It's not too often when an artist earns a Grammy Award nomination for their debut album. Last year, it happened to jazz singer Carla Cook whose CD "It's All About Love" put her into the same league as vocalists Dianne Reeves, Etta James, Cassandra Wilson and Diana Krall. Krall won the Grammy but that didn't stop Cook from going right back into the studio. This much talked-about newcomer now has an equally impressive follow-up album.
Carla Cook loves to sing as much as than anything else. She was only five when she sang in her church choir. As a teenager, Carla absorbed the Motown sound in her native Detroit. She also studied piano and bass guitar. After earning a degree in Speech Communication, Carla moved to New York, and worked full-time on her singing career. Since 1995, she's appeared with numerous jazz stars, including the legendary Lionel Hampton, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Chestnut appeared on Cook's first two albums.
Carla Cook credits a radio station in Detroit for her eclectic musical tastes. She says it was "a station that would play Eubie Blake one minute, Weather Report the next, and Eddie Jefferson all the time." In fact, Carla's such a devoted Eddie Jefferson fan, she dedicated a tune called "Oh Gee" to the late jazz singer.
Carla Cook admits she's never limited herself to one style of music. She says R&B, classical and even country became a part of her musical repertoire. Her version of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode To Billie Joe," featuring Cyrus Chestnut on keyboards, James Genus on bass, Fred Wesley on trombone, Billy Kilson on drums and Jeffrey Haynes on percussion.
This weekend Carla appeared in concert at the historic Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, Missouri. Carla Cook's title track from her new album is "Dem Bones."