Maybe it was the audible, irrepressible joy, the mischief, or the heartfelt delivery in every song he sang; qualities that obliterated any pain or doubt, drew me out of my shyness long enough to memorize Man Piaba / Woman Piaba, or Cocoanut Woman. By listening carefully, I could see in my mind’s eye the full detail of whichever character he happened to be singing about.

Was it the percussion alone? Or the playful vocabulary of calypso as a whole? Was it simply the FUN in singing along with “Matilda”, “Scratch Me Back” or “Jump In the Line”? Whatever the ingredients, I have memorized the lyrics, savored the music and danced to it my entire life.

Why am I having such a difficult time expressing what Belafonte’s music means to me? Perhaps because it touches something so fundamental and personal that words simply dissipate. Here is what I am trying to say about Belafonte: long before I became aware of his dedication to the civil rights movement, he provided a healing for my spirit that I didn’t know I needed. That laid the foundation for all his admirable works I was to learn about – and not merely learn about, but attempt to imitate as an adult.

Excavating aspects of the depth, breadth, and width of an artist’s work in 90 minutes or less is an impossible endeavor. But we are going to have a LOT of fun trying…

– René Marie

Vail Jazz hosts vocalist

Rene Marie’s very first memory is a musical one. But unlike so many musicians — jazz musicians in particular — her professional career did not begin soon thereafter. Before the Virginia native was a Grammy-nominated singer, she was a wife; married at age 18. Then she was a mother, a janitor, a McDonald’s employee, a grocery store clerk and a banker. Learn more at VailDaily.com

The Jazz Singer as a Storyteller

In the digital world we inhabit, our ability to hear songs that we love is so effortless that we forget that it wasn’t always this easy. The other night I was in the mood to hear some Billie Holiday so I simply told Alexa to play “God Bless the Child” and voila, instantaneously I was hearing one of the greatest jazz recordings of all time. WHAT A TREAT! The jukebox in the sky. Before sound recording, if you wanted to hear a chosen tune, you either sung it yourself or had to be in the presence of someone who would sing it for you. So the default setting for most was to try to sing it themselves.  Learn more here.

Rene Marie receives GRAMMY nomination

Sound of Red – Rene Marie’s first ever all original album captures Grammy Nomination in the Jazz Vocal Category. The 59th Grammy Awards will be held on February 12th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This is Rene’s second Grammy nomination in this category.


2017 Already?

We are happy to share that Experiment In Truth will be performing on The Jazz Cruise the last week of January!  Hang out in your cruise-wear and listen to some of the most creative jazz musicians today. Get your tickets here. Also Experiment in Truth and I will be at the Weisiger Theatre in Danville, KY January 14th. Get more info here.  February 24th, I will host a residency at the Boise State University and on the 25th will be joined again by my group. Learn more here.

A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan

After a jaw-dropping success with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra earlier this year, René Marie,  Ann Hampton-Callaway and Dee Alexander will bring their celebratory Sarah Vaughan Tribute to The College of Wooster in Ohio on September 17. The performance will be conducted by Jeffrey Lindberg and the singers will be accompanied by the critically acclaimed Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. More details here.

PREVIEW: LondonJazzNews

Rene Marie is nothing if not brave. She sang The Star Spangled Banner at Denver’s 2008 State of the City address, substituting the original words with those of James Weldon Johnson’s so-called black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It created a political firestorm. “I cannot apologize for offending others with my music. It goes with the risky territory of being an artist,” says Marie, who acknowledges the “huge, huge” influence of Nina Simone. Continue reading here.

Tiny Desk Concerts

The Colorado River — better known for running through majestic National Parks and powering hydroelectric dams — forms an unlikely backdrop for the creation of a jazz song. But René Marie was answering phones at Denver’s jazz radio station KUVO when she sat down across from a fellow volunteer fundraiser. He would soon invite her on a canoeing trip and, without yet having seen the eponymous river, she wrote the giddy “Colorado River Song” on the way there. Continue reading here.