Marie performing in 2014
|Birth name||René Marie Stevens|
November 7, 1955 |
Warrenton, Virginia, United States
|Origin||Washington, D.C., United States|
René Marie (born René Marie Stevens, November 7, 1955 in Warrenton, Virginia, United States) is an American songwriter and jazz vocalist. She began her professional music career at age 42. In 1999, she performed at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. and signed a contract with the St. Louis-based Maxjazz label. She released four albums on the label, the second of which (Vertigo) was awarded a coronet ranking by The Penguin Guide to Jazz, a distinction given to less than 85 other recordings in jazz history. In her work, the singer often combines contrasting songs ("Dixie" and the anti-lynching "Strange Fruit" on Vertigo) or combines other works (Ravel's Boléro and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" on Live at Jazz Standard.)
René Marie attracted controversy in 2008, when she was invited to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a civic event in Denver, and substituted the song's lyrics with those from "Lift Every Voice and Sing." This arrangement of the national anthem forms part of the titular suite of Marie's 2011 CD, The Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motéma Music). She specializes in writing her own music, and she comments on the fact that this is not the norm in jazz in one of her songs, "This for Joe," after a club manager who got mad at her for singing originals. Her 2011 release, Black Lace Freudian Slip contains only three songs that she did not write, and one of those was written by her son, Michael A. Croan, who performs on the track with her.
She also released a number of singles in 2007-2009, focused on homeless issues, "This Is Not a Protest Song", and the racial problems in Jena, Louisiana, "3 Nooses Hanging".
Besides her purely musical works, she has also written, produced and performed a one-woman show of words and music, Slut Energy Theory - U'Dean, in which she explores the journey from sexual abuse to self-esteem. More recent productions of the show have shortened the title simply to "Slut Energy Theory." The soundtrack to this show has been released.
René Marie married at age 18, and was a mother of two children by age 23. When her husband issued an ultimatum after 23 years of marriage for her to stop singing or leave, she chose music over her turbulent marriage.
- Renaissance (Maxjazz, 1999)
- How Can I Keep from Singing? (Maxjazz, 2000)
- Vertigo (Maxjazz, 2001)
- Live at Jazz Standard (Maxjazz, 2003)
- Serene Renegade (Maxjazz, 2004)
- Experiment in Truth (self-released, 2007)
- "This Is Not a Protest Song" (2007) Single, to benefit the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
- "3 Nooses Hanging" (2009) Single, inspired by the events in Jena, Louisiana
- Slut Energy Theory - U'Dean (2009) Soundtrack to her one-woman show
- The Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motéma, 2011)
- Black Lace Freudian Slip (Motéma, 2011)
- I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt) (Motéma, 2013)
- Sound of Red (Motéma, 2016)
- Pellegrinelli, Lara (July 3, 2009). "Poetic License Raises A Star-Spangled Debate". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
- Yanow, Scott (2008). The jazz singers: the ultimate guide. Music Dispatch. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-87930-825-4.
- "Penguin Guide to Jazz: Crown Albums List". Tomhull.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
- Moore, John (September 27, 2009). "Rene Marie, defiantly redefining womanhood". Denver Post. Denver Post. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
- "Slut Energy Theory | All For One Theater". Afofest.org. 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
- "Bio". Retrieved 2014-10-20.