Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was born in Panama, immigrated to New Orleans and then to Chicago and New York City, becoming a legendary pianist-bandleader-arranger-composer and Louis Armstrong’s longtime collaborator and musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering bassist-guitarist-vocalist and holder of advanced degrees from Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music, who performed with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm (the first integrated all-women’s jazz band in the 1940s) as well as with soloists Mary Lou Williams and Ruth Brown. Not surprisingly, considering her pedigree, Catherine Russell is a one-of-a-kind musician and vocalist. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Catherine has toured the world, performing and recording with David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Carrie Smith, Toshi Reagon, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. John, Joan Osborne, Vince Giordano, and many others, and appeared on over two hundred albums.
In 2012, Catherine Russell won a GRAMMY Award for her appearance as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire. In 2013, she contributed three songs to the soundtrack album for the movie Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe as a young Allen Ginsberg.
Her fifth album, Bring It Back, hit the streets in February 2014 on the Jazz Village label and received a rave five-star review in DownBeat magazine. With this album, she digs deeper into a rich vein of musical treasures. Mining collaborations between her legendary father and the great Louis Armstrong, Catherine brings along the same team from her two previous chart-topping albums. Gems from the Jazz Age and Swing Era, performed with new arrangements for a ten-piece orchestra, blend seamlessly with reinventions sourced from blues icons Esther Phillips, Al Hibbler, Wynonie Harris, and Little Willie John.
Her sixth album and latest release, Harlem on My Mind, was released in September 2016 on the Jazz Village label and received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Had vocalist Catherine Russell been born a few decades earlier, one can easily imagine her among America’s great 20th century jazz divas.
In a varied career, Russell has established herself as a force in the jazz, blues and pop spheres.
—Columbia Daily Tribune