Vocalist and radio host Mary Foster Conklin is an old school song hound, with a special talent for uncovering lesser known treasures of the Great American Songbook and performing them in nontraditional venues. Her smoky voice with a tart twist of lemon has been described as both recognizably traditional yet unmistakably contemporary, as she puts her personal stamp on a repertoire that spans over nine decades. “Scratch her witty tough-girl-from Jersey patter,” wrote The Washington Post, “and you’ll find a sensitive artist (but not frail) with a wide-ranging boldly colored voice and an open ear for off-beat material.”
Mary Foster Conklin has appeared in theatres, jazz clubs, cabarets and even fire escapes in the metropolitan New York area and throughout the United States and Canada. She also hosts a weekly live radio show called “A Broad Spectrum – the Ladies of Jazz” celebrating women composers and lyricists on WFDU.FM on the HD2 channel Jazz and What's More.
A New Jersey native who came to New York to pursue theatre work, her transformation from actor to jazz singer began when she joined drummer/composer Art Lillard’s 15-piece Heavenly Band and her song selections naturally shifted from show tunes to blues, Latin and bebop. As a leader, her sets are a mix of contemporary material and standards, with an emphasis on the lesser known treasures of the Great American Songbook. In New York, Conklin’s talents have earned her a place on the stages of The Blue Note, Zinc Bar, Iridium, Birdland, the Kitano and the Cornelia Street Cafe. She can also be seen from time to time singing off various fire escapes as The Lady in the Red Dress with the Renegade Cabaret. Her latest project, LIFE IS A BITCH - a tribute to Beat poet/lyricist Fran Landesman, (best known for Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most and The Ballad of the Sad Young Men) has been praised by the New York Times as full of salt and vinegar — with the intensity and tough humor of someone who might have lived on the bohemian fringe in the late ’40s and ’50s, when the word ‘hip’ meant something.