Cover of Stacey Kent's latest CD, The Boy Next Door (Candid Records, 2003)
Jazz singer Stacey Kent's story would make a good Hollywood movie. She grew up in New Jersey, and was studying languages and literature for a masters degree in Europe when she had a chance meeting with a saxophone player in Oxford, England, that changed her life.
The sax player, Jim Tomlinson, would later become her husband. After a year's study at the Guildhall School of Music in England, she hit the London jazz scene. Her first demo tape led to a contract and a first album, Close Your Eyes. Kent now can boast a string of five best-selling CDs and an armful of awards, including the 2001 British Jazz Award and 2002 BBC Jazz Award for Best Vocalist.
With her latest CD, The Boy Next Door, Kent hopes to make an even bigger splash in the United States. And on the album, she's paying tribute to her own American heroes — the singers she grew up listening to, representing many different genres.
"Perry Como wasn't that different to me than Paul Simon or Ray Charles," she tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "I was just a kid with a really, hugely voracious appetite for music."