Best Singer

Stephanie Crawford

Roughly a decade after ending an illustrious career in Paris, Stephanie Crawford is gradually making inroads in the Bay Area jazz scene. She's still relatively unknown and unheralded, but a rare gem of a singer nonetheless. Play her new album, The Real Thing, for any jazz purist and you'll hear comments about the texture of her voice — it's pliable, deep, sweet, impassioned, and a little pained, harking back to famed bebop vocalist Betty Carter. In the local scene, Crawford stands alone with her emotional heft, inimitable way of phrasing, and unique tune selection. The Real Thing comprises the most un-obvious of standards and old show tunes: "Cinnamon and Clove," a Johnny Mandel tune that Sergio Mendez covered in the 1960s; Cy Coleman's "When in Rome"; and a cheeky little opener called "Devil May Care," made popular by vocalist Bob Dorough. It's apropos that many of her songs defy Google searches, as Crawford seems more comfortable dwelling in obscurity. She's still wonderful.
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