It might seem strange to describe a singer as hip as Clairdee as a throwback, but she’s an artist who embodies creative values that have largely gone out of style. With her lustrous voice and soulful delivery, she hearkens back to a time when jazz, pop, and rhythm and blues often blended seamlessly together. Combining scene-stealing charisma with heartfelt humility and a sincere belief in the transformative power of music, Clairdee has honed a repertoire of standards set to state of the art arrangements that are equally smart and entertaining.
It was her finely honed jazz sensibility and old-school attitude about the importance of communicating with audiences that attracted the late legendary manager John Levy to the San Francisco-based singer. For Levy, who worked with many of the music industry’s greatest artists — Shirley Horn, Joe Williams and Nancy Wilson — Clairdee’s gift for putting her own stamp on a song while capturing its essence has broad appeal.
Clairdee's stylistically encompassing approach is beautifully documented on her third album, Music Moves, recorded live in concert at the famed Yoshi’s night club in Oakland, CA. Her knack for pairing songs that enhance each other is perfectly embodied in a mashup of the Joe Williams/Count Basie hit "All Right, Okay, You Win" with the lean instrumental funk of Les McCann and Eddie Harris’, “Cold Duck Time.” It’s a fascinating counterpoint to her first release, Destination Moon, a luminous collection of beloved standards, such as "Star Eyes" and "Time After Time."
Acclaimed for her inventive artistry and magnectic stage presence, Clairdee tours internationally playing to sold-out houses and garnering rave reviews. In addition to engagements with her world-class band, she has performed with artists as diverse as Bucky Pizzarelli, Boz Scaggs, Cyrus Chestnut, and clarinet virtuoso Ken Peplowski, and has opened for the Count Basie Orchestra and the late, great Etta James.
You can learn a lot about Clairdee by eavesdropping on the master classes she offers singers studying the craft. "Explore the reasons why you are attracted to certain songs. The more personal meaning a song holds for you, the more insight you can bring to your interpretation. Put your life into the music."
Born in Tucson and raised in Denver, Clairdee grew up harmonizing and dancing with her sisters and brothers in school and at church. She took to improvising naturally and formed a four-part vocal group in high school, but didn't start focusing on jazz until after college. Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1986, Clairdee performed many styles of music, from R&B and cabaret to country and soul. But by the mid-90s she decided to dedicate herself to jazz, honing a singular sound while working with jazz luminaries such as her mentor drummer Billy Higgins, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, alto saxophonist John Handy and pianists Roland Hanna and Allen Farnham. "From an arranging standpoint," Clairdee says, "the jazz idiom provides an amazing canvas on which I can fully express myself."