|Grammy-Nominated Vocalist Carla Cook
Carla Cook is daring. She is a jazz singer/songwriter who sings standards
beautifully -- but she doesn't stop there. Cook is willing to put a jazz
spin on songs not written by traditional jazz composers. Songs that, until
you hear her sing them, you'd never imagine could be interpreted as jazz.
This native Detroiter, who grew up in a musically rich and diverse environment,
brings all her influences to bear within her repertoire. In her songbook
you'll find elements of R&B, European classical, Motown, Blues and
Gospel. Cook has always eschewed labels, and refuses to become a jazz
purist or snob. That willingness to simply sing what she loves, bringing
an earthy sophistication to every song, is what gives Cook her signature
While some jazz vocalists limit their repertoire of popular music to
the swing of the 20's and 30's, Tin Pan Alley composers and the bebop
of the 40's, Cook goes beyond the American Jazz Standard Repertoire. She
reinterprets songs from the rock and R&B worlds - giving a jazz flavor
to such pop classics as Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair",
Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues", Bobbie Gentry's "Ode
to Billie Joe" and Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". She sings
great songs, period, be they the standards that are the foundation of
her recordings and live performances, her refreshing original compositions,
or a smattering of popular songs that were childhood favorites.
In her native Detroit, Cook started singing when she was a young child.
Growing up, the Midwesterner sang in the Methodist Church. The secular
music that she enjoyed ranged from R&B, rock, country and European
classical. Though jazz has always been Cook's primary focus, she has been
quoted as saying that her favorite artists range from Miles Davis to Chaka
Khan to Johann Sebastian Bach.
During her formative years, Cook studied privately voice, piano and string
bass, the latter of which she played in her high school orchestra. After
leaving the Motor City, Cook moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University
and earned a degree in Speech Communication. While in Boston, she formed
the first of several jazz ensembles and set about the business of her
trade. Then in 1990, she moved to New York, where she became active on
the Manhattan club scene but paid her bills with various "day gigs"
that concluded with her teaching social studies in a junior high school.
By the mid 90's, however, she was singing on a full-time basis and had
given up her day gigs. It was in 1998 that Cook signed with MAXJAZZ, a
small independent jazz label based in St. Louis that has a reputation
for being singer-friendly. In 1999, Cook recorded her debut album; It's
All About Love. The CD enjoyed favorable reviews and received a Grammy
nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category and was awarded
the AFIM Indie Award for Best Jazz Vocal in 2000. In 2000, Cook recorded
her second album, Dem Bones and in 2002, she recorded Simply Natural,
both for MAXJAZZ. Her albums continue to receive critical acclaim.