Kendra Shank

Critically acclaimed Jazz Vocalist & Recording Artist, touring internationally.

About Me

Kendra Shank is considered "one of the most interesting, creative jazz singers of her generation" (All About Jazz) with a "delectable voice" (Time magazine) and "breathtakingly original concept" (Boston Globe). Her inventive phrasing, rich polychromatic tone, and spontaneous ensemble interplay make each performance an explosion of creativity that entrances and inspires audiences. Headlining at festivals, concerts, and clubs across the U.S. and internationally, Shank combines jazz originals, standards, world music, folk/pop songs, and open improvisation in an adventurous, genre-bending style that inspired Gary Giddins to call her "one of New York's most original performers" (Jazz Times). Kendra Shank's five critically acclaimed CDs have won numerous “Best of the Year” awards and DownBeat poll recognition. Afterglow (Mapleshade Records, 1994), was co-produced by jazz legend Shirley Horn, who also invited Shank to perform as her guest at the Village Vanguard in New York. Kendra’s second album, Wish (Jazz Focus Records, 1998), received a Time magazine rave, declaring: "Get in on the ground floor: this lady is going up." Reflections (Jazz Focus Records, 1998) debuted her current working band, an ensemble of New York all-stars with pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Tony Moreno, who are featured on her subsequent recordings. Shank’s ground-breaking A Spirit Free: Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge Records, 2007) pays tribute to that legendary vocalist’s importance as a songwriter. Her most recent release, Mosaic (Challenge Records, 2009), is credited to the “Kendra Shank Quartet” in recognition of the collaborative nature of her band who “have spent a decade tightening their exemplary unit, and the triumph of their solidity is evident throughout this stunningly inventive pastiche of covers and originals” (Jazz Times). A prominent figure on New York’s jazz scene, Shank has headlined at the city’s premier venues, including: Blue Note, Birdland, Jazz Standard, Iridium, The Kitano, and a 9-year residency at the historic 55 Bar. She has toured across the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Canada, with performances at JVC Jazz Festival, Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, Jazz Port Townsend Festival, Calgary Jazz Festival, Edmonton Jazz Festival, Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Jazz in Marciac Festival, and Jazz à Vienne Festival, among many others. She has been featured on National Public Radio’s JazzSet and Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, as well as Radio France’s Transcontinentales (with a college degree in French and Art, Kendra is bilingual and Paris was her second home for several years). Kendra Shank’s “unique and immediately identifiable sound and style” (LA Times) is partly due to her eclectic background: she has been a theatre actress, a visual artist, and began her music career as a singer-guitarist performing folk, country, bluegrass, and French chansons before her passion turned to jazz. Fueled by curiosity and the thrill of exploration, she approaches music as “sound painting,” using her voice to create colors, shapes, and textures, always pushing her art forward. She has performed and/or recorded with a host of renowned artists, including: Abbey Lincoln (as guest guitarist on Lincoln’s Over the Years CD), Bob Dorough, Jay Clayton, Fred Hersch, Geoffrey Keezer, Larry Willis, Victor Lewis, Matt Wilson, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Billy Drewes, Donny McCaslin, Ben Allison, Francois Moutin, Ben Monder, Peter Leitch, and Mark Lamb Dance. She has taught clinics at University of North Carolina, The New School, Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, McNally Smith College of Music, Seasons Performance Hall, and Jazz in Marciac Festival.

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