Catherine Russell

Music moves us

Vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist / composer / bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director. Her mother, the late Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist / guitarist / bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Catherine’s professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she toured and recorded with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Toshi Reagon and Rosanne Cash, among others, appearing on over 200 albums.

Her 2006 debut album Cat, (World Village/Harmonia Mundi), garnered rave reviews, paving the way for her 2008 sophomore release, Sentimental Streak.  Catherine was a guest on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", PBS-TV’s “Tavis Smiley Show”, and NPR's "Fresh Air", “Piano Jazz”, “Mountain Stage”, “World Café”, and “Jazz Night in America.” She has won a prestigious German Record Critics' Award and a Living Blues magazine critics' poll. Catherine Russell's third album, Inside This Heart of Mine, reached #1 on JazzWeek and Roots Music Report radio charts, while also charting on Billboard and reaching #1 on ITunes jazz charts. A fourth album, Strictly Romancin’ was released in February 2012, and was awarded Prix du Jazz Vocal (Vocal Album of The Year) by the French Jazz Academy, Grand Prix du Hot Club de France, and a Bistro Award for Outstanding Recording. Also in 2012, Catherine Russell received a Grammy® Award as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO-TV series, Boardwalk Empire.

In 2013, Catherine contributed 3 songs to the soundtrack of the film, Kill Your Darlings. Her 5th solo album, Bring It Back, was released worldwide in February of 2014 on the Jazz Village label, receiving a ★★★★★ 5 Star Review in Downbeat Magazine. In September 2016, Catherine Russell released her 6th solo album, titled Harlem On My Mind, featuring songs from the Great African American Songbook, receiving a Grammy® Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Her 7th album as a leader, Alone Together, was released in March 2019 on Dot Time Records, held the #1 position on the JazzWeek 2019 Year End chart for national airplay and received her second Grammy® Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Also in 2019, Catherine appeared in the feature film Bolden, and contributed vocals to the soundtrack album by Wynton Marsalis. She appears as featured vocalist on three tracks on Big Band Holidays II, accompanied by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

With universal acclaim, Catherine Russell has performed on four continents. She's been a hit at major Jazz Festivals including Monterey, Newport, North Sea, JazzAscona, Montreal, Bern, Rochester International, Panama, Tanglewood, and at sold out venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Scullers in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in NYC, SFJazz in San Francisco, and Pasadena Pops in Los Angeles. All Music Guide says, "Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages."

Her repertoire features a selection of gems from the 1920s through the Present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. With an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach, Catherine Russell has joined the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.


“Wow! I had such a blissful time listening to each and every singer and I learned so much and was so focused on each song and singer. Catherine is such an amazing teacher. What a gift!!   In just 18 minutes Catherine took me from clumsy to confident with a song I was struggling with.  With a well crafted process and with her patience and expert guidance I learned how to work on each aspect of the song.  She then helped me layer the song back up - rhythm, vocal quality and then the lyrics. Add attitude to that and I reached the place I needed to be.  Catherine is such a wonderful teacher. She quickly can see what a singer needs. With kindness, enthusiasm and expert guidance she can take you to where you want and need to be. What a joy - to experience and watch her work!"  – Maria Corsaro



“Thank you for a fabulous class this afternoon! Before class today, I was feeling so unprepared, flustered by all the Zoom technology, and overwhelmed by the demands of my ‘day job,’ that I thought ‘what’s the point? I’ll just be wasting everyone’s time.’ But it was such a pleasure hearing the other singers and I learned so much from your comments to each and every one of them. You gave me the confidence to sing with my own voice—and even to believe in what I was doing.  What you told us you say to yourself before a performance—“There’s a reason why people are trusting me to do this. How old do I have to be before I trust myself?”—is, I realized, just what I need to say to myself when I’m teaching a class, giving a talk, or writing something I’ve been asked to write.  You’ve taught me a lot, not only as a student of singing, but as a human being, generally—as someone just trying to make her way in the world as best she can.” – Susan J. Brison



“In a warm and kind way, Catherine, very insightfully hones in on a the issues and offers  tools that are able to transform the delivery of the song.” – Susan Mack



“It was great to get straight up, thoughtful advice from a pro who is also so warm and giving. I learned so much watching Catherine work with the other singers, and then I learned what I needed to focus on improving, as well as what I was doing right. I loved this quote (paraphrased) about committing to the song, “How would you sing if you had the confidence that you were doing it right?” This advice was gold! – Kati Neiheisel



“To sing with friends in a class that seemed to fly by because we were having such a good time was good enough but, to be taught by an elegant, informative, down-to-earth, kind master teacher like Catherine Russell was amazing! We all learned not only from our time “on stage” but also from Catherine’s spot on feedback and advice to each other. It was a great day!” – Sue Matsuki


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