Diane Schuur

Since first stepping onstage to sing at age nine, vocalist Diane Schuur has earned respect and garnered praise from such legendary musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and B.B. King. Schuur has been nominated for five, and has received two, Grammy Awards for "Best Jazz Vocalist," as well as headlining many of the world's most prestigious music venues, including Carnegie Hall. Leonard Feather, the venerable father of contemporary jazz criticism, rightly dubbed Schuur, "a singer with all the right qualities – technique, range, adaptability to various pop, gospel, jazz and blues concepts." Schuur's third Concord Records release, Midnight proves Feather right once again.
At the helm of Midnight is superstar Barry Manilow and his co-producer and co-writer, Eddie Arkin. "Deedles," as Diane has been known since childhood, describes working with Barry as one of the best musical collaborations of her career. Over the course of a year, Manilow and his long-time songwriting team – co-producer, arranger and guitarist Arkin and lyricists Marty Panzer, Bruce Sussman, and Adrienne Anderson – composed thirteen songs for Deedles. "No one's ever done anything like this for me," she confesses. "The writing was done so lovingly, with such forethought. It's pretty powerful."
Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1953, Schuur grew up in nearby Auburn where her father was a police captain. It was her father, who played piano and her mother, who played Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington records in the house, who introduced Deedles to jazz.
A self-taught pianist, Schuur began playing her favourite tunes by ear on her great-aunt's Hammond B-3 organ. Schuur's ease at the keyboard combined with the rare gift of perfect pitch and a precociously resonant voice, made her talent clear from early on.
Schuur gave her first public performance at a Holiday Inn in Tacoma at the age of nine, and began formally studying piano at the Washington State School for the Blind, which she attended until she was eleven. After finishing her studies in public school, Diane made her début recording for Decca in 1971. It included a country single entitled, Dear Mommy and Daddy. Continuing to study music (focusing on jazz) while gigging around the Northwest, her first big break came in 1975. It was then that an informal backstage audition with trumpeter Doc Severinsen (then leader of The Tonight Show band) landed her a spot with Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy's group at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
At the festival, Schuur sang a gospel suite, which impressed audience member Stan Getz, who exclaimed in an interview, "I couldn't believe what I heard." The performance prompted Getz to invite Diane to participate in a PBS broadcast of a young talent showcase at the White House. This led to a return White House performance and her first major label deal. The resulting album, Deedles (GRP), was an instant hit with critics and listeners alike. Over the next thirteen years, Schuur made eleven albums for GRP, including two Grammy winners: Timeless and Diane Schuur & The Count Basie Orchestra. This album spent 33 consecutive weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard jazz charts. In 1991, her album, Pure Schuur, made the Nr. 1 slot on the Contemporary Jazz charts. Collaborating with B. B. King in 1994, Schuur recorded Heart to Heart, which was the first time a GRP album had entered the Billboard charts at Number 1.
Diane Schuur has toured Japan, Europe, Malaysia and South America and performed in tributes to Irving Berlin (1988) and Ella Fitzgerald (1993) at Carnegie Hall. In 1996 she was honoured to perform for the king of Thailand at his Golden Jubilee.
Legendary producer Ahmet Ertegun produced her album, Music Is My Life, for Atlantic in 1999. Shortly after making the recording, Schuur signed with her current label, Concord Records . Starting off at Concord, Schuur released, Swingin' For Schuur (2001), a swinging album that features trumpet king Maynard Ferguson, in a first-time collaboration. Together, the artists create a remarkable potency with their stratospheric flights and tonal clarity. It is no wonder Diane Schuur is referred to as "The First Lady of Jazz."
November of 2002 found Diane Schuur in a Hollywood recording studio with singer-songwriter Barry Manilow. Manilow and veteran producer Eddie Arkin worked with Schuur to make her latest Concord recording - Midnight - come to life. "It was a joy to participate in this project with Barry," says Schuur. "It's the most important album of my career to date."
Diane Schuur continues to enthral audiences through her ability to bring moving emotions to her powerful voice, of which she states, "When I sing, I feel this warmth exuding from my heart, out towards the people in the audience. It's a real energy exchange."