Rene Marie, Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

Rene Marie performs her own music... and that of jazz legends... at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Herman Burney joins her on bass, with Quentin Baxter playing drums and Kevin Bales on piano.

René Marie

As Dee Dee Bridgewater observes, singers are at the mercy of what the songwriting community has to offer. The songbook is deep and wondrous, but sometimes a woman just has to take matters into her own hands! And so it is, on this edition of JazzSet, we have René Marie, a gem of a musician with a beautiful voice who crafts her own material, closing the 2005 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center.

René Marie grew up in Virginia. She married young and took the next 20 years away from performing. During that time, she learned the songbooks of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, breath for breath. Her method was listen (over and over), learn and practice. René left her job at a bank, moved from Roanoke to Richmond, and began to perform in the Washington, D.C., area. In the year 2000, she released her first album on the Max Jazz label. The title song was autobiographical, "How Can I Keep from Singing?"

René loves to experiment with and personalize songs, even when it's scary. She first segued between "Dixie" and "Strange Fruit," with its powerful lyric about lynching, at a small club in Mississippi. The audience gave her a standing ovation. Both black and white people came up to her afterwards, to talk about childhood experiences with racism.

René has continued with the Max Jazz label, releasing Vertigo and a CD that she co-produced, Live at the Jazz Standard. Her Serene Renegade CD opens with "Red Shoes," as does this outstanding JazzSet.


René Marie
"Red Shoes" (written by René Marie, Stoan Publishing) "Disconnect" (a world premiere, written by René Marie) "Send in the Clowns" (Stephen Sondheim, Revelation Music Publishing, ASCAP) "Ballad of the Runaway Horse" (Leonard Cohen, Sony ATV Songs, ASCAP) "O Nina" for Nina Simone (René Marie) "When You're Smiling/Smile" (medley) (Ash & Campling, Universal Songs of Polygram, BMI / Charles Chaplin et al, Bourne Co., ASCAP) "Some Other Time" (Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, the Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Co., ASCAP) WEB RESOURCES

  • René Marie Official Web site

  • For René Marie on the Max Jazz Label
  • The Kennedy Center Web site

    Recording Engineer: Ron Freeland, with Chris Weal and Michael Caplan of Big Mo Productions
    Writer: Brian Sanders
    Technical Director: Duke Markos
    Producer: Becca Pulliam
    Executive Producer: Thurston Briscoe III