Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born with an enviable musical pedigree. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was born in Panama and moved to New Orleans and then New York City, becoming a pioneering pianist/bandleader, and Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, is an outstanding bassist and vocalist and holder of advanced degrees from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, who has performed with Mary Lou Williams and International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Not surprisingly considering her roots, Catherine Russell is a one of a kind vocalist. She has toured the world, performing and recording with Paul Simon, David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, and Rosanne Cash, among others.
Since the 2006 release of her debut album, Cat, on Harmonia Mundi's World Village label, Catherine Russell has been making fans and friends and grabbing listeners by the ear. “She is a fresh and original voice. The most exciting debut album I’ve heard in a long time.” writes New York Sun critic and Sinatra biographer, Will Friedwald, who picked Cat among his top 10 cds of the year. “It’s a delight to hear the real thing in Catherine Russell.”, writes Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal.
Ms. Russell has been a hit on major Festivals like Chicago Blues, Montreal Jazz, North Sea Jazz, Bern International Jazz, JVC-New York Jazz, JazzAscona, Detroit International Jazz, Tanglewood Jazz, Lotus World Music, Panama Jazz, I Love Jazz - Brazil, and at sold out shows at premier venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Sculler's in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, Yoshi's in San Francisco, and The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. She has appeared on the nationally syndicated NPR shows Mountain Stage, JazzSet, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, Weekend Edition, World Cafe, Riverwalk Jazz on PRI, and The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS-TV. Reviews and profiles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Living Blues, Blues Review, Downbeat, Goldmine, No Depression, Boston Herald, Newark Star Ledger, JazzTimes, Chicago Sun Times, and many more.
Cat spent weeks on JazzWeek magazine's chart for national airplay, while "Back O Town Blues" was a top 10 download on I-Tunes Jazz Chart. National Public Radio's top 5 jazz cd's of 2006 included Cat, as chosen by WBGO dj's.
Catherine Russell's 2nd album on World Village, Sentimental Streak, hit the streets on February 12, 2008, to universal acclaim, becoming a world-wide favorite of critics and fans alike. Catherine appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on NBC-TV, Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, Beale Street Caravan, and in concert on CBC-Radio in Canada. Sentimental Streak reached the #3 position on I-Tunes Jazz Chart, while also charting on Billboard's Jazz Chart, JazzWeek, and Living Blues Radio Chart. She won a prestigeous German Record Critics' Award in the Jazz category and Living Blues magazine's 2008 critics' poll as "Artist Deserving More Attention." L'Acadamie du Jazz in France chose Sentimental Streak as finaliste for Prix du Jazz Vocal 2008, while Grammy Award winning writer and jazz critic Francis Davis picked Catherine's albums as Vocal Album of the Year in both the 2008 & 2010 Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll!
Vocalist Catherine Russell’s 3rd album for World Village/Harmonia Mundi (468092), Inside This Heart of Mine was released on April 13, 2010. The album contains gems from the 1920’s through the Present, from the likes of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Maxine Sullivan, Wynonie Harris, Howlin’ Wolf, Rachelle Garniez, and Catherine’s dad, Luis Russell.
Inside This Heart Of Mine showcases the ever-deepening interpretive wiles of Catherine Russell’s ripe, honey-dipped alto as she personifies the living heart and proud history of each of the songs that make up this set. In it's first month of release, the album jumped to the #1 position on JazzWeek's Chart for national airplay, while also charting #1 at Roots Music Report, I-Tunes and Amazon's Jazz Album Charts, and #7 on Billboard's top Traditional Jazz Albums.
Strictly Romancin’, Catherine Russell’s fourth album for World Village/Harmonia Mundi, out on February 14, 2012, is a paean to natural attractions; to a lover, an art form, and to one’s family heritage. Our faithful heroine explores love’s foibles, failures, and bliss, from amorous to humorous, embodying the lost art of song savvy, inhabiting the lyric, and allowing each melody to shine. On this 14 song collection, this ever soulful jazz/blues vocalist takes us on a journey; from Harlem dance hall, to Parisian Café, to Store Front Church, to New Orleans Gin Joint, to Uptown Cabaret, blurring distinctions between the carnal and the eternal, in a musical tour de force.
Catherine Russell is that rarest of entities – a genuine jazz and blues singer – who can sing virtually anything. Her voice is full blown feminity incarnate; a dusky, stalwart and soulful instrument that radiates interpretive power yet remains touchingly vulnerable. She launches fearlessly into each tune, getting inside the melody and capturing every emotion. Catherine Russell joins the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.