Sing Jazz 2017: 5 fearless females

Sing Jazz 2017: 5 fearless females

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Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Steven Cropper,
Sing Jazz 2017,
Getty Images

The Singapore International Jazz Festival 2017 is power-packed with a lineup of established and up-and-coming names. Here are our picks


Esperanza Spalding

Claim to fame: Bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding beat fellow industry folk Justin Bieber, Florence & the Machine, Drake and Mumford and Sons to win Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy Awards. The 33-year-old has also performed with the late Prince, and has been a guest performer at The White House under Barack Obama's presidency.
Influences: Cream and Mitch Mitchell are two heavy influences on Emily's D+Evolution, Esperanza Spalding's fifth studio album that was released last year.  
Fun Fact: Esperanza Spalding started her music career playing classical music when she was just five years old as a violinist with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon.
Essential listening: Unconditional Love is a rich, hazy track from Emily's D+Evolution that shows off an excellent bass.


Dira Sugandi Singapore

Claim to fame: The 39-year-old was crowned the Indonesian Young Talent  Award at Java Jazz in 2009, where she performed alongside Jason Mraz. Performing his hit song, Lucky, Dira Sugandi sang Colbie Caillat's part in Bahasa Indonesia. She's also performed with the likes of Andrea Bocelli.
Influences: Dira Sugandi counts Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Stevie Wonder, Lalah Hathaway, Beyonce and Yolanda Adams among her influences.
Fun fact: Her makeup artist turned friend, Philip Kwok, has stuck with her since her early days singing in a café in Bandung, her hometown.
Essential listening: Langit (sky) and Pelangi (rainbow), a double single she released earlier this month. Langit's a soaring ballad that will tide you through your hardest days, while Pelangi's electronic edge will get your feet tapping.

Dira Sugandi will perform at Sing Jazz 2017 as part of HITMAN David Foster & Friends, which also features Brian McKnight, Thirdstory, Chaka Khan and Nick Zavior.


Chaka Khan Singapore

Claim to fame: Chaka Khan burst into the scene in 1973 as part of Rufus and then as a solo act in 1978. There's the Queen of soul (Aretha Franklin), the Queen of Disco (Donna Summer) and of course, the Queen of Funk, an honour given to Chaka Khan. Even at 63 years old, she could also very well be the queen of hashtags, with her Twitter celebrating the likes of #MondayMotivation, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThursdayThoughts, #FineWomenFriday, and the occasional #TBT.
Influences: Chaka Khan regards Joni Mitchell as a pioneer, and has covered her songs such as Ladies Man and Hejira
Fun fact: A street in Chicago was named 'Chaka Khan Way' during a street naming ceremony in 2013. Yes, there are ceremonies for such milestones.
Essential listening: I'm Every Woman, which is probably your mom's go-to song on her night out.

Chaka Khan will perform at Sing Jazz 2017 as part of HITMAN David Foster & Friends, which also features Brian McKnight, Thirdstory, Dira Sugandi and Nick Zavior.


Nubya Garcia

Claim to fame: As part of seven-piece all-female band Nérija, the 25-year-old tenor and soprano saxophonist was nominated for Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year in 2016. Catching the attention of artists such as Giles Peterson and Mulatu Astatke (she's supported both), the south Londoner's one of the UK's up-and-coming musicians who are bringing back jazz-tinged sounds to the scene. Nubya Garcia is also part of six-piece band, Maisha.
Influences: Nubya Garcia cites calypso music as one of her recent finds, particularly Caribbean Heatwave from Mr Silvertone Show and Lord Tokyo Sings to the Nightingale by Calypso Harmonies.
Fun Fact: Her first solo project (out soon via Jazz Refreshed) will not only showcase progressive jazz, but also include hip hop and groove-led rhythms.
Essential listening: Valleys from Nérija's first EP, released last year. Running  little over six minutes, the track features a playful horn section.

Nubya Garcia will perform at Sing Jazz 2017 as part of the Zara McFarlane band with MC Earl Zinger alongside Gilles Peterson.


Corrine Bailey Rae

Claim to fame: Corinne Bailey Rae's eponymous debut album sold four million copies when it was released in 2006. In 2012, her EP Is This Love won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance.
Influences: The 38-year-old's sound is close to that of Martina Topley-Bird. Growing up, the Leeds native was also a fan of Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
Fun fact: The musician has previously shared that she doesn't feel in control of her songwriting, explaining that they just happen.
Essential listening: Corinne Bailey Rae's cover of Coldplay's The Scientist, which you might have already heard from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack.

The Singapore International Jazz Festival & The Late Show 2017 will be held from 31 March to 2 April at Marina Bay Sands, Sands Expo and Convention Centre. To book tickets, click here.