@ the Barbican
13 November 2006
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Cassandra Wilson was born and raised in Jackson,
Mississippi. Her first instrument was the piano (which she studied
for 13 years). Wilson also played the clarinet in junior high school
concerts and marching bands.
During the 1970’s Wilson performed Joni Mitchell
songs with an acoustic guitar. She could also be found performing
in front of large funk bands and various all-girl-bands.
Wilson moved to New Orleans in the 1980’s.
Here she would gain valuable experience performing with soprano
saxophonist Earl Turbinton, and jazz pianist, composer and educator
Ellis Marsalis. After relocating to East Orange, New Jersey, Wilson
decided to explore the New York Jazz scene. A brief appearance as
the main vocalist with Steve Coleman’s M-Base Collective would
give Wilson the springboard for her solo career.
1985 saw the release of the albums “Point
of View” and “Songbook”, followed by “Days
Aweigh” in 1987. The acclaimed jazz standards driven “Blue
Skies” was released a year later. “New Moon Daughter”,
released in 1996 earned Wilson a Grammy Award and further acclaim
from a wider audience. High points on this album include the surprisingly
catchy rendition of “Last Train To Clarksville”(originally
performed by the Monkey’s) juxtaposed with the haunting, but
infectious melody of “Little Warm Death”.
Wilson returned to Mississippi in 2000. Here she
would establish the Ojuh Media Group (Ojuh – Yoruba word meaning
‘the market place’).
Cassandra Wilson’s voice has been described
as ‘having the depth and texture of a great tenor saxophonist’,
earthy, dark & provocative and beguiling by critics and fans
- Depressing, moody and deeply unbearable by others. One thing for
sure, Wilson’s voice is distinctive. Her popularity has grown
with each live recording and subsequent album release.
© Michael Valentine Studio