Jazz singer Jane Monheit loves to sing like Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bernadette Peters, but still likes to belt out “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on karaoke nights.
“Music should be fun,” Monheit explains. “You have to find fun in what you do and not take yourself too seriously.”
Monheit continues to find joy in her critically acclaimed career, which began at age 20 when she was the first runner-up in the 1998 Theolonius Monk Institute vocal competition. Since then she has recorded several successful jazz-pop albums, including 2007's major label debut Surrender. Her latest release, The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me, shows her diverse tastes in music, ranging from jazz to Brazilian to rock. Her supple voice can smoothly adapt to all of these genres, making her a distinctive vocalist in today’s jazz scene.
Her voice has developed since working with New York Voices member Peter Eldridge, who served as her first and only vocal coach. By 2000 she released her debut, Never Never Land, which received great critical acclaim (including the Jazz Journalist Association’s award for Best Debut). The album became a fixture on the Billboard Jazz charts for over a year, and critics hailed her as the “next big thing” in jazz. Her follow-up, Come Dream with Me, reached the top of the jazz charts and earned a Grammy nomination. Another Grammy nomination followed with 2003’s In the Sun, and her 2007 album Surrender debuted at number one on the Billboard Jazz charts.
Reflecting on her nine-year career, she admits that she sounds like “an innocent baby” on her older recordings. On subsequent releases such as Come Dream with Me and 2004’s Taking A Chance on Love, she began showing greater diversity in music choices; on the former CD, she recorded songs such as Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “Hit the Road to Dreamland” and Bread’s 70s hit “If.” By Surrender she fully delved into Brazilian music, recording with carioca legend Ivan Lins and Brasil ’66 founder Sergio Mendes.