“An emotive performer who breathes passion into everything she performs.” London Time Out
Downbeat Critics Poll ‘Rising Star’ two years in a row, London-born, Harlem-based Anglo-Trinidadian jazz vocalist-composer Tessa Souter imbues a mix of jazz, stunning originals, and the occasional rock classic – U2, Cream and the Beatles – with the soul and passion of flamenco, Indian and Middle Eastern music. “She is a very special talent. She really moves me,” says NEA Jazz Master, Sheila Jordan. Heralded by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the few exceptional standouts in the crowded field of female jazz singers”, Ms. Souter’s “truly beautiful voice” (Sirius Radio) and penchant for exploring music mostly untouched by other singers have set her apart as “one of the finest and most fearless vocalists to have emerged in recent years.” (Boston Globe). Her latest album, Beyond the Blue (Venus-Motema), featuring jazz interpretations of classical repertoire with her own “exhilaratingly mature lyrics” (Neil Tesser, Chicago Examiner), was Clive Davis’ #6 pick on the London Sunday Times’ Top 10 Jazz Releases of 2013, alongside Ahmad Jamal (#1), Gregory Porter (#3) and Stacey Kent (#10). She is currently working on her upcoming release, Picture in Black and White – a tribute to the ancestors of her mixed race heritage.
The New York-based singer has performed all over the world, including sold out concerts at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, the Blue Note, and Joe’s Pub, New York; Pizza on the Park, Pizza Express Jazz Club and the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, UK; four sold out tours of the philharmonic halls of Russia; and five appearances at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, where her 2015 Kilbourn Hall performance was chosen from over 1,000 festival performers to be one of only four concerts to be filmed by PBS Television. The one-hour show of her concert and interview is currently airing on PBS stations across the US. Her invariably standing-room-only monthly residency at Greenwich Village’s iconic 55 Bar (chosen by CBS New York as one of New York’s Top Five Jazz Clubs) is in its 13th year. She has made four critically-acclaimed CDs as a leader, including two for the Japanese label, Venus, and two for the multi-Grammy-nominated Motéma label. She also appears on legendary bassist Charnett Moffett‘s Spirit of Sound (Motéma) album and on French singer Pascalito’s upcoming The Picture of Rafael Ohayon.
“Singers like her don’t come along every day.” Neil Tesser, Chicago Examiner
Souter, who cites Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Sandy Denny, Leon Thomas, Jon Lucien, Andy Bey, Milton Nascimento, and mentors Mansur Scott, Mark Murphy and Sheila Jordan as influences, has recorded and performed with many of the jazz world’s elite, including Steve Kuhn, Kenny Werner, Joel Frahm, Joe Locke, Billy Drummond, Lew Soloff, Romero Lubambo, Charnett Moffett (she is featured on his Spirit of Sound album and has appeared with him at the Jazz Standard), Alan Broadbent, Francois Moutin, Alec Dankworth, Nikki Iles, Jim Hart, Lynne Arriale and Howard Johnson, who says of her, “Her brilliant songs and lyrics make her stand out from the pack so very much, not to mention how well she handles other people’s material.”
“Ordinary listeners and critics alike have raved about her lovely voice, tasteful phrasing, agile technique, and perhaps most important, her ability to convey the emotional meaning of a song.” (Cadence) “She’s a very giving person,” Sheila Jordan told the Boston Globe. “And that’s what she does with her music. She gives it.” Whether performing at the Philharmonic halls of Russia or in the intimacy of a New York jazz club, “Souter is a beguiling artist who infuses everything she interprets with voluptuous intelligence and keen emotional insight.” (Andrew Gilbert, KQED Arts) “Best of all, she delivers it with a wit and a wink worthy of the toniest joints in town.” (Time Out New York)
“Souter’s crystalline contralto and impeccable phrasing are mighty arrows in her quiver, but it is her ability to become one with a song, finding its intrinsic core that enables her to score successive bull’s-eyes … an exquisite exercise in seductive spell-casting.” Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes