Gretchen Parlato

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Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato.jpg
Background information
Born (1976-02-11) February 11, 1976 (age 45)
Los Angeles, California
OriginNew York City
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active2003–present
LabelsObliqSound, Edition Records

Gretchen Parlato (born February 11, 1976 in Los Angeles, California)[1] is an American jazz singer. She has performed and recorded with musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller and Lionel Loueke.

Parlato's Live in NYC (2013) received a Grammy Award Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, also receiving 4.5 stars in Downbeat Magazine, with the DVD hitting No. 1 on the iTunes best music video list. The Lost and Found (2011) received over 30 national and international awards, including Jazz Critics Poll No. 1 Vocal Album of 2011 and iTunes Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. Her 2009 sophomore release, In a Dream, was Jazz Critics Poll No. 1 Vocal Album of 2009 and hailed by Billboard as "the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009."[2]

As of 2013, Parlato is a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music.

Early years[edit]

Jazz at Filoli, Woodside, California, March 2015

Parlato was born in 1976 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Dave Parlato,[1] a bass player for Frank Zappa. He also worked with Al Jarreau, Don Preston, Barbra Streisand, Henry Mancini, Paul Horn, Gabor Szabo, Buddy Rich, Don Ellis, and recorded for TV and film.[3][4] Her grandfather was Charlie Parlato, a trumpeter in the Kay Kyser Big Band, and singer and trumpeter for Tennessee Ernie Ford and Lawrence Welk.[5] Growing up in the 1980s, Parlato says she was a Valley girl.[1]

As a child, Parlato says she was influenced by Bossa nova; "I was flipping through my mom's record collection and the cover of Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s 1963 "Getz/Gilbero" album struck me. The cover had an image of an abstract painting. I took out the album and put it on and I heard João Gilberto's voice, and the texture and simplicity of the music struck me — even at 13 years old. That was definitely a turning point."[6]

Parlato attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, then earned a bachelor's degree in Ethnomusicology/Jazz Studies at University of California, Los Angeles.[1]

In 2001 she was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance by a panel of judges including Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Wayne Shorter. Parlato was the first vocalist ever admitted into the program.

In 2003, Parlato moved to New York City. A year later, she won first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. by a panel of judges: Quincy Jones, Flora Purim, Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jimmy Scott. In 2005 she released her self-titled first album, Gretchen Parlato. In September 2007 she performed with Wayne Shorter at La Villette Jazz Festival in Paris.

Album Releases[edit]

Healdsburg Jazz Festival, 2010, with Taylor Eigsti on piano, Alan Hampton on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.

In July 2008 Parlato signed a contract with independent record label ObliqSound. In Spring 2009 she was featured in The Documentary Channel's 4-part series Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense. In August 2009 she released her second CD, In a Dream. It was voted the best jazz vocal album in the Jazz Critics Poll (2009) and appeared on the annual the top ten lists of JazzTimes, NPR, and the Boston Globe.

In Spring 2010 she was nominated for Female Singer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. In June/July, Parlato performed at Stockholm and Healdsburg Jazz Festivals, and sold out jazz festival performances in NYC, Montreal, Paris, The Hague, Copenhagen, Stuttgart and Molde, Norway, with Taylor Eigsti, Alan Hampton and Mark Guiliana. In August, she was voted No. 2 Rising Star Vocalist in Down Beat's Annual Critics Poll.

In 2011 she released her 2nd album for ObliqSound, The Lost and Found with Taylor Eigsti, Derrick Hodge, Kendrick Scott, Dayna Stephens, Alan Hampton, with associate producer, Robert Glasper. On this album, she introduced four of her own songs and wrote lyrics to compositions of her fellow musicians and for Wayne Shorter's "Juju." In addition she reinterpreted a samba by Paulinho da Viola and popular R&B songs by Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, and Simply Red. The Lost and Found placed in the top 10 in over 30 polls in the US and Europe.

After taking a break from her heavy touring schedule for the birth of her son, Parlato signed a contract with Edition Records in Summer 2020. In March 2021 a new album, Flor, was released, with Marcel Camargo (guitar, musical direction), Artyom Manukyan (cello), Leo Costa (drums, percussion) and featuring Airto Moreira, Gerald Clayton and Mark Guiliana.

Parlato has been a guest vocalist on over 80 recordings, including three Esperanza Spalding albums Radio Music Society, Chamber Music Society and Esperanza, Kenny Barron's The Traveler, Marcus Miller's Renaissance, Lionel Loueke's albums Heritage and Virgin Forest, Terence Blanchard's Flow, and Terri Lyne Carrington's The Mosaic Project (Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album), singing lyrics as well as wordless vocals.


  • Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Critics' Poll (2009), ‘’In a Dream’’
  • Best Vocal Album, NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll (2011), The Lost and Found
  • Best Female Vocalist, JazzTimes Expanded Critics Poll (2011)
  • #1 Rising Star Female Vocalist - Downbeat Critics Poll (2011)
  • ASCAP Award of Merit for Songwriting (2011)
  • Best Female Vocalist Award, Jazz Journalists Association (2012)
  • Grammy Award nomination, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Live in NYC (2015)


As leader[edit]

  • Gretchen Parlato (self-released, 2005)
  • In a Dream (ObliqSound, 2009)
  • The Lost and Found (ObliqSound, 2011)
  • Live in NYC (ObliqSound, 2013)
  • Tillery with Becca Stevens, Rebecca Martin (Larrecca Music, 2016)
  • Flor (Edition Records, 2021)

As guest[edit]

With Esperanza Spalding

With Becca Stevens

  • Walking in the Air (Sunnyside, 2011)
  • Weightless (Sunnyside, 2011)
  • My Life Is Bold (2012)

With others


  1. ^ a b c d Cunniffe, Thomas. "Gretchen Parlato: Finding The Essence". Jazz History Online. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Ouellette, Dan (August 25, 2009). "Review: Gretchen Parlato, In a Dream". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2011. With her second release, In a Dream, Parlato's time has arrived. So far, the set is the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009.
  3. ^ dave parlato. (March 19, 1970). Retrieved on August 31, 2011.
  4. ^ SFYSA | Staff. (September 1, 2010). Retrieved on August 31, 2011.
  5. ^ MUSICAL FAMILY BIOS 5. Retrieved on August 31, 2011.
  6. ^ Long, Kyle (September 13, 2019). "Grammy Nominated Jazz Vocalist Gretchen Parlato Brings Her Quartet To Indy Jazz Fest". WFYI Public Media. Retrieved April 29, 2020.

External links[edit]