MP3 Kellylee Evans - Fight or Flight?
urban soul jazz vocals
12 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz Vocals, URBAN/R&B: Soul
"One of the ''5 Must See Concerts of the Summer''" - Avril Benoit, CBC Radio (July 2006)
*nominated for Toronto Independent Music Awards 2006*
"Alongside sparse, groove-based jazz, Evans sang dominantly, filling each vocal belt with enough soothing, syrupy soul to conjure up comparisons to Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and a bevy of other jazzy heavyweights. Featuring songs off her highly-anticipated debut, Fight or Flight?, Evans is a budding talent in Canada’s jazz-urban scene, and is well worth a listen after a good dusting of old Billie Holiday LPs.” ~ Exclaim! Magazine (March 2, 2006)
Kellylee Evans is a unique voice in the urban-jazz world, and many of today’s top musicians have taken notice. With a smooth style that slides through jazz, soul, R & B, blues and world music rhythms, Kellylee’s calming sound speaks volumes; Rich, soothing, robust and energizing, this eclectic artist ignites inspiration; and her new CD Fight or Flight? may indeed be one of the most anticipated independent releases of its kind this year. From the sultry "What About Me?" to the bluesy "I Don''t Think I Want To Know", to the reggae-flavored "Let''s Call A Truce Tonight" and sexy poetical Spanish vibe of "Rapunzel", the album is an eclectic and focused effort, held together by Kellylee''s rich, expressive, effortless vocal range.
"I started getting into jazz before Diana Krall started getting big. Her success really floored me," Kellylee says. "Growing up, I wanted to be a pop star, but when I started liking jazz so much, I realized I wasn''t going to be pop star famous, but then Diana''s success really got exciting." At the time, Evans was mainly interpreting classic standards while peppering her concerts with off-beat interpretations of pop hits, such as Bjork''s "Come to Me".
Evans, now based just outside the Canadian capital, Ottawa, met Chicago-born bassist Lonnie Plaxico (Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Wynton Marsalis. Cassandra Wilson, Cyndi Lauper) in 2001 when he was playing with Ravi Coltrane at the Ottawa Jazz festival. The outgoing Kellylee talked to him at the jam session afterwards and he convinced her to come onstage to sing a couple of numbers. Some emails were later exchanged, but Kellylee was still doing her masters in legal studies at Carleton University and had not yet taken the plunge into a music career.
It wasn''t until 2002, when she almost died from an allergic reaction and had been mourning the death of her mother three years earlier, that Kellylee started focusing on what was truly important in her life -- music. She began reading numerous books on creativity and songwriting. "I saw my mom get sick; I saw her die. I realized that I couldn''t get obsessed with the whole ego thing and I just had to write my song ideas down," she says of her first batch of original songs that became Fight Or Flight?.
The album leads off with two tracks ("What About Me?" and "Lead Me Closer") Kellylee recorded in 2005 with bassist and producer Carlos Henderson (Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux, Lizz Wright, Common). One of the first songs she composed was "Who Knows," a playful number about going with the flow. Another early cut is "I Don''t Want You To Love Me," which showcases Kellylee''s rhythmical R&B/jazz style.
While she didn''t include any songs on Fight Or Flight? about the death of her mother, there are some slightly autobiographical lyrics. "Rapunzel" she jokingly refers to as "The Ugly Girl Song." Although she is far from ugly, it does address self-esteem. "It''s a song for the girl in society who feels she will never live up to the ideal," Kellylee explains. "I think every woman can find something in that song to identify with, where they feel, ''Yeah, my butt is too big,'' or ''I''m not thin enough.''"
It ties into the paradoxically upbeat "Enough," which is from the perspective of an over-achiever. As a child of immigrant parents (Jamaican), Kellylee says it was always instilled in her to be perfect, to do well and get ahead. "I remember when I came home from school with a 98 percent and my mother, though very loving, asked, ''Where''s the other 2 percent?''" she recounts.
Kellylee was born in Toronto, where she had her first solo in kindergarten and was reportedly heard "vocalizing" in church at three months old. Throughout the years, she performed at various talent shows and was a member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, all the while juggling her school work and five jobs. "I was a gifted child who had ulcers from the age of 15," she says with a laugh.
She finished school at 18 and attended Carleton University for legal studies, where she was part of a school jazz combo. She also took night and summer school to earn a second degree in English Literature. She intended to get a PhD like her father, but dropped out half-way through her masters to finally pursue music.
With the help of Lonnie Plaxico, Kellylee went to New York for a whirlwind two-day recording session at a Manhattan studio. Helping out on the album were keyboardist/pianist George Colligan (Cassandra Wilson, Ravi Coltrane), guitarist Marvin Sewell (Cassandra Wilson, George Benson, David Sanborn), drummer Steve Hass (Art Garfunkel, Billy Joel, The Manhattan Transfer), and percussionist Kahlil Kwame Bell (Erykah Badu, Roberta Flack). Trumpet player Alexander Norris and accordionist Rachelle Garniez also lent their talents to a track apiece. Kellylee says the recording was very "in the moment" and resulted in 11 of her original compositions and as a bonus, an alternate recording of "What About Me?"
In 2004, Kellylee was awarded second place in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition, held at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The judges – Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Jimmy Scott and Flora Purim chose Kellylee out of a pool of over 160 gifted vocalists from around the world. Since 2005 Kellylee Evans has been a regular contributor to CBC Radio, a fixture on Rogers TV, and showcased on Toronto’s City TV. She was recently seen on an episode of the new sitcom, Getting Along Famously, sharing the screen with entertainer Wayne Brady of Whose Line Is It Anyway & The Wayne Brady Show. Kellylee recently performed with award-winning saxophonist Jane Bunnett at the 4th annual Global Divas concert in Toronto. She is a recipient of a Canada Council of the Arts project grant and has recently been awarded a scholarship to study with bassist Christian McBride (Sting, Diana Krall) at Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy in Aspen, Colorado.
Fight or Flight? has been officially released in Canada and the U.S. and has received significant airplay on the CBC, campus and community radio. It has also received adds at commercial Jazz and Urban radio. The album has also been released in the U.S. and was available exclusively at Barnes and Noble for the month of July 2006 in all their stores, as well as on https://www.tradebit.com. The title was also selected as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great Music title from August to October, an impressive feat for an independent artist.