Born: April 12, 1968 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Esther Miller is a jazz singer of the classic school, possessing an outstanding technique, sensitive interpretation and an eclectic repertoire. She was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa's east coast motor city, where she sang in church and school choirs and raided the family Nat King Cole albums for early inspiration. She studied medicine in Cape Town, but soon gave in to the lure of jazz. In a wonderfully back-handed compliment, her alma mater, the University of Cape Town, reflected: “Giving up medicine in favour of Jazz was clearly a wise move.”
She started off as the vocalist with Gerry Spencer’s “Jazz Cyclone”--one of the leading bands on the South African jazz circuit at the time. During this early apprentice she worked with some excellent players, including guitarists Herb Ellis, Johnny Fourie, Errol and Alvin Dyers - saxophonists Winston Mankunku and Ezra Ngkukana, Bassist Basil Moses, to name but a few.
Esther has honed her technique with classical singing lessons and delved into jazz history to take her inspiration from Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Shirley Horn and Blossom Dearie as well as the jazz/pop of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.
Esther’s South African performances include numerous Jazz festivals, (The Grahamstown Arts Festival/ Standard Bank Jazzathon/ etc...) concert halls (The PE Opera House/ the Baxter Theatre) and jazz clubs. But now she's settled in the UK. The hospital patients and jazz club regulars of Cape Town are most definitely the losers. She now performs in many different settings most recently, appearances at the 2008 Cleethorpes Jazz Festival; 2008 Burton Agnes Jazz Festival, the 2007 Cape Town Jazz Festival with trumpet star, Jeremy Pelt; the 2007 Jazz Divas Festival on the Isle of Wight; the Cheltenham Jazz festival with her quintet. Other festival appearances include the 1st Lockerbie Jazz Festival, with Jim Mullen and Alan Barnes; the 2006 Swanage Jazz Festival; 2006 Swindon Jazz Festival; 2005 Silda Jazz Festival, Norway, the 2005 Jazz Divas Festival on the Isle of Wight, 2004 Cork Jazz Festival, Ireland, The 2005, 2004, 2002 & 2001 Birmingham International Jazz festivals where she won universal critical acclaim with sell-out performances. Esther is also a regular performer at various venues around the UK.
Recorded works include her 2006 album “Dream Dancing”--“Invitation” in 2002--“Say Hello to Esther” in 1999--and numerous television appearances in SA. The latest addition to her discography is the album “Into the Sunlight” which was recorded in September. The project is in collaboration with Pianist/Composer, Steve Melling who has been working very closely with Esther over the past year. The album also features Trumpeter, Steve Waterman; Bassist, Zoltan Dekany and Drummer, John Perry. Peter King performs a guest spot on alto saxophone. The album was released in July 2009.