Tessa Souter

Instrument: Vocalist | Location: New York City

A beguiling arts who infuses everything she interprets with voluptuous intelligence and keen emotional insight.
—KQED Arts

Updated: September 5, 2019

Born: April 3, 1956

Striking, soulful, enchanting” (Washington Post), “expressive” (New York Times), “stunningly original (Jazz Times), Anglo-Trinidadian Tessa Souter, whose music contains “Middle Eastern, Brazilian and flamenco elements in an airy jazz framework” (Philadelphia City Paper), has established herself as “an uncommonly creative vocalist and songwriter over the past two decades.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

A jazz vocalist with a sumptuous sound and an unerring ear for fresh and unexpected material—Illustrious fans include acid jazz-vocalist Jon Lucien (“Magnificent! She blew me away!”), jazz vocal legend, Mark Murphy (“Remarkable and very moving.”), and NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan (”A beautiful voice and a beautiful soul. At the top of my list of great talent. She really moves me.”)—Souter knows her way around the American Songbook’s back pages. But ever since the release of her 2004 debut, Listen Love, she has cast an increasingly wide net, from contributing original lyrics to instrumental jazz standards, and re- imagining classic British rock, to her Third Stream project, Beyond the Blue—a London Sunday Times Jazz Record of the Year, starring Steve Kuhn and featuring Souter’s original lyrics to classical gems by Albinoni, Chopin et al.

Born and raised in London, Souter was making her way in the early 1990s as a freelance journalist in San Francisco—where she was one of the original six members of the storied Writer’s Grotto— when she first considered switching careers. She’s thrived since moving to New York in 1997, collaborating with an impressive roster of players.

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...a talented... broadly imaginative singer. NEW YORK TIMES

Souter, whose musical sophistication gives her a significant advantage in the competitive clamor surrounding the current world of ambitious female jazz artists, also has the rare quality of authenticity. Unlike many of her contemporaries she seems more focused on exploring the limitless creativity of the art than simply having another go at the Great American Songbook. LOS ANGELES TIMES

On her amazing album Listen Love, she delivers powerful versions of nonstandards such as Pat Martino’s “Willow” and Pharoah Sanders’ complex “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” in addition to her originals, all delivered in a crystal-clear voice with diamond-cut phrasing and a slight tinge of melancholy

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Primary Instrument



New York City

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced