Downbeat Critics Poll "Rising Star", vocalist Tessa Souter's "crystalline contralto and impeccable phrasing are mighty arrows in her quiver, but it is her ability to become one with a song ... that enables her to score successive bull's eyes." (Jazz Times
“Striking, soulful, enchanting” (Washington Post), “expressive”
(New York Times), “stunningly original (Jazz Times), as a jazz vocalist with a
sumptuous sound and an unerring ear for fresh and unexpected material Tessa
Souter knows her way around the American Songbook’s backpages. But ever
since the release of her 2004 debut Listen Love, the Anglo-Trinidadian singer has
cast an increasingly wide net, often contributing original lyrics to jazz instrumental
standards. On her ravishing 2012 masterpiece Beyond the Blue (Motéma), she
even set lyrics to beloved themes from the European classical canon.
Her new album Picture in Black and White is her most personal and universal yet,
a riveting musical account of the journey launched by her discovery at 28 that her
father was black. It’s another revelatory step by an artist on a decidedly
unconventional path. Born and raised in London, she was making her way in San
Francisco in the early 1990s as a freelance journalist—Souter helped found the
storied Writer’s Grotto—when she became obsessed with jazz singing. She’s
thrived since moving to New York in 1997, collaborating with an impressive roster
Illustrious fans include acid jazz-vocalist Jon Lucien (“Magnificent! She blew me
away!”), jazz vocal legend, Mark Murphy (“Remarkable and very moving.”), and
NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan (” A beautiful voice and a beautiful soul. At the top
of my list of great talent. She really moves me.”) She has recorded four critically
acclaimed CDs including her self-produced Flamenco-tinged debut, Listen Love
(2004), Nights of Key Largo (Venus, 2008), which garnered her a prestigious
Swing Journal Gold Disc Award, Obsession (Motema, 2009), and her latest
album, Beyond the Blue (Motema-Venus, 2012), which featured her own lyrics to
jazz versions of classical gems was picked by the London Times as one of the Top
Ten Jazz CDs of 2013.
My Jazz Story
I love jazz because of its infinite variety.
I was first exposed to jazz at 16 (Cannonball Adderley's Something Else) by my roommate.
The best show I ever attended was Sarah Vaughan at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
The first jazz record I bought was Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter.
My advice to new listeners: focus your listening. You hear something different every time.