One night at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz CA
Charenee Wade is an award-winning young American vocalist and educator currently making waves in both jazz and soul/R&B circles, has made herself the first woman to devote an entire album to the work of Gil Scott-Heron—and turned this tough call into a triumph of emotional empathy, intelligence and assured technique. Scott-Heron—one of popular music’s most brilliant and tragic performers—left behind an incredible legacy of music and social commentary, which is finding a new outlet in the capable hands of Wade.
Charenee Wade’s singing ability was impressive enough to place her as First Runner-Up for the Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition in 2010. An excellent composer/arranger as well as a vocalist, Wade is a Manhattan School of Music graduate who participated in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program. She was also selected for the Diane Reeves Young Artist Workshop. Active as an educator, she is an instructor at the Jazzmobile Workshop program and a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music. She is a popular performer at a number of New York City music venues: Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Smalls and the Zinc Bar.
A Brooklyn native, Charenee Wade remembers being inspired by jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan’s version of My Funny Valentine when she was twelve years old. Vaughan’s warm, soulful vocal style still influences her to this day, but it wasn’t until she was in her mid-teens that she decided to pursue a singing career. She attended the Manhattan School of Music and entered vocal legend Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program, an important stepping-stone in her development. In 2010, Wade gained attention as a contestant in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition, coming in second to her friend Cécile McLoran Salvant. Charenee’s album Love Walked In debuted to critical raves later that year. The New York Times has written of Charenee: “Ms. Wade is a jazz singer of commanding skill, an heir to the legacies of Betty Carter and Carmen McRae.”