When legendary Phil Ramone discovered and signed Lauren at a Bitter End performance in NYC in 1997, people began to really take notice of her fiercely creative voice and original music. With influences steeped in jazz, followed closely by her love of the great singer/songwriters, she has morphed a style that borrows from both disciplines while moving the original song forward in new and unexpected ways. Any way you look at it, she’s a jazz vocalist with a broad imagination and an appetite for mixing things up. Phil called her a true songstress.
Many agree that veteran vocalist and composer Lauren Kinhan is at the peak of her form as shown on her latest project, Circle in a Square. Jazz Journal called it “a vocal tour de force,” and the Midwest Record said, “this set sounds familiar but like nothing you’ve heard before… giving us a nu kind of jazz thrush without the tortured artist effect.” Jazz Times simply said, “Lauren has never shone brighter.” Partnered with the great engineer and producer Elliot Scheiner and seed money from a successful Kickstarter campaign, she has unleashed 12 exquisitely crafted songs that push boundaries and buttons. Written primarily through the jazz lens, Lauren set the songs on a traditional jazz trio and punctuated it throughout with many special guest performances from Randy Brecker, Romero Lubambo Donny McAslin, Chuck Loeb, Joel Frahm, and Gary Versace. “These twisting, unpredictable tunes seem to offer up more on each repeat listen,” said Jazz Journal, “with Kinhan’s supple voice running at full pelt through a broad musical palette. Circle in a Square was released January 7, 2014. “It simply does not get much better than this. 5 Stars!” shouts Bop-N-Jazz.
Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times wrote about Lauren’s acclaimed 2010 release Avalon, “Sweet surprises lurk around every corner shaping a pastiche that is hip, intelligent and vibrant.” Lauren describes it as her “getting back on her bike CD.” “Parenthood changes everything, from the way you look at life, at yourself and at your personal goals and limits,” says Lauren. Avalon was made over an 8 year time span, the first tracking date occurred when she was newly pregnant and then put aside for future reference. “Dory and a Single Oar” was an important outgrowth of that tracking session, cementing a new approach to melding jazz and singer/songwriter sensibilities in her writing process. While the CD meanders a bit more broadly than Circle in a Square, all signs pointed to her being on the right path. Jewels like “Here is my Avalon,” string hued “Here After,” and “There Alone Go I” are some of the standouts. Jazziz publisher Michael Fagien said “I can’t stop listening to it. She mines deep reservoirs of emotion and experience throughout;” so much so he also included “Here After” on the Jazziz Spring Sampler in 2010.
Since 1992, Lauren has been a member of the internationally acclaimed New York Voices; a career that has taken her all over the world and allowed her to work with some of music’s gems like Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Bobby McFerrin, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Ivan Lins and The Manhattan Transfer. NYV celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2013 with two new projects, New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band (CD) and their much anticipated Holiday CD, Let it Snow. Their ever growing list of programs keep them busy with world class symphonies and big bands and their successful educational division has grown from offering Master Classes and Workshops all over the world to producing the annual New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp which attracts students of all ages and phases of life from all over the world, currently in partnership with Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
New York Voices participated on one Grammy winning project and one Latin Grammy winning project with their featured work on the Count Basie Orchestra’s Live at the Machester Craftsman Guild in 1997 and on Paquito D’Rivera’s Brazilian Dreams in 2003. They continue to use the choral canon as the backdrop for their 2007 release, A Day Like This., and 2013’s doubly released LIVE with the WDR Big Band and the much anticipated holiday albumLet it Snow.
Lauren’s versatility as a composer is evidenced in her contributions to New York Voices’ CDs over the years, and co-founding two other super groups, Moss and JaLaLa. Moss, made up of Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge and Lauren, released their self-titled CD, Moss, in 2008 to rave reviews. In 2010, it was included in DownBeat’s ‘Best CDs of the 2000s’ issue. JaLaLa is short for Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer), Laurel Massé (founding member of The Manhattan Transfer) and Lauren Kinhan, and they released their tribute to Johnny Mercer, That Old Mercer Magic, in 2009.
Her debut solo project, Hardly Blinking, was produced by Phil Ramone, Frank Filipetti and Rob Mounsey and was mixed by Frank and Elliot Scheiner in 2000. It shows off the influence that Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell had on her early writing. The collection of songs were pulled directly from a live performance at the Bitter End in NYC that Phil Ramone attended and then signed her on the spot. Expect categories to be dashed with rock anthems sitting next to art pieces. “Ask Amelia,” “I Saw Love Today,” and “Heaven and Earth” are particular high notes.
You can hear Lauren’s voice on the multi-Grammy nominated Bobby McFerrin project VOCAbuLaireS and Ornette Coleman’s 1996 release Sound Museum, Three Women. She toured with Ornette, culminating with his 1997 Lincoln Center retrospective, “?Civilization” featuring Billie Higgins, Charlie Haden and Gerrie Allen. In 1996 Lauren and Japan’s rising star guitarist/producer Jiro Yoshida teamed up to release Guitar and the Moon. The stellar quartet, featuring Eddie Gomez, showcases her personal take on singing the standards.
Lauren served on the Board of Governors for the Recording Academy’s NY Chapter from 2008-2010. She currently sits on the committees for Education, Jazz and Grammy Career Day. Teaching and mentoring are a big part of her schedule. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.