|Birth name||Janet Polun|
November 13, 1940 |
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, vocal jazz|
Janet Lawson (born Janet Polun; November 13, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland) is a jazz singer and educator.
Lawson was born in Baltimore to a Jewish father and Catholic mother from Eastern Europe. Her father was a jazz drummer and her mother was a singer and lyricist who sometimes sang in her father's band. At home, they worked on songs together at the piano. Lawson began singing with a local big band in her teens. When she was eighteen, she moved to New York City and got a job as a secretary at Columbia Records. She lived across the street from Al Jeter, the head of Riverside Records, and made contacts when she attended parties at his penthouse apartment. She went to jazz clubs and was inspired by seeing Thelonious Monk. She made her debut at the Village Vanguard with Art Farmer.
Lawson has worked with Ron Carter, Bob Dorough, Duke Ellington, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Milt Hinton, Eddie Jefferson, Barney Kessel, Dave Liebman, Joe Newman, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Ed Thigpen, and Cedar Walton.
She started her own quintet in the 1970s and became known as a scat singer and improviser. In the early 2000s, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Bell's palsy, suffering damage to her vocal cords. She has taught voice at New York University and the New School, given private lessons, taught elementary school children, and has made trips every year to Latvia to attend a youth music camp.
Awards and honors
- Grammy Award nomination, Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female, 1982
- Hall of Fame nomination, International Association for Jazz Education, 2007
- 1981 The Janet Lawson Quintet
- 1983 Dreams Can Be