WCSU

Artist Profiles - Vocalist Rachelle Ferrell

Rachelle Ferrell is a vocalist and musician. Although she has had some success in the mainstream R&B, pop, gospel, and classical music scene, she is noted for her talents as a contemporary jazz singer.

Rachelle Ferrell, born in Berwyn, Pensylvania in May, 1964, began singing at age six, and developed a six octave range by adulthood. Ferrell describes her highest notes in "It only took a minute" as "Minnie Riperton-like wailing". She received classical training in violin and the piano at an early age and was performing professionally on both instruments and as a vocalist as a teenager. After enrolling in the Berklee College of Music, and graduating a year later, having learned arrangement and developing her abilities in singing and songwriting, she secured a position teaching music for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts alongside Dizzy Gillespie.

From 1975-90, Ferrell sang backup for Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams, and George Duke. Ferrell's debut, First Instrument, was released in 1990 in Japan, five years prior to its US release. Recorded with bassist Tyrone Brown, pianist Eddie Green and drummer Doug Nally, several famed jazz accompanists also recorded on her album. Her take on standards like Sam Cooke's "You Send Me", Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?", and Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine", gained her a substantial Japanese jazz audience.