MP3 Faith Winthrop - A Leap of Faith
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18 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz quartet, JAZZ: Jazz Vocals
One of San Franciscoâs most poised and sensitive performers, Faith Winthropâs career is as storied as is her extensive songbook. The legendary singer possesses an uncanny talent for getting to the heart of each lyric while drawing listeners in with her sure intonation and pure inventiveness
âWinthrop is a singerâs singer and will be yours once you hear her. An elegant voice â pure, youthful airy. Sheâs one of San Franciscoâs little-known treasures, a singer of class and clarity, achieving major affects with artless grace,â is how Gerald Nachman, of the San Francisco Chronicle, once put it.
Having trained in classical music, Faith fell under the spell of jazz at an early age, establishing a successful nightclub career in Boston before becoming the featured house singer at the fabled hungry i in San Francisco?s North Beach. There she inaugurated "the other room," performing with the likes of Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Mort Sahl.
Her talent was undeniable and her career quickly accelerated. Soon after her debut, she found herself signing with MCA and Columbia Records.
âHer voice is remarkably sensitive, which she handles carefully on lyrics that she has sung a thousand times,â wrote Philip Elwood, of The San Francisco Chronicle. âHer style and manner are regalâ¦she draws a listener into the song.â
Faith swiftly became known nationally in clubs such as Chicago?s London House and Mr. Kelly's and the Blue Angel and the Village Vanguard in New York. Soon she could be seen performing on the Today show.
âShe slips naturally into the groove with a behind-the-beat phrasing that calls to mind Sylvia Sims, Anita OâDay, and their inspiration, Billie Holiday,â Jesse Hamlin once observed.
In the mid-80s, she reestablished her singing career, seemingly without missing a beat, by expanding upon her solid jazz reputation with a move to the world of cabaret. In San Francisco, she found fresh fans at The Plush Room, The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins and Ritz Carlton Hotels, as well as a turn as a featured performer at Jazz in the City.
This fresh creative direction found Faith combining musical genres with ease. Listeners lauded her rhythmic sense and astounding vocal control. She was able to âtake in the cabaret staple of Sondheim and then scat over the ending of âLover Manâ in a display of pure jazz prowess. (An especially notable tune for Faith, having once sang it at a memorable sound check in place of a tardy Billie Holiday. Midway through singing the track accompanied by Billieâs band, in walked Holiday herself, who encouraged Faith to âsing the song girl, sing the song.â )
Faith also toured Brazil, sang in Australia and appeared at New Yorkâs Town Hall at the Mabel Mercer Foundationâs Annual Cabaret Convention. Roy Sander of NY Backstage celebrated her âimpeccable elegantly smooth jazz influenced vocal artistry.â In 1996 at the first West Coast Cabaret Convention, Octavio Roca of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote ââ¦the refinement of the gorgeous singing by Karen Akers, Julie Wilson, Faith Winthrop filled the sold out show with joyâ¦.In a medley, Winthrop moved from her witty âQueen of Denialâ to a phrase from âNo Love, No Nothingâ that Mercer herself would have admired.â
In 1994, Faith released a 20-song album, Leap of Faith, on her own Silver Streak label. Backed by her longtime accompanist Gust Gustafson on piano, Rich Gerard on bass and Steve Mitchell on drums, she put her stamp on classic ballads with exquisite phrasing and assured scatting. Less obvious choices such as the up-tempo âJitterbug Waltzâ and âTulip or Turnipâ displayed her versatility to full affect. Critics applauded heartily:
âIf thereâs any question in anybodyâs mind about Faith Winthropâs ranking among the countryâs jazz singers, Leap of Faith delivers an unqualified assurance,â wrote Scott Cady. âFaith Winthrop has a voice to be reckoned withâitâs smooth as honey. I love her choice of songs, â opined Margaret Whiting.
An inspired songwriter as well as interpreter, Faith penned an autobiographical one-woman show âItâs All About Faithâ which debuted at San Franciscoâs Plush Room. After a successful run, she released a version of the show on a CD and video âHavinâ myself a time!â A loving and bracingly honest review of her life in show business, she gave it all, both in song and anecdotes about the personal pleasures and perils of her profession as well as due homage to the idols who inspired her: Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Carmen McRae and Ray Charles among them.
âLetâs just say that Faithâregardless of her selected materialâis a jazz singer in a jazz club, a cabaret singer in a cabaret, a concert singer in a concert hall,â wrote Elwood of the performance. âWinthropâs careful use of dynamics makes each song especially personal. She is in complete control of a rich mellow contralto and her lyric interpretations, inflections, perfect pitch and keen sense of rhythm make every rendition definitiveâand intimate.â
âTo me, itâs all about making music,â she wrote in the liner notes of Itâs All About Faith.â Even after all of these years, I still get a thrill from singing a well-wedded lyric and melody that inspires me and touches my heart.â
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