“A singer blessed with an unmistakable timbre and attack who has expanded the playing field” (Gary Giddins), Cassandra Wilson is an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer from Jackson, Mississippi who incorporates blues, country and folk music into her work. Designated a Jazz Master in Residence at Harvard, she will discuss her career and creative process during a conversation moderated by Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African and African American Music. Wilson will also appear in concert with the Harvard Jazz Bands on Saturday, April 8 at 8 pm, Sanders Theatre; for tickets and other information, visit the Harvard Box Office website.
Cassandra Wilson began playing piano at six, guitar by the age of twelve and was working as a vocalist by the mid-‘70s, singing a wide variety of material. After moving to New York City in the early ‘80s, Cassandra met saxophonist Steve Coleman and became one of the founding members of the M-Base Collective.
At the completion of her stint with M-Base, Cassandra sought a more acoustic context for her vocal expression. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1992 and released a landmark album titled “Blue Light ‘Til Dawn,” which would pave the way for a new generation of jazz singers seeking an approach and repertoire that challenged the supremacy of the American Standard songbook.
Wilson has continued interpreting in fresh and creative ways jazz, vintage blues, country and folk music up until the present day. Her awards include: two Grammys, the Django D’Or, The Edison Music Award, and a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. She also performed one of the leading roles in Wynton Marsalis’ “Blood on the Fields,” the first jazz work to receive a Pulitzer Prize.
In 2015, Cassandra Wilson joined forces with the prestigious label Legacy, a subsidiary of Sony Music. Her latest project, “Coming Forth By Day,” was released on the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth—April 7, 2015.