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Kathy Sanborn

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Kathy Sanborn
Vocalist and composer Kathy Sanborn
Vocalist and composer Kathy Sanborn
Background information
BornBerkeley, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, vocal jazz, world music
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano
LabelsPacific Coast Jazz

Kathy Sanborn (born January 16, ?) is an American jazz vocalist and composer based in California. She won a 2015 American Songwriting Award for her song, "Fantasy."


Sanborn has been compared to 1950s cool jazz singers Anita O'Day, Chris Connor, and June Christy due to her smooth vocals and clear diction. Her vocal tone has been compared to the 1970s singer-songwriter Laura Nyro for its depth and timbre. JazzTimes on Sanborn's work: "Romance is always in the air as far as Kathy Sanborn is concerned, and her songs are reflections of those emotions which take flight when overpowered by love."[1]

Spain's NoSoloSmoothJazz.com says: "Kathy Sanborn is one of the most original vocalists in the American musical landscape."[2]

With the release of Peaceful Sounds, Eric Cohen of New York radio station WAER proclaimed that Sanborn's voice "truly is a gift from the heavens."[3]

Early life[edit]

Sanborn demonstrated a love of music from an early age, and performed in front of a mirror in her bedroom. She began ballet studies as a youth, but turned her focus to piano and voice, performing in various school plays and concerts.

Her father was an amateur sax player and lover of big band music. Consequently, Sanborn had an early introduction to jazz music and its major performers.[4]


Self-released in 2008, Peaceful Sounds is Sanborn's debut album, combining jazz and new age music. The sometimes dark and philosophical album garnered almost immediate international radio attention. She followed it with Small Galaxy (2010), a more upbeat album which reached No. 4 on radio station WSCA's Top Chart.

Blues for Breakfast (2011), featured Grammy nominee Scott Petito on bass, Chris Carey on drums, and Wayne Ricci on trumpet. The title track showcased Sanborn's love of jazz history and her affection for the famed musicians of the 1930s-50s who performed on New York's 52nd Street. Sanborn said, "I wrote the song, 'Blues for Breakfast', as a fond tribute to the jazz masters of days gone by. On New York's 52nd Street, the greats would 'walk the high wire' and enthrall and inspire new generations of jazz players. As jazz continues to evolve in the modern era, I imagine the masters are looking down and nodding their approval."[5]

In 2011, Sanborn released her single, "Magnetized," dedicated to film historian and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne. A fan of classic movies, Sanborn composed the jazz love song as an homage to the power of attraction exhibited by film stars.[6]

Six Degrees of Cool (2012) showcased Sanborn's cool jazz roots. The album includes "Bitter Winter" and "Shanty Man," songs referring to societal effects of economic depression. "Drawing from renowned influences such as cool jazz giants Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Anita O'Day, Sanborn's new album brings cool jazz into today's contemporary scene."[7]

Sultry Night (2013) includes songs honoring Anita O'Day and Cary Grant. Sanborn composed, arranged, sang, played piano, and produced the album.[8]

Sanborn won a 2015 American Songwriting Award for "Fantasy," the first single released from her 2015 album, Lights of Laniakea.[9]

Kej worked with Sanborn on the album Lights of Laniakea (2015).[10]

Says Sanborn, "Back in 2014 at the University of Hawaii, scientists mapped a new supercluster that contains our own galaxy, the Milky Way. They named it Laniakea, which means, 'Immeasurable Heaven.' The album, Lights of Laniakea, describes our universal desire to live in the light – in the 'immeasurable heaven' that is our home."[11]

In 2016, Lights of Laniakea was nominated for a ZMR Award (Best Vocal Album)[12] and a One World Music Radio Award (Best Vocal Album).[13]

Sanborn appeared on the compilation Action Moves People United, which also featured Julian Lennon, Janis Ian, and Dan Aykroyd, among many others. The album reached Billboard's top ten chart for compilation albums.

Beginning 2016, Sanborn contributed a column to the jazz web site, All About Jazz. Titled "In the Biz," the column featured Sanborn's interviews with jazz colleagues such as David Longoria, Arun Shenoy, Carol Albert, Roberta Piket, and many more. The column focused on the business of jazz music today, and how jazz musicians can best promote themselves and their music.[14]

Sanborn's eighth album, Recollecting You, released August 4, 2017.[15] A single from the album, "Falling," won a 2017 Clouzine International Music Award for Best Jazz Song.[16]

In 2017, Sanborn appeared on the World music album, A Musical Journey: Together in Peace, which reached Billboard #1 in World albums. The project, created by Rupam Sarmah and Kevin Mackie, is a collaborative effort to promote global peace.[17]

The composer and vocalist is a strong believer in creating new jazz music for the modern era. Sanborn says, "Instead of regurgitating old standards, we need to keep the jazz genre alive by releasing fresh music for new generations. Write new standards, and stop relying on old music to pave the way for any positive changes in jazz. There is an important place in jazz for the old songs that have touched listeners for decades, but if we wish to reach new and broader markets, we need to move forward – and not exist solely in the past. Miles Davis, if he were here today, would be shocked that jazz music has not moved further ahead by now."[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2014 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best World Song Fantasy Nominated[19]
2015 American Songwriting Awards Best World Music Song Fantasy Won[20]
2016 ZMR Awards Best Vocal Album Lights of Laniakea Nominated[21]
2016 One World Music Radio Awards Best Vocal Album Lights of Laniakea Nominated[22]
2017 Clouzine International Music Awards Best Jazz Song Falling Won[16]


Release Date Album Label
2008 Peaceful Sounds Self-released
2010 Small Galaxy Pacific Coast Jazz
2011 Blues for Breakfast Pacific Coast Jazz
2012 Six Degrees of Cool Pacific Coast Jazz
2013 Sultry Night Pacific Coast Jazz
2014 Fantasía Pacific Coast Jazz
2015 Lights of Laniakea That Other Label
2017 Recollecting You Pacific Coast Jazz


  1. ^ "Blues for Breakfast review". JazzTimes. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  2. ^ "No Solo Smooth Jazz". No Solo Smooth Jazz. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  3. ^ "WAER on Kathy Sanborn". Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Podcast Interview of Kathy Sanborn on Blogtalk Radio". 22 October 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  5. ^ "All Music". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Sacramento Talent Magazine". Sacramento Talent Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  7. ^ "All About Jazz news". All About Jazz. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Pacific Coast Jazz". Pacific Coast Jazz. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Sanborn wins 2015 American Songwriting Award". Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Sanborn to release new album in 2015". 15 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Lights of Laniakea by Kathy Sanborn". Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Lights of Laniakea ZMR nominee". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Lights of Laniakea One World Music Radio Awards nominee". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  14. ^ "In the Biz, a column by Kathy Sanborn at All About Jazz". 2 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Sanborn releases Recollecting You in 2017". Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Falling wins Best Jazz Song". Falling. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Together in Peace". Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Kathy Sanborn Interview on Jazz Blues News". 12 January 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  19. ^ "2014 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominee". Fantasy. 4 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  20. ^ "2015 American Songwriting Award". Fantasy. 30 June 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  21. ^ "Lights of Laniakea ZMR nominee". Lights of Laniakea. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  22. ^ "Lights of Laniakea One World Music Radio Award nominee". Lights of Laniakea. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.

External links[edit]