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MP3 Zoe Ellis - Live At Anna's Jazz Island

Lyrical soul with some Brit Pop and Jazz inside. A resourceful and inventive vocalist.

15 MP3 Songs
URBAN/R&B: Soul, URBAN/R&B: Rhythm & Blues

Zoë Ellis'' was born to sing. For her, it is as natural and necessary as breathing. To the delight of her many fans, she has just recorded her fist solo album as leader, a live recording made at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley. The original music on this CD is the result of Zoe’s five-year collaboration with two English musicians, Chris Nicholas and Johnny "Monkey" Musgrave. These compositions showcase both the power and emotion of her voice, and its softer, soul-stirring side. Currently, in addition to performances with the Zoe Ellis Group, she collaborates with her brother, jazz saxophonist Dave Ellis, in Zadell, and lends her considerable talents to two Bay Area a capella groups - Keith Terry’s Slammin All Body Band and SoVoSo. She particularly enjoys SoVoSo’s work with children and happily pursues this interest with her annual participation in Dmitri Matheny’s musical story for children, "The SnowCat." She works with the teen choir at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco which also nourishes her gospel roots. These collaborations confirm the eagerness to extend her range and explore new directions that has marked Zoe’s career. She has sung back-up vocals for such diverse bands as Phil Lesh and Friends, and Donald Byrd. Zoe is equally at home with "house" music, witness her recordings for Naked Music/Aquanote, which include the singles "Nowhere" and "True Love." Growing up in Berkeley, in a house filled with music of all kinds, Zoë experimented with a variety of instruments - piano, trumpet, flute, cello - but by her mid-teens had found her true instrument, her remarkable voice. She honed her skills singing with Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, where she met and formed a lasting friendship and singing partnership with Caitlin Cornwell. Zoë moved from gospel to R&B with the club band, The Mo’Fessionals. With their wonderful mix of funk, R&B, and rap, the Mo''s - as they were affectionately called - quickly became a popular club band in the greater Bay Area. They made their first independent recording, "Live at Slim''s", in 1993 (produced by brother Dave Ellis). When the band won a Diskmakers contest, they were able to produce their second album, "Finally Over", in 1996. That same year, Zoë was invited to sing solo leads for the group Cleveland Lounge and an album, "Full Cleveland", grew out of that collaboration. Produced by Moonshine Records, it was released in 1997 to appreciative audiences in Japan. Meantime, in 1995, Zoë and Caitlin were asked to dub vocals for a hip-hop version of an old Queen tune - Bohemian Rhapsody - which producer Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind planned to use as a demo to attract a "big name" singer. As things turned out, however, the duo signed with Atlantic records as The Braids and completed a full-length album, "Here We Come", in 1997. Both the album and selected singles were released and well-received in Japan, New Zealand, France, Holland, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. Finally, March 2, 1999, "Here We Come" was released in the U.S. Zoe embarked on a solo career in 2001. By that time, her dramatic and colorful voice was well known to Bay Area and overseas music fans and she had earned the respect of fellow musicians who seek her out for studio sessions or back-up vocals - especially on short notice. Reviewers celebrate her "tough, jubilant vocals [which] swoop like a big, soulful bird", describe her as "a resourceful and inventive vocalist", and praise her ability to "[keep] the crowd involved with her presence and between-song patter. Audiences find her performances riveting. Her energy, warmth, respect for her fellow musicians, enthusiasm for the music, and obvious delight in sharing it with her audience, bring her listeners back time after time.

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