Among the premier vocalists and songwriters in American music today, Dee Alexander has delighted audiences and impressed critics with her flawless intonation, her interpretive brilliance, her intrepid improvising, and the range of genres that she commands. Ms. Alexander’s performances span virtually every music genre related to the African diaspora: gospel, blues, neo-soul, rhythm-and-blues, and world music. But her true heart belongs to jazz, the one idiom that can encompass all her influences. From a sultry ballad to a contemporary funk groove, high-flying swing to a romping scat solo, Ms. Alexander delivers every note with a passion and grace that leave her listeners limp.
One Chicago critic has remarked: “I only wish all singers could sing any note as well as Dee sings every note.” Her album Wild Is The Wind (Blujazz) received a five-star review (highest rating) from Downbeat magazine, and was selected by Examiner.com among the Top Three albums of 2009.
In addition to leading her own bands, which include her innovative Evolution Ensemble, Ms. Alexander has been a vital contributor to some of the most important groups and projects to take shape in Chicago over the last two decades – from mainstream big-band tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington to large-scale compositions premiered by her fellow members of the world-famed AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). She has lent her talents to the bands of such major Chicago artists as flutist Nicole Mitchell, Douglas Ewart, and Ernest Dawkins. She has shared stages with such iconic musicians as Ahmad Jamal, David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Roy Ayers, Joshua Redman, and the O’Jays, and appeared on a panoply of TV commercials. Ms. Alexander’s television performances also include Proclamation of Hope (WTTW-TV), a tribute to Abraham Lincoln composed by Ramsey Lewis; comedian Bernie Mac’s HBO special Midnight Mac; Portraits in Color (WBBM-TV); and Going Home Gospel featuring Patti LaBelle (WTTW-TV).
Internationally, Ms. Alexander has performed frequently at festivals and series in Paris, Tel Aviv, Poznan (Poland), and Milan, Perugia, and Orvieto (Italy), in addition to Brazil, the French Alps, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg. In the U.S., she has appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; the Chicago Jazz Festival (in numerous bands); the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL; Sweet Rhythm in New York City; the Blue Room in Kansas City, MO; and the Pritzker Pavilion at Chicago’s Millennium Park, where she scored a major success in trumpeter Orbert Davis’s 2008 presentation Hope In Action, a multimedia homage to Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday.
In 2007, Ms. Alexander was named “Chicagoan of the Year” (in jazz) by the Chicago Tribune, and in 2008 as well as 2010 she received honors as “Jazz Entertainer of the Year” from the Chicago Music Awards. Chicago Magazine named her the city’s best singer in 2009; that same year she received the Alyo Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts from Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago. In 2011, she was celebrated by the NAACP for her outstanding achievements in the arts. In February 2012 she was the recipient Jesse White Illinois Secretary of States’ African American Heritage Award for her contribution to the arts.
Further underscoring her versatility and restless imagination, Dee Alexander will present a tribute to the music of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago in December 2012.