Gabrielle Goodman is an extremely talented songwriter and vocalist who has many fans among Soul and Jazz artists, but who is far from a household name. Raised as the daughter of a classical singer mother and a jazz trombonist father, Goodman was educated in both genres and also began singing Gospel as a girl. She graduated from Peabody Conservatory and later became an Associate Professor of voice at Berklee College of Music.
As a young singer, Goodman received her first break as a warm up vocalist for Roberta Flack. She also received attention by writing "You Can Make the Story Right" for Chaka Khan's The Woman I Am album. Her growing reputation opened the door for her to record two early 90s jazz vocal CDs on the Verve label with a number of great jazz musicians including Gary Bartz and Kevin Eubanks. Both albums were critically acclaimed and had minor success in Europe, but didn't fare well Stateside. She spent most of the 90s providing guest vocal support for a number of jazz artists, including Norman Connors and Lonnie Liston Smith, and backing vocals for soul stars such as Flack, Khan and Freddie Jackson.
After a long hiatus from recording, in 2004 Goodman released Angel Eyes on her own Goodness Music label. While not the major label release that her early 90s albums were, Angel Eyes nonetheless included a number of high quality musicians, including saxophonist Walter Beasley. Those looking for the third part of the Trilogy arising from Goodman's earlier recordings were somewhat surprised by Angel Eyes. After leading off with the Latin sound of "Brazilian Nights" and a jazzy cover of the standard "Angel Eyes," the album moved in to contemporary Urban Adult Contemporary territory, and does it very effectively. While bearing a gorgeous voice that mixes elements of Khan, Minnie Ripperton, Patti Austin and Stephanie Mills (all pretty good company), Goodman's strongest suit may be her interpretive skills, making even oft-covered songs new and distinctive. This is particularly evident on the album's most surprising cut, an upbeat jazzy dance cover of Steve Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle" that blows the original away.
Goodman spent the rest of the decade largely devoted to her role Berklee College of Music. However, in early 2011 she issued the critically acclaimed album Songs From the Book. The album found Goodman to be (again) in exceptional voice.
She began working on her follow up album in 2013, tentatively titled Spiritual Tapestry. The album will be issued in early 2014.
By Chris Rizik
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