Billy Higgins called her “his favorite singer.”
Andy Simpkins referred to her as “Little Sass.”
Harry Connick, Jr., insisted, “her voice was made for jazz.”
Barbara Morrison says, “no one can out sing Sandra B.”
Sandra Booker is regarded as one of the emerging and important voices in modern jazz vocal music, and she certainly lives up to her billing. Highly respected by her jazz contemporaries for her virtuosic scat ability, impeccable timing, crystalline tone and irrepressible musicality.
The New Orleans native has a style the is familiar and completely new, all at the same time. Often referred to as “the voice of jazz in the 21st century” she is creating new sounds and songs from that perspective. Her vocal tones and hues are more like someone speaking in a native tongue, revealing her deep southern and Creole roots, and her devotion to her Crescent City heritage. She uses Afro-Caribbean rhythms, beats, and textures and marries them to French chanson and gypsy melodies. She never neglects her background of jazz, soul, funk, gospel and of course, the blues, but she meticulously demonstrates her classical skills through precise enunciation, intonation and incredible technical agility. With a vocal range of four octaves, the self-described “Queen of Creole Music” blends and borrows the sounds of the African Diaspora with music from other parts of the Creole experience to create a sound and style as unique and diverse as the Big Easy itself.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008 from the University of Los Angeles, California (UCLA) in ethnomusicology with emphasis in jazz studies and was the first vocal student to receive the Julian Cannonball Adderley Memorial Scholarship and the John Densmore Music Scholarship. She has conducted vocal workshops and master classes at California State University, Northridge, Santa Monica Community College, Los Angeles Unified School District, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Civica Scuole di Musica (Sondrio, Italy) and FNAC (Clermont-Ferrand, France). Her voice has appeared in radio and television commercials for Coca-Cola and Ralph Lauren. She also performs as a member of the Gumbo Creole Players comedy troupe, based in Los Angeles and led by Saturday Night Live legend Garrett Morris, where she combines her music into hilarious standup comedy routines that highlight her life as a jazz artist and is a regular standup performer at the Downtown Comedy Club. Currently, she can be seen tearing up the comedy circuit on the “One Night Stand” tour with fellow New Orleanian, comedian CeCe Mor. Booker is also gaining a much deserved reputation as a composer and arranger. An original composition, Wandering Road, co-written by Booker and long-time friend, bandmate and producer, John Leftwich, was featured in the 2010 film, Blood Done Sign My Name, a biopic chronicling the life of NAACP President Ben Chavis at the height of the civil rights movements.
She has performed with many jazz luminaries and rising stars including Lalo Schifrin, Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Ernie Watts, Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, Estaire Godinez, Charles Ruggiero, Dale Fielder, Jesse Davis, The New Orleans Jazz Messengers, Louis Van Taylor, The Elevation Orchestra, Billy Higgins, Keith David, Billy Mitchell, Dr. Derrick Finch, Tim Welvaars, WDR Big Band, Tamir Hendelman, Robert Perkins, Patrice Rushen and Karen Briggs.
Her much-anticipated new release, When Love Happens: The Loving Day Concert (TBG Music 1101-4), was released in June 2010. This ten-track CD is an impressive collection of contemporary and sacred music. It includes six original compositions that take us on a musical journey through life, love, regret and redemption, set against the backdrop that is New Orleans’ rich Creole culture. The concert was in celebration of Loving Day, which commemorates the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, to legalize interracial marriage in all 50 states of America.
Legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell once said, “…some people got it, and some people don’t and Sandra Booker has got it all!” Experience her style of musical magic for yourself!