Stacey Kent is a jazz singer in the mold of the greats, with a legion of fans worldwide, a host of honors and awards including a Grammy nomination, album sales over 2 million, Gold, Double-Gold and Platinum-selling albums that have reached a series of No. 1 chart positions during the span of her career.
Her most recent release, “I Know I Dream: The Orchestral Sessions”, (Okeh/SONY) has received glowing reviews, including a coveted five stars in Downbeat, won ‘Album of the Year” in the vocal category at the 2017 Jazz Japan Awards, and was described by All About Jazz as an “intoxicating understatement at its finest..one more jewel in a discography with many, it’s one that deserves singling out for its luster.”
Raised on the east coast of the USA, this comparative literature graduate with a musical bent, traveled to Europe to further her studies. After receiving her degree from Sarah Lawrence College in NY, through a series of twists of fate, she found herself in London where she enrolled in a graduate music program at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and where she met her future husband and musical partner, Jim Tomlinson.
Kent’s musical journey began in her childhood with piano lessons. An unusually keen ear and true voice lead her to participate in school musical productions, and she could often be heard singing at impromptu musical events in the college’s cafe. However, nothing suggested the shift in a career that has propelled her to international recognition. With a catalog of 11 studio albums including the Platinum-selling, GRAMMY-nominated ‘Breakfast On The Morning Tram’ (EMI/BLUE NOTE 2007) and an impressive list of collaborations, Stacey has graced the stages of more than 50 countries throughout her career. Kent paid her dues in the jazz clubs of London, before releasing a series of 6 albums for the Candid label. The Tender Trap (1999) brought her to the attention of jazz audiences in the USA with features on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered. Kent was awarded the Jazz Vocalist of the Year in the BBC Jazz Awards in 2002. Her 2003 album The Boy Next Door was her first album to achieve Gold status.
During this period, Stacey cemented her reputation as a singer capable of putting a distinctive stamp on an impressive repertoire of standards. Her ability to communicate emotion through a nuanced and minimalist approach was showcased on Jim Tomlinson’s album The Lyric, which was awarded Album of The Year at the 2006 BBC Jazz Awards. This album brought her to the attention of Blue Note records with whom she signed in 2007. With each successive album, Stacey’s style has become more honed as her artistic outlook has broadened. Her search for songs had led her to look beyond the Great American Songbook, with French chanson and Brazilian music forming an ever-larger part of her repertoire.
Stacey’s repertoire includes a growing number of songs written for her by Jim Tomlinson with various lyricists, most notably the Nobel Prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro. The idea of singing original compositions came up during a lunch with Ishiguro. The conversation turned to music and repertoire and the idea was hatched to write a series of songs for Stacey that distilled themes of memory, travel, and love, that so frequently surfaced in her repertoire. From this conversation, the songs for ‘Breakfast On The Morning Tram’ were conceived. Almost overnight, Stacey transformed from being a singer of the Great American Songbook to a singer with a highly distinctive and personal repertoire. The first collaboration between Ishiguro, the lyricist, and Tomlinson, the composer, ‘The Ice Hotel’, won first prize in the International Songwriting Competition song. Since then, all of Stacey’s albums have been punctuated by original songs composed by Tomlinson with a variety of lyricists in English, French, and Portuguese.