Venue: Center Theater
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Blessed with “a voice of phenomenal beauty” (Stephen Holden, New York Times), Jane Monheit has had plenty of milestone moments in establishing herself as one of today’s best and most important vocalist-musicians.
Jane Monheit was born on November 3, 1977. She was raise din Oakdale, New York, on Long Island’s South Shore. Her aunt and grandmother were professional singers. Her mother performed in musical theater and currently performs in local choirs, and her father plays banjo and guitar. His love of bluegrass and folk music (Bonnie Raitt and Maura O’Connell were among his favorites) shaped her musical sensibility. “It all came down to storytelling,” she says.
Jane spent her childhood summers at the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts, from which she received a distinguished alumna award (other notable alumni include Natalie Portman and Mariah Carey). Throughout her years of public school, she studied clarinet and music theory and performed in theatrical productions both at school and with her local community theater group.
Jane went on to study voice at the Manhattan School of Music with Peter Eldridge, a founding member of the vocal group New York Voices. She graduated with honors in 1999 and received the William H. Borden Award for outstanding accomplishment in jazz. It was at MSM that she met her husband, drummer Rick Montalbano. They married soon after college.
At the young age of 20, Jane became first runner-up in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute’s vocal competition behind the late-great Teri Thornton. Soon after, Jane released her stunning debut album, Never Never Land featuring Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash. It was her first of four recordings for N-Coded—a label founded by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen with Phil Ramone. The album was voted Best Recording Debut by the Jazz Journalists Association and stayed on the Billboard Jazz chart for well over a year.
Come Dream with Me (N-coded) followed in 2001 with a No. 1 debut on the Billboard chart and included a wider range of Jane’s influences as well as popular jazz standars. In the Sun (2002) was recorded with lush string arrangements and a repertoire of songs from the 40s through the 70s. Further highlighting Jane’s range and command as a vocalist-musician, Live at the Rainbow Room (2003 DVD/CD) documents a performance at the iconic NY venue—a show with a full band and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alan Broadbent.
The albums kept coming, reflecting Monheit’s dual interests in jazz and cabaret: Taking a Chance on Love, her label debut for Sony (2004) a swinging survey of show tunes; the Christmas-themed The Season (Sony, 2005); Surrender (Concord, 2007), which showed off her love of Brazilian music and paired her with none other than frequent collaborators Ivan Lins, Sergio Mendes, and Toots Thielemans; and The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me (Concord, 2009), which included songs by Paul Simon, Fiona Apple, and Burt Bacharach. To date, Jane has released ten studio albums and two best-of compilations, including her most recent release, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald.
Home (EmArcy, 2010) was “a joy to do because it was just me and my working band, with amazing guests that also happened to be our very good friends.” The Heart of the Matter (EmArcy/Decca, 2013) was “a really heavy emotional experience.”. Monheit has also appeared on the albums of many other artists over the years, including Terence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, Freddy Cole, Mark O’Connor, David Benoit, and Ivan Lins.