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Jazz vocalist, singer, songwriter and song stylist Rene Marie, who has been compared by critics to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Nancy Wilson, will be featured in a concert with the John Toomey Trio at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, on the campus of Old Dominion University.

The concert is part of the F. Ludwig Diehn Concert and Residency Series, a program that brings classical and jazz musicians to Hampton Roads and provides them with an intimate setting. Concerts in this series are held in Chandler Recital Hall of the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center and are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. An endowment established at the Norfolk Foundation, made possible by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. F. Ludwig Diehn, funds this program.

Marie began her professional singing career at age 15 when she joined the Randolph Brothers, a rhythm and blues band in Roanoke. Married as a teenager, she set aside public appearances to become a full-time mother. In 1996, with her two sons in college, Marie, under the name Rene Croan, released "Renaissance," her debut CD featuring a collection of standards delivered in her unique style.

Her follow-up CD, "How Can I Keep From Singing?", recorded for the MAXJAZZ label and released in May 2000, rocketed to No. 1 on the national GAVIN Jazz Chart three months after its release. The album also placed in the top 10 on the CMJ chart for the United States and Canada and was voted by SESAC as one of the top five performing CDs for 2000.

The CD also won the Best Jazz/ Cabaret Vocal award from the American Association of Independent Musicians.

"Music emanates from the human experience. I try to pull the universal components found in all music -- joy, sorrow, playfulness, despair, love, passion, longing -- and present it within the jazz context. The result is a musical symbiosis," Marie said.

According to Neil Tesser, a critic for The Chicago Reader, "…Marie has unerringly accurate pitch. She nails every note, which gives her music an effortless authority and validates her sometimes audacious choices…Her
voice has a lovely translucency, slightly sunny with a hint of sweetness, and can capture the optimistic swing of an up-tempo tune or turn a breathy ballad into a not-so-mild aphrodisiac."

Joel Seigel, critic for NPR Jazz CD Reviews, said the bonus CD-ROM track "Thanks But I Don't Dance," which appears on her "How Can I Keep from Singing?" CD, offers only a hint of the "electricity" that Marie generates in a live performance. She becomes "so possessed by music that her body sculpts the contours of what she sings and her accompanists play."
She has toured from coast to coast and will make her European tour debut this year.

For more information about the concert, call 683-3020.

This article was posted on: October 11, 2001

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