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Sylvia Winsby: Bio

Jazz Vocalist, Composer, Lyricist-  Sylvia Winsby’s multi-hued vocal palette paints the emotion of a song with refreshing vibrancy. Her authentic command of rhythm, phrasing, texture and dynamics reveals the voice is this jazz musician’s instrument. Whether conveying the story of a familiar tune or one of her original compositions, Sylvia takes us to an aural movie where we connect with the heart and soul of our universal human experience. In composition and performance, Sylvia demonstrates commitment to beauty and the innovative spark essential to evolving jazz.

Juried competition winner in the 2009 San Jose Jazz Series 'Composer Showcase' concert, as well as "Suggested Artist" and "Honorable Mention" awards recipient in 'Song of the Year' competitions, Sylvia's writing observes our interface with the natural world, personal growth, and the emotional prism of daily life.  Her compositions deftly weave lyric, melody, and harmony in commentary on the human condition.  Her style reflects a range of influences from Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, and Stevie Wonder, to Hoagy Carmichael, Jobim, and Miles Davis. Inspired by the few recognized women jazz vocalist composers, e.g. Abbey Lincoln, Peggy Lee, & Billie Holiday, Sylvia has a desire to contribute to the ‘great American songbook’.

In 2006, Sylvia established her publishing company and independent recording label, Indigo Dream Music. Her first CD project, Shades of Green in Blue,  released in May, 2007, included three original compositions and a repertoire of jazz grooves that illuminated her talent to renew  standard gems.  Following this, in 2008, she released an original holiday single, Looking To The Light, a duo recording with Murray Low, Grammmy-nominated pianist.  Both recordings have received airplay at KUSP 88.9 fm. 

Growing up on a ranch in northern California, she was nurtured by a lifestyle in tune with the seasonal colors and rhythms of the natural world. From an early age, she loved to sing and found music to be her intrinsic path to happiness and self evolution. Discipline over time has formed the pearl of her artistry. Childhood music studies included piano, guitar, and voice. As a young adult, she majored in voice and completed an associate arts degree in music at College of Marin, CA. Sylvia’s performance background includes various duo, ensemble and solo experiences in the genres of classical, folk, soul and blues. Her style grew out of this rich foundation and has expanded over the years to embrace improvisation and jazz.

This led to her studies at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, CA, Stanford Jazz Workshop, improvisation workshops with Rhiannon and Joey Blake (founding members of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra), Port Townsend Jazz Workshop (WA), and Jazz Camp West, CA. She was mentored by two of the greatest living jazz vocalists, Mark Murphy and Nancy King.  Her rhythmic knowledge expanded in workshops with Adam Rudolph, world percussionist. Other influences include Ysaye Barnwell (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Steve Christofferson, Madeline Eastman, Art Lande, Mark Levine, Frank Martin, and Wayne Wallace. She currently continues to study jazz piano, most recently with Randy Porter and Benny Green.