Marlena Shaw was an American jazz, blues, and soul singer. She started her musical career in the 1960s and performed regularly until her death at the age of 81. Shaw’s distinctive tone made its way into TV ads and hip-hop samples.
Jimmy Burgess, her jazz trumpet-playing uncle, introduced her to music when she was a young girl, born in New Rochelle, New York. Her early musical influences included Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1952, she made her stage debut at the Apollo Theater. Shaw left college to focus on her singing career, despite her early goals to study music, and she left a lasting influence in the music industry.
Marlena Shaw Cause of Death
Renowned jazz and soul vocalist Marlena Shaw, known for songs like “Woman of the Ghetto” and “California Soul,” died at the age of 81. Her cause of death was not given. Her daughter, Marla Bradshaw, announced the news on January 20 without disclosing the cause of death.
Throughout his six-decade career, Shaw made significant contributions to the music industry in genres including jazz, blues, and soul. She made her breakthrough albums, “Out of Different Bags” and “The Spice of Life,” after signing with Chess Records in 1966.
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RIP Marlena Shaw (September 22, 1939- January 19, 2024) and thank you for the music ❤️🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/7qgE4Chqf6
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) January 20, 2024
Shaw’s influence persisted even when he switched to Blue Note Records in 1972 and then Columbia Records in 1977 to release “Sweet Beginnings.” Her influence lasted a lifetime, and Verve Records lamented her loss. Marlena Shaw’s deep talents have left a lasting impression on fans across the globe.
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Marlena Shaw Career
In her career, Marlena Shaw experienced tension when she abruptly left jazz trumpeter Howard McGhee’s group during the Newport Jazz Festival in 1963. She was able to get an audition with Columbia label scout John Hammond that same year, despite some initial difficulties.
Despite experiencing anxiety during the interview, Shaw continued to perform, going on to play in modest venues until 1966. Her big break occurred when she got a gig at Chicago’s Playboy Club, which attracted the interest of Chess Records executives.
After joining Chess, she put several records under their Cadet Records label, which included the 1969 smash “California Soul.” In 1972, she moved to Blue Note Records and continued her jazz explorations. Shaw’s varied career included melancholy songs and disco successes like “Touch Me in the Morning.” She performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1999, 2001, and 2007 to showcase her enduring skill.
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