Take Five: Shawnn Monteiro’s Top Five Jazz Recordings

Take Five: Shawnn Monteiro’s Top Five Jazz Recordings

by Kim Berry

Shawnn Monteiro is a gifted vocalist with a four-decade career as a singer with an international following. She is also jazz royalty: her father is renowned bassist Jimmy Woode and Clark Terry is her godfather. She is a former Adjunct Professor at the Hartt School of Music/Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, the University of Hartford, and Rhode Island College.  Shawnn’s latest recording is “You Are There.”

“The first song that influenced me was when I was five years old, a recording by Sarah Vaughan called ‘Lullaby of Birdland,’ released in 1954. My parents owned the record, and I played it so much. I knew it by heart and could scan the solo exactly like Sass. That was my first introduction to how jazz would affect my life.

“The second recording was again, Sarah Vaughan in 1959. It was a big hit for her on the radio called ‘Brokenhearted Melody’ and I believe she crossed over for the first time then.  I was only eight, but there was something in Sarah’s voice that spoke to me then and has through my whole career.”

“The third recording was when I had enough allowance to go to the record store and buy an album called ‘Nancy Wilson Live at the Coconut Grove’ recorded in 1965 I heard music I had never heard before, and it was from the Great American Songbook. I played that record until I wore out and learned such beautiful gems as ‘Guess Who I Saw Today’ and ‘You Can Have Him.’ Nancy was a totally different singer from Sarah, but then my ears were starting to open, and I knew where my career was headed.

“The fourth record that really affected me was ‘Song for My Father’ by Horace Silver, and in 1965 I started scatting to the recording, trying to repeat the melody in the solos, and really started to get me deep into the jazz vernacular. I can still sing/scat every song on that album.”

“The fifth album is Carmen McRae’s ‘Carmen Sings Monk’ released in 1990. I think it speaks for itself. By then I was performing and was totally amazed by her. I learned every single tune on that album and really got deep into McRae’s career, which brought me where I am today. There are so many more albums, but I think these are the records that really influenced my life and my career to this day going into 56 years of performing.  Those recordings were the beginning and the rocket ship to send me off into this great journey.”

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Bill Copeland Music

You Are There- Review

Shawnn Monteiro’s latest album You Are There is a fine documentation of her high caliber vocal prowess. This Providence, Rhode Island chanteuse showcases her prodigious talents in a variety of musical settings, arrangements, tempos employing everything from breathy vocals, sustains, scat, and a large vocal presence.

Monteiro has accomplished a great deal on her latest album, You Are There. She swings. She scats. She croons. She features giants like Michael Renzi, Kenny Barron, and Dave Zinno in a true artist’s effort to flesh out her musical vision. What this album, years in the making and showcasing decades of knowledge, has to offer is huge. Produced by Monteiro and Steve Rizzo at Systems Two Sound and at Stable Sounds in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, You Are There can be appreciated for its resonance as well as its talent.

Upcoming Shows 2023-2024

Sunday’s April 28 event will take place in The Met, Hope Artiste Village, 999 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI and will include the induction ceremonies, the unveiling of their displays, and performances by the new inductees. Doors are at 2:00. Tickets are $25.00 general admission/seated show and are on sale now at www.themetri.com/tickets.

Jazz vocalist and pianist Daryl Sherman will perform selections from the Great American Songbook which have been featured on her many albums. Jazz vocalist and music educator Shawnn Monteiro will be presenting classics from her highly popular jazz repertoire laced with blues-oriented improvisations. Jazz saxophonist Harry Allen will be drawing from his vast and varied repertoire encompassing more than 100 albums. The three inductees will be joined by an all-star trio of piano, bass, and drums.

The induction ceremony and concert for music educator, organist, and founder of the Chorus of Westerly, George Kent, will take place Sunday, May 19, at 3:00 p.m. during a performance of Mozart's Mass in C minor by the Chorus at the George Kent Performance Hall, 119 High Street, Westerly, RI. Reserved tickets are on sale at www.chorusofwesterly.org/season65

All proceeds from RIMHOF's annual induction events go toward creating the museum displays, acquiring recordings and memorabilia, and digitizing that collection for permanent online access for future generations. All organizational work has been donated by members of the Board Of Directors and a small staff of volunteers. For general information, visit www.RhodeIslandMusicHallofFame.com



Take a walk through

jazz history with

Shawnn in a tribute

to the great voices of the

black women of jazz, Carmen,

Ella, Sarah, Nancy, Dinah,

Abbey, Billie and

so many more heroines

of our great American art form. 

From the perspective of a black

jazz singer.






YOU ARE THERE - Nominated for best vocal jazz album- Jazz Awards

Available now!


"You Are There" is Shawnn's most important album to date. Rich collaborations with many of the current heavyweights of jazz. Kenny Barron and Mike Renzi, Dave Zinno, Steve Langone, Nat Reeves, Joe Farnsworth, John Allmark, Josh Bruneau and Steve Davis. You gotta hear this!"” - L.Y.

— Host WETF Jazz Radio