La Tanya Hall
LA TANYA HALL
If one word could be used to describe La Tanya Hall?s talent, it would have to be diverse. Her versatility in a variety of musical genres has allowed her to travel the world and work with some of the world?s most celebrated artists, including Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, Michael Feinstein, Patti Labelle, and Steve Tyrell. She is also an in-demand session singer and an accomplished actress, having lent her skills to numerous recording projects, Broadway shows and television and movie appearances.
La Tanya is now ready to make the leap into the solo arena, showcasing her unique blend of jazz. She brings all of these experiences to bear on La Tanya, her first solo album, arranged and conducted by the celebrated maestro Angelo DiPippo, which will be released in the Fall of 2008 by Bridge Records.
Raised in Texas and Colorado, La Tanya first began singing professionally at age 13 with her father, a jazz pianist who performed all over the world. ?Mastering the standards was invaluable training for me,? she says. ?I learned from my father to create my own style and not be afraid to take chances vocally.? That influence can be heard throughout her music.
From her early experiences with her father in nightclubs in San Antonio, Tx., jazz and the standards were always her first love. When she began studying music at the University of Colorado, she initially enrolled in the opera and classical singing program. While this training was invaluable, she quickly realized that her heart was in jazz. Soon, she switched majors and began singing with all kinds of bands both on and off campus.
At the end of her academic career, La Tanya enjoyed a major career breakthrough when a sound engineer in Colorado gave her a tip that Harry Belafonte was looking for a new singer, and suggested that Hall audition. As a result, the international, inter-generational superstar offered her a job as one of his quartet of co-stars and back-up singers.
She wound up working with Mr. Belafonte for five years almost continually; this was the last period when the great star was still touring heavily, doing an average of 150 shows a year. She filled the same role in his group that the acclaimed jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves had occupied a decade or so earlier, and was a featured duet partner with Mr. Belafonte on the song ?Skin To Skin,? both on the recording and PBS special, ?An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends.?
During those occasions when she was not on the road with Mr. Belafonte, she began working all over New York as a session vocalist.
When Mr. Belafonte began phasing out his touring operation, Ms. Hall accepted two engagements that furthered her standing in industry: she headlined in the final road company production of the smash hit musical show Dreamgirls and also toured with the legendary diva Diana Ross. After working with Ms. Ross, LaTanya also did several gigs with the no-less legendary Aretha Franklin.
More recently, she has appeared with an equally diverse range of musical icons: the master of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein; the pop star and producer Steve Tyrell; and the boundary-less vocal avatar Bobby McFerrin. She has toured with Steve Tyrell extensively in 2007 and 2008, including spots on The Today Show and The Tonight Show, and much-heralded gigs at New York?s famous Blue Note and a 9-week run at the Carlyle. She is also heard on his most recent recording, Back To Bacharach.
La Tanya was recommended to Mr. Feinstein through the comedian, singer, and ?Cast Party? emcee Jim Caruso, and for the last three years she has been a regular part of Mr. Feinstein?s annual Christmas show at the night club that bears his name at the Regency Hotel.
Her work with Bobby McFerrin is very special to her. For the last four years, she has been a regular member of Mr. McFerrin?s 12-voice ensemble, ?Voicestra,? which spends an average of two or three months per year working on the road. ?That?s some of the most creative and fulfilling work that I?ve ever done,? she says, ?Everything is totally improvised ? we don?t use written or pre-set music of any kind. Sometimes we have gotten to places so deep that I?m actually in tears on the stage.?
La Tanya?s voice has been described as ?powerfully sensuous,? ?a show stealer? and ?beautifully musical? in a number of reviews from around the world. And her stage presence has been touted as ?brilliant? and ?extremely engaging.? As a matter of fact, she was voted ?Best Solo Artist ? Unsigned Professional? by the Contemporary Acapella Recording Awards (CARAS) for some of her earlier work. The panel, in detailing their decision, wrote, ?It?s easy to get caught up in vocal extravagances when you?ve got a voice like La Tanya?s, but she tastefully refrains. She lets fly when the time comes, but isn?t afraid to hold a note.?