“A whole lot of interpretive brilliance” is how JazzTimes describes Clairdee’s soulfully alluring style and rich timbre. She swings, has an intimate, vulnerable way with a ballad, and can shout at will, revealing roots in the gospel church. Her masterly interpretation of lyrics is a gift aptly described by the inimitable Nancy Wilson, who said, “In the tradition of all great vocalists, Clairdee infuses each song with her own unique style while always remaining true to the song itself.”
Clairdee sings in night clubs, concert halls, and festivals in Edinburgh, Tokyo, Bangkok, Toronto, Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia, New York, San Francisco, Monterey, and points in between. In addition to leading her world-class band, she performs with pop orchestras, big bands, and some of America’s most notable jazz instrumentalists, including NEA Jazz Master pianist-composer Dick Hyman, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, and guitarist Russell Malone.
Clairdee’s discography as leader includes four highly regarded albums on her Declare Music label. “A Love Letter to Lena” garnered international press and was acknowledged in three categories in the 2020 Grammy® first round nominations.
A 2018 recipient of the Bay Area Jazz & Blues Artist Lifetime Achievement Award, she is a passionate advocate for music education: Professor of Jazz Voice, San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Teaching Artist, SFJAZZ and San Francisco Symphony. Clairdee serves as a Board member for the 501(C)(3) corporation, Bay Area Jazz Mobile, and Artist Advisory Committee member and mentor for Jazz in the Neighborhood.
- Applied Lessons, Jazz Voice
- BA, Fine Arts/Education, University of Colorado, Boulder
- BS, Information Systems Management, University of San Francisco
- Clairdee Trio/Quartet
Awards and Distinctions
- Bay Area Jazz & Blues Artist Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018
What is your hometown?
What is your favorite recording?
Just one? Off the top, I’d say “Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays,” “Nancy Wilson, Broadway, My Way,” and “Sarah Vaughan, After Hours.”
What are you passionate about outside of music?
Interior design, mentoring, social justice, and visual arts.
Who were your major teachers?
I started singing professionally at age 14 and have had great mentors throughout the years: John Levy, artist manager; singer Nancy Wilson; pianist Norman Simmons.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?
I’ve been singing and making music all of my life. It was a natural choice and I have no regrets.
What was a turning point in your career?
Being chosen for representation by John Levy, artist manager to the greats: Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, Joe Williams, et al.
If you weren’t a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?
What is your daily practice routine?
15 minutes: breathing exercises, long tones, and scales. I’m usually singing throughout the day working on material.
If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?
George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn, and Stevie Wonder.
What is your unrealized project?
Recording with a symphony orchestra.
What recordings can we hear you on?
Clairdee: A Love Letter to Lena (Declare Music) 2020
Clairdee: Stand Up (Declare Music) 2018
Clairdee: Music Moves (Declare Music) 2005
Clairdee: This Christmas (Declare Music) 2002
Clairdee: Destination Moon (Declare Music) 2000