TESSA SOUTER – Ever since her Flamenco-tinged debut, Listen Love (Nara), this Anglo-Trinidian vocalist’s crystalline voice and penchant for exploring music mostly untouched by other vocalists has set her apart as “one of the few exceptional standouts in the crowded field of female jazz singers.” (LA Times). On her critically-lauded Motema debut Obsession, Tessa sang her own hypnotic composition Usha’s Wedding and a diverse array of other songs, from jazz arrangements of rock hits like Eleanor Rigby, Cream’s White Room, and Nick Drake’s Riverman, to Brazilian compositions by Milton Nascimento and Dori Caymmi, to modern jazz tunes by Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and Kenny Barron, and made them all her own. Her followup for Motema, Beyond the Blue, showcased Tessa’s own lyrics to jazz arrangements of classical gems by Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, and others, and was #6 on the London Times list of the Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2013.
Tessa’s newest CD Picture in Black & White, the second of her albums to make the Sunday Times Top Ten list, is a riveting musical account of the journey launched by her discovery at age 28 that her estranged birth father was black, having been brought up all her life to believe that she was half-Spanish, and white, and has also received extravagant praise from the critics. All of Tessa’s recordings reveal an inner-directed artist not afraid to put her personal stamp on this music. And her ability to win over an audience with her playful wit and utterly unaffected stage presence, is second to none.