Rachelle Ferrell

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Rachelle Ferrell
Ferrell in a performance on June 6, 2011
Ferrell in a performance on June 6, 2011
Background information
Birth nameRachelle Stephanie Ferrel
Born (1961-05-21) May 21, 1961 (age 59)
Berwyn, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • pianist
Years active1974–current

Rachelle Ferrell (born May 21, 1961) is an American vocalist and musician.[1] Although she has had some success in the mainstream R&B, pop, gospel and classical music scenes, she is noted for her talents as a contemporary jazz singer. In contemporary jazz she is noted for her delivery, control, range, improvisational vocal percussion, scatting ability and access to the whistle register.


Ferrell began singing at age six, and developed a six octave range by adulthood.[1][2][3] Her range also includes the ability to sing in the whistle register.[2] Ferrell's highest notes in "It Only Took A Minute" (1992) have been described as "Minnie Riperton-like wailing."[2][4] 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.[1]

From 1975 until 1990, 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. They include trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianists Gil Goldstein and Michel Petrucciani, bassists Kenny Davis and Stanley Clarke, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and keyboardist Pete Levin. Her take on standards like Sam Cooke's "You Send Me", Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?", and Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine", gained her a substantial Japanese jazz audience.[5]

In 2014, Rachelle Ferrell appeared on a new webseries called "Now What with Kevin E. Taylor", where she was the series season premiere. Ferrell decided, moved by Spirit, to sing her entire interview and at one point, she reduced the host to tears.

"Some people sing songs like they wear clothing, they put it on and take it off", she explains in the biographical notes accompanying First Instrument. "But when one performs four sets a night, six nights a week, that experience affords you the opportunity to present the song from the inside out, to express its essence. In this way, a singer expresses the song in the spirit in which it was written. The songwriter translates emotion into words. The singer's job is to translate the words back into emotion".



Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
US[6] US R&B[7] US Jazz[8]
1990 Somethin' Else
1992 Rachelle Ferrell
  • 2nd studio album
  • Released: September 12, 1992
161 25
1995 First Instrument
  • re-issue of 1st studio album
  • Released: April 4, 1995
151 3
  • RIAA: N/A
2000 Individuality (Can I Be Me?)
  • 3rd studio album
  • Released: August 15, 2000
71 16 1
  • RIAA: N/A
2002 Live in Montreux 91–97
  • RIAA: N/A


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
Adult R&B Hot R&B
1992 "Til You Come Back to Me" 19 Rachelle Ferrell
1993 "Welcome To My Love" 42
1994 "Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This" (featuring Will Downing) 25 72
1995 "With Open Arms" 68
2000 "Satisfied" 11 Individuality (Can I Be Me?)
2001 "I Forgive You" 13


  1. ^ a b c Skelly, Richard. "Rachelle Ferrell | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Re: Rachelle Ferrell." www.rachelleferrell.com. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  3. ^ Steyer, Justin, and Abe Beeson. "Rachelle Ferrell: Singing Her Way to a Higher Plane." www.kplu.org, December 2, 2013.
  4. ^ Himes, Geoffrey. "Rachelle Ferrell".
  5. ^ Rachelle Ferrell at Blues Alley Jazz Supper Club Archived January 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Rachelle Ferrell Chart History". Billboard 200. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "Rachelle Ferrell Chart History". Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "Rachelle Ferrell Chart History". Jazz Albums. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA - RACHELLE FERRELL". Recording Industry Association of America. January 18, 1995. Retrieved September 1, 2018.

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