Courtesy photoWide repertoire: Stacey Kent – who sings French chansons

Stacey Kent to visit Venetian Room in San Francisco

It bugs Stacey Kent when she hears other jazz singers whose sound in song doesn’t match their speaking voices. It strikes her as somehow dishonest.

“I think I’ve always been very honest about the voice I have,” says Kent. “I want mine to be a good instrument, but I also want to work with what Mother Nature gave me.”

Kent’s voice, whether it’s delivering lyrics in English, French or Portuguese on her latest album, “Dreamer In Concert,” or responding to an interview from her home near Aspen, Colo., is a rare and engaging blend of girlish enthusiasm and dreaminess with mature confidence.

Its wide appeal has had her touring for the past four months through 14 countries, returning only last week to the Rocky Mountain abode she shares with her husband, saxophonist and songwriter Jim Tomlinson.

She’s extending the tour to three West Coast cities, including an appearance at the Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room under the aegis of Bay Area Cabaret, which added a second show at 7:30 p.m. today after a 5 p.m. appearance sold out.  

The “winter wonderland postcard” setting of her Colorado homestead, with its view of Mount Sopris, hasn’t distracted Kent from creating jazz.
 
In fact, Kent insisted on taking time there to create her first album for the prestigious Blue Note record label after she signed with them in 2006.

“Jim and I would have ‘meetings’ while we were hiking,” she says, “and we’d come up with what we wanted to do: songs where the story is told from beginning to end, through-composed, with very little space for an actual solo. That’s the way Jim writes for me, and it’s just beautiful, because he gets me: as a woman, as his wife, as an artist, as a human being.”

Tomlinson and Kent were joined on that album, “Breakfast On the Morning Tram,” by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese-British author of “The Remains of the Day,” who took on writing song lyrics after becoming a fervent Kent fan.

Kent, now 43, learned love for words and languages early on from her grandfather, who was brought up in France and encouraged young Stacey to recite French poetry.

With a repertoire that embraces French chansons and Brazilian bossa alongside the Great American Songbook and her original material, Kent has been gathering fans around the globe, among them such celebrities as Clint Eastwood and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

She seeks time to meet as many of them as possible, famous and not.

“People, because of the intimacy of my music, will tell me remarkable stories about their lives, and where I fit in their lives,” says the singer. “I will tell you, hand-on-heart, that I’m more excited about making music now than I’ve ever been.”

 

IF YOU GO
Stacey Kent
Presented by Bay Area Cabaret
Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel,  950 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 5 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $45
Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.bayareacabaret.org

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