It's a remarkable voice -- a soul-infused alto tinged with haunting echoes of the postwar jazz greats. For years its possessor, Robin McKelle, has inched closer to her inevitable destiny with the spotlight. Having shared stages with revered artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, Michael McDonald, Jon Secada and others, McKelle now assumes center stage with a debut solo album that exuberantly broadens the boundaries of retro-swing. Produced by trumpeter, arranger and clinician Willie Murillo (Brian Setzer Orchestra, Aimee Mann, LeAnn Rimes), Introducing Robin McKelle evokes the jazzy spirit of 1940's America, while retaining a contemporary edge that speaks of a new wartime. With its well-struck balance of potent swing and fearlessly sentimental balladry, the album heralds the arrival of a peerless interpretive artist.
Robin McKelle is one of few singers who straddle the line between classic rhythm and blues and traditional jazz with ease. Often compared to Ella Fitzgerald, Robin’s early influences came from Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Donny Hathaway and Nina Simone.
McKelle has performed with many artists from the worlds of jazz, rock and pop, including, Bobby McFerrin, Herbie Hancock, Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley, Gregory Porter, Michael McDonald, Lee Fields, Henry Butler, Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, BeBe Winans, and soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
McKelle began singing and around the age of 5 in church where her mother was choir director. With a natural ear and love of music she studied classical and jazz piano, french horn, music theater and opera. McKelle studied music formally at the University of Miami, and at Berklee College of Music where she returned as member of the faculty, teaching vocal performance in the early 2000s.
Among several honors, McKelle has received the Jazz Vocal award from the National Foundation for the Arts, a Cleo Laine Scholarship, and in 2011 was honored with the distinguished Berklee College Alumni Award.
Taking 3rd place in the Thelonious Monk Vocal Jazz Competition (2004) she established herself as a career leader. Since releasing her debut release in 2006, McKelle has consistently proved to her ever-expanding fan base over four more critically acclaimed releases that she’s 100% steeped in soul, jazz, blues and other ingredients that make her work so thrillingly authentic.
Her latest album Melodic Canvas just came out and is a contemporary blend of Jazz & Soul done in an acoustic setting