Who is Rachelle Ferrell, and what has she contributed to jazz music?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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An extremely talented and accomplished musician who can play both the violin (she began performing with this instrument at age 13) and piano, and whose voice is able to sing in what has been called "her whistle octave," Rachelle Ferrell has met success in various music genres--R&B, gospel, pop, classical--but it is as a jazz singer that Ferrell has found her niche.

Ferrell attended Berklee College of Music in Boston with such renowned musicians as Kevin Eubanks of Jay Leno fame, Bradford Marsalis of New Orleans fame, Donald Harrison, and Jeff Waites. After her graduation, she obtained a position with Dizzy Gillespie for the New Jersey State Jersey State Council on the arts.  Before becoming a solo artist, Rachelle Ferrell sang back-up from 1975-1990 for such music personalities as rocker George Duke, Vanessa Williams, Patti LaBelle, and Lou Rawls. 

Rachelle Ferrell released her debut album, First Instrument, in Japan only, and it was well-received. Later, the album came out in America. On her album Ferrell writes   

... when one performs four sets a night, six nights a week, that experience affords you the opportunity to present the song from the inside out, to express its essence. In this way, a singer expresses the song in the spirit in which it was written. The songwriter translates emotion into words... 

This, Ferrell contends, is the task of the musician: to turn emotion back into words.

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