SFJAZZ.org | Five Things You Should Know About Carmen Lundy

On The Corner Masthead


November 13, 2019 | by Rusty Aceves

Carmen Lundy (photo by Janet Van Ham)

We are honored to have jazz vocal great Carmen Lundy make her San Francisco debut at SFJAZZ from 11/14-17, performing music from her new album of original compositions inspired by the artists who have made an impact on her art, entitled Modern Ancestors. Here are five things to know about the singer, composer, arranger, and instrumentalist:

  1. Born in Miami to the lead singer of the popular gospel group Apostolic Singers, she began piano studies at age six, began singing at 12, and majored in music at the University of Miami with concentrations in opera and jazz.
  2. She moved to New York in 1978 and gave her first professional performance in the city at the Village Vanguard as a member of the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. She formed her own band in 1980, working with pianists John Hicks and Onaje Allen Gumbs. Her 1985 debut album, Good Morning Kiss, featured Bobby Watson and Jon Faddis and topped the Billboard jazz vocal chart for 23 weeks.
  3. She has collaborated with countless artists over her career, performing with Mulgrew Miller, Don Pullen, Ray Barretto, Marian McPartland, and Courtney Pine. She appears on recordings with Billy Childs, Geri Allen, Ernie Watts, Fred Wesley, Kip Hanrahan, and her brother, bassist Curtis Lundy. Additionally, she contributed her vocals and an original composition to drummer Terri Lyne Carrington’s 2011 GRAMMY-winning The Mosaic Project.
  4. One of the few vocalists to concentrate almost entirely on original work, she has amassed a catalog as a songwriter that includes over 120 published songs, which have been recorded by the likes of Kenny Barron and Ernie Watts. She’s led 14 albums for various labels, and formed her own imprint, Afrasia Productions in 2005.
  5. Beyond her life as a performer and composer, she’s an accomplished actress who portrayed Billie Holiday in Lawrence Holder’s They Were All Gardenias and appeared as the lead in the Broadway production of Sophisticated Ladies. Her work as a painter has been exhibited at the Jazz Gallery in New York and at both the Jazz Bakery and the Madrid Theatre in Los Angeles. As an educator, she has served as Resident Clinician at Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center for two decades.

Carmen Lundy performs November 14-17 in the Joe Henderson Lab at the SFJAZZ Center.

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