“A beguiling soulfulness” – Jazz Times, Jan/Feb 2017
Winner of the 2016 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Deelee Dubé (pronounced Doo-bay, accented “é”) is a one of the most gifted vocalists to have emerged from the London scene in many years. Embodying a stellar African musical lineage, the eclectic tastes of a London upbringing and a deep love and respect for the jazz tradition, Deelee possesses what Jazz Times called ‘a warm tone, genuine blues feeling and easy rhythmic authority.’
Deelee’s late father was the famed South African jazz pianist Jabu Nkosi; her grandfather another legendary figure from the country’s music scene, saxophonist and bandleader Zacks (Isaac) Nkosi. Deelee was brought up with music all around her, and formed her first band at the age of 14. She attended the BRIT School for arts and music, and received formal voice sessions under Anton Browne later studying under vocalist Clare Foster, and forming the first of many musical relationships with jazz pianist Roland Perrin. She has most recently been under the private tutelage of Jazz artist and teacher Rachel Gould and Renato D’Aiello who also acts as her mentor.
A songwriter as well as a singer, Deelee has had her work reach the semi-finals of the UK Song writing (UKSC) Contest. She also teaches as a freelance voice coach and singing teacher, conducting one-to-one sessions under her business ‘Vocal InsightTM’, based around the Estill Voice Training System. Her sessions combine her own experiential knowledge with music theory. Deelee is also a poet, and her work has been published in Write & Shine (Poetry Now Young Writers Book, 1995) and the Book of Dreams (United Press, 2010).
A regular performer at the legendary London venue Ronnie Scott’s with saxophonist Renato D’Aiello, Deelee has played at the Hackney Empire, The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Troubadour, Pizza Express (Dean St.) Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, 12 Bar, Bush Hall, Caffe Chioggia (Venice, Italy), the Royal Albert Hall, 606 Club, The Troubadour, and many other venues large and small. She has appeared in music videos for Florence & The Machine and BarclayCard, and in April 1998 performed in the chorus of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Ask Deelee about her influences and musical loves, and they just spill out, from the great Jazz instrumentalists – Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Quincy Jones, Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Coleman Hawkins, George Benson, Art Farmer, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, Bud Powell, Teddy Wilson, James Moody, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver, George and Ira Gershwin, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington – and the Jazz vocalists – Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Harry Connick Jr, Jimmy Scott, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ernestine Anderson, Nat King Cole, Abbey Lincoln, Anita O’Day, Betty Carter, Ethel Waters, Dianne Reeves, and of course Sarah Vaughan – to pop – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Jeff Buckley, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston – to classic songwriting – Nick Drake, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Burt Bacharach – to Classical – Bach, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Monteverdi, Handel, Saint- Saëns, Holst, Elgar, Satie, Dvorak, Liszt, Debussy, Vivaldi, Bernstein, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Chopin – to Soul and Motown – Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Jackie Wilson, Bill Withers, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, James Brown, Bill Withers, Minnie Riperton, Chaka Khan, Teena Marie, Gil Scott Heron, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott – to Rock – Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Eagles, The Doors, Beatles, Carlos Santana, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix – to Brazilian – Joao and Bebel Gilberto, Ellis Regina, Gilberto Gil, Jobim – to Gospel and Spirituals – Mahalia Jackson – to Country and folk – Patsy Cline, Nick Drake – to Blues – Etta James, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Big Mama Thornton, Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, Skip James, BB King to – World and Reggae – Miriam Makeba, Omara Portuondo, Celia Cruz, Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Amalia Rodrigues, Paco de Lucia, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Gregory Isaacs, and beyond. Deelee Dubé brings to life a whole world of music.
“Exploring the cello tones that informed her bottom register (and were reminiscent of The Divine One herself)” Downbeat (Sarah Vaughan Intl. Jazz Vocal Competition, 2016 review, 23rd November 2016)
‘A voice of deep grainy power … Dubé has a quick-witted musicality’ Daily Telegraph
“[…] the eventual winner, London chanteuse Deelee Dubé, displayed a beguiling soulfulness and a relaxed, solid sense of swing.” Jazztimes (Sarah Vaughan Intl. Jazz Vocal Competition, 2016 review, 23rd November 2016)
‘The rich tones of Dubé’s voice immediately brought a hint of her idol [Sarah] Vaughan … the high notes ringing bell-like with the resonant tones of bassist Jay Dervish’ Cabaret Scenes, January 2017
“Authentic, swinging, soulful: Here’s to Deelee Dubé, NJPAC’s 5th Sarah Vaughan vocal comp winner! The Divine One is smiling from on high!” John Schreiber NJPAC President and CEO