Interview With Jazz Vocalist Charenée Wade


Photo credit: Laura Diliberto

This Thursday February 9 at 8 p.m., ArtPower of UCSD presents Charenée Wade, an award-winning young American vocalist currently making waves in both jazz and soul/R&B circles, to the San Diego community.

Known for her expert vocal improvisational ability and seriously swinging groove, Wade performs from her latest album Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.

Raved by the Guardian as a “triumphant Gil Scott-Heron tribute,” Offering showcases Wade’s excellent storytelling and subtle vocal prowess.

About Charenée Wade

First Runner-Up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition, Charenée Wade is a notable singer, composer, arranger and educator who received her degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

Her accolades include Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program where she performed her original music at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; being one of the talented four chosen for the Dianne Reeves Young Artist Workshop at Carnegie Hall; 1st Runner-Up in the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition; and being selected for the JAS Academy Summer Sessions, 2007-09, directed by Christian McBride.

Charenée is currently a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music, City College, and with the Jazzmobile Workshop program. She teaches various workshops and clinics and was an esteemed judge for the 2010 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, alongside Dr. Billy Taylor and Grady Tate.

Charenée performs internationally and graces the stages of the Jazz Gallery, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy Coca Cola’s, the legendary Smalls and the Zinc Bar in NYC.

Her debut CD, Love Walked In was released in July 2010.

ThereSanDiego Talks With Charenée Wade

TSD: Who or what inspired you to be a jazz musician?

My earliest memory was Sarah Vaughn. I never had a chance to meet her, but she was so soulful and an outstanding musician.

I remember her as a part of my life as early as 8 years old.

Betty Carter and Carmen McRae were major influences. From them, I really got my desire to arrange and compose as a vocalist.

I obsessed about their music and their presentation – that’s when I got truly hooked.

A photo posted by Tobi Ewing (@_tobiwithaneye) on

TSD: Your band has been together for a long time. How long? How did you meet?

We’ve known each other individually for 5 to as long as 12 years.

As a musician, you meet each other out doing gigs and running into each other at a jam session.

I met Darrell Green (drums) at a bar in New York, at a jam session. A couple of years later we started working together more often. Then in the last couple of years we started touring.

Paul Beaudry (bass), I’ve known for a long time. He was working with some very well known people, so he was hard to get and I am very grateful to be working with him.

Oscar Perez (piano) I’ve known the longest. We started playing together at restaurant gig in NYC. And he was a part of the first record I self-produced.

So I’ve known each of them for quite some time, but we really only started playing together as a group just a couple of years ago. It’s the tour that made that possible.

I feel really honored to be able to go on tour with this record and to have them be a part of it. They are all extremely talented and bring a lot to it.

TSD: What do you like to do outside of music that you believe contributes to your music?

Oh wow. I think the short answer is ‘just live’. Meeting other people. Living life. Pursuing whatever interests me even if it’s not career focused.

Experiencing other cultures. I’m a New Yorker, and I think that’s a big part of being a New Yorker; meeting and experience people from all different cultures.

I’m also an educator. I’m constantly talking to people and having to figure out different ways to explain or express ideas to them. That makes me self-reflective, and I think that plays a big part in my music.

And I Iove to explore other artistic venues, particularly dance. I think the movement of dance really impacts the way I compose my music.

TSD: You have a performance coming up…what would you like people to know about it?

Well, a lot of it will be songs from my current album, Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Herson.

But I’m likely to throw in a few surprises from my next record as well!


TSD: What is it about Gil Scott-Heron that inspired you to create this album?

His lyrics and message are so important, especially right now.

If we are to create a world where everyone can live together in a peaceful and loving way, we have to acknowledge where we are standing right now first.

I believe that’s what Gil’s message was.

His audacity to tell the truth.

To tell the world about the circumstances of black people – and disenfranchised people in general – and his courage to do it unapologetically.

When he did that, it wasn’t common or accepted or even safe to put that message out publicly.

But he did it courageously, and I want my music to help tell his story.

TSD: What would you tell our readers that are considering coming to your performance?

I hope they come and have a great time, and to be ready to be a PART of the music.

It’s not just about me and my band being on stage, it’s about what we call ‘communing’.

And I truly hope that they enjoy themselves.


Tickets & Additional Info

Tickets are $23–35 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 858.534.TIXS (8497).

More information can be found at:


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