Stacey Kent Biography

27 March 1968, South Orange, New Jersey, USA. Starting to sing as a child, Kent never thought of singing as a career, treating it only as a hobby. She took a degree in Comparative Literature, also studying languages. After graduation she visited England, ‘just to get away’, and while in London decided to take a post-graduate course in jazz. This brought her into contact with musicians and she began singing and soon found offers of work coming in. She was soon working at prestigious venues including Ronnie Scott’s club, the Purcell Room, Pizza On The Park, the 100 Club and the Barbican, appearing with the Vile Bodies Swing Orchestra, resident at London’s Ritz Hotel from 1991-95, and also with her own group which features saxophonist Jim Tomlinson to whom she is married. Kent has toured the UK and appeared in and sung on the soundtrack of the 1995 movie, Richard III.

A self-taught singer, ‘I just listened a lot’, Kent was influenced before she knew she would be a singer by a wide range of artists including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday, together with instrumentalists Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Her repertoire is eclectic but draws heavily upon the Great American Song Book to which she is devoted (in 2002 she released an album of Richard Rodgers songs). English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro wrote the liner notes to said album, and four years later turned up to co-write several tracks on the singer’s Blue Note Records debut.

Kent sings expressively, displays great understanding of and emotional involvement with her material, and she swings. Casual though her drift into jazz singing was, she is clearly a serious talent.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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