Cassandra Wilson

Born 4 December 1955.
Cassandra Wilson


With a bluesy, sultry, rich voice, and a broad expressive range, Wilson is one of the finest singers of the contemporary jazz scene. Her albums range from the pop-inflected to all-out jazz, but she brings originality to everything she touches, writing her own lyrics to some well-known songs, and also creating much of her material from scratch.

She is also deeply aware of the blues heritage, and this surfaces in the majority of her work. Having performed as an amateur singer at Jackson State University, Mississippi, in New Orleans and then in New York, she turned professional in the early 1980s. For most of that decade she was associated with Steve Coleman and the M-Base collective, recording both in his ensembles and under her own name for the JMT label, including her 1985 album Point of View, on which Coleman was a featured soloist and contributed a couple of compositions.

With her move to the Blue Note label in the 1990s, she not only took on a more accessible style, but broke through to a larger audience, using pop and rock trappings as a backdrop for her ever more remarkable voice. Blue Light Til Dawn, and its successors, including New Moon Daughter, showed her ability to interpret her own original material and create a highly individual approach to jazz singing.

She has worked with numerous other musicians including saxophonist Henry Threadgill in his trio New Air, and Wynton Marsalis in his oratorio, Blood on the Fields, but her principal work in the 21st century continues to be her own recording and touring projects.

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Another Country

    Another Country 2012

    Reviewed by Daniel Spicer
    The Mississippi singer’s 18th album radiates heartfelt warmth.
  2. Review of Silver Pony

    Silver Pony 2010

    Reviewed by John Eyles
    Wilson’s vein of excellent form continues with this fine live set.
  3. Review of Closer To You

    Closer To You 2009

    Reviewed by Jon Lusk
    Wilson’s husky contralto is a treat throughout.
  4. Review of Loverly

    Loverly 2008

    Reviewed by Kathryn Shackleton
    It’s impressive to hear the class and character Cassandra has injected into these...
  5. Review of Belly of the Sun

    Belly of the Sun

    Reviewed by John Eyles
    Ms Wilson continues her journey into Americana and the Delta Blues with this latest...
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