Born: Rene Marie Stevens on Nov 7, 1955 in Warrenton, VA
Genres: Vocal, Jazz
Styles: Standards, Vocal Jazz
Virginia native and Atlanta resident Rene Marie is a recognizable, fairly unpredictable jazz vocalist who - depending on her mood - can be quirky and playful one minute, but bluesy, soulful, or sexy the next. The singer, who is blessed with an impressive range, has a variety of influences. Marie shows her appreciation of Betty Carter on some of her quirkier performances, while her more bluesy and soulful leanings underscore her fondness of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Nancy Wilson (the veteran pop/jazz singer, not the member of hard rock/arena rock band Heart). But unlike Wilson - who has recorded a lot of pop-oriented albums - Marie is consistently jazz-oriented. For many years, Marie wasn't aggressively pursuing a career in music. Born in Warrenton, VA, on November 7, 1955, she grew up in the Roanoke, VA, area and raised her two sons there. When they were growing up, she put jazz on the back burner but occasionally sang at friends' weddings; Marie felt that she was too busy being a parent to pursue a career as a singer. Then, in 1995 (when she turned 40), Marie's sons (who were attending college at that point) encouraged her to sing professionally. At first, she was hesitant, but eventually, she took their advice. In 1997, Marie (who moved to Richmond, VA, in 1998, and Atlanta in 2001) recorded a CD titled Renaissance - and in 1999, she landed a gig at Washington, D.C.'s famous Blues Alley. It was also in 1999 that she signed with the St. Louis-based MAXJAZZ label. How Can I Keep From Singing?, her first MAXJAZZ release, came out in 2000, followed by Vertigo in 2001. Both of those CDs were produced by acoustic pianist Bruce Barth. Vertigo earned top honors as the #1 spot on the Gavin jazz charts, also going top ten on the college charts in both the U.S. and Canada.
- Alex Henderson (All Music Guide)