Denver resident Dianne Reeves has achieved remarkable status as a vocalist in the jazz world.
The unique timbre of her voice and the style and sensitivity she brings to her songs have made her an American treasure. Music was everywhere in Dianne’s family when she was growing up, and she honed her jazz chops with her cousin, George Duke, and her uncle, Charles Burrell.
Friends and family played a huge role in Dianne’s life.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1976 at the suggestion of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, and the two quickly rose to the top of their respective fields.
Ms. Reeves ranks among the top echelon of jazz singers, winning five Grammy Awards, two honorary doctorates, and numerous other awards. She sang with everyone from Stanley Turrentine to Harry Belafonte, and she was the featured singer in George Clooney’s film Good Night and Good Luck.
We are fortunate that she decided to move back to Colorado in the 1990s, and we treasure her for her elegance and evocative voice and the way she makes us feel as she explores and re-imagines jazz standards and new compositions. Congratulations to Dianne on being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to Dianne on Being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
Spotlight on Dianne Reeves
Colorado is home to many talented jazz musicians, each of whom have contributed their unique style and sound to the state’s musical legacy. Among the many beloved names that have earned well-deserved spots in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is Dianne Reeves, an award-winning jazz singer with a long and storied career.
Reeves has spent more than thirty years sharing her incredible talents with the world, both as a solo artist and a contributor to other jazz groups and artists’ work.
A Master of Jazz and Music
The heart of Reeves’ career has always connected back to jazz, with a majority of her albums demonstrating the classic tenets of the jazz genre.
But while Reeves has made a name for herself as a jazz singer over the past three decades, she’s also proved herself more than capable of performing other types of music. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she hopped between various forms of session work, touring with the band Caldera and artist Harry Belafonte, and partnering with Sergio Mendes.
In 1982, Reeves began her work as a recording artist, quickly becoming known for her eclectic stylings. For the many fans who enjoyed both her recordings and live performances, Reeves’ music introduced them to a new realm of music that blends jazz with pop, world music, and African-inspired folk music. Much of her early work is distinctly autobiographical, with Reeves crafting extraordinary lyrics with superior skill.
Continuing a Family’s Musical Legacy
Dianne Reeves hails from a family with deep musical roots, including well-known musicians George Duke and Charles Burrell. Her mother played trumpet and her father sang, so it is perhaps no wonder that Reeves was passionate about music from the very beginning.
Born on October 23, 1956, she spent just her first two years in Detroit before relocating to Denver with her mother after her father’s passing. Burrell, her uncle, was a bassist in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the person who would forever change her life – and music history – by introducing Dianne to jazz.
While a student at George Washington High School in Denver, Reeves sang in a big band invited to perform at the National Association of Jazz Educators. There she was discovered by jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, who would go on to become her musical mentor. After graduation. Reeves spent a short time studying classical voice at the University of Colorado, then moved to Los Angeles to pursue music full-time in 1976.
Cementing a Successful Career as a True Artist of Jazz
After spending several years playing and touring with Sergio Mendes, Billy Childs, Harry Belafonte, and Caldera, Dianne Reeves signed with Blue Note Records in 1987. Dianne Reeves, her eponymous album, claimed the number-one spot on contemporary jazz music charts for an impressive eleven weeks. She went on to record several other albums of note with Blue Note Records, including The Grand Encounter, Never Too Far and I Remember.
From 2001 to 2015, Reeves won five Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance as a female artist, including for her work in the film Good Night and Good Luck. She was also honored with honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School in 2003 and 2015, respectively. Finally, in 2018, Reeves achieved one of the ultimate career milestones for an American jazz musician when she was designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
A Loyal Fan Following in Colorado
Even though Reeves’ career took her beyond her hometown of Denver, Colorado didn’t forget her – in fact, she’s always maintained a passionate base of fans in the state. Dianne Reeves songs are a staple on the soundtrack of famous Colorado music and for decades, she’s stood as a shining example of the state’s diverse musical talents, an essential part of Colorado’s music history.
Today, Reeves’ story is told at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and she is an integral part of the museum’s carefully-selected honorees.
Discover the Long Legacy of Music in Colorado
Reeves isn’t the only iconic musician who’s called Colorado home –the list of talented musicians with roots in this state, past, and present, spans various genres, mediums, and more. At the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, you can learn the stories of Colorado’s most talented musicians and how they impacted our state’s history and music scene.
In addition to our on-site exhibits, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame also contributes to Colorado music events and educational opportunities for music lovers of all ages. For more information, visit our museum at the Red Rocks Trading Post today.