Ernestine Anderson combines the extraordinary excitement and luscious sound of a fresh voice with the maturity and wisdom of her years in music, to create a compelling sound that makes her a favorite performer in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Once a “new star” in the Down Beat Critics’ Poll of 1959, she is presently making new friends once again wherever she sings. And that is apt to be anywhere from Boston, San Francisco and Toronto to Tokyo, Berlin or London.
Born in Houston, she began singing as a teenager and continued when her family moved to Seattle, where she still makes her home. After interning with local bands, she traveled with Johnny Otis, Eddie Haywood and Russell Jacquet, ultimately joining one of the best of the Lionel Hampton bands, that of 1952-3 – the band that also included Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Quincy Jones and Monk Montgomery.
She made her first recording in 1955 with Gigi Gryce. The following year, during a Scandinavian tour with Rolf Ericson and an all-star band, she took Sweden by storm and stayed long enough to record her first album Hot Cargo, which was soon released in the United States. In 1957, she came back to San Francisco, where columnist Ralph J. Gleason led the cheering section. Time Magazine did a story on her, people cheered at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and she came up from hamburger poverty to sing at the White House and make several albums for Mercury.
Ernestine lived and worked in England and Sweden for several years, even putting music aside for a while, but in the mid-seventies she returned to the Northwest and to music.
At the 1976 Concord Summer Festival, she conquered the crowd in an electrically charged set backed by Hank Jones, Ray Brown and Jake Hanna. Since that time she has recorded several sterling albums for Concord and appeared in an ever-widening sweet that has included concert tours of Japan in 1977 and 1980, the Berlin and Kristianstad Festivals in 1979, quite a few return visits to Ronnie Scott’s in London, and a clutch of European jazz festivals in 1980.
Recently, Ernestine has become an enthusiastic participant in college and high school vocal jazz clinics, where she conducts workshops and concerts. A recent project culminated in a performance with Mark Murphy, Richie Cole and Barney McClure.
Ernestine’s innate swing, her brandy-mellow sound, her faultless diction and her sensuality make her stand out among the singers of jazz in today’s newly vital listening world.
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