Born: October 26, 1942 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Ranee Lee vocalist
Ranee Lee began her professional stage career as a dancer. From there she moved on to playing drums and tenor saxophone with various touring groups in the United States and Canada. Ranee settled in Montreal, Quebec thirty-five years ago, and her singing took over from past musical endeavours. Since then, she has become one of Canada’s most popular jazz vocalists and recording artists.
A Dora Mavor Moore Award winning actress, Ranee starred in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”, Canada’s first production of the musical portrayal of Billie Holiday, which enjoyed extended runs in both Toronto and Montreal. Her subsequent recording, “Deep Song” released on Justin Time Records was received with critical acclaim, and brought Ranee’s great vocal talent to the attention of jazz fans and concert producers throughout North America and Europe. The summer of 1995 produced a Western Canadian Jazz Festival tour, as well as a tour of the United States. In June 1996 a month long South African tour featured Ranee as part of “The Canadian Jazz Giants”.
May of 2001 has found Ranee in yet another Canadian first, co-starring in the role of Sadie Delany, a non musical production of a one hundred and three year old survivor of racism presented at the Saidye Bronfman Centre For the Arts. On February 27, 2003 the Rhombus production of Stormy Weather, the story of the American Composer Harold Arlen, in which Ms. Lee co-stared in the role of Mrs. Owens, debuted on CBC television,. This production is scheduled to run throughout Canada and the United States for some time.
Ranee has also conceived, written, and performed in the production “Dark Divas”, a musical about the lives and times of a few of the many popular black female entertainers of an era. They include Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Pearl Bailey, and many more. This stunning double album earned her a Juno Nomination in 2001. Some career highlights include acting opposite Billy Dee Williams in the movie “Giant Steps” in 1991, an appearance as the opening act for the late George Burns at Montreal’s Place Des Arts in 1993, and a televised adaptation of Lady Day; “White Gardenia”, which aired on the CTV network during the summer of 1994.
As the host of the television series “The Performers”, for the Black Entertainment Television network in the U.S. and BRAVO in Canada, Ranee brings to the attention of American and Canadian audiences the talent of Canadian jazz musicians.
Ranee’s impressive discography is filled with masterworks: “The Musical, Jazz on Broadway”, which was a successful marriage of jazz standards with the music of Broadway is one of them. In 1994 and again in1995, Ranee received the Top Canadian Female Jazz Vocalist Award presented by Jazz Report magazine. Her album “I Thought About You” was the first nominated recording for a Juno Award in the Best Mainstream Jazz category in 1995. In 1998 Ranee received the Best Female Jazz Vocalist Award from the AFIM.
“You Must Believe In Swing”, released in 1996 and featuring bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, received rave reviews from critics and public alike, and charted in the influential Gavin Radio Charts in the USA. Another superb recording by Miss Lee, “Season’s Of Love”, featuring Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton and special guest David Murray, was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. This album features standards as well as two Ranee Lee originals and a Ranee Lee / Oliver Jones collaboration. In March 2003 Ranee received her third JUNO nomination for “Maple Groove: Songs From The Great Canadian Songbook,”, featuring selections from some of Canada’s greatest songwriters. The acclaimed Rick Wilkins skillfully arranged interpretations of classic songs from Randy Bachman, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, Jann Arden, Gordon Lightfoot, Oscar Peterson and Moe Koffman.
In 2006 she was nominated for The INDIE AWARD for her recording of “Just You, Just Me” which also won the Toronto Urban Music Award November 2005. In 2007 Miss Lee became a published author of her first children’s book, “Nana What Do You Say?” inspired by the song she wrote with the same title and recorded on her 1994 release of “I Thought About You”.
Throughout her career Ranee has performed with many jazz notables, including Clark Terry, Bill Mayes, Herbie Ellis, Red Mitchell, Milt Hinton, Oliver Jones, Terry Clarke, John Bunch, George Arvanitas, to name a few. Lee is no stranger to the road; she has toured with her own group throughout America and has played at many prestigious jazz festivals, most recently the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Canada Capital festival in Sao Paulo. Her participation in the 2001 Montreal International Jazz festival has Ranee as host of a nine episode annual series during the festival in July, as well as 2007 as performer and once again host of this series.
In April 2002 Miss Lee received an invitation to perform at the Classical Spring Rishon LeZion Performing Arts Centre, considered to be the newest and the finest in Israel, which hosts ensembles and artists of the best in the world, for its 3rd International Festival of Fine Arts. Ranee returned in October 2005 for concerts at the Holy Shines of Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem and Tabgha Monastery on the lake of Galilee in a program of spiritual, and music of hope!
With the invitation of the Mexican and Canadian Governments, Ranee and her musicians toured throughout the state of Mexico, presenting the music of the “Dark Divas” for the International Cervantino Festival of the Arts, October 2002
Ms. Lee is also an excellent and respected teacher. For outstanding service to jazz education, at the twenty-first IAJE conference in January 1994, Ranee received the International Association of Jazz Educators Award. As an educator, Ranee has been part of the University of Laval faculty in Quebec City for seven years, and The Schulich School of Music of McGill University faculty for over twenty years.
As a recipient of the award for her contributions to the advancement of Black Art and Culture through the media of music and theatre in Montreal, Ranee was honoured at the “Visions Celebration ‘88” of the Black Theatre Workshop and the Foundation for Minority Arts and Culture. In March 2003, Ranee was nominated and became a finalist in the category of Personal, and Professional Accomplishments, Social Commitment and an Important Contribution to the Advancement of Women, an award to be given for, Women of Distinction 2003 by The Women’s Y Foundation of Montreal. On April 23rd, Ranee was given the award in the category for Arts and Culture and on October 4th 2007 an award for appreciation and contribution to the development of the McGill Jazz Program by the McGill Schulich School of Music.
On August 31, 2005 it was announced that Ranee Lee will be appointed as a Member To The Order Of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. She was invested February 17th 2006.
In the fall of 2007, Ranee recorded her eleventh album for Justin Time Records to be released in August 2008; STAY TUNED!