Cassandra Wilson

Artist Playlists

About Cassandra Wilson

Singer Cassandra Wilson was born in 1955 in Jackson, Mississippi. While she embarked on a career as a sophisticated jazz vocalist, she found her voice by tapping into the blues she was raised on. As part of New York’s forward-looking M-Base Collective in the early 1980s, she adapted her husky, intuitive singing to disparate settings, whether the free jazz of Henry Threadgill’s New Air or the funked-up sounds of M-Base alongside saxophonist Steve Coleman and guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly. She broadened her audience with her 1988 standards album, Blue Skies, but her 1993 breakthrough Blue Light ’til Dawn, where she set her mahogany contralto to elastic arrangements built around the acoustic guitar, bridged the gap between coffeehouse folk, blues, and sultry jazz. In the decades since, she’s masterfully applied that sound to modern pop and rock standards, classics associated with Miles Davis, and original compositions, with her thick, rich voice navigating elegantly sparse, restrained settings. Among Wilson’s gifts has been an ability to find throughlines in disparate strains of American music, tapping into a common bluesy essence.

Jackson, MS, United States
December 4, 1955
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