Vicki Burns - Jazz Vocalist
“Vicki Burns has a pleasing wide-ranging voice, crystal clear diction, and she knows how to sing as if she means it.” Bebop Spoken Here
“Avoiding the predictability of safe havens, her music brims with many more surprises and uncharted delights... Vicki Burns is irresistible.” Dr. Herbert Wong
Jazz singer Vicki Burns is the complete package. With her three-octave range, sure sense of rhythm, and perfect intonation, she can scat convincingly, swing like a horn, and write hip songs worthy of attention from other vocalists.
She has produced three CDs as a leader: Siren Song (2005), Live at Anna’s Jazz Island (2008), and her 2022 release Lotus Blossom Days. Jazz writer Marc Myers said, "Vicki's voice on Lotus Blossom Days is warm and round, sophisticated and optimistic with shades of blue. She also takes terrific risks that pay off.”
As a performer, Vicki Burns has been delighting audiences for years with her impeccable taste and glorious tone. She has performed at some of the top jazz clubs and festivals around the country, such as Ryles, 1369 Club, the Starlight Roof, and The Hilton Boston Back Bay in Boston, as well as The Garden City in San Jose, The San Jose Museum of Art’s “Women in Jazz” series, the San Jose Jazz Festival, The Great American Music Hall with the Oakland Jazz Choir, Kimball’s East, and the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival. She has opened for Billy Taylor and Max Roach in the “Bright Moments” Concert series in Amherst, MA., and she was featured on “Music America,” a syndicated WGBH public radio broadcast.
She grew up in Maine and has been singing just about her whole life. She decided at the age of six to be a singer and performed throughout her early years in school musicals and choirs. Her father, a college English professor and a bit of a bohemian, was a major influence, and she began writing plays and musicals when she was 11 years old. By the time she was 15, she was singing in a pop band that performed at school functions and casuals all around the state. She also started classical voice lessons and won 2nd place in a classical vocal competition. She became hooked on jazz when her father introduced her to Ella Fitzgerald’s music.
Burns studied music at the University of New Hampshire. While in school, she became the vocalist for a professional big band that toured throughout New England. After graduating, she moved to Boston and performed in clubs around the city.
She decided to continue her music education in California at San Jose State’s graduate program for improvised music. While living in San Jose, she frequented a popular jazz club called Garden City where the renowned pianist Smith Dobson held court several times a week. Burns relates, “I went to hear Smith so often, that he finally took notice and called me up to sing. He liked my voice, and after that, I sat in at least once a week. He became my friend and mentor, and he even accompanied me for my graduate recital.”
Burns became a popular performer in her own right, and with her reputation growing, she decided to move north to the San Francisco Bay area where she established herself on the local jazz scene. Although she was working steadily and had a solid fan base, she began to miss her family and the East Coast vibe, so decided to move back to Maine. However, there were few performance opportunities in Maine, so it did not take long for her to decide to move to New York to pursue her singing career.
Musically, moving to the Big Apple was a great decision for her. Burns says, “The best part of New York is playing with world class jazz musicians.” She currently performs regularly around town at top venues such as Birdland, Iridium Jazz Club, Jazz at Kitano, The Plaza Hotel, Zinc Bar and Mezzrow, an iconic jewel of a jazz venue in the heart of Greenwich Village. From 2013- 2018, she performed regularly at the legendary Cornelia Street Cafe before it's untimely closure and currently has a monthly residency at The Stayton Room in the Lexington Hotel. She has also performed recently at two iconic Manhattan jazz clubs, The 55 Bar and Mezzrow, intimate rooms where many nationally known jazz artists come to connect with the audience.
Burns has found success because she infuses each song with heartfelt expression, digging into the lyrics and melody to reveal their richness. It is a formula that has garnered her many fans and the respect of her peers, which is why Max Roach once described Burns’ singing as “a gold mine.”
“Brilliant vocals by Vicki… she can cast a love spell and she is, after all, quite the siren herself. An amazing range and you can hear the joy, the melancholy, the rapture, the devastation and all are equally convincing. Perhaps that is the final word on such a great talent as Vicki Burns, she is convincing.” The Jazz Owl by Travis Rogers, Jr.
“Like a master chef, Burns figures out what she needs to add to make the music delectable to the ear without overdoing it with unnecessary additives.” – All About Jazz