Russell is from New York, born in 1956 to Luis Russell, a pianist, composer and longtime bandleader for Louis Armstrong, and Carline Ray, a bassist and vocalist who performed with Mary Lou Williams and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
While she's been active in the music business for many years, Russell's career as a solo artist took a while to blossom. Before releasing her debut album Cat in 2002, she earned a living as an in-demand backup singer on tours and recordings with major artists including Steely Dan, Levon Helm, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Smith, and Rosanne Cash.
Though she's held on to some of those gigs - even getting a feature spot in the show on recent tours of the Dukes of September (Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs) - her solo career has grown to occupy more and more of her time. Since her debut, Russell has released four more albums, the most recent of which, Bring It Back, came out in February on the Jazz Village label, and in 2012 won a Grammy Award for her appearance as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Given her family connections to jazz history, it seems appropriate that Russell has found a niche as a solo artist by interpreting songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s for a contemporary audience, and today we've got a few samples of her vocal stylings for you to enjoy.
In the video up at the top of this post, recorded in 2009 in the Netherlands with pianist Mark Shane, you can hear Russell perform "Back O' Town Blues," written by her father and Louis Armstrong.
The next four clips all were recorded in March 2012 at the The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and feature Russell performing with a band that includes guitarist and musical director Matt Munisteri, along with Mark Shane (piano), Lee Hudson (bass), Mark McLean (drums), Jon-Erik Kelso (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Dan Block (sax, clarinet), Andy Farber (saxes), Dave Brown (trumpet), and Scott Robinson (saxes). The first number is "Everybody Loves My Baby," followed by "Romance In The Dark," "Ev'ntide," and "No More."
In the sixth and final clip, Russell talks about her latest album, Bring It Back. For more about Catherine Russell, check out this interview from earlier this year on the Tavis Smiley Show; and these recent features from the Boston Globe and World Music Central.
(See the rest of today's videos after the jump...)