The voice is more visual than audible; shaded, iridescent, tangible, substantial. It seems to flow effortlessly. Read any of the dozen or so biographies on Cassandra Wilson and you’ll discover some basics: born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and 70s by musician and educator parents.
Classically trained on piano from age 6 until the age of 13, she also received further musical instruction as a clarinetist for the concert and marching bands of secondary school. During the 70s, she could be found performing Joni Mitchell songs behind an acoustic guitar, or singing with a blues band in Little Rock, Arkansas, in front of a large funk band in Jackson, or in the company of long-time friends in an all-girls ensemble. In the eighties, Cassandra moved to New Orleans where she performed with local luminaries Earl Turbinton and Ellis Marsalis. After a year, she relocated to East Orange, New Jersey where she made a decision to take her chances on the New York jazz scene. After a stint as the main vocalist with Steve Coleman’s M-Base Collective, Cassandra began recording on her own.
Her development can be tracked through her discography. From the standards on Blue Skies to the Grammy-winning projects New Moon Daughter and Loverly, to the combination of originals and interpretations played by a collection of Mississippi and New York musicians on both the 2001 release, Belly of the Sun, and 2003’s Glamoured, Cassandra continues to evolve as a vocalist, songwriter, and producer. She is a world renowned vocalist, songwriter and producer, with an extraordinary following, but at heart she is still a Mississippi girl whose art reflects her deep musical and cultural roots, anchored in the fertile Mississippi soil.