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Jazz Vocalist René Marie Is Determined To Craft Songs With Moral Conscience

Vocalist and songwriter René Marie.
Lawrence Sumulong
Vocalist and songwriter René Marie.

"It just takes time, time to get it right." René Marie wrote that line for a tender song about an extramarital affair, but it could easily apply to the arc of her jazz career, which began when she was in her 40s.

Marie has built her career on the foundation of truth-telling songs like that one, "Go Home." She's the rare jazz vocalist who has put songwriting at the very heart of her enterprise, addressing the human condition through an unvarnished personal lens.

In this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll get to know the person behind that personality: how Marie came up in Virginia, telling stories and making up songs; how she left the Jehovah's Witnesses and her first marriage in search of freedom; how she found her true voice as an artist of political and moral conscience.

"I don't see the sense in singing empty songs, or songs void of some type of oomph," she says.

We'll hear Marie in concert with her working band at Dizzy's Club in New York, and you'll see what she means.

Set List:

  • "I Like You"
  • "Go Home"
  • "Colorado River Song"
  • "Surrey With The Fringe On Top"
  • All songs written by René Marie, except "Surrey With The Fringe On Top," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.


    René Marie: vocals; John Chin: piano; Dan Wilson: guitar; Elias Bailey: bass; Quentin Baxter: drums.


    Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Rob Macomber; Tech Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

    Copyright 2022 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

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