René Marie Stevens, 7 November 1955, Warrenton, Virginia, USA. When René Marie was nine years old, her family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, by which time she was singing and also learning to play piano. In her mid-teens she sang R&B in a group called the Majestics that was formed by fellow teenagers in the neighbourhood. At 18, she married the piano player in the band but then, on becoming Jehovahs Witnesses, they quit the music business. It was not until after 23 years that she began to consider a musical career. Late in 1997 she was singing again, rehearsing with a trio and planning a self-produced CD. Self taught as a singer and aware that she needed to develop her own vocal sound and style, she deliberately chose not to listen too much to jazz singers, although she has cited Ella Fitzgeralds recordings as lessons in breathing.
Exacerbated by her revived interest in music, latent marital problems came to a head...