSU campus. She will also sing the national anthem a capella ...




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