Born: April 30, 1949 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Mary Pearson -- musically speaking -- sprang fully grown onto the jazz scene in 2000, or so it would seem to the world outside of a 30 New York mile radius. She’s been described as singing “under the radar” but since the release of You And I on the Arkadia Jazz label that description no longer holds true.
Ms. Pearson is the first vocalist signed to the four-time Grammy nominated Arkadia Jazz label. “Mary’s distinctive sound sold me,” says label founder Bob Karcy. “There is character in what she sings and character in how she sings it.” That assessment proves to be a continuingly widespread one. Having won several “Best of 2000” honors, You and I still inspires critical acclaim. For You Alone -- Mary’s highly anticipated duo CD with bass wizard Harvie S -- will be her next release followed closely by a band project which features incomparable tenor man Houston Person.
As a working New York City musician, Mary Pearson is at home in any setting, from fronting a big band to performing as a self-contained vocalist and pianist. Her unique brand of jazz surges with joy whether she’s performing in a cozy concert space, an outdoor festival, or a club, and her televised BET Jazz concert continues to delight with each rebroadcast. Wherever she performs, Pearson engages audiences with her fresh interpretations and insights, making familiar standards sound brand new and making her exquisitely intimate, self-penned compositions feel familiar.
In addition to her widely varied performances, Pearson teaches, whistles on commercials -- including a national television jingle for Cinch -- and, along with her partner/husband, she writes children's musicals. (The couple’s Christmas play scored a production at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, a large equity house in Elmsford, New York.) Also, in the spirit of keeping the jazz flame burning in the boroughs, Mary dons her producer’s hat bringing world class jazz to her adopted Bronx.
Solo to big band, song stylist, writer, piano player, whistler, entertainer, educator, producer and recording artist Mary Pearson's unique style reaches, touches and captivates all within the sound of her voice -- an ever expanding radius indeed.
Awards:• Bronx Council on the Arts: BRIO Awards, ‘00 & ‘04 • Community Arts Grants (CAG) ‘98, ‘99, ‘00, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06 (artist liaison/Riverbay); CAG ‘98 (artist liaison/Workmen’s Circle Home); CAG ‘07 and ‘08 via own nonprofit organization PeaCanz Productions • ASCAP Special Awards; ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘99, & ‘00 • Meet The Composer grant, ‘95
“Superb storytelling.” Don Heckman / L A Times
“Pearson's rich, cultured voice shines.” Fred Bouchard / Down Beat Magazine
“Top Ten Jazz Album of 2000.” George Kanzler / Newark Star Ledger
“ ... a lush, supple voice ... impressive ...” Joel E. Siegel / JazzTimes Magazine
“She's someone you should really watch.” Dr. Billy Taylor
“A sound and style all her own.” Ira Gitler / jazz author
“A wonderful vocalist.” Rhonda Hamilton / WBGO
“I can't remember the last time I've been so touched.” Doug Moody / KMFB
“A uniquely lyrical jazz singer.” Michael Bourne / WBGO
“Long overdue. Stunning and original.” Aaron Fensterheim / WXEL
“She brings judgment, taste and terrific musicianship to every track. Outstanding!” Will Shapira / Minnesota Public Radio
“It is that good, that perfect! Beautiful jazz!” Lee Prosser / JazzReview.com
“Stunningly musical.” Mark Murphy / vocal jazz legend
“Brilliant!” David Kenney / WBAI
A skilled and sensitive interpreter of jazz and popular songs, Mary Pearson makes far too few records for someone with her considerable talent. Those CDs that are around deserve the attention of every discerning lover of good songs well sung. Bruce Crowther
A rich and fluid vocal sound and an easy swing apply a distinctive mark to Pearson's performances, added to which her inventive interpretations and songwriting skills make her a singer worthy of note. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music / Colin Larkin