In a world of cookie-cutter crooners and by the numbers, scat-happy jazz
singers, Marlena Shaw is a true original and one of the most charismatic and
versatile vocalists in the business. Shaw's scintillating performances blur
the lines which separate jazz, soul, rock, pop and R&B. She has been rewarded
for her diversity with scores of enthusiastic admirers.
Marlena Shaw was born in Valhalla, New York in the mid 1940's. At the age of ten she appeared at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater. Despite the enthusiastic reception she received, her mother refused to allow her to go on the road with her uncle, trumpeter Jimmy Burgess. For a spell she kept close to home in New Rochelle but by the mid 1960's Marlena was wowing audiences in the Catskills, Playboy clubs and various other East Coast venues. Shortly thereafter, Marlena Shaw recorded her hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" on Cadet Records and attracted attention of the legendary Count Basie. Shaw sang with the Basie band for over four years.
In 1972 Marlena struck out on her own, becoming the first female vocalist ever signed by Blue Note. It was during this period she toured with Sammy Davis Jr. During both the Basie and Sammy Davis Jr. periods Marlena gained immeasurable experience and insight.
Regardless of the material performed Marlena Shaw has never strayed far from her jazz roots. Wherever Shaw has gone she has taken her unique highly electric style with her.
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