Jazz Vocalist Rhonda Robinson
"Yay!! Carmen McRae"
A tribute to Carmen McRae
Rhonda Robinson, vocals
Charlie Sigler, guitar
Steve Synk, bass
Robert Shahid, drums
Carmen McRae (1920-1994) was a jazz singer known for her probing interpretations of lyrics and her bruised but unbowed point of view. Although Ms. McRae never reached the heights of popularity attained by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday, she was widely regarded as their artistic equal. Her prolific recording career spanned nearly five decades. She had her first break when she won an amateur talent contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. It was there that she was discovered in 1939 by Irene Kitchings, who was then married to the jazz pianist Teddy Wilson. Through Wilson, who worked with Billie Holiday, Ms. McRae met the woman who became her biggest influence and who recorded Ms. McRae's song "Dream of Life." "If Billie Holiday had never existed," Ms. McRae later recalled, "I probably wouldn't have, either." In January 1994, she received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Fellowship award for lifetime achievement.
Baltimore-based jazz vocalist/flutist Rhonda Robinson grew up in Indian Head, MD singing in church choirs and in school musicals. She also studied piano and played flute in school band. After studying acting, voice, and dance at theAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, she was drawn to jazz while studying with Grammy®-nominated jazz vocalist, Janet Lawson. Appearing all over the Baltimore-Washington region, the Rhonda Robinson Quartet has opened for poet/activist Amiri Baraka and Blue Ark Ensemble at Univ. of Baltimore and performed at clubs, restaurants, festivals & private events including: An die Musik concert venue, Federal Hill Jazz & Blues Festival, Tremont Hotels’ Jazz Nights, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Charles Village Festival, Mt. Vernon Lazy Sundays Concert Series, The Walters Art Museum, The Johns Hopkins University, Lexington Market Concert Series, Mark Cottman Art Gallery, Laurel Mall, Renaissance Harbor Hotel, Downtown Southern Blues Restaurant, Old Town Bowie Saturday Concert Series, and many others. Rhonda gives educational concerts, workshops and artist residencies in area schools.
She is a member of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance and performs at schools and museums with their “Jazz for Kids” Quintet. Rhonda also sings with the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus, recently appearing at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall and with JOYOUS VOICES a cappella holiday carolers. For 2 ½ years, Rhonda performed Sunday mornings playing piano, flute, and singing at the Spiritual Empowerment Center with the MUSICAL MIND TREATMENT band. Since 2010, she had been the featured vocalist every 4th Wednesday of the month for Holy Comforter Church's JAZZ VESPERS services in Baltimore. She is known for her “beautiful” voice, singing in 8 different languages in a classic jazz style with a progressive edge.
Guitarist Charlie Sigler has been teaching and performing in the Baltimore/ Washington since he was in high school. While at Towson High School, Charlie was chosen for the Baltimore All-County Jazz Ensemble three consecutive years and participated in the Maryland All-State Jazz Ensemble. After graduating, Charlie decided to move to New Jersey to attend William Paterson University where he has had the opportunity to work with musicians such as Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern, Vincent Herring, Gene Bertoncini and Cecil Bridgewater. Throughout his career he has performed with many excellent musicians such as Eric Alexander, Harold Mabern, Dave Stryker, Joshua Breakstone, Warren Wolf, Jeff Reed, Tim Murphy, Michael Raitzyk, Craig Alston, Greg Thompkins and Dave Ballou among others. In addition he has performed at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Litchfield Jazz Festival, Berks Jazz Festival, the Station North Arts Festival, the Eubie Blake Center with the Eubie Blake Big Band, Twins Jazz, Caton Castle, Cecil's Jazz Club and at many other clubs and venues throughout the region.
Steve Synk is a Jazz Bassist in the Baltimore/D.C. area. A native of Howard County, Steve was a Maryland All-State bassist and was awarded the Louis Armstrong award for excellence in Jazz upon his graduation from River Hill High School. In the Spring of 2009, he accepted the Richard and Elizabeth Case Jazz Scholarship to attend the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD, where he pursued his musical studies under the guidance of Michael Formanek. A current student of Tom Baldwin, Steve will complete his undergraduate studies in jazz at the University of Maryland. So far, over the course of his brief tenure on the Baltimore/Washington scene, Steve has had the good fortune to perform with such notable artists as Peter Erskine, Johnny O’Neal, Lafayette Gilchrist, Jay Clayton, Eric Allen, Bob Butta, and Eric Kennedy.
Robert E. Shahid is a graduate of Florida A&M University and grew up with a constant musical influence in the city of Philadelphia, Pa. His Mother sang opera, aunt composed & played piano, grandfather sang in the famed Phila. Male chorus, Uncle was a legendary vibraphonist for Dave Brubeck, Lynn Hope & Red Prysock. With those musical influences Robert studied drums in high school and at Philadelphia’s Brenner School of Music later founding “The New Philadelphia Jazz Quintet”. Robert has been privileged to perform with Nat Adderly, Rufus Harley, Red Prysock, The Fabulous Emotions, Bobby Timmons, Percy Mayfield, Melton Mustafa, and has been invited to sit in or “share the stage” with countless others. Robert has been a contributor to the famed Baltimore music scene and has been instrumental in performing for and encouraging youth to pursue their musical interest. “The language of music has been the most constant common denominator for the sharing of appreciation for the gift of life” (rs) Robert currently performs regularly with a wide variety of ensembles with great appreciation & respect for those whose company he keeps.